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Mixed flock of duck species on the mudflats

Ducks

Ducks are a group of birds usually associated with park ponds however many of the duck species listed here won’t be spotted in your local park because they prefer the food available in estuaries, on beaches and in rivers. Some of the ducks seen during the winter months around our coast will have travelled thousands of miles to call our shore their home.

Eider duck

Eider

A male eider is black and white, with a black cap, and a pale green patch on back of its neck, and a yellowish bill. Females are brown with a black bill and look so different that they were originally thought to be distinct species.

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A gadwall duck

Gadwall

Gadwall are a lot less common than other ducks such as mallards, wigeon and teal: one great place to spot them is at Hill Head beach, near Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve.

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Mallard

I am a large, heavy looking duck with a long body and long broad bill. The male of our species has a dark green head, a yellow bill with a white ‘scarf’. The females are mainly brown with an orange bill.

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Pintail

I feed on plants and seeds. You will be lucky to spot me as there are not many of us around. You will instantly recognise me due to my long ‘pintail’. I am super fast and often referred to as the ‘greyhound’ of the ducks.

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Red-breasted merganser

Red breasted mergansers can fly at speeds of around 80mph, making them the fastest flying duck.

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Shelduck

We are famously seen in huge flocks, up to 100,000, along the northern coast of Germany during late summer and autumn. We go here to shed our feathers and grow some shiny new ones, for four weeks or so we are totally unable to fly.

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Shoveler

Shoveler

This duck really lives up to its name, with a huge shovel-like bill, which it uses to feed by sweeping it to-and-fro in the water.

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Teal

Teal

Teal mostly eat seeds in the winter, but you might spot then snacking on a tasty bug or two. They mostly feed in shallow water at night. If you see a large flock of ducks, you’re likely to find a teal hidden amongst them.

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Tufted duck

You can probably spot me in your local park pond, clearing up after all the other ducks by eating the food that sinks to the bottom. You might be able to track me underwater by watching for a trail of bubbles.

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Wigeon

Wigeon

The male has a chestnut head with a characteristic creamy-yellow ‘punk’ crown stripe, grey back and sides with a pink chest and white wing patches that can be seen when they fly.

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