One of the threats to the BAER’S POCHARD (青头潜鸭) is hybridisation with the closely related, and range expanding, FERRUGINOUS DUCK (白眼潜鸭). At the Baer’s Pochard breeding site in Hebei Province, Ferruginous Duck is a common breeder; I counted more than 60 on site last weekend versus 24 Baer’s.
Another drake, superficially resembling a drake Baer’s, sported a chestnut cap and slightly less white on the flanks than one would expect for a pure Baer’s. It was associating with a group of Ferruginous Ducks and I recorded the video clip below. The chestnut cap is particularly noticeable towards the end of the clip.
Baer’s Pochard hybrid2
I hope to visit the site a few more times over the coming weeks and will look out for more evidence of hybridisation and, hopefully, evidence of breeding Baer’s too.
EDIT: It has been suggested by folks at WWT, who have been catching and taking DNA samples from captive birds, that the drake in the video clip may be a first summer male. Personally, the colour of the cap, resembling the chestnut brown of Ferruginous and not the darker brown typical of Baer’s, makes me think there is some Ferruginous influence but I’ll go back soon and try to get more photos!
It’s been a strange winter so far.. not so cold and no snow to speak of. It’s been the same up north in Liaoning Province. No Waxwings at all (contrasting strongly with last winter’s invasion of both Bohemian and Japanese Waxwings), very few Rosefinches (Long-tailed or Pallas’s) and a few so-called summer visitors have been lingering in the capital.
This week I have made short visits to both the Olympic Forest Park and the Summer Palace to see what was around.
I was surprised to see several Pallas’s Warblers, double figures of Red-flanked Bluetails, three Red-crested Pochard and singles of Black-faced Bunting and Ferruginous Duck (the duck were together on a tiny patch of open water at the summer palace). All of these birds should really be further south in the middle of winter but all seemed in good shape.
This Common Kingfisher looked much healthier than the last one I saw at Wild Duck Lake (which expired as we were watching it in late November).
Several Smew were accompanying the Ferruginous Duck and the Red-crested Pochard, adding a reassuring feel to the winter. I managed this image of one in flight.