Gadwall - Anas strepera


This very grey-coloured dabbling duck is a little smaller than Mallard and has a white belly.  The drake has an obvious black rear end. It shows a white wing patch (speculum) in flight. When seen close up the grey colour is made up of exquisitely fine barring and speckling.  The adult male in eclipse plumage resembles the female. (Eclipse plumage replaces the breeding plumage after the breeding season and appears at a time when the main flight feathers are moulting.)

Identification difficulty

Visits gravel pits, lakes, reservoirs and coastal wetlands in winter. To see breeding Gadwall look in the shallow edges of lakes and gravel pits where there is vegetation - mainly in the Midlands and the south-east of England, eastern central Scotland, eastern Northern Ireland and the south-east of Ireland, and south-east Wales.

When to see it

Anytime of year, but chances are better in winter when numbers increase as birds migrate to spend the winter in the UK, away from harsher continental weather.

Life History

It nests in low numbers in the UK and is an Amber List species.

UK Status

Fairly common and widespread in Britain

VC55 Status

Common in the winter in Leicestershire and Rutland, less so as a breeding bird here.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map