Rare blue-winged teal ducks ‘likely’ to have attempted to breed in Yorkshire

Rare ducks which are native to North America have been spotted attempting to breed in Yorkshire, wildlife wardens have said.

The male and female blue-winged teal were spotted at Yorkshire Water's Tophill Low nature reserve near Driffield, on a number of occasions over the last 12 months. Despite being observed in nesting behaviours, it appears the birds were not successful in breeding at the site, where nature reserve wardens and volunteers kept their presence a secret.

But it is "likely" they have attempted to breed in the area, which is thought to be a first for the UK, Tophill Low nature reserve warden Richard Hampshire said.

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"Blue-winged teal are native to North America and are a stunning-looking duck - particularly in male plumage with its white face crescent - and are counterpart to our own Eurasian teal which visit mainly in winter by the hundred to the reservoirs and wetlands.

A pair of rare ducks which are native to North America have been spotted attempting to breed in Yorkshire, wildlife wardens have said. Photo credit: Lee Johnson/Yorkshire Water/PA WireA pair of rare ducks which are native to North America have been spotted attempting to breed in Yorkshire, wildlife wardens have said. Photo credit: Lee Johnson/Yorkshire Water/PA Wire
A pair of rare ducks which are native to North America have been spotted attempting to breed in Yorkshire, wildlife wardens have said. Photo credit: Lee Johnson/Yorkshire Water/PA Wire

"It is extremely exciting to have them visiting the reserve for the last 12 months or so and we think they are likely to have attempted to breed in the region, which we think would be a first for the UK," he said.

He said they kept the presence of the ducks a secret and the schedule of investment work at the nearby water treatment works was adjusted to ensure there was no risk to the rare birds.

He added: "We first spotted the pair in August 2023 and they returned in November, then again during breeding season in April this year when they engaged in nesting behaviour. We strongly suspect they went on to attempt a nest in the river Hull valley somewhere.

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"They came back to Tophill Low in June, but unfortunately we've had no sightings of immature blue-winged teal locally. We're hopeful they will stick around and try again next year, and we get a first for the species in the UK."

Tophill Low, which has been a nature reserve for 30 years, is also home to otters, barn owls, kingfishers and grass snakes.

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