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WILDFOWLING.COM - Quarry Indentification Under Wildfowling Conditions

The Wildfowler is often faced with the problem of identifying duck and geese in poor light conditions and when the birds are at oblique angles in flight. Slight differences in wing-beat speed, flashes of light or dark colour in specific regions, wing-to-body ratios and audible clues like flight sound and calls can all aid identification.

GREYLAG: Large goose with a distinct heavy head and bill; pale grey shoulders; white rump; low 'ang-ang' call

PINKFOOT: Medium sized goose with apparent dark head; more slender and with paler underparts than greylag; distinctive 'wink-wink' call

WHITE FRONT: Medium to large size; black barring on chest; darker, more slender than greylag; high pitched 'hank-hank-hank' call

CANADA GOOSE: Large, heavy goose with black head with white bar; light underparts; low 'honk-honk' call

BRENT (Protected): Small goose with apparent black head and chest; dark underparts; distinctive rolling call

MALLARD: Strong, fairly fast level flight with rapid wing beats; large size; drake normally silent in flight, duck emits the familiar low 'quack'

WIGEON: Rapid flight with wings appearing sickle-shaped; medium size; light belly with white shoulders; short bill; cock gives a high pitched 'whee-ooo' whistle while the hen has a low 'purr'

PINTAIL: Fast rapid flight. medium to large size; male has characteristic 'pin' tail but both sexes are slender, long birds with slightly sickle-shaped wings; male gives a lower pitched 'prip' than the teal and the duck has a rather weak, mallard 'like 'quack'

TEAL: Very rapid flight with small flocks frequently rising and dipping in unison; small size; the male has a 'prip-prip' call while the female 'quacks'

SHOVELER: Rapid flight with rattling sound from wings; medium size; light blue shoulders prominent in flight; characteristic large spatulate bill appears longer than the head; rarely 'quacks' in flight

GOLDEN EYE: Fast, direct flight with audible wing rattle; medium size; light underparts; light cheek patch of male usually visible; normally silent

POCHARD: Strong, fast flight; medium size; male has a low pitched whistle and female rare deep 'kurr'

TUFTED DUCK: Fluttery flight; small to medium size; males sometimes have a clear colour contrast but females less so; rarely 'quacks' in flight

SHELDUCK (Protected): Slow, strong, goose like flight; large size; contrasting markings usually visible even in very poor light; male occasionally whistles; female has a short, low mallard like 'quack'


The contents of this page is based on information from
'MODERN WILDFOWLING' (Swan Hill Press, 1990) by Eric Begbie and reproduced with permission.

UK Resources

Duck and Geese on UK and Irish Quarry List (including .wav, .au, .aiff and mp3 sounds!

USGS Resources

Ducks at a Distance

Species, age and sex identification of Ducks using wing plumage

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