The Red Crested Pochard is a large diving duck. Its breeding habitat is lowland marshes and lakes in southern Europe and it extends from the steppe and semi-desert areas on the Black Sea to Central Asia and Mongolia, wintering in the Indian Subcontinent and Africa. It is somewhat migratory, and northern birds winter further south into north Africa. It is likely that flocks in the UK are mainly composed of escapees from wildfowl collections.
Only the male has the distinctive red head and bright red bill. In winter, along with some other duck species the male loses his distinctive plumage and looks similar to the female, while retaining the red bill (lower right hand image). This state is known as ‘eclipse’. Another feature also retained by the eclipsed male is the red eye. Bright plumage is restored in time for the spring breeding season.
The ducklings look similar to many other species but seeing them in a family group is a certain way of identification. These ducklings appear to be developing different bill colours already.
The common pochard also shows sexual dimorphism and the triangular shaped head is a distinctive feature. It widely distributed across Europe and Asia but most breeding birds are found in the UK and Western Europe. In some countries populations are declining due to habitat loss and, regrettably, hunting! 😦 😦