This unfortunate Lesser Scaup ( Aythya affinis) was found dead 2/17/15 on New Templeton Rd. alongside Natty Pond, part of a shallow wetland system that extends for several miles within the Ware River Watershed. A male in winter (basic) plumage, it was freshly-dead, but distorted, having been run over. After weeks of repeated heavy snowfalls and sub-zero night-time temperatures, there was no open water anywhere. The last place to freeze up is the outlet flow--usually fast moving water-- under the road about 50 feet from where the bird was found, but only a very small opening was present (and likely not visible from the air). Still, it's possible that the presence of the dead bird near a wetland area is not a coincidence. Small numbers of Lesser Scaup winter on open water at Wachusett and Quabbin Reservoirs, both about 20 miles away. Major freeze-ups may have forced the bird to try to fly to a more hospitable site. It is likely the bird succumbed due to the passage of a severe storm with snow and high winds, combined with very low temperatures, on 2/15-16. The carcass is at Framingham State University awaiting necropsy.
Winter casualty mystery
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