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An occasional winter visitor to the shores of Dorset

Photograph by: 
Martin Wood

Whilst many duck species are winter visitors to Dorset the garganey (Anas querquedula) seems to buck the trend! Never a common species here it seems to be reported only during the 'summer' months from March to September with the emphasis on the first three of those months. The garganey spends the winter months in primarily in tropical Africa and returns to central Europe and parts of eastern England to breed and this explains in winter absence and the surge in early spring st the start to move north to breed. Some non-breeding birds stay around the south of England all summer.

The garganey is a small duck, certainly smaller than a mallard. It is attractively marked in shades of brown and grey and the male has a distinctive white streak above the ye and down towards its neck. 

Whilst breeding on freshwater habitat it is quite comfortable on coastal salt water sites almost anywhere outside of that time and can be seen on saline lagoons and in sheltered estuaries as well as large lakes and reservoirs. They are often reported form the swannery at Abbotsbury, on the fresh water at Radipole and Longham Lakes and on the saline Brownsea lagoon and Stanpit Marsh. 

Hardly a rare species but far from common, the garganey is probably best described as scarce.



Common Name Garganey
Scientific Name Anas querquedula
Species Group Birds Ducks
Status Scarce
Interest Level
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
Look for

A small, compact duck in the spring or summer months

Identification Notes
  • Look for the white flash on the head of the male that runs from above the eye down towards the neck
  • A smaller, more compact duck than a mallard
  • Only seen in spring and summer
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