Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The duck formerly known as Black Duck

Edit 18.06.2014: This much discussed bird has now been reviewed (along with all other records of Black Duck in Norway) and found to be a hybrid. It was the posting of one of the picture on Surfbirds that ignited the final debate about this bird (there have been previous deabtes) and led to the review.

Vestfold with Rune was on the cards today. With some strong southerly winds forecast we had our first stop at Møringa hoping for some seabirds but the winds were nowhere strong enough and we had to be content with 4 little Auks (alkekonge) and 4 late Oystercathchers (tjeld) although I think they can overwinter here in mild winters.
Continuing south to Tønsberg, Presterødkilen was full of birds. 130 Wigeon, 60 Teal and 55 Tufted Ducks were good counts although 7 Scaup were the scarcest duck. The reedbeds didn't give up the Bittern that has been seen here a couple of times recently but 2 Water Rails squealed and after hearing some pinging we had excellent views of a pair of Bearded Tits which never fail to entertain.
At Rosanes the returning (ringed) male Black Duck (rødfotand) which is into its 12th year (at least) showed incredibly well with Mallards on the park lake. I have previously only seen it out in the tidal bay but today there were no problems in taking a portrait photo.
 This bird has always surprised me with a trace of green tones on its head (most visible on the right hand side) plus a suggestion of a faint white neck ring but has been the rounds with American experts and everything is apparently within the variability of pure Black Ducks. In the photos below note on the open wing shot there is no white line above the dark blue speculum which would be present in a Mallard x Black Duck hybrid.
Black Duck (rødfotand) Rosanes near Tønsberg

The lack of any white above the dark blue speculum is a good sign of purity

a trace of green can be seen in the head
a faint suggestion of a neck collar

it seemed to be dominant over the local Mallards

The pure white underwing contrasts with the dark flanks. How many dark feathers are there in the "comma" on the underwing coverts? At least 10 I would say which is also a (pure) Black Duck character
having a scratch (the ring was applied 10.12.2008 when the bird was trapped by ringers at the same site)

having a wash
Black Duck (left), Oslo Birder (right), unimpressed kindergarten (back)
 After enjoying the company of this real rarity we bumped into a Black Woodpecker (svartspett), had a couple of flocks of Whooper swans (sangsvane), a single Great Grey Shrike (varsler) and an inland Long-tailed Duck (havelle).
it is always fun to watch them holding different reed stems
Bearded Tit (skjeggmeis)

There was much preening going on in the Whooper Swan herd and when the bird on the left flapped a number of feathers flew off. Notice the feathers stuck to the bill on the bird to the right


  1. This bird has been the subject of discussion on ID Frontiers

    The three who have commented are of the opinion this is actually a hybrid. This bird though has done the rounds before and apparantly Kirby himself (whose work is quoted in the initial post) gave the thumbs up for it being a "pure" Black Duck although in light of my post on hybrid (or not) gulls one has to ask where to draw the line between pure and tainted.

  2. Interessant!
    Trodde ikke man fant Black Duck i Norge, men det ser da virkelig slik ut.

    Flotte bilder var det også!

    mvh Knut