Monday, 3 December 2012

Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca)

OTHER NAMES: Velvet Duck
Latin Etymology: Melanitta ("black duck") fusca ("dusky/black/brown")
Two female Velvet Scoter (subspecies M. f. fusca) at Swithland Reservoir, Leicestershire - December 2012

Featured Subspecies: Melanitta fusca fusca
Weight: 1.1-2.1kg  /  Length: 51-58cm  /  Wingspan: 86-99cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List: Vulnerable

The Rarest of the UK's Seaducks, and for me at least, the most difficult of the British ducks to see in general (although the Ruddy Duck with its ongoing cull may take that role soon).  Velvet Scoters are large dark ducks which are often seen mingled with the (more numerous but still comparatively rare) Common Scoter.  They can be differentiated by the white patches on their wings in flight, or smaller ones on the faces of both genders and towards the back end of males.  They do occasionally turn up inland (such as these ones) but, are mostly found at sea on the East coast North of the Wash during Winter.  They are considered internationally endangered although their population here is only listed as Amber List.  A handsome bird, be sure to look for some good photos of them as these don't do them justice.

Related Species:
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Melanitta
Subspecies: M. f. fusca, M. f. deglandi, M. f. stejnegeri

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Rare and local Wintering species (2500 birds)
 - Vagrant birds seen at Swithland Reservoir (2 adults in December 2012) .

Further Notes: BirdForum Opus, IUCN Red ListRSPBWikipedia, Xeno-canto

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