Martin Garner, Ian Lewington and James Lees
female Baikal Teal, Eurasian Teal crecca and Green-winged Teal carolinensis. Plate by Ian Lewington
“The Green-winged and Baikal Teal are an intriguing brace of dabbling ducks. While the female Green-winged Teal teeters at the edge of the realm ‘unidentifiable’, the Baikal Teal teeters on the brink of ‘unacceptable’. Being a natural optimist I want to haul both of them back from the edge. Some female Green-winged Teals can be identified as well as eclipse drakes. A number of Baikal Teal in the Western Palearctic have been genuine vagrants and what a ‘beautifully formed’ (Latin: formasa) vagrant duck the males are!
For those how want to take a longer look at wildfowl in the hunt for these things, a female anas sp. at Seaforth, Merseyside in May 2006 provided a salutary lesson that there is much to be discovered. Quickly heralded as a female Baikal Teal, it soon became evident that while the face pattern seemed exceptional, the overall structure and plumage were closer to Teal (indeed Green-winged Teal). While the identification of this particular bird may never be unequivocal, it provided the necessary perspective that female Teals, though rarely studied, may contain much-sought vagrants and that knowing speculum patterns is a key to correct identification.”
Since then we have been exploring more potential characters for identifying female Green-winged Teal. Compare features visible in the photos. This is not a large sample size- just two birds. However keeps us looking into more characters 🙂