Help with ID on a duck please

To: Gary Davidson <>, Robert Inglis <>
Subject: Help with ID on a duck please
From: david taylor <>
Date: Fri, 4 May 2012 07:26:34 +1000

Thanks Robert and Gary on your further discussion on this bird.  Just in terms 
of your comment on the "greyness" of the bird Gary Ive just added a couple of 
further images of the bird which I think  show the birds "browness" in overall 
plumage ( excuse my laymen like descriptions!). It does appear most feedback 
has been Grey Teal - I must confess though the upright tail keeps making me 
curious and wasnt a passing moment - we watched the bird for sometime and this 
never varied. Wierd Grey Teal? Sounds likely. But as Bob has indicated - 
perhaps room for thought still?  Would be great to hear some further feedback 
from those with knowledge of northern hemisphere waterfowl. 

cheers and thanks again

David Taylor

On 04/05/2012, at 3:52 AM, Gary Davidson wrote:

> I live in western Canada so have a fair bit of experience with Northern 
> Pintail. This bird does not look like a Northern Pintail (NOPI) to me. I 
> don't think I have ever seen one looking so grey; female pintails are brown. 
> Furthermore, NOPI should not be moulting in April! They are here now and in 
> full breeding plumage. 
> Now, having said all that, could the green slime be affecting colour? And if 
> this bird has been in the 'wrong' hemisphere for any length of time, could 
> moult sequences have been disrupted? Things to ponder, I suppose.
> I will pass on the pictures to a couple of my "non-Birding-Aus" friends and 
> see if any think it could be a NOPI, if so, I'll let you know.
> Gary
> --- On Thu, 5/3/12, Robert Inglis <> wrote:
> From: Robert Inglis <>
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Help with ID on a duck please
> To: "Birding-Aus" <>
> Received: Thursday, May 3, 2012, 4:18 AM
> With reference to David Taylor’s very interesting question about the 
> ‘strange’ duck he saw on the University of Queensland campus out there at 
> Gatton in the Lockyer Valley in SE Queensland (an area which was devastated 
> by, unprecedented in white man’s time, floods last year) I would like to ask 
> a question with the following context in mind.
> Although I have been birdwatching for nearly 40 years I have never come to 
> grips with moult. Although I have been photographing birds for most of that 
> time and some of the most expert people in Australia have been very patiently 
> trying to educate me in the understanding of moult I seem to be too dumb (or 
> too old) to take it all in. I’m tempted to give those people names but I 
> really shouldn't embarrass them so I won’t. But I say to them “Don’t give 
> up.” I love youse all.
> Anyhow..........
> The question is:
> Why is David Taylor’s ‘strange’ bird not a Northern Pintail female undergoing 
> moult of the primaries and, possibly, the secondaries – as has been suggested?
> Is it because it is in Queensland? (Oh, that is facetious, Bob and should be 
> struck from the records).
> I have not yet seen a pintail of any description so I am clutching at straws 
> here but I have consulted “Wildfowl” by Steve Madge and Hilary Burn as well 
> as HANZAB (we all know what that is, don’t we?). Having done so it seems to 
> me that there is a possibility, small though it might be, that David, et all, 
> has found something very ‘interesting’.
> Why isn’t David’s bird a Northern Pintail female undergoing moult of the 
> primaries and, as it has been suggested, the secondaries?
> In asking this question, I am hoping that those birders who have had 
> extensive experience with observing Northern Pintails will respond. After 
> all, the majority of Australian birdwatchers with experience of northern 
> hemisphere birds come from...............the northern hemisphere. At least 
> that is my observation. A few Australian boundary-ed birdwatchers probably 
> only see one or two Northern Pintails in their entire life. As I said, I 
> haven’t seen any and I confine my observations to the mainland of Australia.
> I realize the shortcomings of digital photography (having been involved with 
> it for 11 years) and therefore I understand why David’s images vary in the 
> colours of the plumage of this bird but, understanding those technicalities, 
> I can see, as David saw, that this bird is ‘different’ to the average Grey 
> Teal. My initial reaction was that it is always wise to not look for a rarity 
> and to simply look for an aberration when observing something which looks 
> ‘different’. My experience at that location is that the common ducks include 
> Grey Teal so that is what I initially advised David . However, further 
> consideration encouraged me to suggest that this bird might, only might, be 
> something else.
> As I read it, David’s bird might have a rufous wash over the head and the 
> iris might be somewhat different in colour to that of Grey Teal. If so that 
> could indicate Northern Pintail female.
> Not Northern Pintail juvenile as the plumage is quite different.
> In the course of education (of me in particular) I would like those birders 
> who have had experience with Northern Pintail females (from an observer’s 
> point of view) to come forward and voice an opinion.
> Is that too much to ask?
> Please understand that I am not being critical of anyone but simply wanting 
> to ensure that an opportunity is not missed.
> I don’t mind if I am proven to be way of track here.
> A ‘proverb’ from the latest book I am reading “In advising a friend, seek to 
> help, not please”. (The good Book – a secular bible- by AC Grayling)
> Bob Inglis
> Sandstone Point
> Qld
> (my new and expanded website – still a work 
> in progress so please forgive the errors and omissions)
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