Rare North American ducks spotted in Yorkshire

A pair of rare ducks which are native to North America have been spotted attempting to breed in Yorkshire
-Credit: (Image: Graeme Brook/Yorkshire Water/PA Wire)


Two rare North American ducks have been seen attempting to breed here in Yorkshire.

The male and female blue-winged teal ducks were seen at Yorkshire Water's Tophill Low nature reserve, outside of Driffield in East Yorkshire. The pair have been seen a number of times over the past year.

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Nature wardens and volunteers kept their presence at the site secret while the pair were observed in nesting behaviours. It appears the birds were unsuccessful in breeding on this occasion.

Nature reserve warden Richard Hampshire said their "likely" attempt to breed in the area is believed to be a first for the UK.

The male and female blue-winged teal were spotted at Yorkshire Waters Tophill Low nature reserve near Driffield, East Yorkshire
The male and female blue-winged teal were spotted at Yorkshire Waters Tophill Low nature reserve near Driffield, East Yorkshire -Credit:Lee Johnson/Yorkshire Water/PA Wire

He said: "Blue-winged teal are native to North America and are a stunning-looking duck – particularly in male plumage with its white face crescent – and are counterpart to our own Eurasian teal which visit mainly in winter by the hundred to the reservoirs and wetlands.

"It is extremely exciting to have them visiting the reserve for the last 12 months or so and we think they are likely to have attempted to breed in the region, which we think would be a first for the UK."

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He said the schedule of investment work at the water treatment works was adjusted to make sure there was no risk to the birds while they attempted to breed.

He said: "We first spotted the pair in August 2023 and they returned in November, then again during breeding season in April this year when they engaged in nesting behaviour.

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"We strongly suspect they went on to attempt a nest in the river Hull valley somewhere.

"They came back to Tophill Low in June, but unfortunately we’ve had no sightings of immature blue-winged teal locally.

"We’re hopeful they will stick around and try again next year, and we get a first for the species in the UK."

Tophill Low has been a nature reserve for 30 years and is home to a number of different species. This includes otters, barn owls, kingfishers and grass snakes.