Thursday, 5 January 2012

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)

Adult female Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) at Chatham Harbour, Kent - January 2012

OTHER NAMES: Oldsquaw
Weight: 740kg
Length: 44-60cm
Wingspan: 71cm
UK GREEN LIST / IUCN Red List Vulnerable

The long-tailed duck is one of the UKs four specialist sea-ducks, and is one of the harder to see.  Unlike Eiders and Common Scoters it does not breed in this country, but Winters here from further north.  From the picture here, you may be wondering about the name, as the there isn't a great deal noticeable about the tail, but, in summer it will gain a spectacularly long upwards curving tail practically the length of the duck again, plus a more striking sharp black and white plumage.  A winter bird, like this one, has got significantly more drab plumage and so isn't quite so impressive.  This specific individual was a bit of an oddity - they are normally found only in flocks from Northumbria upwards, while this individual was alone in a harbour in Kent and had been for months - presumably it had got separated from other birds and blown off course - but as it had apparently been there for months, at least it appeared to have settled to life there and was probably far more tolerant of humans than normal.

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

 - Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Scarce Wintering species (11,000 birds) 
 - Slightly off-course birds seen at Chatham Harbour in January 2012, and another at Queen Mother Reservoir

Further Notes: RSPB, Wikipedia, BirdGuides, BirdForum Opus, Arkive, IUCN Red List

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