At first sight, the Gadwall might appear as one of the drabber of the U.K.’s waterfowl. It’s plain grey plumage, though, on close inspection is in fact made up of subtle speckling and barring. I have to say that of all its lack of colour, I find the Gadwall one of my favourite birds. It just seems very smart. Apart from its uniform colouration, the species defining feature is the white wing patch which can often clearly be seen while swimming and it’s very obvious in-flight.
The gadwall breeds in south and east England, with smaller colonies in east central Scotland and on the eastern coasts of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. It is estimated that in the UK there are between 1000 and 1500 breeding pairs with a wintering population of around 25,000 when the UK population is joined by migrant birds from Northern Europe.