(2275) Querquedula querquedula.
The Garganey or Blue-winged Teal.
Anas querquedula Linn., Syst. Nat., 10th ed., i, p. 126 (1758) (Sweden). Querquedula circia. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 449.
Vernacular names. Chaitwa, Khira, Patari (Hind.); Gang-roib, Giria (Beng.) ; Ghila-hans (Assam).
Description. - Male. Crown and nape deep brown, lighter on the forehead, where it is more or less streaked with white and sometimes faintly glossed at the sides; a broad white superciliary stripe from in front of the eye down the sides of the nape ; chin black; remainder of head and neck bright rich chocolate, streaked with white; back, rump, upper tail-coverts and tail brown, the feathers all edged paler or greyish-brown: inner scapulars black, glossed with green and with broad white central streaks and narrow white edges; outer scapulars the same but with the outer webs broadly blue-grey ; wing-coverts bright pale French grey, the greater broadly edged with white, forming a wing-bar; outer secondaries brown-grey, glossed with green and tipped with white; other quills brown, the inner primaries greyish, broadly edged with greyish-white; breast brown with black or dark brown markings, concentric on the upper breast, in the form of bars on the lower breast, gradually changing from the one to the other; abdomen white, more or less speckled with brown towards the vent, thigh-coverts brown and white; flanks white, finely barred with black, the feathers nearest the tail with two broad bars of white and grey divided by a narrower black line ; under tail-coverts white or buffy-white, the shorter with brown drops; under wing-coverts mainly dark grey, the central coverts and axillaries white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill brownish-black, the nail quite black, margins of the commissure and gape paler and often reddish ; legs and feet dark grey. The female has the same colours.
Measurements. Wing, 192 to 209 mm., 177 to 192 mm.; tail 68 to 74 mm.; tarsus about 25 to 29 mm.; culmen 44 to 49 mm.
Female. Above dark brown, all the feathers with pale margins, except the crown, which is rather richer than elsewhere and is marked with dark streaks ; chin and throat white; neck greyish or buffy-white, minutely streaked with dark brown; a supercilium from above the eye and a spot on the lores white or buffy-white; wing greyish-brown, in old females more grey, especially on the smaller coverts; speculum as in the male but very dull and indistinct; fore-neck and upper breast brown, with broad pale edges to the feathers; lower breast, abdomen and vent white, buffy-white or buff; the flanks and under tail-coverts the same, blotched, barred and spotted with brown.
Young males are like the female but are darker, with more brown on the under parts, the speculum better defined and the lower wing-coverts more grey.
Male in eclipse plumage resembles the female except that it retains the fully-coloured wing.
Nestling like that of the Teal but with the underparts more yellowish ; there is a well-defined broad buff line over the eye, whilst the dark streak through the eye is broader and darker; there is a yellowish spot on the lores.
Distribution. The Palaearctic Region, migrating South in Winter as far as Somaliland in Northern Africa, the whole of Southern Asia and Japan, the Philippines, Borneo, Java etc. In India it occurs commonly everywhere from Kashmir to Ceylon and in Burma almost in equal numbers to the extreme South of Tenasserim.
Nidification. The Garganey breeds in May and early June, making its nest in wet meadows and grass-lands or sometimes on marshy spots in small islands. The nest sometimes consists of a mere depression in the grass but if in wet places the depression is well lined with very fine grass- and rush-blades in addition to the great quantity of down always present. Wherever placed the nest is always well hidden, though, as the Teal never rises until the last moment, she always gives it away. The eggs number six to a dozen, generally seven or eight. In shape they are rather narrow ellipses and in colour buffy-white to warm cream with a distinct gloss, One hundred and eight average 45.5 x 32.8 mm.: maxima 49.0 x 32.9 and 43.8 x 35.5 mm.: minima 39.3 x 29.7 mm.
Habits. In the North-West of India the Garganey is one of the earliest duck arrivals, generally appearing in mid-September in some numbers, whilst Hume records a flock which he estimated at 20,000 in the Etawah district as early as the 28th of August. This Teal may be found anywhere where there is sufficient water, in the widest swamps as well as in small tanks and village ponds, keeping to open water in closely-packed flocks by day and feeding by night. They are mainly vegetarian feeders and delight in young crops" of rice, wheat etc., often doing a great deal of damage. Their flight is very fast and the swishing hiss of their wings overhead cannot be mistaken for the flight of any other duck. They are excellent for the table.