The UK’s smallest duck yet they fly all the way from the Baltics, and even as far as western Russia, to reach the Solent every winter. Not bad for a duck weighing little more than 300 grams.
All about teal
The males of this species have a beautiful green eye stripe – from where we get the name of the fashionable greenish-blue colour – and a dapper chestnut head, although these can be difficult to spot unless you’re using binoculars or the light is good.
You may more easily notice their horizontal white and black line along their sides and a pale yellow triangle on their behinds.
Females sport a more standard grey brown plumage, often with a small white flash under their tails, but like the male of the species, they show a vivid metallic patch of green on their secondary wing feathers.
Teal mostly eat seeds in the winter, but you might spot then snacking on a tasty bug or two. They mostly feed in shallow water at night. If you see a large flock of ducks, you’re likely to find a teal hidden amongst them.
Their wintering numbers are relatively stable with counts peaking at around 6000 of us in January.
Teal are amber listed in the UK and are a qualifying feature for the Solent and Southampton Water and Langstone and Chichester Harbours Special Protection Areas – that means, when the sites were designated, a nationally significant number of teal used these coastlines in the winter.
Did you know?
A group of teal is called a ‘spring’ as they suddenly take-off almost vertically when spooked. From a distance their chorus of piping calls sound like tiny bells being struck.