Garganey – Longham Lakes, Dorset

A Garganey had been found at Longham Lakes near Ferndown on Friday 15th. Garganey are an early spring migrant on their way from their wintering grounds in Africa to breeding areas all across Europe and Russia with around 100 pairs breeding in the UK mainly in the south and east.

I had a workshop at Portland Bill on Sunday afternoon and so my plan was to go via Longham Lakes on Sunday morning. The weather on Saturday was awful with strong winds and rain and either the Garganey had gone or it was hiding in the reed beds around the edge of the large lakes. On Sunday morning I visited Lodmoor instead for the Little Gull and when I got home in the evening I noticed that the Garganey had been seen again on the Sunday and so I made plans to head down there on Monday morning.

Originally Longham Lakes comprised of a couple of fields by the River Stour between Ferndown and Bearwood. Permission for gravel extraction and reservoir construction was granted in 1994. Longham Reservoir North was filled in 2002 and in 2010 the larger southern lake was flooded. It has become an excellent site with around 180 species having been seen here.

The duck had been seen on the southern edge of South Lake and so I headed there first. There were lots of diving ducks including Tufted Duck and Pochard but I couldn’t immediately find the dabbling Garganey. I did notice a couple of birders in the south west corner of the lake and tried to follow the angle they were looking at, pretty soon I found the bird which was initially hidden behind the island. I headed off around the edge of the lake and set up much closer and had good views of the Garganey. Over the next 10 minutes the Garganey swam towards the western edge of the lake, it was facing away from me as it swam and so I didn’t have any side-on views. I headed further around the lake and then had great views. I love the chocolate-coloured head, the striking white line which runs from the eye and the bluish flanks.

After 20 minutes or so it drifted into the reeds and it became almost impossible to see and this is probably what it was doing for most of Saturday.

Garganey takes my year list up to 159.

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