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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

30 September, 2015

Hooded Merganser: expect the unexpected

The hooded merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) is not a part of the nature of Dorset. This one I photographed was a single male at the RSPB Radipole Lake reserve for well over a year and for a while it has became part of the 'furniture'! My reason for including it is to qualify a message I am always anxious to give to budding nature watchers who are keen to find something rare and exclusive.
I have always been a numbers person so early on in my bird watching 'career' I understood very well when someone said to me "If you are not sure about which species a bird you have seen is then, out of the options, it is statistically likely to the most common one and you need good evidence to be certain that that is not the case." I have always found those wise words and so, having promoted this message frequently in my nature notes, I felt I should add a rider to it - always expect the unexpected! 
The origins of this particular hooded merganser are unknown. A native normally of north America it suddenly appeared on the River Wey at Radipole. It arrived as an immature male bird and it is just possible that it made the journey across the Atlantic

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