Duck, duck goose!

Read more about some of the wonderful winter birds your local wildlife reserve hosts.
As the temperature drops, our wetlands ­fill with wildfowl escaping the harsher winters of their breeding grounds. It’s a sensational spectacle as geese and ducks descend on our lakes and reservoirs in loud, colourful groups. The air ­fills with the joyous whistling of wigeons and teals, while groups of elegant grey gadwalls rub shoulders with green-headed mallards, beautiful pintails and bizarre-billed shovelers.

 

Our nature reserves are among the best places to see these beautiful birds. Why not wrap up warm and visit a local wetland to see them? Here are some species to look out for while you’re there…

Wigeon

A female (left) and male (right) wigeon enjoying a swim!

© Dave Foker

The wigeon is a colourful duck that can often be spotted wheeling round our winter skies in large flocks. Wigeons are winter visitors and are usually spotted on wet grasslands, floodplain meadows, flooded gravel pits and reservoirs with gently sloping edges where they can easily get out onto the grassy banks. They are often spotted bobbing along the water at Blashford Lakes near Ringwood.

Teal

A male (front) and female (back) teal drink fresh lakewater!

© IanCameron-Reid

The teal is a pretty little dabbling duck which can be easily spotted in winter on reservoirs, gravel pits, and flooded meadows. Collectively, a group of teal is known as a 'spring' because of the way they can take-off suddenly and vertically, as if they have jumped straight off the ground! Teal arrive at Testwood Lakes nature reserve in Totton every winter to feed on the abundance of aquatic invertebrates.

Tufted duck

a male tufted duck glides accross fresh lakewater

© Ed Merritt

The unmistakeable black and white tufted duck lives up to its name - look out for the black tuft of feathers on the back of its head. It can be seen all year-round, but often flocks together with other ducks in winter. The scientific name of the tufted duck, Fuligula, means 'sooty throat'. Visit Farlington Marshes nature reserve in Portsmouth and you might see one diving under the water’s surface to catch molluscs and insects.

Dark-bellied Brent goose

Two Dark-bellied Brent geese captured mid-flight

© IanCameron-Reid 

Dark-bellied Brent geese travel all the way from their breeding grounds in Siberia to spend the winter along the Solent. They forage on vegetation in the intertidal zone before moving to inland sites as the winter progresses. Brent geese are long-lived birds, with the oldest known UK individual aged over 28 years old! Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes nature reserve is a great place to spot them.