BAER’S POCHARD (Aythya baeri, 青头潜鸭) was once abundant in east Asia.. now it is listed as “Critically Endangered” due to an, as yet unexplained, calamitous population decline. The only known breeding site is not in the far northeast of China or in Russia (previously understood to be the species stronghold) but instead in Hebei Province, not far from Beijing.
Yesterday I visited the site and found at least 24 of these beautiful ducks on site, most of which seem paired up and ready to breed. Worryingly, at least two birds appeared to be hybrids with the closely-related Ferruginous Duck, a common breeder at the same site.
I recorded this video compilation of a male displaying to a (seemingly uninterested) female… It was almost comical seeing him try in vain to attract her attention. Let’s hope she is more interested soon – we need them to make babies!
I am in discussions with the Beijing Birdwatching Society about submitting a grant application to the Oriental Bird Club conservation fund to set up a project to monitor Baer’s Pochard at this site… We know almost nothing about this bird and its habitat requirements.. so fingers crossed we secure some resources.
Video recorded using an iPhone 5 with the Swarovski ATS95 telescope and iPhone adaptor.