Saturday, 28 December 2013

Mega rare, mega views....

Along with what seemed like the rest of the birding world, I took the pilgrimage down to Portland harbour for the Brunnich's guillemot. First twitchable mainland bird ever and a major blocker for many. This is similar to our common guillemot but normally lives in the Arctic. Diagnostic features are a larger and bulkier body with a white "gape".
An early start got me to the harbour by about 7.45, and there were already well over a hundred on site! The bird had been seen in the marina, so a nice sheltered spot. Viewing was along the path by the side of the jetty. As I arrived the bird was just disappearing around the corned and I didn't get onto it on time. A very anxious 30 minutes passed as the bird was not seen. Gradually the crowd spread out covering most parts of the marina. A few false alarms, mainly a razorbill and a supporting cast of great  northern divers kept us on our toes.
Finally, there it was. It was fishing and diving actively, giving everyone the chase around. It was quite amusing really. The crowd was spread out over I would guess 200 yards or more. It would appear, stay up for about 15 seconds then dive. The crowd would gather, wait for two minutes, and then the bird would reappear 50 yards away. Repeat over the next hour!!!!
Most of the time it was quite close in, but never on the surface for long. As a bloke next to me said "it's rendering a quarter of a million pounds of 'scopes redundant" which basically was true!!!
I took a lot of photos, most of which were of a birds arse disappearing under the waves but a few were ok.

Amazingly, as well as this, there was winter-plumaged black guillemot in the harbour as well, which I had already got in Scotland, but was a first in England for me.
Not satisfied with this I then went off down the coast to West Bexington where a glaucous gull had been reported on the beach. This needed about a 10 minute yomp along soft shingle. Another two birders had it about a quarter mile away. It stood out, very larege and very white. No signs of black or grey on the body. We then lucked out. Saving us a further yomp some dog walkers flushed it and it flew straight over our heads and settled on the mere.
One lifer and two year-ticks, so not a bad end to the year!!