Red breasted merganser

This is a striking diving duck uses its long serrated bill to catch its prey, mainly small fish. The male has a distinctive red/orange breast and a green head. It swims lying low in the water, looking waterlogged. 

Resident all year round. It nests on the ground at the coast during spring and larger flocks form at the end of the breeding season in July. In the winter, birds from northern Europe join the resident population in estuaries and along the coast and the numbers swell further.

This large sea duck can be found around the coasts of Scotland, particularly in the northwest during the breeding season. During the winter the birds flock in hundreds into estuaries and sheltered bays such as along the shores of the Cromarty Firth and Moray Firth as well as the southeastern shores of the Firth of Forth.

The population of red-breasted mergansers goes up by more than four times during the winter as the resident Scottish population is joined by European birds crossing the North Sea for winter quarters in the North East of Scotland.

A member of the ‘sawbills’, which includes the larger goosander, they come into conflict with sport fisherman because they feed on young salmon and trout amongst other fish.



Bucephala clangula

A medium sized diving duck. Males look black and white with a greenish black head and a circular white patch in front of the yellow eye. Females are smaller, and are mottled grey with a chocolate brown head. In flight, birds show a large area of white...



Mergus merganser

These handsome diving ducks are a member of the sawbill family, so called because of their long, serrated bills, used for catching fish. A largely freshwater bird, the goosander first bred in the UK in 1871. It built up numbers in Scotland and then since ...