ID this bird (UK, waterfowl)

I went for a cycle along the canal towpath yesterday, and saw a bird (twice, once going, once coming back) that I’ve never seen before.

The bird was big, bigger than a goose, but smaller than a swan, it had black and white plumage on its body, which looked to be “mixed” (i.e. there wasn’t a big patch of white with the rest black, it looked as if a few feathers were white then a few black etc.

It’s bill was the most striking feature - it was bright red and looked liked the red bit went as far back as the eyes, so most of its face was red, too.

The bird was quite close to a big gaggle of Canada Geese, which were hissing at me, so I didn’t get to stop near it. However, it was stood on the side of the towpath, so I passed quite close by it twice.

I’ve tried searching Google for an image, but I’ve got nothing.

Any possible IDs?

That sounds like a Greylag goose Dominic, if the bill was on the orangey side of red. Certainly there are often Greylags mixed in with the Canada geese around here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greylag_Goose

Nope. The bill was bright red, like a turkey’s markings (which I presumed it was, at first, coming at it from behind, but it didn’t have the “gorble”). The redness also extended onto its face, surrounding its eyes.

It’s also much larger than a Greylag, too (which I’ve seen quite a few of, around here). What’s strange was that it was on its own. There were swans swimming with cygnets and geese obviously paired up (hence the hissing), but this was stood a short distance from the Canadas on its own.

Thanks anyway.

Hmmm, OK a WAG then - could it be a Black Swan? It’s not a native to Britain but the wiki article states:

Yeah, I was looking at that before. It looks a lot like it, with the same bill type and colouring and same size. However, its body seems to be too black - there was also a lot of white as well, from what I saw (although this may have been underplumage sticking out).

I’ve seen some really ugly-looking geese with red bills and lumpy red bits on their heads; they were patchy black and white and quite big. I haven’t a clue what species, or if maybe they’re some kind of hybrid or naturalised domesticated strain, but I’m pretty sure it is geese of some kind you’re describing.

Then again, I just googled ‘big ducks’ and found this - which is what I described above - so apparently not a goose, but not a true duck either.

I think this is your animal.

Ah- beaten by moments! I think Mangetout has it-- a Muscovy.

Dang. What I came in here to say.

http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&hl=en&gbv=2&safe=off&q=muscovy+duck&btnG=Search+Images

Definitely sounds like a Muscovy. Muscovies are native to Latin America and were domesticated in some areas. The wild form is almost entirely black, while domestic ones range from black to white with many having an odd “pied” plumage of mixed black and white. Males have the prominent red facial wattles.

It is considered a duck (rather than a goose) but is in a different genus (Cairina ) than other domestic ducks, which are descended from Mallards (Anas).

Yep, that looks a lot like it. Thanks!