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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

12 January, 2011

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)

I can't help thinking that the model for Disney's Donald Duck, was in fact, our Tufted Duck!

Although the Tufted Duck is widespread, almost always on fresh water lakes and ponds, throughout Dorset it is far more common in winter with extra reinforcements arriving from the frozen north.

It is a quite distinctive duck, its white sides being a marked contrast to the dark metallic blue/black of the back and head. Early in the year its breeding crest is clearly visible too. The only duck you could confuse this with is the Scaup which is a close relative but generally found on salt water, out at sea in bays and estuaries.

This photograph is, of course, of the male. The female is very similar but the white is replaced by a less conspicuous buff and the crest is much shorter.

The Tufted Duck is a diving duck, as opposed to a dabbling duck, so it will frequently disappear beneath the surface of the water before popping up again a few feet away from where it originally dived.

A small compact duck but with a big character.