Follow in Nigel's Footsteps

Monday, 30 December 2013

Arctic Invaders...

2013 looks set to go out with a bang! In the last 5 days there seems to have been a spattering of Arctic vagrants across the West. It all started with news that a White-billed Diver had been found in Brixham Harbour, south Devon on Christmas Day. What a great present for the finder! Boxing Day morning I wangled a few hours out and decided I had to try for it. It was there but distant and not showing as well as it had earlier that morning...darn!! With time slipping by, I had to leave it and head home but Dave Helliar stayed 'til 1pm with no further joy. My disappointment was soon forgotten though. On the drive back home news arrived of a Brünnich's guillemot in Portland Harbour!!!  Holy crap!!! The next 24 hours were tense to say the least. I couldn't get there until the following morning at the earliest and only if my in-laws didn't mind me disappearing again. Next morning though I had the opportunity to go and with my father-in-law and brother-in-law in tow (they wanted to experience a twitch), we set off to Dorset.

Dave H had managed to get to it from the White-billed Diver the day before but Andy Grinter was already there and understandably as surprised to see me as I was to be there. After a very tense half hour (it had been seen flying off and hour-and-a-half before) and some really bad weather, including gale force winds and sleet, it was relocated and then came back close to the shore to give excellent views:

Brünnich's Guillemot: R. Harris

Brünnich's Guillemot: Dave Helliar
Brünnich's Guillemot: Dave Helliar
Brünnich's Guillemot: R. Harris
Crowd shot on 27th December: R. Harris
Crowd shot on 27th December: R. Harris
It has been estimated that at least 1200 birders have now connected with this bird, the first really twitchable Brünnich's Guillemot south of Manchester. The Black Guillemot was still present too (seemed strange to see two scarce guillemots but not a common one).

On the way home we also stopped off to see the glossy ibis that was wandering around a flood pool on a playing field in the middle of Weymouth. What a great way to end the day...


Glossy Ibis, Weymouth: R. