Strolling along the North Basin on Wednesday afternoon, I ignored the Coots that had gathered there more than a hundred strong, and focused on two swimmers that looked a bit different from those I had seen there before. One was some kind of duck, mostly brown, with a lighter side panel and some almost white area below the eye. Running the photo through Merlin Bird ID, the helpful app for compleat bird idiots like myself, up came Ruddy Duck (female or juvenile), with a possible option of Surf Scoter (female or juvenile).
Even though this individual didn’t have the flipped up tail typical of Ruddy Ducks, they don’t always display it, and the light side panel and the single white stripe under the eye say Ruddy Duck. The Scoters tend to have two separate patches under the eye, and their bodies look about the same dark color both top and sides. And the bill looks more like a duck than a scoter. So, my money is on Ruddy Duck.
The other bird I thought was a Western Grebe. But Merlin said it was a Clark’s Grebe. Again, probably the lighter and speckled side is the distinguishing mark. This bird dabbled around with its head underwater for long minutes, looking very odd, until it suddenly straightened up and revealed itself in all its red-eyed yellow-billed glory.
Probably Clark’s Grebe