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The Grey Teal

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The Grey Teal
Photograph by Rodney King

The Grey Teal is not just a duck.

Do you use single words to describe bird species? For example, parrots, pigeons, quails, ducks, honeyeaters, finches, wrens, and the list goes on.

Do you struggle to name more than a few dozen of the hundreds of different birds found in the North-West/New England?

If you answered yes, you are certainly not alone as identification of birds is not easy. Firstly, birds rarely stay still for very long and secondly, they often keep their distance from people. 

Thus, identifying the distinguishing features is very difficult. Even identifying birds arriving for a drink at a bird bath is not easy, especially the smaller birds as they flash in for a sip, and then bolt for cover!

However, a decent set of binoculars solves most of the problems, and if backed up by a camera with a zoom lens, a whole new world opens up. Plus, one is never bored, even for short of periods.

Twenty minutes to kill

Last week in between showers of rain and with fading light, I took a quick walk to a small dam and was rewarded with twenty minutes of fun. 

While the photos of the Grey Teal are not super sharp, and have been heavily cropped, never-the-less they clearly reveal an attractive bird. Of all the ducks, teal are my favourite to watch and most helpfully, they generally cooperate by staying around.

When I neared the dam a pair of Pacific Black ducks immediately bolted, but the teal remained and simply carried on. Keeping a distance of about 40 metres between us, they felt safe and continued to feed as I enjoyed their company. 

Walking home I reflected on how great this little break was both physically and mentally. And, most importantly, it sure beat mowing the grass! However, it made me think of all the people who miss this type of life style, simply for the sake of a few hundred dollars for a set of binoculars.

Living in country areas opens up nature for everyone, and my messages is; why not introduce the family to bird watching by tossing in a set of binoculars the next time you head outdoors. Kids would love it and competitions to name the species would be a great learning curve.

However enough of that, now for a little more about my friends, the Grey Teal. 

Grey Teal

Bird life Australia says of the Grey Teal:

‘When it comes to spectacular movements, the Grey Teal is unsurpassed by any other Australian waterfowl. Responding to rainfall, or lack of it, they cover vast distances in search of suitable water, and occur on every type of wetland. When the water dries up, they disperse to look for more, turning up almost anywhere, including at waterholes in the desert. These extensive travels have also taken some Grey Teal beyond Australia’s shores to Indonesia, New Guinea and New Zealand, and even to subantarctic Macquarie Island.

Feeding

Grey Teals feed in small to large flocks. Food consists of a variety of types and includes dry land plants, aquatic plants, seeds, crustaceans, and insects and the larvae. Feeding methods are also varied. Birds may dabble (filter surface water or mud through the bill), upend and feed from the bottom, or graze from the surface of the water on plant material.

Breeding

Grey Teals may breed when there is available food and waterways are suitable. Taking advantage of this opportunistic breeding style, birds lay soon after suitable conditions arrive and may raise several broods while the conditions remain favourable. If conditions are not suitable, birds may not breed at all in a year. Most breeding takes place around inland waterways, and nests may be placed on the ground, in rabbit burrows or in tree hollows. The birds normally lay their eggs on the bare floor of the nest site, which are then covered with down (feathers).’

Grey Teal is not just another duck
Photo of The Grey Teal by Rod King

Wanted bird stories

In future other bird articles will be published, and we invite bird watchers to share their stories about their favourites. Also, a few tips on bird photography and the best way to get started would be very much appreciated.

The more people taking an interest in all our wildlife, the more chance we have of saving habitat from destruction. So please join us. 

Note from Rod:

If you enjoyed this, and other features in Bingara Magazine, you may wish to receive our weekly emails containing links to important articles. To join up, simply email us at thelocal19@bigpond.com with your name and phone number.

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