The Garganey (Anas querquedula) is a small dabbling duck. It breeds in much of Europe and western Asia, but is strictly migratory, with the entire population moving to southern Africa, India (in particular Santragachi), and Australasia in winter, where large flocks can occur. This species was first described by Linnaeus in 1758 under its current scientific name. Like other small ducks such as the Common Teal, this species rises easily from the water with a fast twisting wader-like flight.
The adult male is unmistakable, with its brown head and breast with a broad white crescent over the eye. The rest of the plumage is grey, with loose grey scapular feathers It has a grey bill and legs. In flight it shows a pale blue speculum with a white border. When swimming it will show prominent white edges on its tertials. His crown (anatomy) is dark and face is reddish-brown.
Some care is needed in separating the brown female from the similar Common Teal, but the stronger face markings and more frequent head-shaking when dabbling are good indicators. Confusion with the female of the Blue-winged Teal is also possible, but the head and bill shape is different, and the latter species has yellow legs. Pale eyebrow, dark eye line, pale lore spot bordered by a second dark line.
These birds feed mainly by skimming rather than upending.
The male has a distinctive crackling mating call; the female is rather silent for a female duck, but can manage a feeble quack.
The Garganey is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies. The status of the Garganey on the IUCN Red List is Least Concern.
foto: Mihai Baciu