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I had a different blog planned for today but then, this morning, I saw a post on Facebook that a rather special visitor had been spotted at my local country park, Cosmeston Lakes, so I headed along to check it out. And I was exceedingly lucky as there was also another unusual visitor on show. These are they.

170327 Ring-necked duck (2)

Ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris)
Though it’s not easy to see, this lovely little duck gets its name from its purple neck band. The Ring-necked duck looks a lot like the local Tufted duck, but without the tuft, with slightly greyer sides and a different-shaped head, and, most distinctive, those pale bands of colour on its beak. It’s native to North America but one or two birds turn up in Britain most years. I was just very lucky that this one chose my local lake for its holiday spot this year.

170327 Ring-necked duck (1)

Iceland gull (Larus glaucoides)
I’m hopeless at picking out different gulls from a large flock but the pale, almost buff plumage of this bird was quite distinctive once it was pointed out to me. Though it breeds in the Arctic, the Iceland gull spends its winters slightly further south, anywhere from the northern areas of Canada and the United States, to Britain and Ireland, as well as in Scandinavia and the northern parts of Germany. It is sometimes referred to as the white-winged gull and those white wings are one of the easiest ways to tell it apart from other gulls in flight.