[Tweeters] Magnuson Park Garganey

Eugene and Nancy Hunn enhunn323 at comcast.net
Tue Dec 29 17:42:31 PST 2009


Brien Meilleur and I stumbled on a GARGANEY on the new pond system in
Magnuson Park, Seattle, this afternoon. We think it is most likely an
eclipse-type male plumage as the speculum is very well defined, though the
head markings are typical of "female" Garganey plumages.

It took us a while to figure it out because the bird was actively diving,
but in an odd auklet-like fashion, in what is a very shallow pond. We later
watched shovelers doing the same. According to the books, Garganeys prefer
shoveler-like filter feeding to up-ending like many dabblers, so perhaps
this diving action was designed to stir up the mud of the bottom. If any of
you has experience with this behavior in Garganeys we'd love to learn about

In any case, the bird was otherwise a perfect Garganey. It hung out for
twenty minutes (from 3 PM, Tuesday, December 29) with a mixed flock of
Canada Geese, Northern Shovelers, Green-winged Teal (nice direct
comparisons), Gadwalls, and Mallards, before disappearing. We tried to
relocate it a half-hour later (we were in the midst of a Big Day effort and
had a few other fish to fry) but were unsuccessful, though by then it was
nearly sunset and the bird in question apparently had flown off, perhaps to
roost on Lake Washington. I have a few marginally recognizable digiscope
photos, though the light was less than adequate for my equipment. I will
share copies as soon as I down-load them.

The bird was a bit larger than a Green-winged Teal and notably more
elongate, with a longer tail and more tapered head and bill, shaped somewhat
like a female Hooded Merganser, it seemed to me. The bill was like a
Pintail's but heavier, all dark gray. The bill was set off from the head and
face by a prominent oval white spot in front of and just below the eye
(loral spot). A dark line bisected the eye and was bordered above and below
by a buffy supercilium (above) and "subcilium" (below). The throat was clear
pale buffy. A striking feature was the strong white-bordered speculum
visible as the bird swam. The speculum was bicolored, emerald green toward
the body, black toward the wrist. This would seem to rule out an immature or
adult female. The feathers of the breast and upper back/nape were strikingly
if subtly patterned, with a small dark central dot in a pale buffy ground,
margined terminally by dark brown. The tail appeared long and solid gray
above. It flapped its wings once. The upper wing appeared gray, but our view
was too brief to be certain of the upper wing pattern. In any case, the
wings were not clipped and the bird apparently flew off while we were
otherwise preoccupied.

Assuming the bird is not an escapee from some breeder's collection, it will
be a King County first.

The pond complex where we found the bird is adjacent to (north and east of)
a large parking lot just off the 65th St. entrance to Magnuson Park off Sand
Point Way. Hope it sticks around.

Gene Hunn

Lake Forest Park, WA

enhunn323 at comcast.net

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