A little piece of South America in Devon

We’re walking down the River Otter looking for Otters (no, we didn’t see any) when I notice what looks like a plastic duck. It has a strange bluish beak and a foot which is too purple and a breast which has too-regular black spots all over it. It looks like a cheap model.

Then it moves.

Ringed Teal - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s a Ringed Teal, Callonetta leucophrys, a duck which is probably as escapee from a wildfowl collection. If I could see its other foot I would probably be able to see a ring. However, like an escaped convict, this individual is keeping his identification marks hidden from us. It’s a small duck of South American forests. This one is a male. In the wild it would be solidly bonded to a female and about to care for a first batch of chicks while the female gets busy with another nest full of eggs. They can raise 24 chicks in a season by working closely together.

I wonder what its chances are of seeing a female Ringed Teal pass by?

Probably about the same as my chance of seeing an Otter.

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