In conversation with Jackie Hunt MCIEEM MSc
Irish Name: Scótar
Scientific name: Melanitta nigra
Bird Family: Ducks
Resident and winter visitor from the Continent to all Irish coasts between October and April.
Medium-sized, plump duck usually seen in large flocks offshore. At closer range, males with yellow knob at base of bill. All dark plumage, with no white on the wing. Males black, females sooty brown with paler cheeks.
During the summer the diet is varied and includes water plants, insect larvae and freshwater crustaceans. During the winter, they forage mostly in waters less than 20 m deep and with coarse sandy substrates. They feed predominantly on benthic bivalve molluscs.
First recorded breeding in Ireland in the beginning of the 20th century at Lower Lough Erne. Numbers increased steadily – up to 150 pairs were estimated during the late 1960s. They nest on islands with dense covering of scrub and tree cover. The breeding population has declined since due to the increase in Mink, which predate the nests and young.
Common Scoter are almost entirely marine during the winter, and tend to congregate in large flocks on shallow seas with sandy bottoms supporting their preferred prey.
7 April at 7.30pm
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