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Garganey

The Garganey (Anas querquedula) is a small dabbling duck found throughout much of Europe and western Asia during the breeding season. However, the entire population migrates to Africa in winter. Their breeding habitat is grassland adjacent to shallow marshes and steppe lakes.

Like other small ducks, this species rises easily from the water with a fast twisting wader-like flight. These birds feed mainly by skimming rather than upending.

The adult male is distinctive, with its brown head and breast and broad white crescent over the eye. The rest of the plumage is grey, with loose grey scapular feathers It has a grey bill and legs. In flight it shows a pale blue speculum.

Some care is needed in separating the brown female from the similar Common Teal, but the stronger face markings and more frequent head-shaking when dabbling are good indicators. Confusion with the female of the rare Blue-winged Teal is also possible, but the head and bill shape is different, and the latter species has yellow legs.

The male has a distinctive crackling mating call; the female is rather silent for a female duck, but can manage a feeble “quack”.

Garganey are rare breeding birds in the British Isles, with most breeding in quiet marshes in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Garganey


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