Hybrid Grey Teal/Hardhead at Blue Gum Lake

The following are photographs of a duck that I photographed at Blue Gum Lake in suburban Perth on 17th January 2002.  The duck had been reported to me a few days earlier by Wynton Maddeford.  It had also been seen by Valerie Hemsley and had been present since at least the 9th January.  Wynton initially showed me the duck on 16th January 2002 between 13:40 and 15:00.  I returned the following morning to take the photographs.  The following are the better photographs, although the lighting wasn't the best, and some detail is lost in scanning.  What duck is it?

 

 

The duck is superficially a Grey Teal in size and approximate shape.  The most noticeable difference, even when you see it alone is that it is more 'brown' than a Grey Teal.  It has a whitish throat.  It is less 'speckled' in general and especially on the breast.  It has a green speculum at rest.  It has a dark eye, possibly reddish if you are close and the light is good.  It was certainly not an obvious red eye compared to the Grey Teal.  A couple of times when the duck bent its head forward it appeared to be streaked slightly more chestnut on the top of the crown.  The bill is slightly heavier than a Grey Teal.

The blurred photograph above where it is taking flight shows an interesting wing pattern with the white central wedge, green speculum (not shown clearly in photograph but seen in right light in flight) and white trailing edge.

I first observed the duck with Wynton at the western end of the lake in the shallows around the flooded dead tree trunks.  There were two Grey Teal in the area which almost almost stayed close together.  This duck occasionally came close to these Grey Teal but never associated with them.  The duck often came into the very edge to feed (well within a metre of the edge).

I returned the following day to photograph the duck.  It wasn't at the western end, but I met Valerie Hemsley and she said that she had sometimes found it loafing on the bank to the west of the car park in the north east corner.  I went around there and found the duck loafing with a group of Pacific Black Ducks in the shade of a tree.  I approached slowly while taking some photographs.  The ducks eventually swam out about 20 metres from the bank and circled around behind me to come ashore in the shade of another tree.  I walked back and they swam out again and back to their first location.  I approached a final time and got some good photographs as the duck stayed on the shore while the Pacific Black Ducks swam out.  I then approached the duck and obtained a poor photograph above as it flew from the bank and down to the western end of the lake.  I went back to the western end of the lake to finish the roll of film.  I tried to take some photographs of the pair of Grey Teal but these photographs were not the best.

The duck was last seen on 20th January 2002.

The general consensus by people who have seen the photographs in this article is that the duck is likely to be a hybrid between a Grey Teal and possibly a Hardhead.

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2002 Visits Last Modified 18th February 2002