[Tweeters] FW: Bonneville Dam (Skamania Surf Scoter)

Wilson Cady gorgebirds at juno.com
Fri Oct 29 21:28:58 PDT 2010

I received this message from Stuart Johnston.

Wilson Cady
Skamania County, WA

Hi Tom, Wilson, Ken..........

Thought this might interest you....possibly firsts for the year list for Skamania Co.?

All the best..............Stuart
From: johnstonstuartf at hotmail.com
To: hnehls6 at comcast.net; stewart at gorge.net
Subject: Bonneville Dam
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2010 19:39:05 -0700

Hi Harry

On our way home from St. Cloud Recr. Area, Cathy Flick and I stopped in at Bonneville Dam to see what might be there, at about mid-day. Right away we noticed a loafing flock of ducks roughly on the state line: 5 female-plumaged Bufflehead, a changing plumage drake scaup and 2 female-plumaged / imm. Surf Scoters as well as 10 or more W. Grebes. And a little further s., in OR waters, were 2 Red-necked Grebes. Our viewpoint was on a little rise overlooking the WA side of the upstream side of the dam, accessible via Bonneville Dam Access Rd. Don't know if we would have been able to see the Red-necks from the Oregon side viewpoints, as the grebes were close to shore on the n. side of the mound-shaped wooded 'island.' But they might have been visible?

We watched the scoters for at least 3/4 hour and saw one or the other untuck their heads a few times, but mostly they stayed tucked up, loafing. No preening followed by a reassuring stand-in-the-water wing flapping by this duo. Still we felt that the head shots we had were of Surf rather than White-winged scoter. Body size / bulk was similar to the scaup, easily larger than the Bufflehead; White-winged would have looked bulkier / larger than the scaup, in my experience. And White-winged Scoters have a different head profile...with a more gradual slope to the forehead/culmen interface.

Sorry for not contacting you earlier about this other Surf Scoter record (copied from the fall season phenology):

2 on 24 Oct., female-plumaged Surf Scoters, diving at the n. end of Lost L. in MHNF, w. Hood River Co., OR. First noted at 1434; went back to car for scope, then walked s. along the lakeside trail til just a little past the amhitheatre where I scoped them as close as 75m. in good light during a hiatus in the rain, 1440-1509: Dark brown top of head, wings and tail; a little lighter brown on sides of head, breast, sides and back. Both have two diffuse white spots on each side of their heads; one at top of auriculars, rather horizontal in shape, and another slightly smaller, more vertical white spot at the base of the bill. They don�t look like they have feathering extending out onto top of bill as White-winged Scoters do. When I stood up from my scope, they became very alert, and in a minute or two they stood in the water and flapped their wings, first one, quickly followed by the other, at 1502: No white secondaries. Then they preened for a bit�when one rolled onto it�s side I could see that belly was white (SJ).

All the best..................Stuart

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