(2282) Nyroca marila marila.
Anas marila Linn., Fauna Suecica, 2nd ed. p. 39 (1761) (Lapland). Nyroca marila. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 462.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Male. Head, neck, breast, upper back, rump and upper tail-coverts black, the first two glossed with green; lower back and scapulars white, finely barred with narrow zig-zag lines of black; tail blackish-brown; wing-coverts blackish-brown vermiculated and spotted with white; primaries black, the inner webs paler and browner except at the tips; outer secondaries white with blackish-brown tips; inner secondaries black or very dark brown glossed with green and, often, finely speckled with white; under wing-coverts and axillaries white, the coverts on the edge of the wing grey, speckled with white; abdomen and flanks white, the posterior abdomen more or less mixed with brown; vent and under tail-coverts very dark brown or black.
Colours of soft parts. Iris yellow or golden-yellow; bill greyish-blue, plumbeous-blue to slate-grey, the nail black; legs and feet greyish-blue or plumbeous-blue to dull slaty, darker on the joints; webs blackish and claws black.
Measurements. Wing, 217 to 235 mm., 209 to 225 mm.; tail 45 to 63 mm.; tarsus 34 to 38 mm.; culmen about, 43 to 47 mm., 40 to 46 mm. Weight 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 lbs.
Female. A broad ring round the base of the bill white, sometimes mingled with brown on the chin; head, neck, upper breast and extreme upper back brown, blackish near the white forehead and with obsolete pale edges to the feathers; centre of back and scapulars brown with a certain amount of white speckling and vermiculations ; rump and upper tail-coverts brown; tail dusky brown; wings as in the male but duller with white speculum restricted : flanks brown, much marked with white; abdomen white, changing; gradually into the brown of the breast and not sharply defined from it; vent sooty-brown; under tail-coverts white, much mottled and marked with dark brown.
The colours of the soft parts are the same as in the male but duller.
Young males are like the adult female but have the white round the base of the bill much less in extent and sometimes almost entirely wanting; the plumage generally is a darker, rather richer brown.
Male in eclipse plumage. Similar to the female but with no white band round the bill, though the feathers of the lores and forehead are sometimes rather whitish ; the upper parts are more vermiculated with white and the speculum is purer white and more pronounced; the under tail-coverts are white, vermiculated and tipped with black; the brown breast and white abdomen grade into one another and are not sharply defined.
Nestling. Upper parts olive-brown without the pale patches of the Common Pochard, except a pale patch on each side of the back, often obsolete; the underparts are creamy-yellow, more buff on the breast and throat and brown on the sides of the body and vent.
Distribution. The Northern Palaearctic region from Iceland to Eastern Siberia. In Winter South to the Mediterranean countries, Northern Africa, South-West Asia to Persia and India. In the last-named country it is a rare visitor only but has occurred from time to time in Kashmir, Kulu, Nepal, Attock, Gurgaon, ? Karachi and South as far as Pan well in Bombay, where Inverarity shot a female in 1884. In 1907 a fine male was purchased in the Calcutta bazaar and in the same year a young female was shot in Chittagong. In Oudh Gompertz shot eleven specimens between 1904 and 1907 ; in Dibrugarh Moore shot one, a young female, in 1904 and in this district I, myself, shot two others, one a fine male and the other a young bird of the same sex.
Nidification. The Scaup breeds in May and June but in its Northern area few birds lay until well on into the latter month. It is said to sometimes breed in heather, grass or other cover but the many pairs I saw breeding in Lapland were all breeding in dense flags or reeds and none in the more open moss and grass-lands where the Mallard and Pintail etc. bred in preference. The nests are well made of flags and rush-leaves, supported either by a tangle of broken-down reeds or by the close-set stems of those still growing, often in quite deep water. The first egg or two seem to be deposited on the flags without any down, but this is then plucked and placed in the nest very thickly and soon works under the eggs as well as forming a wall round them. The normal clutch numbers seven to ten, though much larger are sometimes laid. In colour they are a dull olive-drab and vary but little in tint. One hundred and fifty eggs average 62.7 x 43.8 mm.: maxima 68.1 x 44.7 and 59.0 x 48.0 mm.; minima 54.3 x 41.5 and 66.3 x 40.7 mm. The Scaup is said to sometimes breed in colonies, several nests being built within a few yards of one another.
Habits. The Scaup derives its name from "Scaup" or "Scalp," the term used for the beds of mussels on which it is supposed to feed. Any mollusca are, however, taken as food in addition to Crustacea, worms, larvae, frogs, small fish, insects etc., together with a small proportion of vegetable food. It is a wonderful diver and swimmer, most of its food being obtained by diving, whilst it indulges in this as a sport as well, birds often chasing one another in play both on and under the water. It is a duck which in the non-breeding season prefers the sea to lakes and marshes and even when breeding is very partial to small islands. Its flight when once on the wing is strong but it is slow off the water and rises rather like a Coot; on land, also, it is awkward and walks clumsily and slowly. Its calls are very discordant and Seebohm likens its principal note to a man with an exceptionally harsh voice screaming " scaup " at the top of his voice. It is a poor bird for the table but varies considerably in this respect.