On Sunday 5.11.00, Lise and I obtained distant backlit views of an unusual
teal like duck at Morpeth STW, north of Maitland in the NSW Hunter Valley.
It had a rufous chocolate head, grey back, milk coffee chest and sides,
white flank patch with black undertail. It eventually flew off to the other
side (about a 6 KM walk) and showed a longish pointed tail, white stripe
anterior to the speculum, pale tertial braces and headlights on the flanks.
I was stumped as to species not helped by distance, lighting and bins only.
Not often you find a bird and cannot tell what species it is. I entertained
Eurasian Wigeon juvenile male but one feature-the bill length was wrong
being too long.
Size, upperwing pattern, head shape and posture seemed OK, but not perfect.
Returned today at 600 am with Tony Palliser and Ian McAllan, quickly
relocated it with telescope and can confirm it is definitely NOT a Eurasian
Wigeon. The beak is actually orange with a bluish tip and dark tip to the
lower mandible. The beak appears too long. In some respects the head shape
is good for Red-crested Pochard but upperwing pattern and several other
features are wrong. I'm still not certain what it is but speculate it is a
Chestnut Teal-domestic Mallard morph hybrid of some type but it shows some
pochard -Hardhead features. It also has a narrow orange orbital ring around
the eye. It is a weird looking duck only slightly larger than the Chestnut
Teal it associates with.
Gave up on the duck but birded for the rest of the day highlights-Spotless
Crake, Caspian Tern and Pink-eared Duck at Morpeth, Banded Lapwings at
Wentworth Swamp, Spine-tailed Logrunners at East Watagans and two immature
Banded Stilts at the end of Chittaway Point. Driving back to Sydney a male
Grey Goshawk flew almost over the bonnet at Ourimbah.
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