Holy crap: it's.... it's... one of those!

Some days ago I went to the Isle of Wight Tiger and Lemur Sanctuary (which is where I saw all those big cats). And while there, one of the undoubted highlights was this amazing beast...

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What is it, and what can you tell us about it? You get points for being clever, not for trying to be funny :)

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If you said that the mystery duck from yesterday was a mallard, a weird mallard hybrid, a shoveler of some sort, or blah blah blah, then shame shame shame on you: you are a loser. If, however, you said it was a Meller's duck Anas melleri, then well done, you are some kind of freakin' duck genius,…
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Isn't it a female (or subadult male) shoveler Anas clypeata? And you went 'Holy crap!' over it because... er, because they're really rare in the UK nowadays and you've rarely/never seen one in the wild before?

Oh, we were supposed to say something clever about it too? Let's see... Well, the northern shoveler Anas clypeata is not the only species of shoveler; there are three other species. However, all those others are distributed exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere: the red shoveler A. platalea in southern South America, the Cape shoveler A. smithii in southern Africa, and the Australasian shoveler A. rhynchotis in Australia and New Zealand. Thus, A. clypeata is the only species of shoveler with a "non-Gondwanan" distribution.

It's not one of those ducks that has its ducklings launch themselves off cliffs and buildings?

or could it be a great green camera worm?

If reading TetZoo has taught us anything, it's that whenever asked, "What is this?", you should always just guess that it's a decomposing racoon.

By Onychomys (not verified) on 25 Aug 2009 #permalink

is IT a decomposing raccoon?

By Daniella Perea (not verified) on 25 Aug 2009 #permalink

Looks like a mallard to me (Anas platyrhynchos)it may be a hybrid, I am probably wrong though.

Mallards can often produce fertile hybrid offspring with other closely related species, the resulting genetic pollution can eventually make rarer species of duck extinct.

The greenish bill color and shape don't look quite right for a shoveler to me. I am going to guess a Mallard hybrid, maybe with a shoveler.

I would guess a juvenile mallard/American black duck hybrid, but the color of the bill seems incorrect for that...

By Kevin Schreck (not verified) on 25 Aug 2009 #permalink

Speaking of mallards (and I agree that it's probably a female mallard, although I have no idea why that'd be notable), did you know you can rearrange Anas platyrhynchos to spell "a phyla shanty scorn"? This means something, cosmically, although I have no idea what.

By Onychomys (not verified) on 25 Aug 2009 #permalink

Looks like a female mallard x american black duck hybrid, no?

By Raymond Ho (not verified) on 25 Aug 2009 #permalink

Is it not a Meller's duck (Anas melleri), from Madagascar and formerly Mauritius? Interesting because it's very similar to a mallard (at least not the male in breeding plumage) but seems to be very distinct from it.

It definitely looks like a shoveler, and due to the dark bill and coloration looks like a female Australasian shoveler Anas rhynchotis. Or it could just be a dark-billed variant female Northern shoveler. I guess it remains to be seen.

By Kryptos18 (not verified) on 25 Aug 2009 #permalink

Oh no, not another feathered maniraptoran theropod. This trend for putting feathers on absolutely everything is getting ridiculous. Can't we have some scaly dinosaurs once in a while?

I'm putting my money on it being an Australasian shoveler female. The reason why it is so unusual is that, like all indigenous Australian animals, forbidden to be exported and therefore a very uncommon presence in any European zoo, though not unheard of. Comparable in rarity to Calyptorhynchus or Callocephalon cockatoos.

Well, that's just my two cents. Clearly, I know more about parrots than about ducks.

Its missing the blue wing bar of a mallard, so its not that. If I saw it in the wild in the UK I would say a female gadwall simply beacuse its the most common option, although it could be garganey. If its not a Uk species - I dont have a clue!

At first glance - ignoring details like the clipped wing - it looks most like a female mallard, but the bill is wacky! What's up with that blueish hue and black nail? The distal portion of the bill looks almost scaup-like.

It also looks like it has a pale/white terminal border to the speculum (good for some variant of Mallard, and A. melleri), assuming it's not a hybrid, I'm leaning towards Meller's Duck (Anas melleri) - otherwise, "Mallard x ???".

It certainly looks like a female mallard to me, and I should know--they stick around in the winter up here (go figure) in some lakes.

I'm going with Mellers duck. Unlike most ducks, the sexes are identical and the male shares care of the ducklings. They have been introduced into Mauritius where they were fairly common until recently.

"Why a duck? Why not a chicken?"

It's a witch! Burn 'er!

Decomposing raccoons? That's weird because I found a dead raccoon in my yard yesterday. I buried it rather than playing with guts because I am worried about rabies (there is a pretty bad outbreak here at the moment). So I now have a decomposing raccoon in the ground under my yard.

Oh yeah, and I agree that the duck looks like a shoveler although there is something odd about it.

At first sight it looks like a female mallard - but somethings wrong with the beak - too big, wrong colour.
So, my guess is also some kind of shoveler.

looks like a duck. walks like a duck. sounds like a duck. yep. it's a duck.

By blueshifter (not verified) on 25 Aug 2009 #permalink

It's a Platypus-Billed Duck!

I'll tentatively agree with Meller's Duck. Everything fits except the eye-stripe, which Meller's shouldn't have. (Of course I've never seen a real one, not even a skin.) But I can't think of anything else. If it's some kind of hybrid, all bets are off. You couldn't have let us see at least the speculum?

By John Harshman (not verified) on 25 Aug 2009 #permalink

It could be a common Eider that`s out of place.

By Bob Michaels (not verified) on 25 Aug 2009 #permalink

It's a duck-billed DUCK... female-type.

Bluebill aka lesser scaup?

The stripe across the head (eyestripe) and bill color seems to indicate a female common teal (Anas crecca). "Holy Crap" because of the muck these ducks will dabble through for a snack.

Too bad that reed is in the way of getting a gander at the wing plumage. Maybe someone could give ducky a goose?

By Robert J. Grieve (not verified) on 25 Aug 2009 #permalink

Thanks to all for guesses. The answer is coming later today. Some of you were so very wrong, some of you so very right.

It's foul. 0>

Watch out you don't get turned into a newt, Monty

It's a dullard (Anas youngii) named for being a mallard of sobre plumage (and the great man who loves and studies these special animals). Either that or an old boot.

By Nigel Jarrett (not verified) on 29 Aug 2009 #permalink

For those not in the know, I should add that Nigel is an esteemed colleague of the great man he refers to :)

Yeah, that green reed in the middle completely threw me off focus. Of course its not a bluebill! Its a [cont'd on next page]

It's a decomposing Basking Shark of course!