The teal is the smallest Irish wild duck and, although it still nests in this country in very small numbers, around 50,000 birds from Iceland and the northern European mainland arrive here every October to spend the winter.
In common with most wild ducks, the females are rather drab, with camouflage brown plumage, although they do reveal a bright ‘teal green’ flash in their wings when they’re in flight.
Males are beautifully marked, particularly on their green, chestnut and yellow head and neck.
Teal don’t require a ‘runway’ like most waterfowl, they can take off vertically from the water and a flock in flight often engages in intricate aerial manoeuvres.
Because of their small size they can occupy smaller ponds than other ducks and sometimes utilise areas in fields or bogs that are temporarily flooded in wet weather. However the larger flocks tend to be found on lakes, large rivers such as the Shannon or in coastal wetlands.
They are vegetarian and feed mainly at night, roosting on the water during the day.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved