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Goldeneye Female (

Not only the title of a James Bond adventure, but also an appealing duck, which breeds in the Highlands and nowhere else in Britain. Watch for courtship displays in late winter and spring, where drakes make dramatic head-flicking and bobbing moves to impress females.

What to look for

A chunky head (black in drakes, dark chocolate in ducks) short bill and stocky body are part of the goldeneye’s distinctive look. Drakes are piebald, with a large white mark between each eye (yes - they’re golden-yellow) and the bill. Broad white wing flashes show well in flight.

Interesting facts

Goldeneye started breeding in Scotland in 1970, helped in large measure by keen birdwatchers that provided tree-and-post-mounted nestboxes for them. These nestboxes are also popular with pine martens (which eat goldeneye eggs and ducklings), giving conservationists an interesting dilemma.

When and where to see

In winter, you can see goldeneye at the coast. Principal areas to be on the alert for them are along much of the east coast from Loch Fleet southwards, in Orkney and Shetland and in the Clyde Estuary and the Ayrshire coast. In summer, the small breeding population is concentrated in Highland rivers and lochs.


Particular coastal hotspots in winter are the Firths of Tay, Forth, Clyde and Inner Moray Firth. The River Spey and nearby lochs and tributaries is the hub of the summer population.

For more information see the RSPB's goldeneye page.