Tuesday 25 January 2022

Ornithologists wanted

I took this photo a week ago in wetland in the Cynon valley. The duck was swimming with a group of mallards but doesn't fit with any of the pictures in my books of immature or eclipse plumage for that species. The closest match I could find for it was a female Garganey but it would seem unusual to see one in January as they don't normally visit our shores until later in the year. I'm not very good on waterfowl so any assistance greatly appreciated. Whatever the duck was, it was a striking bird with beautiful caramel-coloured plumage. Perhaps it's something really obvious but I'd still like to know.

Help put this duck out of its not-identified misery.


  1. With those markings on its face it does look like like a softened version of a female garganey. It must be a hybrid; my guess is with a mallard. You can get some quite pale female mallards and mallards are the great hybridisers of the duck world.

  2. If the duck's identity is still elusive after Tristam's contribution, contact Jonathan Downes at the Centre for Fortean Zoology (https://cfz.org.uk/) and he'll get you sorted.

  3. Try uploading to iNaturalist, they're usually quite good at identifying wildlife: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6857&taxon_id=558429

  4. The RSPB kindly looked at the image and suggested that the bird is mostly likely an escaped domestic Rouen Clair duck or a hybrid of that type. We got another look at it a few days ago and it's quite a bit larger than a mallard.

  5. Apologies for intruding on your duck thread, but it didn't seem appropriate to post this in the Mark Lanegan thread:

    Still making my way through Belladonna Nights and I really enjoyed Holdfast. The broad strokes remind me of a movie from the 80s called Enemy Mine with Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr.

    There's the tickle of familiarity in the back of my mind and I'm wondering: Is this a stand-alone or have you written in that "universe" before? I remember another short story you wrote about two long-warring civilizations that come to a realization, but I think that was different.

    But something about "Battle-Mother" and "Eight-Warrior" seem familiar to me.

    Anyway, I really liked it and enjoyed spending time with those two characters, as limited as it was. Cheers.

  6. Hi Nik

    No, it's a one-off. But I suppose there are some thematic similarities to "Scales", although they're very different stories. Glad you liked it!

    1. I did, and I have to say, as someone who's been reading your stuff for a long time, I could rave about every story I've read so far in Belladonna Nights, and I'm only 2/3 in.

      You killed it with this one, AR. The Lobby is so deeply weird and fun. Different Seas has a beautiful human touch and it's done so well, the way you pull the carpet out from under the reader. Wrecking Party is like Westworld on an acid trip. Death's Door makes me want to boot up Space Engine or Elite Dangerous and race around Jupiter.

      Superlatives fail me. And still a Dreyfus story and another RS story to go!

      BTW, yes, I was confusing elements of Holdfast with Scales and that short story, or maybe novelette, with the female captain who was bioengineered so her oxytocin would flood when thinking of/acting on behalf of her passengers, which was an awesome touch.

      I've said this before, but thank you for being so prolific and for bringing us all these bizarre worlds and universes.