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