The long neck and upright posture gives the duck the appearance of a small goose. The male has a brown head with substantial drooping crest, chestnut-speckled grey breast, grey body and black rump, tail and under tail coverts.
The female has distinctive stripes above and below the eye on a brown head.
I haven’t followed this up, but every tiny duckling I’ve ever seen, (and I’ve seen and/or photographed many), seems to have the stripe up and below the eye. So I’m not sure whether all ducklings have this and the males head feathers change to all-brown as they grow OR, I’ve only ever seen female ducklings 🙂
I WAS WALKING TO NEWELLS PADDOCK NATURE RESERVE WHEN I SPOTTED THESE TWO DUCKS SITTING ON A WOODEN JETTY ON THE MARIBYRNONG RIVER
Chestnut Teals are very common water birds and although classified as medium-large, are actually pretty small as far as dabbling ducks go. The adult male has a very distinctive dark green head and black-speckled chestnut breast and belly. The depth of green can seem very different depending on the light or sunshine on the day of being photographed (I notice in my bird photo library).
The females and eclipse (non-breeding) males are mottled brown, similar, but darker than a Grey Teal. I find them hard to tell apart until I realised the Grey Teal has a much lighter neck, so my ability to identify them is improving. There’s a mallard that has similar feather colouring too.
Chestnut Teals and Grey Teals both have red eyes. I took a couple of photos of them down on the water last Wednesday, but the shadows on the birds were too dark to make the shots worth sharing, despite fiddling around with the contrast in post processing.
Most of the images above, were taken in the Japanese Garden at Melbourne Zoo. The pond and landscaping is not enclosed or fenced, so I guess the avian inhabitants are either there for the free food or like the sheltered area of the water. I noticed some of the birds do have leg tags though.
Next to the pond just outside the Wallaby/Kangaroo/Emu enclosure I saw this pair (below) which (seemingly) matched each others head position as I photographed them, but I suppose it might have been co-incidence. This is not the first time I have seen bird pairs turn their heads in unison though.
Chestnut Teal – male in foreground with female in rear
…….and my favourite image of a Teal, (despite accidentally chopping the bird’s feet off). I was concentrating so hard in getting the bird’s eye in sharp focus (which is what makes a good bird shot), I completely missed the fact that the feet were not in the frame.