Saturday, 29 January 2011

Smew (Mergellus albellus)

OTHER NAMES: White-nun, Weasel Coot
Latin Etymology: Mergellus (diminutive of "Mergus") albellus ("white")
Three Smew (Mergellus albellus) on Pitsford Reservoir, Northants -  January 2011

Featured Subspecies: N/A
Weight: 450-650g  /  Length: 38-44cm  /  Wingspan: 56-69cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

Smew are distinctive and small species of duck which winters in the UK mainly South of the Wash-Severn line. The males are more or less unmistakable at close range - a very distinctive small white duck with black markings, while the brown and grey females don't stand out so much, but I still feel that somehow they don't look like a typical "British Duck" - having something of an exotic quality to them. They can in theory turn up anywhere, but big bodies of water are probably the best place to look, though it's probably easiest to see where they have been sighted.  Pitsford Reservoir in Northants seems to be a fairly reliable site, but I have also come across odd individuals on other large bodies of water.

Related Species:
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Mergellus
Subspecies: none - monotypic

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - A scarce Winter visitor with some regular wintering sites, but often turns up on random bodies of water (c. 180 birds)
 - Pitsford Reservoir often holds small groups in Winter. I've also seen single individuals at Ditchford Gravel Pits and Eyebrook Reservoir. 

1 comment:

  1. This looks a better than medium grade photo if only for its composition.