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Teal

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A winter visitor in substantial numbers to Christchurch Harbour, Poole Harbour, Radipole/Lodmoor and the Fleet.


 

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

Teal: the yellow peril

Post date: Wednesday, 25 November, 2015 - 00:00

Every winter the number of immigrant birds builds all along the south coast and especially in Dorset around Christchurch Harbour, Poole Harbour, Radipole/Lodmoor and the Fleet. Amongst the incoming birds are waders, geese and ducks and, surprisingly to me, it seems that the teal (Anas crecca) is not only one of the most numerous but also the most overlooked by the casual observer. 

I think some inexperienced bird watchers may dismiss them as mallard because of the green on their head. Although closely related to mallard, teal are easily distinguished as they are much smaller and have a clearly visible yellow triangle to the rear, under the wing. This yellow is visible, especially through binoculars, from a considerable distance and is the essential mark of the teal. I think it is also true to say that they are a more social bird than the mallard and tend to keep together in quite large flocks, often a few hundred, some times a thousand, together. 

Generally found on our salt marshes around Phragmytes reed beds but you will also find them on sodden riverside pasture and large ponds. So, next time you see a lot of brown ducks, take a closer look. Can you see that yellow flash?


 

Teal in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

Post date: Wednesday, 27 February, 2019 - 18:09

In winter, apart from the ubiquitous mallard, teal must surely be the most numerous wildfowl species in Dorset? Whilst a small number breed further north in Britain this is another bird species that prefers to nest in the far north of Europe and Asia and are forced to migrate south when the harsh conditions set in. As well as Dorset these birds also migrate into southern Europe and even in to Africa. They are usually seen on tidal waters in sheltered locations where they feed on both small invertebrates and vegetable matter; they prefer to feed on mudflats at low tide and unlike many ducks do not seem to like swim on water!

Although primarily a winter visitor and certainly not a breeding species here in Dorset teal are reported in most weeks of the year but it is week 36, as October approaches, that the autumn influx starts and records increase. Reports continue at higher levels until week 9 at the beginning of March and then the bulk of the birds seem to have gone. Being a common species in winter the level of reports does not really reflect the number of birds as they are certainly under reported. Equally, one report could equal 100 birds or more so it is important to remember the graphs are of reports of the species being present and not the number of birds present.

Seen mainly on tidal mudflats most records are from Poole Harbour, where many of the watched sites report them, as well as Christchurch Harbour and the Fleet. There are a small number of reports from inland lakes; Longham and Moors Valley mainly. Expect teal anywhere there is a large expanse of sheltered water but the largest numbers will be found on tidal margins.

A visit to Coombe Heath at Arne at low tide in winter will guarantee teal makes it on to your Dorset list.


 

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Teal
Scientific Name Anas crecca
Status Locally common
Interest Level
2
Species Family Ducks
Visible
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Mudflats
Look for A small duck with a highly visibly yellow triangle in the tail
Additional Identification Notes
  • Large flocks overwinter in the harbours and sheltered waters of Dorset
  • Always found near salt water they feed mainly on open mud flats and in muddy channels in saltmarsh
  • Often dismissed as mallards but always occur in much larger flocks and are much smaller than a mallard but the yellow triangle in the tail is the ultimate differentiation between the two
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