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Photographing The Velvet Scoter

Here are some top tips for finding and photographing the velvet scoter.

|  Eschenbach Arena D+ 10x50 B in Animals / Wildlife
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velvet scoter

They glide on the sea looking for food in perfectly synchronized rows, our birds of the week are the velvet scoters.


The velvet scoter is a large and powerful sea duck. It can grow up to 58 centimetres long and weighs about two kilograms; females are often slightly lighter than males. At first glance, both sexes look similar but some details can help differentiate them.

The male plumage is black with a white spot under the eye. The bill is orange-yellow with a black knob and a reddish nail. The female is brown and has two white patches on each side of the head, one between the eye and the beak, the other behind the eye. The bill is dark grey. Both males and females have a clearly visible white wing bar during flight.

The velvet scoter can easily be confused with the common scoter but the velvet scoter is slightly larger and bulkier.



The velvet scoter breeds in northern Europe and Asia, from Scandinavia to the river Yenisei in Siberia. They usually winter in the Baltic Sea. Velvet scoters prefer to stay in northern coniferous forests, mountain lakes and wooded coastlines during the breeding season.



The velvet scoter mainly feed on molluscs and crustaceans like shells, snails, small crabs and other small marine animals. When searching for food, several birds dive synchronously with no jump and slightly open wings.

In May and June, the scoters return to their breeding grounds. At this time, most couples have already found each other and immediately start building the nest. The nest is built not too far from the water; it is a simple depression on the ground lined with plant matter. The female usually lays seven to nine eggs and incubates them for about a month. The male leaves soon after the female starts incubating. The chicks are quite independent after hatching and already look for food while they walk behind their mother.

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