Thursday 27 October 2011

Bufflehead on the Lizard

This first winter female Bufflehead was found yesterday at the Waterings, Housel Bay.  Many thanks to Steve Pilbeam and Andy Pay for putting the news out as soon as they could.  Perhaps surprisingly, this is the first record for Cornwall. The pond is about 30 square yards in size and approx quarter mile from the Lizard Point. 

The bird was feeding well when I arrived at 3.45pm today.  It dived about twenty times with each dive taking about ten to fifteen seconds.  It kept a safe distance and was spooked once by a dog walker; it flew briefly across the pond and back again to the far side.

I'm reasonably sure that it is a first winter female, based on the mottled grey underparts, rather than white, the small white head patch and the limited extent of white on the wing.  I have also shown the bird preening with both left and right leg visible.  There are no rings.  The flight feathers also look to be perfect...  Given the appalling weather conditions that Cornwall has experienced over the last couple days, I'm assuming that it has just arrived.  (Another Bufflehead has apparenly also been found on the Azores today.)

All images taken with an old Nikon D50 six mega pixel SLR, 600mm lens plus 1.4 teleconverter.  Ap F/5.6  -1.0 EV exposure, WB Cloudy, ISO 400.  If anyone wants to use an image on their own blog, can you please have the courtesy to ask.