(2273) Nettion albogulare.
The Andaman Teal.
Mareca albogularis Hunie,Str. Keath,, i, p. 303 (1873) (Andamans). Nettium albigulare. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 444.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Male. Crown and forehead dark brown, paler on the upper cheeks and streaked with dark brown; a ring of white feathers round the eye and sometimes a few white feathers on the lores; whole upper plumage dark brown, the feathers of the back and the scapulars with pale edges ; outer secondaries velvety-black, except the 7th, 8th and 9th, which are glossy greenish-bronze ; a narrow border of white to the speculum and the tips of the greater coverts broadly white next the speculum ; chin, throat and lower cheeks white; the remainder of the lower parts brown, rather duller than the back, each feather edged paler brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris reddish-brown or red; bill greenish-blue, plumbeous-blue or plumbeous with the nail black: in some specimens the lower mandible is tinged with pink over the whole or the greater part of its length ; legs and feet dark greenish or plumbeous, the nails black.
Measurements. Wing 190 to 206 mm.; tail 100 to 110 mm.; tarsus about 130 to 140 mm.; culmen about 32 to 35 mm.
Weight about 1 lb.
The female only differs from the male in having the brown a trifle duller and the dark centres to the feathers less distinct; the speculum is more coppery in tint.
Measurements. Wing 175 to 185 mm. Weight about 12 oz.
Young birds are like the female but have the dusky markings below less distinct and the white eye-ring narrower and tinged with fulvous.
Distribution. Andamans and Cocos Islands. One specimen was shot by Mr. C W. Allen at Bassein, Burma, Commander N. F. Wilson obtained it both on the Great Cocos and again on Landfall Island.
Nidification. Wimberly recorded a nest of this bird containing one egg taken in a paddy-field near Port Mouatt. This nest was said to have been composed of grass and to have been placed on the ground. The egg measured 1.93 X 1.43 inches (= 49.0 x 33.2 mm.) This may have been the nest and egg of a Whistling Teal.
Osmaston found the Andaman Teal breeding in August, laying their eggs in large natural hollows of lofty dead trees, often very difficult or impossible to get at. One clutch of ten fresh eggs was taken on the 4th of August from a hollow near the top of a Padouk-tree about sixty feet from the ground. There was no nest, the eggs lying on the chips of dead wood. The eggs are a very pale cream, rather long ellipses in shape and very smooth with a slight gloss. They average 49.0 X 36.3 mm.; maxima 51.2 X 36.3 and 48.1 X 37.3 mm.; minima 47.3 x 35.8 and 49.0 X 35.7 mm.
Habits. The Andaman Teal is common in most of the islands of the Andamans, resorting principally to outlying freshwater jheels and swamps but also frequenting tidal creeks and salt water. They collect in flocks of some size which break up into smaller parties of six to a dozen about June, when the breeding-season is near and in July go off in pairs. They feed much by night, at which time they will enter gardens which have ponds or tanks though for the most part they keep to the paddy-fields. They live on young crops, grain etc. but probably also eat grubs, insects and worms. They fly well, much like Common Teal, swim at a great pace but never seem to dive; even when wounded, birds seek safety by creeping into the jungle instead of diving. Their note is a low, soft whistle but Butler says they also have a low quacking note, uttered by both sexes and, possibly, employed as a call-note, as he heard it used when a flock he was watching saw another flock approaching overhead.