Stejneger’s Scoter at Alicante, Valencia

Höckerschnabelente ssp. An adult male Stejneger’s Scoter (Melanitta deglandi stejnegeri) could be photographed at Pinet beach, La Marina Coast, Alicante.  This Asian White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi stejnegeri) is the second record for Spain and is a real MEGA .

The bird was seen at least from the 6th of December at La Marina together with Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra), Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), Northern Gannets (Sula bassana), Shags (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) and Razorbills (Alca torda).

The last Stejneger´s Scoter in Europe I heard from, was detected in Norway in Fauske, Nordland, where an adult drake was observerd at Røvika in July 2016 and a individual (maybe the same?) in June near Berlevåg, Finnmark.

The Stejneger´s Scoter is a relative to the White-winged Scoter of North America (Melanitta deglandi). This species is one of three species/subspecies of the Melanitta fusca – group. Theses Scoters are found throughout the Holarctic waters. The assemblage includes Melanitta deglandi stejnegeri of Eastern Asia, White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi deglandi) of North America and the Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca fusca) of Western Asia and Europe.

Though both Scoter, Stejneger’s Scoter (Melanitta deglandi stejnegeri) and American White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi deglandi), are currently lumped as one (i.e. “White-winged Scoter” M. deglandi), the two are strong candidates to be split into separate species in the near future. Adult drakes of stejnegeri and deglandi can be quite easily differentiated due to differing bill structure and coloration and the extent of the white “slash” below and behind the eye – if light allows.

Breeding in Siberia, Stejneger’s Scoter occurres with some regularity along the western coast of Alaska on migration. The photo was shot from the beach of the tiny village of Gambell on the north-western tip of the big St. Lawrence Island in the middle of the Bering Sea. However, identifying the constant flow of migrating White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi ssp.) was not always straightforward. The head shape – one feature – varies between the individuals and depend on angle of the photos as well. One consistent feature, though, appears to be the coloration of the bill tip: a rather reddish base with a yellow ‘rim’, which is seen in the image of the blog. This pattern is consistent with Stejneger’s Scoter.

Contrastingly, American White-winged shows more yellow at the base and central area of the bill

A trip to the tiny village of Gambell on the north-western tip of the big St. Lawrence Island in the middle of the Bering Sea yielded Stejneger’s Scoters and American White-winged Scoters  along with very few Black Scoters (Melanitta americana) and Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata). Some tough birders flew in from the end of May to observe mainly the seabird migration. But during our seven-day stay on the Gambell– led by a guide from High Lonesome Tours – we could observe many more species migrating to their breeding grounds in the tundra landscape of eastern Siberia and Alaska.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the Western Palearctic. Trips to remote places to capture images of rare birds of Western Palearctic were very successful. The nice images you find in the gallery of the seabirds of Gambell are only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Picture Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

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