Monday 17 September 2012

Blue-winged Teal x Northern Shoveler hybrid in Northamptonshire

Whilst sunning myself at relatively dead Middleton Lakes RSPB news of a BLUE-WINGED TEAL came through from Daventry Reservoir. Having not seen too many examples of this American species in Blighty, I decided to travel the short distance over the border into Northamptonshire to take a look at it. Upon arrival the bird had not been seen for over two hours but after a quick scan from the dam I managed to pick up an interesting looking duck in the distance feeding amongst the vegetation. Typically as I moved further down near the cafe for a closer look the bird quickly swam out of view into the sanctuary of Lovell's Bay. My immediate reaction from the brief glimpse was that it did resemble a BLUE-WINGED TEAL but there was definitely something not quite right about it. I needed an even closer look.

Blue-winged Teal x Northern Shoveler hybrid
Daventry Reservoir, Northamptonshire.

As I approached the small crowd that had gathered around the other side of the bay, there were already whispers of it looking more like a hybrid than a pure BLUE-WINGED TEAL. With the bird now showing reasonably well the bill looked a little too large from the side profile. When viewed head on however the spatulate bill looked much more like that of a Northern Shoveler. As it lifted it's head there was also a large amount of orange on the underside of the bill, again suggestive of Northern Shoveler. There was also a hint of orange along the cutting edge of the bill. In addition, the pale loral spot was not too obvious and neither was the pale eye-ring. The open wing was viewed very briefly and this seemed to look good for BLUE-WINGED TEAL but I unfortunately I failed to get any shots to confirm this.

Blue-winged Teal Northern Shoveler hybrid
Daventry Reservoir, Northamptonshire.

With Lee Evans on site the disappointment of 'dipping' a local rarity was made a lot more bearable with his entertaining outbursts of "Someone's dumped their duff duck!" and "The bloody thing can't even fly!". He was even heard to shout "This place is cursed!", no doubt in reference to both this dodgy duck and last year's 'Greater Greenlegs' debacle.

More images of this 'educational bird' can be found here

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