This summer observers have reported an unusually large number of sea ducks along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Georgia. The majority of individuals are first year birds, although some adults are being observed. South Carolina wildlife officials have received reports of more than 100 dead sea ducks. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, will be flying aerial surveys to estimate of the number of sea ducks summering along the southeast coast. To help this effort, we encourage the submission of sightings of Black, Surf and White-winged Scoters, as well as any other sea ducks, between Oregon Inlet, NC and the south end of Jekyll Island, GA. This will help target flights. Please be sure to submit checklists from stops in this region even if you do not record any sea ducks. As always, complete checklists reporting all species of birds are the most helpful.
Note that this is a trend that is continuing from Summer 2013. Below are screen grabs of eBird range maps for Black Scoter–arguably the scoter showing the most pronounced departure from “normal”. The 2012 map at the bottom is perhaps representative of a typical year. Note how much higher the frequency is for this species in summer 2013, and how the summer 2014 map shows even higher frequency. Exactly why this is occurring is not known, but winter 2012-2013 was noteworthy in the south Atlantic Coast and Florida (and even Gulf coast) for the huge invasion of Razorbills and Black Scoters. Even a year-and-a half later, we could be seeing lingering effects from this.