[Tweeters] apparent Baikal Teal alert

Charlie Wright c.wright7 at comcast.net
Tue Dec 14 23:08:10 PST 2004

Hello All:
This past Sunday (12 Dec), Jeff Antonelis-Lapp, Barbara Petersen, and I
observed what we think may have been a male Baikal Teal on two ponds inside
Green River Natural Resources Area (Kent Ponds). The bird was with a flock
of about 60 Green-winged Teal and various other waterfowl. Most
unfortunately, my camera was not with me. I searched the area again
yesterday, but found far fewer ducks in the ponds, and did not find this
bird. There are large amounts of water in the valley at this time and the
teals could be literally anywhere. A couple people have suggested I post
this information here as there is still a chance of the bird being refound
somewhere in the Kent area and confirmed. I apologize for the late notice.

We had the bird for about 20 or 30 minutes and saw it reasonably well, but
in poor light. Everything we saw on the bird matched, including the long,
narrow scapulars, vertical black line coming down from the eye, golden-buff
cheeks, and long, thin supercilium. It was slightly larger than a GWTE with
a fairly similar shape. Also the gray flanks were bordered on both sides by
a white bar, like the one on a Green-winged. It was a truly distinctive-
looking bird. From what I can tell, there is nothing else it is likely to
have been, unless it was some uncanny hybrid (suggestions welcome).

However, perhaps due to the poor lighting, we did not happen to notice some
markings that seemingly should have been conspicuous, like the green
iridescence on the head and rusty edging to the scapulars. With these
caveats, at this time I do not feel like I quite got the degree of detail I
would want to submit a description of such a bird.

There are of course several other issues to consider with this bird.
Firstly, Baikal Teal are kept in captivity, though I have no knowledge of
how many individuals are owned locally. However, they have also proven to be
a rare vagrant to Alaska and there have been certain accepted records on the
West Coast previously. Second, the exact spot where the bird was observed on
Sunday is in a gated-off area. Portions of the same wetland are visible from
the "grassy knoll" on 64th Street (across from Web Press). With luck, there
is a chance it could be seen from there if it does return. Again, the bird
was not seen yesterday. Large numbers of teal are also often seen in nearby
flooded fields, such as at Smith Brothers Dairy and 285th Street along West
Valley (where I had a Common x Green-winged Teal intergrade several days

I certainly hope someone can refind this bird!

Cheers and good luck,
Charlie Wright
Bonney Lake, Washington

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