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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Surf Scoter

Bird Sightings : Surf Scoter

Surf Scoter

Melanitta nigra

Gaelic: Lacha-bheag-dhubh

Photograph © John Dempsey
Ardvule - North Uist - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
16th October, 2006


Our Scoter photographs

Long-tailed Duck Male
Common Scoter
Surf Scoter
Common Scoter
(Black Scoter)


  • Surf Scoter
  • Melanitta perspicillata
  • UK: Accidental
  • UK: Fewer than 20 records BTO
  • WI: Scarce Visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years)
  • Breeds: Alaska & Canada
  • Winters: South USA, Europe & UK
  • Habitat: Close to sea, lakes, rivers, tundra
  • Diet: Molluscs, crustaceans, (migration fish eggs)
  • Large sea duck, bulky shape, large bill.
    Male almost all black, white patches nape & forehead. Bulbous red, yellow & white bill. Females brown birds, pale head patches. Head wedge-shaped & no white in wings helps ID female from female velvet scoter
  • Similar birds: Velvet Scoter (rare), Common Scoter , Eider,


Surf Scoter records in the Western Isles

Scarce Visitor (very small numbers recorded in most years).
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)

Taransay sound is a good site.

The chart below shows how abundant the Surf Scoter is during a month or when you are more likely to see it.













(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)



Male or female ducks and their collective nouns

Some people use the word duck only for an adult female and drake for an adult male whilst others say hen and drake.

Waterfowl collective nouns (From WIKI):
waterfowl (on water) A raft
waterfowl A bunch of waterfowl
waterfowl (less than 30) A knob
ducks, swimming A paddling of ducks
waterfowl A plump
ducks, idle in water A raft of ducks
ducks, diving A dopping of ducks
ducks, on ground A badelynge of ducks
ducks, flying A flight, plump, or team of ducks
ducks A brace, bunch, flock, skein, sord, string, brace, flush



Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section

John's Blog of his two week stay in the Uists

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