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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Red-Crested Pochards and a Pintail. Rottingdean Pond. 05.09.21 & 07.09.21

I saw a Facebook post saying that there were Red-Crested Pochards on Rottingdean Pond. There were, and a Pintail.

Red-Crested Pochards are mostly escapees from ornamental ponds/lakes; but there are some "wild" Red-Crested Pochards that breed independently in the UK; there are a very small number of these.

When I observed them on Sunday 05.09.21 I thought they were two females; but other birders have suggested that they are a male in eclipse plumage, and a female i.e. possibly a "pair".

I do not know if they are "wild" UK breeding birds, or escapees for a nearby pond/like - you decide! But they are very pretty.

Larger than a pochard, the male has an orange-brown head with a red beak and pale flanks. Females are brown with pale cheeks. In flight they show whitish primaries. They dive, dabble and up-end for their food. There is a large population in Spain and nearer but smaller numbers in France, Netherlands and Germany - and occasional wild birds may come to the UK from the Continent. The UK breeding birds almost certainly all come from escaped birds. UK breeding: 10-21 pairs; UK wintering: 500 birds Red Crested Pochard Duck Facts | Netta Rufina - The RSPB

BREEDS: Local in Europe & c Asia, WINTERS: south to n Africa India & Japan; Number in Britain: 570 birds (Winter). Summer: 39 Pairs (20 to 47 ) in 2010-14. Status in UK A C2 Escaped Breeder, Scarce Visitor BTO BirdFacts | Red-crested Pochard

One of the largest members of the pochard family, the Red-crested Pochard male has a very characteristic red colouration on the head, from which its name is derived. Females are a soft browny-grey, males in eclipse resemble them, but maintain their red bill so they are easily distinguishable. This species breeds in southern Europe and central Asia, migrating south to Africa and the Indian subcontinent in the winter. Red-crested Pochard - British Waterfowl Association

The Red-Crested Pochard is a Diving Duck from southern Europe and central Asia.

The Red-Crested Pochard is a gregarious bird forming large flocks in winter and often mix with other diving ducks such as the Common Pochard.

A feral population of Red Crested Pochard has been established in the United Kingdom which have more than likely formed from escapees.

Breeding Habitat: Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and Romania.Winter Habitat or Migration Area: Winter in the Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Iraq, Iran, India and Burma. IDENTIFY RED-CRESTED POCHARD - WWT SLIMBRIDGE (


Red-crested Pochard: Mallard-sized duck with red-orange crown, brown face with red eye, and red bill. Nape, underparts, and rump black. Large, white lower flanks. Back grey-brown. Wings mostly white with grey-brown and black trailing edge. Legs and feet dull red-orange. Fast, direct flight.

Range and Habitat

Red-crested Pochard: Escaped breeder and scarce visitor in Britain. Birds are visible all year. Breeding birds are likely to be found in southern and eastern England. Occasional birds visit on passage from continental Europe. Habitat includes lakes, reservoirs, and marshes.

The Red-crested Pochard, the largest of all pochards, is unusual among ducks–the drake brings food to the female during breeding season.

After the hens lay their eggs, they often leave their own nests and incubate another.

These birds upend for food more than most other diving ducks.

A group of pochards are collectively known as a "bunch", "knob", or "rush" of pochards. Red-crested Pochard -

Records of Red-Crested Pochard sighting in Sussex since 1987 (from Sussex Ornithological Society, curtesy John Newnham, personal communication)

Worthing Brooklands

Red-crested Pochard 14/05/1987 1

Worthing Brooklands

Red-crested Pochard 18/10/1987 04/11/1987 1

Worthing Brooklands

Red-crested Pochard 01/01/1988 28/12/1988 1 abnormal plumaged male all year

Worthing Brooklands

Red-crested Pochard 01/01/1989 31/12/1989 1

Worthing Brooklands

Red-crested Pochard 18/02/1990 15/07/1990 1 MALE; PRESENT THROUGH YEAR

Worthing Brooklands

Red-crested Pochard 01/01/1991 1 SEEN ALL YEAR

Worthing Brooklands

Red-crested Pochard 18/01/1992 1 REGULAR ODD MALE

Worthing Brooklands

Red-crested Pochard 15/08/1992 1UNTIL EARLY SEPT

Worthing Brooklands

Red-crested Pochard 15/09/1999 19/09/1999 1, in moult mixing with tame hybrid mallard types


Red-crested Pochard 24/12/2010 10, reported flying over Shoreham & later relocated just N of Piddinghoe

Three drakes at Barcombe Reservoir on 18 November 2019 may possibly have been part of a small influx at the time though escapes cannot definitely be ruled out. Wildlife of Barcombe Parish - Birds Some personal observations (21 April 1999 – 30 September 2020) Simon Linington Birds-of-Barcombe-Parish-updated-10-Oct-20.pdf (



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