You are here


Usually seen in the company of other ducks gadwall prefer fresh water lakes but do occur on saline habitats too

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

The gadwall (Anas strepera) is a very handsome duck! A little larger than its relatives, it has this wonderful mottled appearance with a distinctive white patch in an area of black in the wing which can be seen from some distance. It does not have any other really distinctive features to set it apart from other ducks.

Gadwall can be seen all year round in Dorset although probably in greater numbers in winter. The number of reports strangely seems to increases during the period from April to June during the breeding season; I am not sure why as I cannot ever recall seeing a gadwall on a nest or with ducklings in tow! They seem to have grown in numbers in recent years, I certainly see them more often these days than I once did when I started birding.

Gadwall appear to be happy on any sheltered water source but in spring and summer they seem to favour freshwater lakes and reservoirs and then, in autumn and winter, can be seen in sheltered estuaries. It is usually seen in the company of other ducks, especially mallard, and they strike me as being a very serene, calm bird. They float regally around surveying the scene and rarely make a fuss or any noise. 

Gadwall should be easy to add to your Dorset list; try Radipole lake in spring or summer and Brownsea Island lagoon in winter. 


Gadwall: calm and collected

Common Name Gadwall
Scientific Name Anas strepera
Species Group Birds Ducks
Status Frequent
Interest Level
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Look for

Large mottle grey/brown ducks with a distinctive black tail

Identification Notes
  • Gadwall seem to increasing in numbers especially in winter when the population is boosted by the arrival of birds from elsewhere
  • Larger than a mallard, greyish rather than brown, lacking the green head but having a black tail they really should not be mistaken 
  • They tend to float around in pairs and are gentle ducks rarely making a fuss like mallards do  
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Ducks