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Re: [Mendobirds] Where Are The Lesser Scaup?

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  • 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 1 of 3 , Feb 11, 2004
      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
      >to see a single LESSER SCAUP. GREATER SCAUP are easy to find though
      >numbers seem to be significantly lower than normal (actually the
      >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
      Mendocino has been in the 1000-4000 range. This year the number is in
      150-300 range, and Lesser Scaup is almost absent. Unbeknownst to anyone
      myself, I have begun doing a weekly survey of the waterfowl on Lake
      Mendocino, weather permitting, starting in Sep 2003. I had become
      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
      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
      2002 causing destruction of the bottom fauna, principally the
      fingernail-sized clams which the diving ducks and some dabbling ducks
      be seen to be eating. If this is true, I predict the numbers will begin
      increase in the coming years as the bottom fauna recovers. In the fall
      2002 scaup arrived in usual numbers, but they did not remain even when
      water level came back up (Remember that Christmas Count?!). In the fall
      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
      Scaup a species of concern, but I don't know anything particular about
      The Ukiah Christmas count numbers up to 2002 can be found at the
      Peregrine Chapter Website.
      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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