Thursday, March 1, 2012


Whenever you visit the Freshwater Estuary you can’t help but notice a constant background noise that sounds like something out of the old ‘Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’ programmes (Remember them?). It’s the pinging sonar-like call of the Teal. This male Teal was on the Western Yar River today (together with my first Green Sandpiper of the year). Look at those amazing patterns of colour, and the vermiculations along the flanks are stunning! As Teal go, this one was amazingly confiding. I’m assuming this is also the individual who didn’t mind a red light disturbing his sleep when I visited late at night a few evenings ago. Most Teal would take off well before I got this close…and the near vertical nature of this flight into the air gives rise to the collective name of ‘a spring of Teal’.
In another sense the Teal is the vertically challenged member of the duck family being pretty titchy as ducks go, but that didn’t stop it from becoming a table delicacy. Indeed, in 1465 a certain Mr George Neville threw a bash at which 4000 Teal and Mallard were on the menu. Bear in mind that they also used to be imported in large numbers from the Continent and it’s no wonder they’re so jumpy!

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