A diary of my birding activity covering highlights and photos from my birding adventures. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I might mention the odd thing that isn't avian, but for moth and other insect news check out my mothing diary.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Marbled Duck hybrid in the Broads

As you probably know if you've been reading my diary for long, I can't resist a good hybrid.  I like learning about bird identification, and hybrids provide a fascinating insight into that topic, but one that has been much ignored by birders for decades.  In some ways wild naturally-occurring hybrids are more interesting than captive or escaped ones, but the insights gleaned from studying captive birds can be applied to wild birds and there's more opportunity to study non-wild birds, so it pays not to ignore even the obvious escapees.  And that's what this one was, a bird photographed by Tony Stride and Murray Smith during the last week at Rollesby Broad.  Said by some observers to be an escaped Speckled Teal (which now comprises two species, Yellow-billed Teal and Andean Teal, only the former having yellow on the bill) but showing some clear anomalies for that ID.  It was clear to me that this was a hybrid involving a Marbled Duck (Marbled Teal), and that immediately made it interesting for any hybrids involving Marbled Ducks are rather unusual.

Based on Tony's photos I identified it as Marbled Duck x Yellow-billed Teal hybrid, but after seeing Murray's photos I started to wonder if it was in fact Marbled Duck x Yellow-billed Pintail.  On Sunday I went to see the bird in the flesh and this reinforced my belief that it involved Yellow-billed Pintail.  After some further discussion with the likes of Joern Lehmhus, perhaps the world's foremost expert on hybrid ducks, I now think I was right the first time, that it was Marbled Duck x Yellow-billed Teal.  I won't go into detail here as I've already done so elsewhere, but here is the bird.

probable Yellow-billed (Speckled) Teal x Marbled Duck hybrid, Rollesby Broad, 24th January

I couldn't find much else here, or across the road at Ormesby Broad

 Check out the variation in leg colour of these Coots...

Coots, Rollesby Broad, 24th January

I headed round to the Filby side where I failed to find anything of interest at Ormesby Little Broad - just a couple of Water Rails and a Treecreeper heard calling.  Across the road at Filby Broad I couldn't find the Mandarin that had been seen a few minutes earlier, just a couple of Goldeneye.

Stopped to check a Pink-footed Goose flock near Clippesby on the way home.  Couldn't pick out anything other than a leucistic Pink-foot.

Not much to report from my lunch breaks last week - a flock of c. 180 Fieldfare at Houghton, a Grey Wagtail over Flitcham and 3 Sparrowhawks. Also a Barn Owl on the way to work at Tattersett.

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