Saturday, 7 September 2013

Blue-winged Teal

I made a quick trip to Coonagh last Sunday(1/9/13) morning followed by a visit to the Charleville Lagoons.  Things were quiet at both sites.  The tide was out at Coonagh so the absence of waders there was no surprise.  A Snipe was the only wader on view at Charleville, a site that was always good for scarce Sandpipers in the past.  I did come across several Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers that provided some good photo opportunities. See shots below.

I returned to Coonagh on Tuesday(3/9/13) evening as weather conditions were perfect and the tide was high. Waders again proved to be in short supply, a small flock of Lapwing being the only species present.  I was scanning the upper lagoon hoping to see if there was any sign of the Garganey that had been hanging around all summer when things took a dramatic turn for the better. I picked up what looked like a drake Blue-winged Teal in the distance.   Closer inspection confirmed the identification.  It was the second record of the species for the site, the first being in October 2010, and the sixth record for the County.
Drake Blue-winged Teal ©Tom Tarpey

Drake Blue-winged Teal  with Coot ©Tom Tarpey

Drake Blue-winged Teal  with Shoveler ©Tom Tarpey

Drake Blue-winged Teal with Coot ©Tom Tarpey

Blue-winged Teal are normally slow to moult out of eclipse plumage and generally the drakes don't appear in full plumage until November.  This bird has well advanced head feather moult. The body feathers generally seem to be still in eclipse mode however there are some signs of the white thigh patches starting to emerge.

While I was looking at the Teal a female/juvenile/type Garganey came into view.  Tony Mee and I had seen what appeared to be two birds in similar plumage flying around the site about ten days earlier but we didn't get a chance to view them on the water.  This bird looks like a possible juvenile bird.  It is noticeably different to the adult female bird that I saw there the following evening (4/9/13) in the company of an eclipse male.  This bird appears buffer in tone and with a less pronounced head pattern than the adult female.  All of these sightings point to the likelihood that the pair may have bred successfully at Coonagh this summer.

 Garganey ©Tom Tarpey 

Going back to Charleville, the adult birds there were looking the worst for ware after the breeding season, whereas the juvenile birds were looking much fresher. 

Adult Chiffchaff ©Tom Tarpey 

Juvenile Willow Warbler ©Tom Tarpey 

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