Just because wildfowling generally takes place miles away from civilisation doesn't mean that we are free to shoot what we like. The species of birds that we can legally shoot outside the closed season are governed by law and listed in Schedule 2 Part 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
           

Schedule 2 Part 1

Ducks Geese Waders Others
Gadwall Canada Common Snipe Coot³
Goldeneye Greylag Curlew¹ Moorhen³
Mallard Pink-footed Golden Plover
Pintail White-fronted² Jack Snipe¹
Pochard Woodcock
Scaup¹
Shoveler
Teal
Tufted
Wigeon
¹ Northern Ireland only
² England & Wales only
³ England,Wales & Scotland only

 

There are also open/shooting seasons for wildfowl and these are shown below (all dates are inclusive)
   
 

Schedule 2 Part 4

Wildfowl in Northern Ireland anywhere
1 September
-
31 January
Wildfowl in England, Wales and Scotland in or over any area below the mean high water mark of ordinary spring tides 1 September
-
20 February
Wildfowl in England, Wales and Scotland elsewhere
1 September
-
31 January
Coot (England, Wales & Scotland only)
1 September
-
31 January
Moorhen (England, Wales & Scotland only)
1 September
-
31 January
Common Snipe
12 August
-
31 January
Jack Snipe (Northern Ireland only)
1 September
-
31 January
Curlew (Northern Ireland only)
1 September
-
31 January
Woodcock (England, Wales & Northern Ireland)
1 October
-
31 January
Woodcock (Scotland)
1 September
-
31 January
Golden Plover
1 September
-
31 January
 

Before the passing of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, orders prohibiting the shooting of wildfowl on Sundays in England and Wales were made under the Protection of Birds Act 1954. These orders have not been rescinded and so the following counties/part counties are still affected:

Anglesey, Brecknock, Caernarfon, Carmarthen, Cardigan, Cornwall, Denbigh, Devon, Doncaster, Glamorgan, Great Yarmouth County Borough, Isle of Ely, Leeds County Borough, Merioneth, Norfolk, Pembroke, Somerset, North and West Ridings of Yorkshire.

Below are some photographs and silhouettes (not to scale) of the quarry species available to wildfowlers. Most of these species have been shot on the marshes used by Spalding Wildfowlers, some appearing more often than others. One of the most important aspects of wildfowling is being able to identify your quarry as legal, if in doubt do not shoot.These pictures are only a guide and the only real way to improve your identification skills is get out there under all conditions. Gone are the days of "what's hit is history and what's missed is mystery".

 

Ducks

Mallard
(Anas platyrhynchos)


Large dabbling duck. Male has glossy, dark green head, white collar and purple-brown chest. The rest of the plumage is mainly light grey and a white tail with black central feathers. Female is dull, mottled brown. Both have purple speculum edged by white wing bars which can be seen in flight.

Female has a loud, deep "quark" and male is quieter with a soft, nasal "quark" and high whistle.

 

Wigeon
(Anas penelope)


Medium sized dabbling duck with a short neck. Male has basically grey plumage with a buff forehead and crown, the remainder of the head being chestnut. The chest is pinkish-brown, has white underparts with a white shoulder patch which is easily seen in flight. Female has duller, brown plumage tinged rufous and white underside. Both have green speculum fringed with white wing bars.

Male has very distinctive whistling "whee-oo", being heard mainly from flocks in flight, female has low, quiet note.

 

Pintail
(Anas acuta)


Large, slim built dabbling duck with a noticeably long neck. The male has an extended central pair of tail feathers forming a characteristic needle-tail. Male has a chocolate-brown head extending down the back of the neck. It has a pure white breast, front and sides of neck which extend as a white streak up the side of the head. The underparts are white; back and flanks light grey; black rump; grey and grey wings with a green speculum. Female duller with grey-brown plumage.

Rarely makes a noise but male has a low "Teal-like whistle" and the female has a "growling quack".

