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Birds by name
Conservation status: Green
These handsome diving ducks belong to the sawbill family, so called because of their long, serrated bills, used for catching fish. Their diet of fish such as salmon and trout has brought them into conflict with game fishermen. At home on both fresh- and saltwater, red-breasted mergansers are most commonly seen around the UK's coastline in winter. They are gregarious, forming flocks of several hundred in the autumn.
Swans, ducks and geese (Anatidae)
The UK breeding population is concentrated in the north-west of Scotland, England and Wales, and in parts of N Ireland. RSPB reserves with red-breasted mergansers in winter include: Morecambe Bay, Lancs; Langstone Harbour, Hants; Exe Estuary, Devon; Arne, Dorset; Snettisham and Titchwell Marsh, Norfolk; Lough Foyle, Co Londonderry; Belfast Lough, Co Antrim; Culbin Sands, Highland; Udale Bay, Highland.
UK birds start to flock on the coast from July, reaching a peak in December. Birds from N Europe also arrive in late autumn. They return to the breeding areas in March.
* UK breeding is the number of pairs breeding annually. UK wintering is the number of individuals present from October to March. UK passage is the number of individuals passing through on migration in spring and/or autumn.
Please note that the map is only intended as a guide. It shows general distribution rather than detailed, localised populations.
Ruud van Beusekom, Xeno-canto