It’s been a brilliant breeding season locally for ducks. One species that has especially profited is the Grey Teal Anas gracilis – I’ve found them breeding at Cairn Curran, along the Loddon River, across the Moolort wetlands and on the plethora of small farm and bush dams throughout the district. I suspect some pairs have raised more than one clutch.
It has to be said, but at rest Grey Teal are a little drab. The sexes are identical and are a uniform mottled grey-brown all over, apart from a distinctive white throat. The adults have a bright red eye which separates them from juvenile and immature birds, as shown in the images below. Like all birds the delicate patterning of their plumage can only be appreciated up-close.
In flight there is more to look out for – a white wedge on the upper wing, with a dark green speculum. The underwing is grey-brown with a distinctive white ‘armpit’. Grey Teal are in many respects similar to the Chestnut Teal – a duck that is less common locally but can often be seen in mixed flocks. I’ll cover the differences between the two species tomorrow.