A Greater Scaup hen was found this afternoon on the South Branch of the Raritan River in the general vicinity of the Studdiford Bridge, Hillsborough Township (Frank Sencher, Jr.). This marks only the second record of this species for Somerset County in 2014. The first was in the Raritan River along the D&R Towpath on February 6 (Jeff Ellerbusch).
In Morris County, Greater Scaup were seen yesterday at Indian Lake, Denville and earlier in the season at Clyde Potts Reservoir in Mendham Township and Lake Hopatcong. Neighboring Hunterdon County has had as many as 42 on Round Valley Reservoir in 2014. Although modest in totals and number of appearances, this is more than usual for this species in recent history in the interior of northern New Jersey.
For example, the Boonton Christmas Bird Count which covers a number of Morris County lakes and reservoirs, has not recorded any Greater Scaup since 15 were tallied in 2009. There were none in 2008 and one in 2007. Lesser Scaup is by far the more numerous of the two species during winters in the mocosocoBirds area.
Of course, this brings up the discussion of identification differences between the two Scaup species. Scaup identification requires much careful study. The Sibley Guide to Birds offers an excellent illustration comparing head shape, which is useful and accurate and a reliable characteristic in the field. Here is a link to the Kentucky Ornithological Society’s web page with good comparative photographs: biology.eku.edu/kos/scaup.html.
Good Scauping to you!