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What am I?

I am a dabbling duck which means I feed predominantly at the surface, sometimes even grazing on land.

Where do I come from?

We are very widespread and some of us stay and breed in the UK all year. The majority of us migrate here for the winter from Iceland and Northern and Eastern Europe.

A bit about me

I am smaller than a mallard and I have a grey looking head. When seen up close, the male has a finely barred or freckled plumage that appears grey at a distance. The rear part of my body and tail are black and I have a white patch on my side when I swim/rest.

You can see us tipping over for food with our tails and feet in the air. We bend down to grab underwater vegetation with our long necks and beaks. Although we are mostly vegetarians, females and young do eat insect larvae, insects, shrimp, crabs, and even small fish and frogs!

Local spotlight

We are a lot less common than other ducks (mallards, wigeon and teal). One great place to spot us is Hill Head beach.

Conservation status

I’m amber listed in the UK

My name might not be listed in the Solent’s Special Protection Areas but I am still definitely important for the coastal ecosystem and form part of the non-breeding waterbird assemblages which these regions are protected for.

Fun fact

We have a reputation for stealing! We rarely forage alone, most flocks can be seen near other aquatic birds. As other birds come to the surface with food, we snatch it from them – each bird for their own!