Han River, Seoul, March 8th

Tim Edelsten with Robin Newlin & Rob MacFie

At Oksu today, the regular pre-migratory gathering of ducks made a spectacular sight as they swarmed in an ever tighter bunch toward sunset. Undoubted star of the occasion (seen quite distantly) was a male Baer’s Pochard-“type”  (that seems to have some hybrid influence?). In the field I noted a green sheen to the head, with some cinnamon tints around the eye, forehead and base of bill. It displayed briefly as well, whereby the back of the neck suddenly  pops out  (which I have seen pure  male Baer’s do previously). It also had a deep plum-coloured breast and pale yellow eye. The photos were taken at very long range. Opinions as to the identity of this individual are welcome.


Hybrid Baer’s Pochard? @ R. Newlin


Hybrid Baer’s Pochard? @ R. Newlin

Also present, the male Ferruginous Duck and a drake Red-crested Pochard, a distant, unidentified dark duck (on brief views looking like a female Ferruginous Duck), as well as apparently the same pink-breasted, grey-bodied Common Pochard X Baer’s (?) hybrid that was present last winter.


Hybrid Baer’s Pochard? @ R. Newlin

In other news, I counted 15,090 Common Pochard and 2100 Tufted Duck; there were also 8 Smew and 32 Little Grebe. Also noteworthy, a large concentration of c.1000 Mongolian Gull.

3 comments on “Han River, Seoul, March 8th

  1. I should add that I also saw it dive for 10-15 seconds; that in brief moments of sunlight its green head sheen was obvious, as was a light blue tinge to the greyish bill, which had a black tip.
    At this stage I believe it to be a Baer’s hybrid. Seeing its very distinctive, strange-looking and (as far as I know, unique?) neck-swelling display strongly suggests to me such an origin.

    I think it may be the same individual that I photographed (at the same site) on January 27th 2014 (just click on the link):


    -and again on March 9th 2014 (Photographed by Baek Jong-Seok, images publicly posted and viewable by all on bird db. com).

    a) http://user01.birddb.com/bjs1149/b_050032/1395742614_SJ1_5761.jpg

    b) http://user01.birddb.com/bjs1149/b_050032/1395742614_SJ1_5782.jpg

    Discussion as to its full identity is welcome. I presume the peaked head and amount of cinnamon on the head indicative of Ferruginous Duck influence?

    • This bird seems to show a grey wash in parts of the wing stripe (see bottom image). As both Ferruginous Duck and Baer’s more or less show the same all-white wing stripe, this suggests (perhaps) Common Pochard influence. The rear end of the bird is also unlike either Baer’s or Ferruginous (in that the dark leading edge to the white on the vent is not vertical). The bird also has grey shades on the scapulars, again recalling Common Pochard much more than Ferruginous or Baer’s. It also has a bill patttern and head-shape that seems not so far off Common Pochard. I do not know whether a green sheen would be shown by a Common Pochard X Ferruginous cross (it can be Tufted Duck x Common Pochard apparently), so with that hint of tiger striping on the flanks and your comments on the display being fit for Baer’s, then perhaps it has both Baer’s and Common Pochard influence?

  2. The neck-flexing display – whereby the male quickly pops out the back of his neck- is momentarily captured on this video at the 0.36 mark:

    It looks a bit more dramatic when seen properly in sidelong profile. Last year I saw the pure male do it repeatedly (several times in a minute) while paddling alongside Common Pochards- and also this presumed hybrid- both times in early March. Although females were in the vicinity when I saw it, I suspect it is some kind of aggressive threat posture toward other males. Its a sudden, bizarre-looking action that I found very noticeable from even 80- 120m away.

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