The Baer’s pochard is a species of duck that is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. It is rarely seen in Taiwan, but a few days ago one was reported to have been sighted in Hsinchu County. Lin Wen-chung, a veteran birdwatcher who lives in Tainan, made a special trip to Hsinchu to take some photos of the rarely seen Baer’s pochard.
Baer’s pochards are mainly distributed in the Asian region. Their main breeding grounds are in China, where it is estimated that there are fewer than 1,000 of them in the world. However, Lin said that British birdwatcher Steve maintains that because Baer’s pochards’ breeding grounds overlap with those of the ferruginous duck, they sometimes interbreed, with the result that there are only about 100 pure Baer’s pochards left in the whole world, and the species’ prospects give cause for concern.
Lin said he made a trip to Yilan County on Jan. 16 to see some bar-headed geese and Ryukyu minivets, and the next day he traveled on to a wetland in Hsinchu, where he managed to see the Baer’s pochard. On this occasion the duck was only 20m to 30m away, compared to previous sightings, which were at a distance of 200m to 300m.
Photo courtesy of Lin Wen-chung 照片：林文崇提供
Lin said that when Baer’s pochards are not wearing their breeding plumage, they are very hard to distinguish from ferruginous ducks, due to their very similarly colored feathers, so many people confuse them. On this occasion, however, the close range made it possible to confirm that this was indeed a Baer’s pochard. During five hours of observation, Lin only saw the duck dive one or two times. It spent most of the time hidden away and sleeping among tall grass and weeds. It did its foraging around patches of water lettuce, rather than diving for food like the commonly seen tufted duck.
Lin said that Baer’s pochards are about 45cm long. They belong to the Anatidae family and are a rare winter migratory bird in Taiwan. Baer’s pochards look like ordinary ducks, so it is not easy to raise funds for them like other, more spectacular endangered bird species, which makes conservation work harder to promote.
(Translated by Julian Clegg, Taipei Times)
Photo courtesy of Lin Wen-chung 照片：林文崇提供
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