Bird Photography Challenge #48: Chestnut Teal

A resident of brackish coastal lagoons, the Chestnut Teal (Anas castanea) is a beautiful species of duck we often see in the wetlands and at the Gippsland Lakes.  This protected species under the National Parks and Wildlife Act is the subject of our #48 Bird Photography Challenge.

What does it look like?


The Chestnut Teal is a small duck, about 35 to 50 cm in length, with a high forehead and rounded head.  Males and females have different plumages.  Males are distinctive with a glossy green head, almost iridescent in certain light, and a chestnut brown lower neck and breast and mottled chestnut brown belly and flanks.  The upper body and wings are dark brown and they have a black undertail with a contrasting white patch which is visible when the duck upends or is in flight.  Female are mottled dark brown and grey, with a pale throat streaked brown and a dark eye stripe. In both genders, the eye is red, the bill blue-grey, and the legs and webbed feet grey.

How does it behave?

The Chestnut Teal eats seeds, insects and some vegetation, as well as molluscs and crustaceans.  It mainly feeds at the water’s edge during the rising tide, dabbling at food items being washed in.

Pairs are monogamous, staying together outside the breeding season.  They choose a nesting site together and the male stays with the female while she incubates the eggs. The nest is usually located over water in a down-lined tree hollow. The young hatch ready to swim and walk within a day, and they move out onto the water with their mother straight away.

Did you know?

Both parents defend their brood and will chase off other teal with pecks.  If threatened by a predator, such as ravens, harriers, lizards or purple swamp hens, parents will feign injury, splash and quack in an attempt to distract it while the young dive or swim off.

Where is it found?

The Chestnut Teal is found in south-western and south-eastern Australia, in estuaries, inlets, coastal lagoons, mudflats and saltmarsh ponds.  It is one of the few ducks that tolerates high salinity waters, showing a preference for brackish waters during breeding season.  At other times of the year it also can be found in freshwater wetlands and lakes.  It generally feeds at the margins among aquatic vegetation in shallows, upending in deeper water, or dabbling on recently covered mudflats or sand.

The images in the gallery were taken at a variety of wetlands including Lake Pertobe near Warrnambool, Lake Borrie near Melbourne and at the Gippsland Lakes.  All photos were taken with the Canon 60d and EF100-400 lens.  Click on any image in the gallery to display in full screen.


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