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bird NOTES WITH JULIAN HUGHES.

DUCKS dominated this week's news.

In Lancashire, a Baikal Teal has provoked speculation about its origin: since they winter in Korea and are prized in collections, they were long presumed to be escapes.

In 2005, a wildfowler shot a Baikal Teal in Denmark, which was analysed for stablehydrogen isotopes. In a nutshell, this uses the chemical traces from the air, soil and food to assess the environment in which a bird has been living: the "signature" of each part of the world is unique.

This showed the Danish bird had grown up in eastern Russia, prompting analysis of one shot in Essex in 1906, which revealed a similar story.

Now we know they are capable of this long journey, it doesn't mean that all Baikal Teals in Britain have made the trip. More than 300 are kept in captivity, and ducks are renowned for fence-hopping!

Closer to home, belated news came of a tiny American duck, a female Bufflehead, on the sea off Llanfairfechan on November 21.

Potentially a first for Wales, anyone walking along Menai Strait would be advised to keep an eye out for it.

Surf Scoters remain off Llanddulas and Morfa Bychan, Long-tailed Duck on Llyn Penrhyn, and a Ross's Goose at Gresford Flash.

A Slavonian Grebe and Pale-bellied Brent Geese are in Anglesey's Beddmanarch Bay, while Bangor students found an impressive 13 Jack Snipe near Pentraeth.

The Patchwork Challenge - a friendly competition to encourage people to bird-watch a local patch - enters its final month with Bardsey Bird Observatory warden Steve Stansfield unassailably leading the Welsh league. By late October, he'd seen 160 species and earned an impressive 283 points for finding a number of rare birds.

Another Bardsey resident, Ben Porter, holds third place with four other North Wales birders below him. There's only one South Wales patch in the top eight!

GO BIRDING TODAY: NNWT talk by Goronwy Wynne, St Cyngar's Church Hall, Llangefni, 2pm FRI: Talk by wildlife photographers Tracey and John Langley, Pensychnant, Conwy, 7.30pm.

SAT: Guided walk, RSPB Conwy, 11am. SAT: Tree-dressing, RSPB Ynys-hir, 1pm. SUN: NWWT Birdwatch, The Spinnies, 11 am-4pm. SUN: Guided walk, RSPB Point of Ayr, 12.30pm. TUES: Talk by Dr Goronwy Wynne, Dolgellau Free Library, 7pm.

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Baikal Teal Picture: NIGEL KEY
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 5, 2013
Words:377
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