Harteman Wildfowl, presented by Jan Harteman
The Baikal teal is a dabbling duck that breeds in eastern Russia and winters in East Asia.
It breeds within the forest zone of eastern Siberia from the Yenisey basin eastwards to Kamchatka, northern Koryak, eastern Magadan Oblast, northernKhabarovsk Krai, southeastern and northern Sakha east central Irkutsk Oblast, and northern Krasnoyarsk Krai. It is a migratory species, wintering inSouth Korea, Japan, Taiwan, northern and eastern China, from Beijing down the coast to the Vietnam border, and west to Yunnan then north to Chongqing and Henan.
It breeds in pools on the tundra edge and within swampy forests. In winter it is found on lowland fresh waters.
Molecular and behavioral data suggest that it has no close relatives among living ducks and should be placed in a distinct genus; it is possibly closest to such species as the Garganey and the Northern Shoveler.
It nests in open tussock meadows near water and in mossy bogs with clumps of willowsSalix and larch Larix. It winters (in dense aggregations) on freshwater lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and farmland, often roosting on water during the day and feeding in fields during the night. It feeds on seeds and grain, water snails, algae and other water plants. The species arrives on its Korean wintering grounds from September, peaking through October and November and returning north in mid March/early April (Degtyarev et al. 2006).
This species is listed as Least Concern (IUCN, 2012) as its population is now growing rapidly and has not undergone the once-predicted declines. Despite its current population trend, the species remains potentially threatened by a number of factors. It tends to congregate in very large flocks, and suffered rapid declines in many parts of its range during the twentieth century because of hunting and other threats. Its roost sites are unprotected, large numbers died in a recent disease outbreak, and most importantly, the dry rice paddies where it feeds are being converted to vegetable farms and other uses. If evidence arises in the future that these threats have begun to drive a decline, the species may warrant uplisting.
The 2004 Asian Waterbird Census estimated the population in Korea at 455,000 individuals (D. Li in litt. 2005; Wetlands International 2006). A separate study in 2004 reported 658,000 individuals in Korea (Hansoo Lee in litt. 2004), but this could be an over-estimate. Further to this, Brazil (2009) has estimated national population sizes at <c.100 breeding pairs and c.50-10,000 wintering individuals in China and c.10,000-1 million breeding pairs in Russia.
Hunting was probably the main reason for its decline and is still a serious threat, particularly as it concentrates in large flocks on wetlands and arable land. However, hunting itself is now thought to be in decline (Moores 1996, Moores et al. 2010). In China and South Korea, birds are killed by poisoned grain; pesticide poisoning and pollution from agricultural and household wastes are thought to be a serious problem in the Geum River, South Korea (Degtyarev et al. 2006). Large declines in the numbers of Anatidae have occurred in Sanjiang plain and Poyang Hu, China, as a result of habitat loss to agricultural development and hunting. Wintering sites in South Korea are largely unprotected and threatened by the development of wetlands (N. Moores in litt. 2010); there has been a recent proposal for building the largest tourist development in northeast Asia on the Haenem reclamation site, a key site for wintering Baikal Teal (C. Moores in litt. 2005). Also, its habit of forming dense aggregations in winter renders the species susceptible to infectious diseases; 10,000 birds were recorded dead owing to avian cholera in October, 2002 (Degtyarev et al. 2006). The species suffers from disturbance at the Geum River with up to 12 incidences per day of disturbance from low flying aircraft (Degtyarev et al. 2006).
Baikal teal can breed when they are one year of age, their breeding season is from late April to July. The female will use concealed boxes or thick cover. The 8 to 10 eggs hatch after 25 days. In it is a common species in captivity and a much sought after aviary bird. It is a hardy species but should not be kept with larger, aggresive species.
Above: adult pair of Baikal teal (left male, right female)
Above: close-up of adult Baikal teal male
Above: adult male Baikal teal, moulting
Above: adult pair of Baikal teal, female in front
Above: adult female Baikal teal
Above: adult male Baikal teal
Above: adult female Baikal teal with ducklings
Above: Baikal teal, drake (not in full colour yet)