Your Bird­ing Month

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents -

Our five birds to find in Oc­to­ber in­clude Rock Pipit and Bearded Tit

AU­TUMN SEES DUCKS reap­pear­ing af­ter pulling off a re­mark­able summer dis­ap­pear­ing act. While they un­dergo their post breed­ing moult dur­ing the summer months, brightly coloured drakes are po­ten­tially vul­ner­a­ble (es­pe­cially as the moult­ing of wing feath­ers im­pedes flight). So, they spend the summer as fe­male im­per­son­ators, all look­ing dull and brown (in ‘eclipse’ plumage) and fad­ing into one mass of sleepy, muddy duck­y­ness, which causes most bird­watch­ers to look away. When they fi­nally shake off their in­vis­i­bil­ity cloaks and emerge in their fin­ery, the ef­fect is glo­ri­ous. Our ducks are among our most beau­ti­fully coloured and pat­terned birds. Take the hum­ble, tiny drake Teal. It re­ally is an ex­cep­tion­ally fine look­ing bird, with an ex­ot­i­cally adorned red, yel­low and iri­des­cent green face, a beau­ti­fully ver­mic­u­lated body, and yel­low and black rear end. Of course, Teal have not just been ‘hid­ing’ dur­ing the summer. Most of them haven’t been here at all. The UK’S Teal pop­u­la­tion is largest in winter, reach­ing al­most a quar­ter of a mil­lion birds, while the breed­ing pop­u­la­tion is 1,600-2,800 pairs. Now they are back and look­ing at their winter best.

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