Wednesday, 4 January 2012

In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina

A text message from Steve Ray had me changing directions and heading to the Restharrow Scrape. Green-winged Teals are not the most charismatic of the rarer birds of Kent, but as it was just down the road it was well worth a look. There have been about 24 Kent records, with 13 this century (yes it's the 21st now!).

When I got in the hide there were five regulars in there, and the Teal was on view. As soon as I had got my binoculars on it a passing Marsh Harrier, out of view to me, caused all the ducks to fly. When they settled down one on the watchers offered a sweet to the first person to find in amongst the couple of hundred Teal on the scrape. Unusually for me, I started at the right end of the birds and it was the seventh one that I checked. Sadly the sweet wasn't forthcoming. but at least the bird was on show.

The Green-winged Teal, Anas carolinensis, was until recently considered to be con-specific with the Common Teal, Anas crecca. It is the North American replacement for the Teal that we are used to seeing here. The most striking difference in the drakes is the vertical white bar on the side of the breast, as opposed to the horizontal white bar on top of the flanks shown by the Common Teal.

It was quite a restless bird and moved around the various little islands, intermittently squabbling with it's European hosts.

Seen front on, the vertical bars were very striking, giving it a very different appearance to the other Teal around.

A close look at the head marking shows that the yellow lines that border the green patch on the side of the head are much reduced.

There was a discussion as the whether there were any other differences. Some thought, that at times, it looked a little larger that some of it's neighbours, but that may have been when it was next to small females, certainly it seemed no different in size to the other drakes.

The other point raised was if there was any difference to the under-tail covert pattern. Again, I couldn't see any difference.

I did manage to get a picture of the out-stretched wing, which looks very similar to a Common Teal wing.
Although the bird didn't come very close it was good enough to be an instructive comparison between these two closely related species.


Kingsdowner said...

Great shots of the bird.. I'm envious!
Musical tastes varied too!

Alan Pavey said...

Nice set of pics Tony, a good bird to start the year off.

Marc Heath said...

Nice one Tony, don't often see many photos of these in Kent.

Susan said...

Some excellent shots showing the differences clearly. Well done!