Goldeneye are one of our well known ducks with individuals from Northern Europe visiting the UK to overwinter. They first nested in Scotland in the early 1970’s and thanks to the Speyside nest-box programme they have been attracted to nest in specially designed boxes put up on trees close to water.
If you’re lucky you may witness their spectacular courtship display in the Spring before the birds return to their breeding areas. Typically the bottle green headed males males swim around the chocolate headed female, while she remains motionless in a prone posture.
They then stretch their heads forward along the water before throwing their heads rapidly back so that they rested on their rumps, bills pointing skywards, while uttering a grating two-noted call.
They swing their orange feet forward, sending up a small shower of water in front of them. If one of the males has been successful in enticing the female he climbs on her back biting the back of her neck feathers and mates. It always looks as though she is half drowned in the process and she often has a quick splash about afterwards to rearrange her tousled feathers.
A wide photographic selection of birds, marine life, insects, mammals, orchids & wildflowers, fungi, tribal people, travel, ethnography, fossils, rocks & minerals etc. is available on my Alamy webpage
If you are interested in the wildlife of the North-west of England and would like to join the walks and coach trips run by the Merseyside Naturalists’ Association, see the main MNA website for details of our programme and how to join us.