Goosander (Mergus merganser)

Male. Taken at Mesopotamia, Oxford on Februry 18th 2015.
(1/500th sec at f4 . © David Hastings)

Female. Taken at Hinksey Lake, Oxford on March 11th 2011.
(1/160th sec at f11. © David Hastings)


L: 58 - 68 cm; WS: 78 - 94 cm

The Goosander is a large sawbilled fish-eating duck. It has a crest of longer head feathers, but these usually lie smoothly rounded behind the head, not normally forming an erect crest. Adult males in breeding plumage are easily distinguished, the body white with a variable salmon-pink tinge, the head black with an iridescent green gloss, the rump and tail grey, and the wings largely white on the inner half, black on the outer half. Females, and males in eclipse plumage are largely grey, with a reddish-brown head, white chin, and white secondary feathers on the wing. Juveniles are similar to adult females but also show a short black-edged white stripe between the eye and bill. The bill and legs are red to brownish-red, brightest on adult males, dullest on juveniles.

It is found in Europe, North Asia and North America. It first bred in the UK in 1871.

It breeds on lakes and rivers in forested areas, requiring fairly deep, fish-holding lakes and mature trees with holes for nesting.

In winter birds move to lakes, gravel pits and reservoirs in the south and east of England. The Goosander is gregarious outside the breeding season, and can form very large flocks.

About 2600 pairs breed in the UK, and about 12000 birds winter here.


05-Feb-2018 : Standlake Common, Oxon (1)
17-Jan-2018 : Standlake Common, Oxon (2)

16-Apr-2017 : Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon (1f)
21-Jan-2017 : Standlake Common, Oxon (6m)
02-Jan-2017 : Standlake Common, Oxon (3m)

24-Dec-2016 : Standlake Common, Oxon (2m)
27-Feb-2016 : Standlake Common, Oxon (1m)

18-Feb-2015 : University Parks, Oxford, Oxon (2)

08-May-2014 : Newport, Pembrokeshire (1)