Melanitta nigra

Range & Status

Palearctic; in Britain and Ireland 95 pairs breed; 50,000 winter.

Regional Distribution

Cornwall: winter visitor and passage migrant, with heavy offshore passage in spring and summer (chiefly off south coast). Numbers fluctuate considerably. Flocks of up to 50 gather in sheltered bays along the south coast in midsummer and winter. Key sites are Mount' s Bay, Veryan Bay, Gerrans Bay, St. Austell Bay and Whitsand Bay. Isles of Scilly: scarce in winter.

Habitat & Ecology

Sheltered sandy bays; infrequent on estuaries.


Oil pollution and inshore fishing (monofilament nets).


Monitoring of numbers. Listed (middle list) as a globally threatened/declining species (BSGR, 1995).