Saturday 19 April 2014

Teal sp. x Tufted Duck

probable Teal sp. x Tufted Duck hybrid, Cantley Beet Factory (Norfolk, UK), 24th February 2008 - copyright Dave Appleton
(photo ID: 0384)

This duck was reported the previous day as a presumed Teal x Tufted Duck.  When I went to see it I wasn't convinced by the proposed ID but was not at all sure what it is.  My initial view was that the similarities to Hottentot Teal or perhaps Silver Teal were too great to be coincidental. David Russell informed me that an escaped Silver Teal was present at the site the previous August which may or may not be relevant.  The second parent was not certain either, though it seems to be an Aythya sp. and Tufted Duck seems a strong contender.

The originally suggested ID of Teal x Tufted Duck is still in the frame - at the moment we don't have enough info about what females of this hybrid should look like, and that would perhaps be more likely. Other comments would be welcome.

It was about the size of Eurasian Teal, seeming a fraction larger in the field.  Its tail was often held flat against the water like the diving ducks but often in the air where appeared quite pointy.  It was constantly feeding - never dived but held its head further under than most dabbling ducks tend to.  The rather plain dark brown back contrasted with the plain-ish paler brown flanks. The contrast always seemed stronger when the bird was facing slightly away.  Note the curvature of this border - seemed rather Aythya like to me. 

Its most obvious feature was the pale cheeks contrasting with the dark crown (coming down round eye) and nape.  Also note the Pintail-like bill, quite pale bluish grey with a dark culmen.  It had dark on the face at the base of the bill, bulging at the gape.  One or two photos seem to show a red eye, but the quality isn't clear enough to be sure - this wasn't noticed in the field.  The white trailing edge to the secondaries was sometimes visible on the closed wing.  My flight shots were rubbish but show how conspicuous the white trailing edge to the secondaries was.  The underwing appeared quite pale but I couldn't clinch the precise pattern.  Justin Lansdell had previously seen this bird and got a shot of its underwing here.

probable Teal sp. x Tufted Duck hybrid, Cantley Beet Factory (Norfolk, UK), 24th February 2008 - copyright Dave Appleton
(photo IDs: 0385-0392)

Eurasian Teal Anas crecca
Silver Teal Anas versicolor
Hottentot Teal Anas hottentota
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

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