Velvet Scoter

Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca [Linnaeus, 1758]

(Extremely rare PM)

  1. Two, ♂♀ not aged, early winter 1930 (D. Carr).*
  2. One, 1st-winter ♂, 22nd Jan. to 26th March 1939 (H. Tetley et al.).
  3. One, 1st-winter probable ♂, 15th-28th Dec. 1963 (P.J. Chadwick, R.M. Curber, B. King, M. Kendall et al.).
  4. One, ♂ not aged, 29th Jan. 1966 (K.L. Fox).
  5. Seven, adult & six 1st-winter , 18th Jan. 1987 (K.E. Vinicombe).

The name Velvet Scoter has been in use since 1678 when John Ray F.R.S. described feathers 'so soft and delicate' (Kear, 2005). It is a species of the boreal and taiga forest zone in the northern hemisphere and was previously divided into 3 sub-species until split into Velvet M. fusca (monotypic) and White-winged Scoters Melanitta deglandi (2 sub-species). Velvet Scoters winter in the coastal waters of northwest Europe from Murmansk to the Iberian peninsular, with the Baltic Sea said to be the most important area. However, the species is in decline and is considered Endangered by BirdLife International. Britains winter population is given as 2500 (2004-2009) and the European summer population as 25000-30000 pairs.

There seems to be a clear pattern of arrival at Blagdon in January. This is probably weather related with snowfall associated with all four records.

Bibliography (sources of information)
  1. BirdLife International (2012) Species factsheet: Melanitta fusca. Downloaded from on 12/12/2012.
  2. Blaythwayt, Rev F.L. (ed.). Report on Somerset Birds, 1939. Somersetshire Archaeol. & Nat. Hist. Soc.
  3. British Ornithologists' Union (BOU) website
  4. British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) website
  5. Davis H.H. 1948. A Revised List of the Birds of the Bristol District. Reprinted from the Proc. of the Bristol Naturalists' Society, vol. XXVII, part IV, pp. 225-268. 1947.
  6. Davis, H.H. (ed.). Bristol Bird Report, 1963. Bristol Naturalists' Society.
  7. Davis, H.H. (ed.). Ornithological Notes Bristol District, 1942. Bristol Naturalists' Society.
  8. Davis, H.H. (ed.). Somerset Birds, 1963. Somersetshire Archaeol. & Nat. Hist. Soc.
  9. Davis, H.H. (ed.). Somerset Birds, 1966. Somersetshire Archaeol. & Nat. Hist. Soc.
  10. IOC World Bird List v3.2 website
  11. Kear, J. (ed). 2005. Bird Families of the World. Ducks, Geese and Swans. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press.
  12. Taylor, S.M. (ed.) Avon Bird Report, 1987. Avon Ornithological Group.
  13. Tetley, H. Velvet-scoter in Somerset. Brit. Birds 33: 1, 26. Jun. 1939.

Updated 17 November, 2016