Asker Nature Reserve


goosander with reflections swimming up the river Asker

The Goosander is a duck unlike most others

It is a member of the Sawbill family.  They are among the very few ducks that rely on catching fish for survival. Their long serrated beaks are perfect for holding onto slippery fish of any size from minnows to salmon.  They have amazing eyesight underwater.  They enjoy fast flowing fresh water and can be seen in the South of England during the winter months in their winter plumage.

Extraordinarily, Goosanders have a moult migration, but it is confined to the males. From June to October, even when mothers and their broods are feeding, the drakes undertake a remarkable journey, travelling all the way from Scotland’s breeding grounds to the North Cape of Norway. Here they mingle with 35,000 other males from other parts of western Europe moulting their plumage.


Mothers may be seen swimming carrying their brood along on their backs.


Unusually for a duck they nest in holes in trees or rocks or strange sites, such as hollow logs, or in buildings.  These holes may be anything from 1m above ground to an impressive 30m high.

Main Image

A pair of gossanders in winter plumage

Goosander Gallery