Duckling Survey

Uni   Duckling Survey

The University of Essex are collecting data on waterfowl productivity with a focus on the greater Colchester area, but data from anywhere across Essex, Kent and Suffolk is welcome. The focus is on Mallards, but data from other species are welcome including Tufted ducks, Pochard and Gadwall. Data from any age of duckling brood is valuable, so you can collect data any time from April to September. The most important data are of surviving juveniles, so ducklings that are already 20-50 days old (Class 2 and 3 in the guide below). If you are unsure of ageing the brood, take a photo and submit that to us, or tag us on a social media posting #Essexducklings. Good luck!


Casual brood records

Don’t have time for a proper survey? No problem – you can help by sending us reports and/or photos of any mallard broods you see. If you see a brood, please send the following information to

  • Location of the brood (as accurate as possible)
  • The date you saw the brood
  • The number of ducklings in the brood
  • The approximate age of the ducklings (see guide to ageing ducklings below)
  • A photo of the brood (make sure your photo includes the entire brood!)
  • Alternative ways to record data are to use the BTO Birdtrack App or tag us on any social media platform using #Essexducklings


Structured brood survey

If you would like to carry out more structured surveys, please follow these guidelines:

  • Select a wetland site and plan a route with a good view of the water
  • Walk along your route, scanning the water and vegetation at the water’s edge
  • Carry out surveys early in the morning or late in the evening, preferably within 3 hours of sunrise or sunset (this is when ducklings are most active)
  • Record the date, time, location and weather conditions of your survey
  • Provide us information on your route, what was the shoreline or river bank distance you walked or covered in your survey.
  • For any mallard broods you see, note their precise location, the number and age of the ducklings (see guide below)
  • If possible, take a photo of any broods you see
  • Send your records to
  • Alternative ways to record data are to save you data on the BTO Birdtrack App until the end of summer, then download and send them to us at the email above

Thank you for your help!

                               Duckling Aging Guide

Aging guide


This survey is being run by Hannah Coburn and Tom Cameron in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Essex.

Send records to; for communications please email us directly at