Another mystery duck at Loch Garten

I'm a very new birdwatcher and saw these at Loch Garten yesterday afternoon - a lovely sunny day. They don't look like anything in my bird books or anything I can find on the web.  Any suggestions welcome!

  • I could be way off the mark here, it's difficult to judge what's light/shadow and what's bird colouration. I see a resemblance to Eider though, a couple. Bird on left to me looks to be a male Eider transitioning from summer plumage to eclipse. Note generally pale back still that seems to be transitioning from creamy clean white to off-colour patchy brown and darkening chest. Note also pale-ish eye-stripe running along the side of the head, fairly typical in eclipse Eider's. Head shape seems to fit, strong bill that joins forehead in smooth, barely noticeable angle. Right bird I feel looks like female, as the beak-tip looks very pale as is typical of species, otherwise unremarkable plumage with (to me) no real distinguishing features at that range.
    Like I said, possible I'm way off and I'm not sure of their distribution or whether they frequent the loch in mention. If anyone else has better ideas, please throw them this way.
  • Look more like gadwall to me.
  • Can I ask your reasoning? If I'm mistaken I'd love to learn why/what I missed. Personally, I feel head/bill shape doesn't fit Gadwall.
  • Because the photo is over exposed and not sharp, it's pretty difficult to nail I.D. down. The sun appears directly overhead, casting shadows. Throw in time of year and therefore male being in eclipse to some or other extent, makes it tough. I can understand why at least one didn't match pictures in books. However, the bill is of a dabbler IMO so rules out diving ducks, incl eider. The bird on the left has to be mallard or gadwall from shape. The one on the right appears to be marked like a female gadwall.

    Your eye stripe, pale tip etc, from what I can make out is all down to the sunlight and direction. i.e. directly over the birds.
  • I agree that the lighting definitely adds to the difficulty of a conclusive ID, hence my uncertainty. Respect your opinion and thanks for elaborating your viewpoint.
  • In reply to Aquiline_Fury:

    Thank you both. I am a complete beginner at both photography and birdwatching, so I'd better go back and try to get a better picture!