November 19, 2018

Tufted Duck take two!

The Tufted Duck was still being seen at “The Hook” in Hood River, so on Monday, November 19, I last-minute asked for the afternoon off, checked in on all of my projects to make sure I could work on them later on that evening, and off I went back up to Hood River with my birding sister Lindsay.

We got to The Hook at around 2:30 pm and knew we had ~2 hours to bird before the lighting would get tricky. We spent nearly those entire 2 hours sifting through hundreds of mostly Lesser Scaups in a few discrete rafts.

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Sifting through hundreds of Lesser Scaup looking for the one Tufted Duck; The Hook, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Lindsay Willrick.

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A beautiful, cold afternoon at The Hook in Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Tufted Ducks look similar to Lesser Scaups. There are important distinctions of course, but both species are sharp-looking black and white ducks. I focused on looking for the one duck with a black back instead of a grey-ish back. I was also looking for the head tuft. Mixed in with these ducks was also a handful of Ring-necked Ducks, too. Ring-necked Ducks are ALSO sharp-looking black and white ducks, and they have black backs! To make matters even trickier, the duck rafts kept shifting, merging, flying, and re-sorting. It was getting cold. We were hungry. Beer and burgers were down the street. We were ready to give up until we decided to take one final look, with our binoculars, at a smaller raft that flew in near shore.

Why not, right?

AND THERE HE WAS!

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Tufted Duck and Lesser Scaups; The Hook, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Tufted Duck; The Hook, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

After 2 hours of eye-straining scoping, we saw him with our frigging binoculars, and then we proceeded to celebrate by jumping up and down and cheering. We called this our happy Tufted Duck dance. We even included this in our eBird notes. Unfortunately these shenanigans of ours scared all of the ducks away.

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Lesser Scaups not putting up with our Tufted Duck dance; The Hook, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Thankfully, this little nearshore raft came back. I ran to get my camera out of the car while Lindsay relocated Tufty, and as luck would have it, I actually got some shots.

And, finally, we got to celebrate this fine sighting with mugs of hot water followed by beer and burgers at pFriem Brewery.

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Lindsay and Linda post-Tufted Duck dance; pFriem Brewery, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018.

New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 252

 

 

November 17, 2018

The Oregon Birding Association holds a handful of high-quality field trips throughout the year. I attended one on November 17 in and near The Dalles, Oregon, birding in Wasco County and part of Sherman County.

Our birding began at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, an interpretive center and history museum about the Columbia River Gorge. The center’s grounds have some ponds and shrubby areas, making it a pretty birdy spot. I got bird 251 here, a Swamp Sparrow. Unfortunately he was too quick for my point-and-shoot camera, so instead, here are photos from the day of the Swamp Sparrow’s pond, a fetching and cooperative Golden-crowned Sparrow, and a Horned Grebe and some coots.

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The Swamp Sparrow’s pond; November 17, 2018; Columbia Gorge Discovery Center;  photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Golden-crowned Sparrow; November 17, 2018; Columbia Gorge Discovery Center;  photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Horned Grebe and American Coots; November 17, 2018; Celilo Park, Wasco County, Oregon, photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Before heading back to Salem, we headed to “The Hook” in Hood River, Oregon, to see if we could find the Tufted Duck that had been seen for a few consecutive days. We sifted through the hundreds of Lesser Scaups before we finally had to call it a day because it was getting dark out. I would love to have seen this duck 😦

New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 251