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A winter visitor in substantial numbers to Christchurch Harbour, Poole Harbour, Radipole/Lodmoor and the Fleet.


Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

Teal: the yellow peril

Post date: Wednesday, 25 November, 2015 - 00:00

Every winter the number of immigrant birds builds all along the south coast and especially in Dorset around Christchurch Harbour, Poole Harbour, Radipole/Lodmoor and the Fleet. Amongst the incoming birds are waders, geese and ducks and, surprisingly to me, it seems that the teal (Anas crecca) is not only one of the most numerous but also the most overlooked by the casual observer. 

I think some inexperienced bird watchers may dismiss them as mallard because of the green on their head. Although closely related to mallard, teal are easily distinguished as they are much smaller and have a clearly visible yellow triangle to the rear, under the wing. This yellow is visible, especially through binoculars, from a considerable distance and is the essential mark of the teal. I think it is also true to say that they are a more social bird than the mallard and tend to keep together in quite large flocks, often a few hundred, some times a thousand, together. 

Generally found on our salt marshes around Phragmytes reed beds but you will also find them on sodden riverside pasture and large ponds. So, next time you see a lot of brown ducks, take a closer look. Can you see that yellow flash?


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Teal
Scientific Name Anas crecca
Status Locally common
Interest Level
Species Family Ducks
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Mudflats
Look for A small duck with a highly visibly yellow triangle in the tail
Additional Identification Notes
  • Large flocks overwinter in the harbours and sheltered waters of Dorset
  • Always found near salt water they feed mainly on open mud flats and in muddy channels in saltmarsh
  • Often dismissed as mallards but always occur in much larger flocks and are much smaller than a mallard but the yellow triangle in the tail is the ultimate differentiation between the two
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