British wildlife recordings
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Brownsea Island, Dorset: OS Grid Reference(402500,88500)
The calls of the female and male teals, recorded on Brownsea Island, Dorset. The teal is the smallest and one of the most dapper British ducks. The male has a distinctive chestnut-brown head with a green eye-patch and a prominent yellow patch on the side of its tail, in contrast to the dull speckled-brown female. Although up to 2,600 pairs breed in the wet moorland and bogs of northern England and Scotland, the teal is much more abundant when around 200,000 birds influx from Iceland and northern Europe to spend autumn and winter in Britain. During this period, the teal frequents lowland lakes, gravel pits, reservoirs, and coastal lagoons in small flocks. It feeds in shallow water at night by picking food off the water's surface, filtering the water with its bill, and by upending. Its food consists of the seeds of aquatic and marsh plants in winter, and molluscs, aquatic larvae, and water beetles in summer. The male keeps in contact with its flock with a piping far-carrying whistle and the female respond with a rapid quack. Numbers of breeding teals in Britain have declined substantially in the last 30 years as their upland habitat has been lost to forestry. Teals are protected during the breeding season but are still shot at a number of their wintering sites.
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