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Where Are The Lesser Scaup?

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  • Matthew Matthiessen
    Greetings Mendobirders, So far this year I ve been up to Lake Mendocino three times and have yet to see a single LESSER SCAUP. GREATER SCAUP are easy to find
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 9, 2004
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      Greetings Mendobirders,
      So far this year I've been up to Lake Mendocino three times and have yet
      to see a single LESSER SCAUP. GREATER SCAUP are easy to find though
      numbers seem to be significantly lower than normal (actually the numbers
      of ducks in general seems to be very low). It's been my experience that
      the split between LESC and GRSC on the lake is fairly even. Has anyone
      seen a LESC on the lake this year and if so from where? How many were
      seen on the CBC and what was the ratio between scaup species? Any
      theories on where they are?

      Matthew Matthiessen
      Ukiah, CA


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • chaniot@pacific.net
      ... Matthew is on to something here. Lesser Scaup are very hard to find at Lake Mendocino. In past years the numbers of scaup overwintering on Lake Mendocino
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 10, 2004
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        >So far this year I've been up to Lake Mendocino three times and have yet
        >to see a single LESSER SCAUP. GREATER SCAUP are easy to find though
        >numbers seem to be significantly lower than normal (actually the numbers
        >of ducks in general seems to be very low). It's been my experience that
        >the split between LESC and GRSC on the lake is fairly even. Has anyone
        >seen a LESC on the lake this year and if so from where? How many were
        >seen on the CBC and what was the ratio between scaup species? Any
        >theories on where they are?
        >
        >Matthew Matthiessen
        >Ukiah, CA

        Matthew is on to something here. Lesser Scaup are very hard to find
        at Lake Mendocino. In past years the numbers of scaup overwintering on Lake
        Mendocino has been in the 1000-4000 range. This year the number is in the
        150-300 range, and Lesser Scaup is almost absent. Unbeknownst to anyone but
        myself, I have begun doing a weekly survey of the waterfowl on Lake
        Mendocino, weather permitting, starting in Sep 2003. I had become concerned
        with the low numbers of ducks in the 2002/03 winter and decided to start
        documenting numbers. I have found a few Lesser Scaup, but it is difficult.
        In the last two weeks the ratio of GRSC:LESC has been 124:3. The scaups
        have been mainly in the north end in the Pomo A area and up in the inlet
        almost to the Hwy 20 bridge.
        As for the low numbers of diving ducks, I am sticking to my
        hypothesis that it is due to the draw-down of Lake Mendocino in the fall of
        2002 causing destruction of the bottom fauna, principally the
        fingernail-sized clams which the diving ducks and some dabbling ducks can
        be seen to be eating. If this is true, I predict the numbers will begin to
        increase in the coming years as the bottom fauna recovers. In the fall of
        2002 scaup arrived in usual numbers, but they did not remain even when the
        water level came back up (Remember that Christmas Count?!). In the fall of
        2003, the numbers never built up.
        In addition there has been a long-term decline in numbers of both
        scaup since the 1960's becoming serious in the late 1990's. See
        http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/1999/blubill/blubill.htm for a 1998
        discussion. I have heard that Ducks Unlimited has recently declared Lesser
        Scaup a species of concern, but I don't know anything particular about
        that.
        The Ukiah Christmas count numbers up to 2002 can be found at the
        Peregrine Chapter Website.
        http://www.pacificsites.com/~chaniot/peregrine.html
        I am also concerned about the future of wintering waterfowl at Lake
        Mendocino if the lake level is raised by 40 feet.

        George Chaniot
        Potter Valley, MEN, CA
      • Matthew Matthiessen
        Thanks for the response and the numbers George. One thing I was finding curious was that although diving duck populations in general are extremely low, COMMON
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 11, 2004
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          Thanks for the response and the numbers George. One thing I was finding
          curious was that although diving duck populations in general are
          extremely low, COMMON MERGANSER numbers seem to be fairly consistent
          with past years. Maybe it's not so curious given your hypothesis that
          the decrease in diving ducks is due to destruction of lake bottom fauna.
          Of the divers I would expect they would be least impacted by bottom
          fauna changes therefore resulting in more stable numbers.

          Matthew Matthiessen
          Ukiah, CA

          >>> <chaniot@...> 02/10/04 04:50PM >>>

          >So far this year I've been up to Lake Mendocino three times and have
          yet
          >to see a single LESSER SCAUP. GREATER SCAUP are easy to find though
          >numbers seem to be significantly lower than normal (actually the
          numbers
          >of ducks in general seems to be very low). It's been my experience that

          >the split between LESC and GRSC on the lake is fairly even. Has anyone
          >seen a LESC on the lake this year and if so from where? How many were
          >seen on the CBC and what was the ratio between scaup species? Any
          >theories on where they are?
          >
          >Matthew Matthiessen
          >Ukiah, CA

          Matthew is on to something here. Lesser Scaup are very hard to find
          at Lake Mendocino. In past years the numbers of scaup overwintering on
          Lake
          Mendocino has been in the 1000-4000 range. This year the number is in
          the
          150-300 range, and Lesser Scaup is almost absent. Unbeknownst to anyone
          but
          myself, I have begun doing a weekly survey of the waterfowl on Lake
          Mendocino, weather permitting, starting in Sep 2003. I had become
          concerned
          with the low numbers of ducks in the 2002/03 winter and decided to start

          documenting numbers. I have found a few Lesser Scaup, but it is
          difficult.
          In the last two weeks the ratio of GRSC:LESC has been 124:3. The scaups
          have been mainly in the north end in the Pomo A area and up in the inlet

          almost to the Hwy 20 bridge.
          As for the low numbers of diving ducks, I am sticking to my
          hypothesis that it is due to the draw-down of Lake Mendocino in the fall
          of
          2002 causing destruction of the bottom fauna, principally the
          fingernail-sized clams which the diving ducks and some dabbling ducks
          can
          be seen to be eating. If this is true, I predict the numbers will begin
          to
          increase in the coming years as the bottom fauna recovers. In the fall
          of
          2002 scaup arrived in usual numbers, but they did not remain even when
          the
          water level came back up (Remember that Christmas Count?!). In the fall
          of
          2003, the numbers never built up.
          In addition there has been a long-term decline in numbers of both
          scaup since the 1960's becoming serious in the late 1990's. See
          http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/1999/blubill/blubill.htm for a 1998
          discussion. I have heard that Ducks Unlimited has recently declared
          Lesser
          Scaup a species of concern, but I don't know anything particular about
          that.
          The Ukiah Christmas count numbers up to 2002 can be found at the
          Peregrine Chapter Website.
          http://www.pacificsites.com/~chaniot/peregrine.html
          I am also concerned about the future of wintering waterfowl at Lake
          Mendocino if the lake level is raised by 40 feet.

          George Chaniot
          Potter Valley, MEN, CA






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