Saturday 22 November 2014

Rich listing

Sandbanks in Poole is famous for being home to many of those on the nation's rich list, living in some of the most expensive real estate in the world. But it wasn't that which attracted me there earlier today: rather it was birds, and one in particular - a Long-tailed Duck, a scarce visitor to Poole Harbour, which has been feeding just off the groynes which protect the millionaires from getting wet feet. Very posh groynes these too, they have flat concrete tops so you can totter out in your Jimmy Choos rather than clambering over the boulders.
Female Long-tailed Duck, Sandbanks
Long-tailed Duck in flight
It came in from the inner harbour to feed around the groynes
At first there was no sign of the Duck, which I put down to the low tide and the presence of what must have been the highest concentration of dogs on any beach in Christendom. But just as I was about to give up I saw it flying in from the Harbour mouth. It landed a couple of groynes away back up the beach where I soon caught up with it for closer views.
Long-tailed Duck breeds on pools in the Arctic tundra
Winter plumage males are spectacular with pink bills and elongated tail feathers
By far the closest I have been to a Long-tailed Duck in Dorset
I positioned myself on the end of the nearest groyne and waited for it to surface nearby, which it did repeatedly, at one point coming within a yard of the groyne. As I repositioned myself on the boulders I stumbled across a pair of Purple Sandpipers which I wouldn't expect to see here until high tide normally. Although the late afternoon light was very low, they were every bit as obliging as the Long-tailed Duck.  
Purple Sandpiper, Sandbanks
We both got caught in the surf from the incoming tide

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