A winter visitor to coastal locations in Dorset
Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) breed in the far north, both the far north of Europe and the far north of Britain, where they favour lakes and rivers in wooded areas for nesting. Once the breeding season is over they make for the nearest coastline where they gather in moulting flocks before then heading south when the winter weather starts to set in. Some move some distance south, others stay closer to home and a small number come to Dorset for the winter. In most winters there are goldeneye in the Dorset area but never large numbers.
Smaller than a mallard the have a distinctive domed head and the males have a white patch on their cheeks and yes, the do have a golden eye.
From the weekly reporting chart it seems clear that week 44 at the beginning of November is when they arrive and then there are reports virtually every week through until week 12 at the end of the following March. Reporting levels fluctuate but November and December certainly seem the peak months for them here with reports tending to fall off as the new year starts presumably as those birds that first arrived are driven further south as winter conditions set in here.
There are reports from seventeen sites in the Nature of Dorset database and it shows a strong preference for sites within Poole Harbour where the sheltered sea conditions obviously suit their needs. There are also a small number of sightings from the Fleet and Portland Harbour but they are certainly far less frequent further west.
I think joining one of the bird boats, preferably one before the end of the year, run by the Birds of Poole Harbour is by far the best way to add goldeneye to your Dorset list.
|Scientific Name||Bucephala clangula|
|Species Group||Birds Ducks|
The white patch on the cheeks which, from a distance, look like big eyes
|Additional Identification Notes|