Leading male Black Scoter – Point La Jolla

[All photographs copyright, Gary Nunn 2013] – This wonderful looking seaduck was close to the top of my wishlist to spot flying by Point La Jolla! This morning the winds from the southwest had southbound bands of Surf Scoter, ten to fifteen at a time, pushed quite close to Point La Jolla. About the third flock going south had this fine looking adult male Black Scoter Melanitta americana leading the way. Easily picked out by the rich yellow colored swollen bill, it also flagged against the headwind occasionally revealing the paler underwing coloration of the flight feathers.

Black Scoter male with Surf Scoters – Point La Jolla, 27 Jan 2013

Black Scoter male with Surf Scoters – Point La Jolla, 27 Jan 2013

Black Scoter male with Surf Scoters – Point La Jolla, 27 Jan 2013

Black Scoter male – Point La Jolla, 27 Jan 2013

Black Scoter male – Point La Jolla, 27 Jan 2013

This is the second Black Scoter that I have seen at Point La Jolla this winter. An adult female, first spotted by Jay Keller, also passed south with Surf Scoters on 18 Dec 2012. In both cases the individual Black Scoter generally seemed well placed at the front leading the flock of Surf Scoters. It makes me wonder if there is some subtle difference in flying speed or a behavioral preference of some kind which keeps this species at the front – interesting!

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2 thoughts on “Leading male Black Scoter – Point La Jolla

  1. Hi
    Are you the Gary Nunn who was in Nottingham; if so, we saw the Great white Egret together at Attenborough a long time ago.
    I’ve just done a birding trip around Arizona and Cali including San Diego. Our tour leader was James Smith who mentioned you but wasn’t sure about whether you were from the UK.
    He said you’d seen a very rare petrel along the coast.

    • Hi Howard – yes that’s me! Sure was a long time ago when I found that Great White Egret at Attenborough. I remember rushing off to telephone someone and it was hardly believed! I have not bumped in to too many birders from Nottingham living here in the United States for many years. By an amazing coincidence I did cross paths with Billy Simpson in Colombia at the El Paujil Reserve in 2011.

      Yes I photographed a Great-winged Petrel here in December 2012 – only the a handful of records in North America, and the first from land!

      Nice hearing from you and being reminded of good memories birding!

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