Your birdwatching ponderings answered by our panel of experts
QWe saw this duck on a freshwater pool at the Riverside Nature Reserve, Dundee, by the River Tay. To us, it looks like a first-winter male Scaup, but we’re not sure, especially as it was on fresh water. Andy and Karen Evans
AYour instincts were absolutely correct – this is a first-winter male Scaup. The distinctive black ‘nail’ (the tip of the bill) is suitably restricted, and it can also be told from the similar Tufted Duck by the head shape (no hint of a tuft), and by its longer, larger body. Crucially, he’s gradually losing his mainly brown juvenile plumage and some of the pale grey back feathers are just growing. Although Scaup are sea ducks, typically being seen in large ‘rafts’ off the coast, some do winter on fresh water inland, sometimes a very considerable distance from the coast, where they’re often found in the company of Tufted Ducks. For that reason, some probably get overlooked.