|Common Name||White-winged Scoter|
|Scientific Name||Melanitta fusca|
|Type of Report||Rare Species|
|Date of Observation||03/26/2018|
|Reporting Observer's Name||James Osborn|
|Mailing Address||O-2 Grandview Drive|
South Burlington, VT 05403
|Names & Emails of Other Contributing Observers|
|Latitude of Observation||0|
|Longitude of Observation||0|
|Place Name||Charlotte Town Beach|
|Vermont eBird Checklist URL||ebird.org|
|Time of Day||06:22 PM|
|Length of Time Observed||31 minutes for the entire flight to move North past my position|
|Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)||1200|
|Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)||1200|
|Noteworthy Weather Conditions|
Sun was setting. Birds were backlit which heightened the “white scapulars” but eliminated all other fine detail. They were “powering” through a light headwind over the open Lake.
|Optical Equipment Used for Observation|
Zeiss 8X42 Binoculars
|Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species|
Extremely familiar with this Species. Favorite duck. I live on the coast of Rhode Island when I’m not here in Vermont. This Species is very common off the Beach right in front of our house.
|I certify that that attachments included with this report were captured during this observation event.|
|Description of Habitat|
Open Lake off Charlotte Town Beach. Other species present included Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Long-tailed Duck, and Canada Goose.
The birds were flying fairly low over the water in a “string formation”. As they “powered” up the Lake they made several “spiraling” moves which allowed individual birds to take the lead in the flock. This made the “string” look like a moving snake. The birds never varied from this formation. All birds showed rapid wingbeats and were moving very quickly. Their flight was straightforward. The wind didn’t seem to be a problem for them.
|Description of Vocalizations|
|Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation|
I first observed this Species “powering” up the Lake about 30 feet above the water at 6:22 PM. There were 29 birds in a “string” formation moving North very fast up the Lake. The birds appeared all black except for the big white rectangular wing patches. I recognized this species immediately because it is my favorite duck. I grew up with this Species on the coast of Rhode Island and I have seen 1000’s of them in my 57 years of birding. The flight continued for 31 minutes. Counts were as follows: 6:22 PM (29), 6:25 PM (11), 6:35 PM (5), 6:40 PM (4), 6:40 PM (7), 6:41 PM (2), 6:45 PM (12), 6:46 PM (2), and 6:53 PM (4). All of the birds appeared to be tracking up the Lake on the same exact line. All of them were flying in the “string” formation. All of them showed a “white speculum”. These birds were moving fast. All of the groups stayed low over the Lake. I kept watching them until they disappeared from sight.
|Relative Size & Shape|
Medium-sized bird. Long body shape.
You couldn’t make out any fine detail on the head of the bird due to the distance from the bird and the backlighting. Sun angle was a problem.
|Feet & Bill|
You couldn’t make out any color on the bill due to the distance from the bird and the backlighting. Sun angle was a problem.
You couldn’t make out any fine detail on the upper back due to the distance from the bird and the backlighting. Sun angle was a problem.
|Lower Back & Rump|
You couldn’t make out any fine detail on the lower back and rump due to the distance from the bird and the backlighting. Sun angle was a problem.
The wings were all black with large white patches in the secondaries. Very visible in flight.
|Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts|
You couldn’t make out any fine detai on the body of the birds due to the distance from the bird and the backlighting. Sun angle was a problem.
The tail was not distinguishable from the body due to the distance from the bird and the backlighting. Sun angle was a problem.
|IMPORTANT: What similar species were eliminated when making the identification and how was this bird different?|
Black Duck - eliminated by the big white wing-patches and somewhat smaller size. Also, I have never seen American Black Ducks fly in a “string” formation with each bird following directly behind the bird in front of it, and remaining that way.
Black Scoter - eliminated by larger size and the white wing-patches. Black Scoters are smaller and more compact.
|Other Notes & Comments|
Age and sex of these birds was not determined.
I was very surprised to see this Species in these numbers. This is extremely unusual, to put it mildly. Seeing one or two birds would have been reasonable. This Species is around at the moment, and has been seen fairly recently farther South in Lake Champlain. However, seeing 76 of these birds moving through was extraordinary. Nine separate groups passing through over a 31-minute span was crazy. I can’t account for it. It makes no sense. I have absolutely no explanation for this. All I do know is that that the 76 birds that I saw had to be White-winged Scoters. They couldn’t have been anything else.
|This report was written from notes taken:||During the Observation|