Shelduck Tadorna tadorna

BoCC Amber list

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Our largest duck, looking strikingly black-and-white and more like a goose than a duck

Breeds all around the Essex coast on estuary and grazing marsh, and inland on reservoirs and gravel pits

Common and widespread resident, although in July many adult birds fly off to Heligoland to moult


Head and neck bottle green with red bill (knobbed in male), chestnut breastband, pink legs, black and white wings; 65 cm

Waddles like a goose when walking and also flies like a goose – strongly with slow wingbeats, often in lines or formation

Follows the ebb and flow of the tide, dabbling or up-ending to feed on crustaceans and molluscs


Nest is a down-lined cup in a burrow (such as a disused rabbit burrow) or hollow tree

One brood of 8–15 cream eggs, May–June; incubated by female who also tends young

Young and females from several families often join together

© Alan Williams

© Alan Williams