Sunday, 7 March 2010

Blimey! Bufflehead!

Yesterday morning on the way to Dartmoor to dip Lesser-spotted Woodpecker (again!) Bun and I were talking about Buffleheads, he having recently seen his first one in The Netherlands, who would have guessed that ten hours later we would be arranging to go and twitch one! It had been found  not far away from us on The Fleet in Dorset, late yesterday afternoon (as if anyone didn't know). We decided a dawn raid would be the best option just in case it flew off soon after daybreak. There were a few others there when we arrived at Abbotsbury but after much scanning from various vantage points it didn't show. There was a chance it was elsewhere on The Fleet though because it's a massive piece of water, so we set off in search of other places to view it from. I didn't know how to get to the shore from the village of Langton Herring to the east, but did know of a place even further east, near the Moonfleet Manor Hotel, so this is where we went next. There were no other birders around, just a couple of dog walkers. We weren't very hopeful by now and very casually made our way down towards the shoreline after hearing negative news on the pager. Our (well my) pace noticeably quickened (apparently) when the next pager message announced the bird was in fact still present and viewable from south of Langton Herring. That was a mile to the west of us but we figured we should still be able to see it from close to where we were. We made our way around a small headland and we were right! We could see the bird in the distance in amongst a small flock of Red-breasted Mergansers. We could also see an ever growing group of birders away to the west of us and realised that we had in fact got a much closer view from our vantage point. After watching this very impressive little duck for about thirty minutes or so, we made our way back to the car, passing loads of birders on route. Word had obviously gotten out about the better view from here. I (like a plank) had inadvertently left my usual digiscoping camera in the car, but fortunately I had been carrying the Fuji F30 in my coat pocket as a reserve. Phew!! Having said that the bird was still quite distant much of the time and the VERY contrasty plumage coupled with my ineptitude with an unfamiliar camera made photography a 'nightmare'. Talking of plumage, the bird had the most wonderful purple and blue sheen on its head when viewed through the scope. Simply stunning! 
The view towards Langton Herring. 
The other birders  we could see were watching from the field behind the row of dingies.
We however were enjoying crippling close up view like so....

See it?
It did actually come quite a lot closer as it continually drifted eastward along The Fleet.
Thus allowing for these 'record shots'

Not brilliant no.....But of a BUFFLEHEAD!!
When it was at its closest range I rolled off (or captured to be correct) a few frames of video. 
(Its not too shabby if you select the highest resolution on You-tube).

After leaving the Bufflehead we popped over to Weymouth for lunch and dropped in at Radipole Lake too. Here we saw the usual suspects including that other (much maligned) American in Dorset and some absolutely scrummy Gadwall. However many jazzy ducks I see I don't think any will knock Gadwall off the number one slot for me.... though perhaps I'm just strange!?

Still here, still eating bread, STILL on my list! ;-)

 I've said it before, the epitome of understated beauty :-)

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