Sunday, 5 April 2009


I saw a report a couple of days ago on Birdforum of a male Ring-necked Duck at Hauxley. Almost immediately the poster added the suggestion that some thought it was a hybrid. I had emailed Ian Fisher (subsequently responded confirming what I'd concluded this morning) last night to check what he knew about the bird but I decided to pop up for an hour first thing this morning. It is a hybrid Ring-neckedxTufted but an interesting bird to watch nonetheless.

It got me thinking though about the way many birders treat these hybrids. If this had been a 'pure' Ring-necked Duck then there would no doubt have been plenty of footfall to tick it, list it, picture it etc. The minute it has a few stray genes from another species it's perceived value plummets. I find this strange. OK it doesn't jack your list up and it's a bit of a bugger to know what to call it but the reality is that it's probably rarer than a 'pure' Ring-necked Duck and it has bonus features.

Birds like this also have the added interest of trying to work out which features are from which parent, or why the combination can throw up some added anomaly. Take this one, the sheen on the head side is green (click on the dodgyscoped pic above for bigger) more reminiscent of Scaup than Tufted but it has a cracking Tuft hence the suggested Tufted genes. Without those two features and the more rounded head shape rather than the peaked rear crown it seemed all Ring-necked, even had the partial ring on the neck.

Associating with Tufted Duck it provided a pleasant morning's viewing and the opportunity to practice this dodgyscoping thing a little more, although I'll save my Woodpigeon portraits for another day.

A singing Chiffchaff was the only other bird of any note here although I see that JM was also at Hauxley today and I managed to miss his dodgy goose whilst he made no mention of my dodgy duck, we'll call it a draw.

1 comment:

Mike said...

So true, Alan. Examples like this highlight how arbitrary birding can feel at times.