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Tufted Duck

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A widespread species of duck almost always on fresh water lakes and ponds, throughout Dorset.


Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

Tufted Duck: the model for Donald

Post date: Friday, 18 September, 2015 - 00:00

I can't help thinking that the model for Disney's Donald Duck, was in fact, our tufted duck (Aythya fuligula)!

Although the tufted duck is widespread, almost always on fresh water lakes and ponds, throughout Dorset it is far more common in winter as extra reinforcements arrive from the frozen north. It is a quite distinctive duck too, 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. 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.


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

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Tufted Duck
Scientific Name Aythya fuligula
Status Frequent
Interest Level
Species Family Ducks
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Rivers
  • Lakes and ponds
  • Harbours, estuaries and lagoons
Look for The white flanks on a very dark coloured duck
Additional Identification Notes
  • Found all year round in Dorset but in much greater numbers in winter
  • Primarily a fresh water duck but can be found at the mouth of larger rivers in winter
  • Often in large colonies of as many as fifty birds in winter (look for pochard who are often with them)
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