blackjayx: Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)  ♂ #1 (#329)I’ve…

Posted February 21st, 2019 by John Callender


Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) 


#1 (#329)

I’ve mentioned (in tag screeds, so you might have missed it) that my level of birdy obsessiveness has crept down a notch since the end of 2018. I’m still birdwatching every day (eBird checklist streak at 429 days), but I’m not actively trying for the top spot in the eBird year rankings in the county. (Well. Not much.) (I’m currently in second at 189.) (But it’s not like I’m keeping track or anything.) (Mark’s ahead by 10 species.)

Anyway, I wanted to share some of the fun, and I thought instead of keeping track of the county year list (which obviously is ticking up relatively quickly in these early months) I could instead talk about my county life list.

The male Tufted Duck that I (barely) saw at Lauro Reservoir on January 6 was my first county life bird of 2019. The bird was hanging out with some Lesser Scaups, floating along with his head tucked in, which made it tricky to get a good view. But at one point his tuft stuck up a little and I was able to snap some very distant shots through a chain link fence:

So, not the most satisfying view, but the strong black-and-white pattern was enough to ID him even without the cowlick. And I had Curtis Marantz (one of the more intimidatingly awesome birders I’ve been lucky enough to see in action) standing next to me confirming, so there was no doubt.

The Tufted Duck was #329 in my Santa Barbara County life list, and he was a legitimate life bird overall for me, too, at least in eBird, and I think probably in reality. (I threw away my lists when I quit birding in my late teens, so I’m going by memory. But I’m pretty sure I never saw a Tufted Duck back then, and these days I just treat eBird, which I started using in 2004, as my canonical source.)

Fun fact: There are 18 Santa Barbara County birders who are listed on the county birders’ “400 Club” web page. There are only 6 eBird users with more than 400 species in the county in their eBird lists, and 3 of them haven’t bothered to include themselves in the 400 Club listings; a bunch of other birders who are in the 400 Club are also in eBird, but with fewer than 400 birds there. So there’s some messiness, with a lot of long-time birders having birds from older lists they haven’t bothered to import into eBird even if they’re using it, and other birders with big lists (whether or not they’re in eBird) that they haven’t bothered to send in to the people maintaining the 400 Club listing.

But it’s a game, and for game purposes I’m just going to look at eBird. I’m currently ranked #20 in the Santa Barbara County all-time rankings there, but Conor is only one bird behind me and likely to pass me at any time; he’s a great birder and quite active.

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Tags: carp without cars, birds, tudu, santa barbara county life list.

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