Offshore wind farms are proposed around the coast of the UK and elsewhere in Europe. These sites tend to be located in shallow coastal waters that often coincide with areas used by over‐wintering Common Scoter Melanitta nigra. A large‐scale study was undertaken to ascertain the relationship of the spatial distribution of Common Scoter in Liverpool Bay with prey abundance and environmental and anthropogenic variables that may affect foraging efficiency. The highest numbers of Common Scoter coincided with sites that had a high abundance and biomass of bivalve prey species. There was strong evidence that the maximum observed biomass of bivalves occurred at a mean depth of c. 14 m off the Lancashire coast and at c. 8 m off the north Wales coast. This coincided well with the distribution of Common Scoter at Shell Flat, but less well with the distribution of birds off North Wales. Common Scoters were observed in lowest numbers or were absent from areas in which anthropogenic disturbance (shipping activity) was relatively intense, even when these areas held a high prey biomass. Commercial fishing activities did not appear to contribute to this disturbance.