Only second Arran record of summer visiting duck

A pair of Garganey were spotted with teal on Sliddery shore.

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On Sunday May 3 there was a report of a pair of garganey with teal on Sliddery shore. This is only the second ever Arran record of this summer visitor.

Garganey is a small dabbling duck, feeding mainly by skimming rather than upending. It breeds in much of Europe and across the Palearctic, but is strictly migratory, with the entire population moving to southern Africa, India, Bangladesh and Australasia in winter, where large flocks can occur.

This scarce and secretive summer visitor to the UK is mostly found in central and southern England. Garganey are rare breeding birds in the UK, with most breeding in quiet marshes in Norfolk and Suffolk. They favour shallow wetlands, with flooded meadows and ditches, with plenty of aquatic vegetation – this can make them difficult to see. On migration they can turn up anywhere and whilst the males are easy to identify, the females and young birds are like the familiar teal.

Garganey is smaller than a mallard and slightly bigger than a teal. The male is most easily recognised, with a broad white stripe over the eye. In flight it shows a pale blue forewing. The male has a distinctive crackling mating call; the female is rather silent for a female duck but can manage a feeble quack. Like other small ducks such as Teal this species rises easily from the water with a fast twisting wader-like flight.

From the Arran Natural History Society records, there has been one previous report of garganey on Arran. On the May 9, 2012 two visitors got the first ever record of garganey on Arran when a pair were on the lochan at Torr Righ. I was off the island that day but on my return the next day the visitors shared this and together the area was revisited. The outcome of our efforts? No sign of garganey and a good soaking!

Enjoy your birding and keep safe.

Please send any bird notes with ‘what, when, where’ to me at Kilpatrick Kennels, Kilpatrick, Blackwaterfoot, KA27 8EY, or e mail me at jim@arranbirding.co.uk

I look forward to hearing from you. For more information on birding on Arran purchase the Arran Bird Report, The First 40 Years, which includes the annual report for 2019, and visit this website www.arranbirding.co.uk