Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Shooting the Teal

The Teal (Anas crecca) is Ireland's smallest duck (34 - 38 cm in length) most likely to be seen as a winter visitor from September to April, although there is a small breeding population in the country (1). An attractive little bird, the male has a dark brown head with a yellow bordered green patch through the eye, a grey body and a black edged, triangular patch in front of the black stern (2).
Male Teal, Anas crecca
The Teal is also attractive to hunting enthusiasts too, leading to a certain amount of lead shot in birds. A 21 year study of Teals in southern France showed that lead shot was more likely to be found embedded in male birds over females and there was an accumulation over time with no adverse effects (3). The same could not be said for lead found ingested in the gizzard of Teals. More likely to be found in females over males, as little as one piece of lead shot is toxic once ingested by foraging birds. Moreover, lead poisoning accumulates in ecosystems, with posioning being reported in in 17 higher predators in Europe such as the near threatened White Tailed Eagle of the endangered Spanish Imperial Eagle (5), strengthening calls for tighter regulation of lead shot usage.

  1. Sterry 2004, Collins Complete Guide to Irish Wildilfe p. 40
  2. Hayman and Hume 2002, The New Birdwatcher's Pocket Guide to Britain and Europe p. 38
  3. Guillemain 2007, Biological Conservation 137 pp. 567-576
  4. Mateo 2009, Ingestion of Lead from Spent Ammunition: Implications for Wildlife and Humans, Watson et al. eds. pp. 71-98

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