Date: 2/2/18 5:08 pm From: David McLean (via carolinabirds Mailing List) <carolinabirds...> Subject: Tufted Duck found on Jack's Creek, Bulls Island, Cape Romain NWR
Fri 2 Feb 2018
David Youndblood and I found a Tufted Duck calmly hanging out with a raft of Lesser Scaup and Ruddy Ducks on Jack's Creek, Bulls Island, Cape Romain NWR, Charleston County, SC.
We had just arrived at the Old Fort on the back (bay) side of Jack's Creek about 9:30 AM and were scoping the ducks from afar before walking further out into the open. This scaup-sized duck had a very dark head, very dark butt, and very dark back and had a bright-white side below folded wings; the line of demarcation between the dark and white plumage was razor-sharp. It was floating with it's head tucked between it's wings. It's yellow eye showed well. Then we saw a distinct feather tuft. That made for an easy ID as it turned out.
We spent two hours scoping this duck, taking digiscope and digital camera pictures (which we fully expect to be absolutely diagnostic). We were joined briefly by Sarah Dawsey (the Cape Romain Refuge Manager) and a couple of alligator sleuths (who were there pulling several dead alligators and performing necropsies). The Tufted Duck spent most of it's time resting with it's bill tucked and keeping company with the LESC and RUDU. The duck was at sufficient distance that a spotting scope was absolutely needed to confirm the ID; we could see the duck with binoculars but couldn't see details sufficiently to ID without scopes. Best field marks to look for to pick out this one duck among the raft of ducks was the very dark head/back/butt contrasting sharply with bright white sides. Once located this way the bird's tuft was easily seen, even with it's head tucked.
Just as an FYI, the regular ferry service to Bulls runs Saturday only departing from Garris Landing at 10:00 AM. No advance registration required, just board and pay the ferryman.
We will post a fuller description and some photographs with our eBird checklist later this evening.