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Long-tailed Duck

A winter visitor to northern Britain and only seen very occasionally in Dorset 

Photograph by: 
Internet Open Source

Whilst the long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis) is an annual visitor to Dorset that visit is often just one bird that stays for some time rather than flocks of them over wintering here. As an Arctic breeding species the long-tailed duck is more frequently seen off of the northern and eastern coasts of Britain in winter and Dorset is some way off from their normal haunts. Nevertheless the odd one or two do make it here in most years.

The weekly reporting chart shows that week 46 in mid-November is likely to be the sort of time they arrive and there are then regular reports right through until week 17 in early May the following spring which shows that once here they seem happy to stay! Strangely one was here for a few days in June 2018; this was obviously a non-breeding bird, possibly an immature juvenile.

There are records from eight locations and seven of these are along the Fleet and the Weymouth area and so conditions here obviously favour them. There is just one record for Poole Harbour so far and none for Christchurch harbour.

Keeping your eyes open for reports of a wintering bird is your only real chance of adding long-tailed duck to your Dorset list.



Long-tailed duck: a short tale about the long-tailed

Common Name Long-tailed Duck
Scientific Name Clangula hyemalis
Species Group Birds Ducks
Status Scarce
Interest Level
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
Look for

A duck with an unmistakable long tail 

Identification Notes
  • A solitary winter visitor to sheltered saline waters around the Dorset coast
  • The long tail from which it gets its name is very distinctive
  • Although smaller than a mallard the long tail makes it seem bigger 
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Ducks