Thursday 15 November 2012

Clarenville Ducks

My work location (Long Harbour) combined with heavy rain cancelling the work resulted in me getting some free birding time on the Isthmus of Avalon and Clarenville. It was good to check out these poorly covered areas but there were no surprises this time. Clarenville is definitely too good to be left unbirded. The concentration of ducks in the area of Clarenville, Shoal Harbour and Georges Brook is too important to be ignored. Today I kept a total count. I know the geese were missing and birds like Common Merganser and Common Goldeneye which become numerous later in winter also avoided my view.

Total Counts

Canada Goose - 7
American Black Duck - 330
Mallard - none
Northern Pintail - none
American Wigeon - 1
Greater Scaup - 310
Lesser Scaup - 14
Tufted Duck - 5
Red-breasted Merganser - 25

The lack of Mallards and pintails, both common among the ponds in St. John's, shows a more true picture of the relative abundance of these ducks throughout the island of Newfoundland and pretty much Labrador as well. There were domestic Mallard-like ducks present at one place where people throw bread to the ducks, but nothing I thought was a wild Mallard.
The unmarked bright yellow bill identifies the sex of this American Black Duck as a male.
The mottled dark olive bill means this Black Duck at Shoal Harbour (Clarenville area) a female.

There are three Tufted Ducks among this group of Greater and Lesser Scaup by a  favoured sewer outflow in Clarenville.  The flat topped squared off head and more solidly dark back are distinctive Tufted Duck traits.  The immature Tufted Ducks in fall may or may not show a trace of a tuft on the back of the head.  Can you find the three?



  1. I'll lead with my chin. The three closest birds to the Black Duck.

    1. Mark
      You are correct. The three ducks closest to the Black Duck on the beach are the Tufted Ducks. The squared off heads (two with beginings of a tuft) and solid dark brown backs with flanks slightly paler than a scaup creating a somewhat stronger back-to-flanks contrast are what we use in Newfoundland for a quick TUDU ID.


  2. Since when did Lesser Scaup start showing up in respectable numbers in NL? It used to be a semi-big deal to get one for the year, but thre are several in this photo. Or were we just not good at finding them?


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