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Saturday, 20 February 2010

Wexford BAIKAL TEAL - a new bird

Killian Mullarney, the finder of this week's Tacumshin Baikal Teal, has kindly summarised a remarkable series of events at Tacumshin this year. It appears that a drake hybrid Baikal Teal has metamorphised into a pure drake Baikal Teal !

This incredible and almost unbelievable chain of events is equally mirrored by the fact that both the hybrid Baikal Teal from the Midlands and the yellow-ringed drake Falcated Duck from Northamptonshire have both ended up wintering in this area.

Hi Lee

While I can understand your assumption that the Baikal Teal I found at Tacumshin today was a 'reappearance' of the bird claimed there last month, there are strong grounds for concluding that last month's claim was based on a misidentification of a Baikal Teal-like hybrid, which I relocated at Tacumshin last weekend, and photographs of which are at:


http://www.irishbirding.com/birds/web/Display/sighting/20551/Clarification_Required.html

The original observation, on 5th January, was identified retrospectively, the observer having assumed at the time that he was looking at the (ringed) adult male Falcated Duck, that had been present earlier in the winter (but which had actually been shot on the North Slob several weeks previously). The observer had very good, close-range views of the bird, and went to the trouble of taking field notes, even though he was mainly concentrating on counting wildfowl at the time. He registered a strong head pattern and a narrow white vertical stripe at the stern. However, he did not notice any white bar on the side of the breast, long, pennant scapulars or any sort of supercilium. When he saw my video-grabs of the hybrid I saw last weekend, he agreed that it looked like the same bird. Today, he came to see the Baikal Teal. He has written to me this evening to let me know that even though he is not 100% certain what he saw on 5th January, he is inclined to think it was the hybrid, not the actual Baikal.

Had I not seen the hybrid with my own eyes last weekend I'd have found it hard to believe there wasn't just one bird, but sometimes strange coincidences happen! Incidentally, it seems very likely that the hybrid is the same individual photographed at Stanwick Lakes in October 2009:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8209127@N04/3984332115/in/pool-hybridbirds/

It is tempting to speculate that this bird is a hybrid Baikal Teal x ?. I'll be trying to relocate the hybrid at Tacumshin in the coming days.


Incidentally, we had good looks at the Baikal's legs on three or four occasions when it walked out onto the mud. It is unringed.

All the best,

Killian