Greater Scaup or Tufted Duck? - Any help on this one please!

Hey there folks,

Hope all is good with everyone.

Was over at Cliffe Pools yesterday trying to spy the Spoonbill (which we did ) but also spotted a few dabblers way off on one of the pools. Getting home and having taken a look at the images I'm wondering whether they were Greater Scaup (five in all) or possibly just a female Scaup mixing with a couple of Tufted Ducks?

I've scoured quite a few images and consulted the Collins and Wild Guides books and am struggling to pin it all down - for example, the female looks to have a clear white front to her face and the male in one of the shots just doesn't seem to have the right amount of black on the bill tip. Additionally, I think (or maybe I'm just trying to convince myself!) they just look bulkier and with more rounded, bulbous heads!

I've popped a few pics on here so maybe one of you fine individuals could take a look and see what you think - would be very grateful as have never yet seen a Scaup and would be one for the life list - Apologies for the low quality snaps, they were handheld with a full on 600mm telephoto from quite a few hundred yards.

Thanks for your help, folks,


  • Here’s a bit of a guide that might help, bear in mind they’re in eclipse plumage.

  • In reply to Internetman:

    Hello there Internetman,

    Many thanks for digging into this - it's definitely an interesting one. The link you provided looks a like a fine resource especially with the plates showing the various drawings. I agree, eclipse plumage could be a possibility here and there's a strong argument for it being so, but (am still being optimistic here!!) I'm still 99% unconvinced.

    The bird looks heavier and broader to me, it's bill looks broader too and darker and the highest point of the head appears to be closer to the forehead. That and also I just can't see a whiff of a tuft at all.

    It may be the angle, the length of zoom, the light and I'm definitely open to the possibility that, as you say, these guys/gals were in eclipse - but I'm hanging out for that 1% so I can get the Scaup into my scrapbook :)

    A bit more research for me I reckon to see if I can turn water into wine :)

    Thanks again my friend,

  • Many times I've been fooled by Tutfy v Scaup 

    Mark, if you have no luck on here then try as those guys are pretty good too.

    And sometimes you just have to accept that a bird may not be what you want it to be - no matter how frustrating that may be.

    Good luck - wish I could have helped more.

  • Scaup for me, they are quite broad bodied and not neat enough for Tufties, with definitely bulbous heads, and agree with your comments re the bill, goonfish. Nice spot!
  • Hey everyone,

    Thanks very much for taking a look and perusing over this as much as I have :)

    You're not wrong @rspbailey, I've had a Scaup picture in my photo book a few times and eventually had to replace it with a blank space for now ha ha - I'll check out a few more pages but thanks for pointing out the too

    And @Mr. B, ooh, that's the cat amongst the pigeons right there - you've fuelled my hope and optimism :)

    I'll keep digging on all fronts and see what I find, but I really do appreciate you guys chipping in with the comments.

    Thanks, everyone