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Scaup Surge

Posted on Mar 12, 2017

Thanks to recent warm temperatures and favorable winds, Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) like those shown here are now on the move back to the north, and during the past couple of weeks their numbers have been growing across the region. While you can find some throughout the winter in open areas on large bodies of water such as Lake Erie, most members of this species migrate south to evade the cold.

We have been able to enjoy several thousand – probably 5,000 or 6,000 and maybe more – in the waters of Long Island Sound off Stratford Point. Most stay rather far offshore and away from the camera lens, but can be scoped and observed well as they fly from one spot to another while feeding, breaking into groups of several hundred or a thousand and then coming back together as one mass. Witnesses tell us that, decades ago there were several times as many individuals present at peak as we’ve witnessed here! Unfortunately, the population is in decline due to some unknown combination of factors.  For now, we are happy to see so many with us and wish them well on their journey to the north…when spring actually springs and the snow stops!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator