Another weekend and another trip out, and this time East Anglia does not feature at all. It was a toss up between South Wales and the Lesser Scaup, Bonaparte's Gull or Dorset, and the latter won out, so we headed off to the new 'wildfowl reserve' of the Fleet (see http://reservoircatz.blogspot.com/2010/03/wwt-fleet-dorset.html) and the drake Bufflehead.
We arrived at Moonfleet Hotel around 0930 and set off west. A canoeist had flushed the bird from the nearest bay and we had to walk about a mile to Langton Herring coastguards and join the crowd. Initially the Bufflehead was a long way out, and seemed to be feeding in the deep channel, but was harassed by gulls. It did eventually move closer to us, associating with the Mergansers and we had pretty good views. Unfortunately even with 1.4 and 2x converters on the 500mm it was a bit too far away. Nice views in the scope though, and a lot better than what we got at Roadford reservoir back in 1998.
We also saw a few Yellow Legged gulls out towards Abbotsbury (plenty of Mute Swans of course, and a Black one), and I heard my first calling Chiffchaff for the year-not having been able to locate any wintering birds this year.
On to Portland Bill, we soon got onto auks-the Razorbills and Guillemots were in full breeding plumage, but unfortunately the Puffins remained out of sight. A flyby Black Throated Diver was nice, and the Purple Sandpipers showed very well for once on the rocks in front of the memorial.
We stopped off briefly at the Fleet centre, but apart from Dunlin and a few Mergansers there was little to see as the tide was well out. Radipole looked very busy, and as there was nothing to tempt us we headed off to the New Forest.
The western section around Burley is not one I know. I have driven through, but never actually visited any of the heathland, but it looks good. The main attraction being the Great Grey Shrike. This was found fairly quickly though distant, ranging between several large trees, but then lost it. We went to investigate assuming it would be behind a ridge but then I suddenly noticed a blob on the overhead wires just a few yards away. It allowed us to get quite close and seemed unconcerned, but I guess that when it realised we were not pony's and not disturbing any insects it flew back to one of it's regular vantage points.