Wednesday 28 February 2024

Venus Pool - Aberrant Teal take 2

I was hoping for better images of the mysterious aberrant 'Teal' after a no show the previous day. My luck was certainly in with the Teal showing really well early afternoon... 

A touch Leucistic on the breast (that was the first assumption)! The overall 'brown wash' to most of the underparts is the most dramatic aberration.

I had assumed it was simply a Eurasian Teal with an aberrant colour suite? 

I love this image of the aberrant duck with a normal Eurasian Teal taken at full throttle. They also indicate the differences point to a hybrid Teal. The burning question is which species?

I'm indebted to the birder behind @BirdHybrids for all his help for finally putting the mystery to rest. 

He asked another hybrid expert Jorn Lehmhus for advice... This is a 'sarcelle a bavette' literally translated as 'Teal with a bib'. A breed that started with crossing male Eurasian, Green-winged or Yellow-billed Teal with female black Call ducks - the offspring seemingly then crossed among themselves!

Many of these crosses have little evidence of of Teal ancestry but here is an example of domestic Mallard crossed with Teal...

If this duck was crossed again with a Teal, he considers you would end up with a duck very similar to the Venus Pool bird!

Huge thanks to Jorn Lehmhus, @BirdHybrids and @ed_keeble who also contributed to solving the puzzle...

Monday 26 February 2024

Venus Pool - Aberrant or hybrid Teal

The days merge into one with the same species at Venus Pool...  time to look a bit closer and I suspect this Teal has been overlooked? Question is What is it? An aberrant plumage form of Eurasian or a hybrid??

I picked it out fairly close and it doesn't look like an aberrant Eurasian Teal - colour scheme completely wrong?!

White breast, brown flanks and grey upper parts...

It does appear to be larger in this image but is it? No buff at the rear...

It was certainly up for some courtship, even if males were included!

In this comparison, seems to be no difference in size?

Answers on a postcard please and hopefully someone looking in can suggest what's going on?

Monday 19 February 2024

Venus Pool - Red Kites

There were two Red Kites quartering the arable field as I arrived early afternoon. A tractor topping the now redundant crop had clearly caught their attention! Hmm the pool could wait...

Here's a few close encounters...

Plus a couple of very close passes!!!

Utterly fearless...

Sunday 18 February 2024

Venus Pool - Golden Plovers

Golden Plovers are like 'Hens Teeth' at Venus Pool and the only sightings I've previously had were back in the period 29 Oct - 1 Nov 2009 when a flock of c1000 were feeding in nearby fields then dropping into VP for a wash / drink. 

Early afternoon saw a more restrained invasion with 34 present on the shingle island!

The nervous flock of Lapwings were doing their usual panic flights and this drew the Plovers into following the crowd! Some returned dropping in the water before flying again. 

Their last fly-about turned into a departure - great opportunity for flight shots!

Getting a bit tangled up here...

There was one ringed bird (T13 above knee, red and silver below). Almost certain to be courtesy of Tony Cross? We shall see and I'll update accordingly...

Hope if doesn't take another 15 years the next visitors...

Friday 9 February 2024

Venus Pool - Snipe and Teal close up

 No real stand out birds today apart from a close up opportunity of...

Male Teal

Common Snipe

Wednesday 7 February 2024

Shoveler and Shelduck in a flap - Venus Pool

Getting a little monotonous at Venus Pool today! Occupied myself with a Shelduck and Shoveler... 

In a flap! Shelduck first...              

And a Shoveler in a hurry!

 Glad I did with the dry conditions disappearing from tomorrow!

Sunday 4 February 2024

Venus Pool - Oystercatcher and Dipper

Two Oystercatchers have arrived recently and lets hope for breeding success?

And the Dipper at Cound Stank gave extended but distant views...

Venus Pool - Pochard

It's been a good winter for Pochard at VP and there were eight present today including this female which came a bit closer than the norm...

Saturday 3 February 2024

Battlefield - Cattle Egrets

Had a quick stop whilst driving to Ellesmere and the seven Cattle Egrets were still showing distantly in the stubble field they now called home... As I was passing on the way back it seemed rude not to have another look? 

There were now none in sight but I was about to have one of my stored up 'lucky moments' as all seven returned in flight near the car park. I managed one frame filling bird with nothing cropped...

And then three of them perched in a nearby tree!

What a turnaround in luck (but it was my 7th visit)...

Wood Lane - Redshank

Redshank have not been too plentiful in the county in recent years and with one on offer at Wood Lane today, I took a chance it would still be there at midday? It wasn't showing, so a waiting game ensued in the company of one of the friendly local birders... Best part of an hour later it was in view but sadly 100m+ away, oh well, wasn't a wasted visit.... Record shot alert!!

The nearest it got was behind a reed bed, just enough room for a 'stem free' pic!

There were plenty of Shelduck, Gadwall plus a Treecreeper / flock of 15+ Siskin in the little copse behind the hide.