What is this Aythya?.. now with Postscript


Aythya hybrid – Felbrigg Lake

I’ve seen this duck at Felbrigg Lake a couple of times over the last few weeks but never really looked at it! Yesterday, probably because it was rather foggy, the Tufted Duck flock was closer to the edge than usual, allowing better views and a few rather grainy shots. In the back of my mind I knew there was something odd about it but I’d written it off as a first winter male Tufted. Yesterday it clicked, surely this is one of those notorious Aythya hybrids – but which one? Looking at various plates in my admittedly rather limited bird book library I’m inclined to think that it could be a Tufted Duck x Ring-necked Duck, but I’d welcome a more expert view if anyone would care to comment.

A couple more shots:




I’ve had a couple of comments back with the helpful suggestion that this bird could in fact be Tufted x Ferruginous. That would certainly explain the dusky flanks, this far into the breeding season ( although there is the curious white edging to the upper flanks, reminiscent of Ring-necked ) and the suggestion of a white ‘rear-end’. Also the very pale eye and the absence of any white ring around the base of the bill. Seen in slightly better light this morning, there are definite chestnut tones to the breast, which would also fit with Ferruginous parentage. Here are a couple more shots to ponder:




This entry was posted in Birding.

One comment on “What is this Aythya?.. now with Postscript

  1. Hi Trevor. This looks more like Tufted x Ferruginous to me. The brown wash across the flanks and the reddish brown breast (not easy to see in the photos but you can at least see it’s not black) are typical of this hybrid, as is the head shape. I think the bill pattern is in range too. If it were Tufted x Ring-necked it would have to be in a transitional plumage given that the breast is not black and the flanks are brownish. Tufted x Ring-necked often has a trace of the white band around the base of the bill (though not always) and the shading on the pale flanks should fall short of the breast so leaving a white strip at the front edge. The pattern of white under the tail probably come from Ferruginous Duck too.

    Other Tufted Duck x Ferruginous Duck hybrids here: http://birdhybrids.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/ferruginous-duck-x-tufted-duck.html

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