ericjonesey's picture

Unidentified duck

Observed: 7th May 2010 By: ericjonesey

Unidentified duck spotted in Victoria Park, London

Species interactions

No interactions present.


tweeter's picture

Male Scaup

I think your duck is a male Scaup. The pale grey back distinguishes it from a male Tufted Duck and its head is more rounded and without the thin tufty black feathers of the Tufted.
It's a diving duck so you may have seen it pop under water.
My book lists it as uncommon.

More details about this species at:


Kluut's picture


The bird's back is near certainly black - it looks grey due to reflection. At the angle that the photo' has been taken, you would not neccessarily expect to see any tuft.

tweeter's picture

Have just seen the earlier suggestion....

......from Dave Parker about it being a hybrid between Tufted Duck and Pochard. I've googled some more and found some fairly convincing photos of this cross. They certainly show the wide black band across the tip of the bill which Eric's bird shows clearly. Scaup only have the 'nail' being black not the whole width of the bill.
However the googled images show the head of the hybrid as having something of a crest - see:

The bird photographed by Eric does not seem to have this. Perhaps Eric can expand a bit more?

Thanks I've learnt something from this!


Kluut's picture


Compare to -

Any differences are only due to lighting making the back look grey due to reflection.

RoyW's picture

Hybrid Aythya.

This is a male Aythya hybrid, and is most likely to be Pochard x Tufted Duck as suggested.
There are other possibilities (including Tufted Duck x Scaup) - it is usually very difficult to be certain of the parentage of duck hybrids.

Kluut's picture


Scaup are uncommon in waterfowl collections, even rarer on fresh-water, and rarer yet anywhere near Hackney.
The chances of scaup being involved in the hybrid are vanishingly remote.
It always pays to stick with the obvious, not the long-shot.
Because first crosses are usually sterile, so that multi-species combinations aren't possible, and becuase almost all waterfowl species are kept in waterfowl collections, the very great majority of waterfowl hybrids are easily identifiable (perhaps especially so by people with waterfowl collections). There are a few websites showing examples - the same cross always produces a similar effect.

RoyW's picture

But it is a possibility.

As I said, it is most likely to be a Pochard x Tufted Duck, as had been suggested. This opinion is based on the appearance of the bird in comparison to other hybrids (again their parentage was not always known with certainty), and also on the fact that a male presumed Pochard x Tufted Duck hybrid has been recorded in Hackney earlier this year.

Scaup are more regular in captivity than may be realised (and have been kept in London parks in recent years), small numbers regularly occur on freshwater (including several in the London area this year), and Scaup x Tufted Duck hybrids do occur including a female presumed Scaup x Tufted Duck in Hackney in February (there have also been female Pochard x Tufted Duck and male Ring-necked Duck x Tufted Duck).
As the duck that winter in, and pass through, Hackney may come from many hundreds of miles away the rarity of any of these species is irrelevant.

Dave: If you are in the Hackney area you may want to take a look at this website;
Mark Pearson who runs the website (and is the Middlesex bird recorder for the London Natural History Society) would possibly be able to tell you whether this is the same bird as has previously been seen in the area.

Kluut's picture

Captive waterfowl

Your comments about rarity and ocurance agree with my comments nicely. However, how many wild/fullwinged scaup are in the UK for the breeding season, and/or how many tufties on scaup breeding grounds?
Scaup are not common in captivity - I know the trade well. No pochard (Aythya) species is especially common in captivity because they are near totally aquatic, which means that a large pond is required, whereas the great majority of keepers have small pools.
Amongst the many people that I know who have ornamental waterfowl, and dealers and traders, I cannot definately recall ever seeing a scaup; no doubt they were there, but they are rare. Red-crested, tufted, common pochard, rosybills, canvasbacks, are all FAR more common in collections in Europe.

RoyW's picture

Presumed Tufted Duck x Pochard.

Hybridisation between a male Tufted Duck and a female Pochard can produce male offspring in which the general appearance is like this, and as the male parent is named first it would actually make this a Tufted Duck x Pochard cross (definitely splitting hairs!). Male offspring from a cross between a male Pochard and a female Tufted Duck look like male Tufted Ducks moulting out of eclipse plumage.
The hybrid offspring from crosses like this do vary though with some having prominent crests, and others showing varying colours, or markings, on the head and back.
Scaup x Tufted Duck crosses can be similar, but will usually show a greener colour on the head, and more dark 'vermiculations' on the back. Again the presence/absence of a crest is variable.

Kluut: Scaup may not be common in captivity but they are regularly found (at least in larger collections like the WWT) and I have seen several in such collections. As for overlap of Tufted Duck and Scaup on breeding grounds, look at the breeding range, and populations, in Iceland, Norway, Finland and Russia - tens of thousands breed in the same areas. Also the very small numbers that are found in Britain during the breeding season may pair with Tufted Ducks because they can't find a mate of the same species (in the wild most hybridisation occurs where one species is rare - loss vagrants often pair with a related species).
I still agree that this is most likely a Tufted Duck/Pochard cross though, but do not think it should be stated that it is certain to be that.