When I was looking for the Snow bunting at The Knap in Barry yesterday, I also spotted this hybrid duck. It’s probably the same hybrid that’s been seen in The Knap lake and at Cosmeston, both this winter and last, always in the company of Tufted ducks. But what is it?
Well, the fact that it associates with the Tufted ducks may mean one of its parents was a Tufty. Here’s a photo of a male Tufted duck (Aythya fuligula). As you can see, the hybrid doesn’t have the dark back or the head tuft of this bird.
The lighter back feathers of the hybrid resemble those of a Scaup (Aythya marila) and the occasional Scaup has been seen associating with the local Tufties, so maybe…. Here’s a male Scaup for comparison.
There’s still the issue of the hybrid’s head shape and colour, which to my inexperienced eyes look rather like a male Pochard (Aythya ferina), a duck that also has light grey back plumage (photo below). So, maybe we have a Tufted duck – Pochard hybrid?
The reality is that no one can be 100% sure of the hybrid’s parentage without a DNA test, but it’s always interesting to see birds like this and speculate. What do you think?