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Well, the 43rd bird from the right, 5th down, in the first photo shows what appears to be a nametag reading "G. Scaup" so that could be one. 😉

If you have any shots of the birds in flight against a dark background that would help. I think at this distance the wing stripe would be your best bet.

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Poor quality photos aside, what can you all tell me about flock size and scaup species?  There were at least 150 birds in this particular flock.  Would a flock of that size be most likley mixed (and, if so, more likely all scaup species or other ducks as well) or is either of the two scaup species in question more likely to be in a more-or-less pure flock of mostly its own kind? @Avery  @Hasan

 

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Interesting question. I think habitat is an indicator that helps with that. On the ocean, I have rafts of Greaters, with maybe a few Lessers mixed in. Inland, I usually just see groups of Lessers, with maybe a few Greaters mixed in rarely.

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9 hours ago, floraphile said:

Poor quality photos aside, what can you all tell me about flock size and scaup species?  There were at least 150 birds in this particular flock.  Would a flock of that size be most likley mixed (and, if so, more likely all scaup species or other ducks as well) or is either of the two scaup species in question more likely to be in a more-or-less pure flock of mostly its own kind?

Locally (an inland water body so probably not relevant to your location) it would be unusual for a raft that size to be just one species, almost always mixed aythya often with others such as Goldeneye, Bufflehead. They all appear to be Scaup but there could be Ring-necked in the mix.

It seems Greater and Lesser are equally likely for your location (you could check eBird reports to see what others reported - I had a very quick look and didn't see any with flocks that size) but if you got a decent look and are comfortable with Lesser then why not report as such, if you didn't already.

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1 hour ago, RobinHood said:

Locally (an inland water body so probably not relevant to your location) it would be unusual for a raft that size to be just one species, almost always mixed aythya often with others such as Goldeneye, Bufflehead. They all appear to be Scaup but there could be Ring-necked in the mix.

It seems Greater and Lesser are equally likely for your location (you could check eBird reports to see what others reported - I had a very quick look and didn't see any with flocks that size) but if you got a decent look and are comfortable with Lesser then why not report as such, if you didn't already.

Thank you @RobinHood!  I reported it as "Greater/Lesser" because I wasn't 100% sure.   We were just at the terminal edge of a strong cold front that had passed through.  Diffuse light, but not strong enough for good photos of distant birds and much too windy to try and scope.  I was almost blown off the bluff myself.  

Edited by floraphile
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13 hours ago, floraphile said:

Poor quality photos aside, what can you all tell me about flock size and scaup species?  There were at least 150 birds in this particular flock.  Would a flock of that size be most likley mixed (and, if so, more likely all scaup species or other ducks as well) or is either of the two scaup species in question more likely to be in a more-or-less pure flock of mostly its own kind? @Avery  @Hasan

 

What I usually do is I get an overall estimate of the total number of Scaup. I count Ring-necks, Buffleheads, Goldeneye, and others separately. I then use a sample of the flock and count how many Lessers and how many Greaters. Then you can scale that up to fit the group, and that is usually a good estimate. If the group is small enough and not moving around much, you can count every bird. 

As to whether they would be mixed, looking at range maps indicates that yes, there would usually be a mix.

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1 hour ago, Avery said:

What I usually do is I get an overall estimate of the total number of Scaup. I count Ring-necks, Buffleheads, Goldeneye, and others separately. I then use a sample of the flock and count how many Lessers and how many Greaters. Then you can scale that up to fit the group, and that is usually a good estimate. If the group is small enough and not moving around much, you can count every bird. 

As to whether they would be mixed, looking at range maps indicates that yes, there would usually be a mix.

Give this dude a badge! That’s very helpful/interesting.

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