Ring-necked Duck – Sturminster Marshall Gravel Pits, Dorset

A female Ring-necked Duck had been present at the gravel pits in Sturminster Marshall since 16th November 2019. I was looking for a few places to visit to start the year and as Ring-necked Duck can be tricky to see I thought I would include it on the itinerary. I also thought nearby Longham Lakes would be worth a visit as Scaup, Cattle Egret and Great White Egret were all present.

I picked Dad up and by 8:15am we had parked the car at the end of Moor Lane in Sturminster Marshall. Access to the main lake is private, mainly for fishing rights, but you can view the lake in places from the public footpath which runs along the eastern side of the lake. I had seen a Ring-billed Gull here in March 1999 but I had no memory of the site and I certainly couldn’t remember that viewing was difficult.

In the end I located the duck through a fairly wide gap in the hedgerow and it remained in view for the 45 minutes that we were there. It was associating with around 25 Tufted Duck and fed actively throughout.

Female Ring-necked Duck is a pretty bird in a subtle way with a white eye ring and a white line which drops down behind the eye enclosing a darker cheek and joining up with a clear white patch at the base of the bill. The bill was dark grey with a darker tip and a very noticeable white sub terminal band.  

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