 

Teal
(Anas crecca)



Very small dabbling duck. Male has conspicuous grey plumage contrasting with a dark chestnut head. There is a creamy-buff patch on each side of black under-tail coverts and prominent white stripe along scapulars. A striking broad green patch extends from in front of the eye to the anpe of the neck, edged by a narrow buff line. The breast is cream and spotted with black, the underside is white. The speculum of both is is green and black, bordered with white. Female plumage is mottled brown with paler cheeks and a whitish underside. Renowned for its vertical take-off abilities.

Male has a low, whistling "krit-krit". Female has a high grating "quack".

 

Shoveler
(Anas clypeata)


Medium sized dabbling duck. Both sexes are characterised by a large spatulate bill, large head and short neck which are easily recognised, both in flight and on the water. The male has a green head, chestnut flanks and belly contrasting with a pure white chest, pale blue forewing with a green speculum edged with white. Female is mainly mottled brown with a duller blue forewing and green speculum.

Male has a low double note, the female quiet, similar to a Mallard quack.

 

Gadwall
(Anas strepera)


Medium sized dabbling duck. Male has a grey-brown plumage and conspicuous black rump. A white speculum forms a bold white patch on the trailing edge of the wing; wing coverts are chestnut and black. Female is dull, mottled brown with a white belly and white wing patch.

Male has a high pitched "quack" and female has a short nasal call.

 

 

Pochard
(Aythya ferina)


Medium sized diving duck with a dumpy appearance when on water. Male has a chestnut head and neck which contrasts with a pale grey back and flanks, black breast and tail. Female is uniformly dull brown being slighly paler around the face. Both sexes have no white showing on the wing but show a pale grey wing bar along the full length of the wing, the forewing is dark grey.

Most often heard is the female's harsh "kurrr".

 

Tufted
(Aythya fuligula)


Small diving duck. Male is black with white flanks and belly and sports a long, thin drooping crest. Female has a rich dark brown head and back with the underside and flanks paler. The crest is smaller. In flight there is a broad white wing-bar.

Female has a harsh, almost growling "karr-karr" while the male is more silent.

 

Goldeneye
(Bucephala clangula)


Medium sized diving duck. Male has a high crowned, dark head with a greenish-purple gloss and circular white patch on its cheek. Its neck and under-parts are white contrasting with black back and rump and grey tail. There is extensive white on the inner wing and is readily seen in flight. The female is smaller, has a chocolate-brown head, pale blue-grey upperparts with white underparts, grey flanks and tail.

Usually silent.

 
Geese

Pinkfooted
(Anser brachyrhynchus)


Medium sized grey goose which is distinguished by its dark head and neck, contrasting with a pale brownish body. The bill is small and short, dark coloured with a pink band; the feet and legs also pink. The back and wings are grey with a paler forewing noticeable in flight.

Very characteristic short, high pitched flight note "wink-wink".

 

Greylag
(Anser anser)


The largest grey goose. The head, neck and most of the body is a uniform pale brownish-grey. It is characterised by its large size, heavy head and neck with stout bill. The bill is bright orange with no black and a white tip. The legs are pink. The forewing is a pale blueish-grey which is noticeable in flight. The breast is often spotted with black.

Has a deep, loud nasal call "ahh-ungh-ungh" which in flight is a deep cackle.

 

Whitefront
(Anser albifrons)


Medium sized grey goose characterised by the white band at the base of the bill and black barring on the belly. Generally dark greyish-brown plumage with a fairly long pink bill and orange legs.

Typical note is a high pitched musical cackle with the flight call being two or three syllable, short metallic notes.

 

 

Canada
(Branta canadensis)


Very large grey-brown goose. Has a black head and neck with distinctive white patch extending from the chin across cheeks to behind the eye. Body is dark above ; paler brown flanks and underparts; tail coverts white and tail black. The bill and legs are black.

Variety of calls but flight note is characteristically a deep, loud trumpeting honk "ah-unk" with the second syllable rising.

© Copyright 2016 Spalding & District Wildfowlers Association Ltd. All rights reserved

Spalding and District Wildfowlers Association Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales with a company number 4490735
The registered office is 41 Churchill Drive, Spalding, Lincs PE11 2RL