Friday 12 March 2010

Bufflehead in Dorset - 8 March 2010

As I had a day off on Monday I went to see the rare American duck that had appeared in Dorset near Langton Herring. That part of the Dorset coast is separated from the sea by the longest shingle bank in Europe, Chesil Beach, which stretches for nearly seventeen miles from Portland to West Bay. The lagoon formed by the shingle bank, the Fleet, is partially tidal and the water is brackish.

Wanting to avoid the rush hour traffic, I left home at 05.30 and arrived at the Fleet at about 0800. I scanned the water but no sign of the bufflehead, as the duck is called. My view of the Fleet wasn't clear as the coast has irregularities that obscure the view. Then the pager bleeped and I read 'no news of the bufflehead'!! Great!

Shortly afterwards the pager bleeped again and confirmed that the bufflehead was present. Judging by the position given I should have been able to see it, but I couldn't.

A few more birdwatchers arrived and we rounded a hill to get a better view of the Fleet. The bufflehead was way off in the distance but easily identifiable by its unique markings. We decided to get closer by going to Langton Herring. Even from there it was fairly distant and this shot is just for the record.


After gleaning some useful information from Jackie as to where I might find hawfinches (thanks, Jackie), I went to Radipole Lake RSPB in Weymouth to see the long-staying hooded merganser, then to Portland Bill for a little seawatching.

Hooded merganser

On the way to Portland I stopped at the top of the hill to admire and photograph the magnificent view of Chesil Beach, the Portland isthmus and Weymouth.

Chesil Beach. At over 16 miles, the longest shingle bank in Europe.

At the Portland Bird Observatory, near the beach I noticed a small flock of rock pipits, which allowed me to get fairly close. There were no black redstarts, however.

Rock pipit.

At Portland Bill I saw some common scoter on the sea, and a couple of gannets.

There was time to go to the New Forest before dark to see if the hawfinches were about. I had some trouble finding the arboretum but when I did get there those waiting said they had seen nothing. A goldcrest entertained us from a nearby conifer.


All the other birds that flew in were greenfinches, chaffinches, goldfinches or siskins. One or two of the birders left to go home as the light faded. Two other birds flew in and I looked through my scope to see a nice pair of hawfinches at last!  In the time it took me to take off my scope and pick up my camera they had gone. Ah, well! At least I'd seen them.

1 comment:

  1. Hiya

    Seem to be going to the same places but on different days ....have a look at my blog!

    Love the photos of the view of Chesil and the Rock Pipits!



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