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Anas strepera

A dabbling duck which means they feed predominantly at the surface, sometimes even grazing on land. Gadwall are very widespread and some stay and breed in the UK all year. The majority migrate here for the winter from Iceland and northern and eastern Europe.

A gadwall duck

All about Gadwall

Smaller than a mallard, they 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 the body and tail are black and they have a white patch on their sides which can be seen when they swim or rest.

You will see gadwall tipping over for food with their tails and feet in the air or bending down to grab underwater vegetation with their long necks and beaks. Although they are mostly vegetarians, females and young do eat insect larvae, insects, shrimp, crabs, and even small fish and frogs.

Local spotlight

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.

Conservation status

Gadwall are amber listed in the UK and while they are not be listed in the Solent’s Special Protection Areas, they are important for the coastal ecosystem and form part of the non-breeding waterbird assemblages for which these regions are protected.

Did you know?

They rarely forage alone and, as other species of wildfowl come to the surface with foraged food, the opportunistic gadwall will often filch some to eat.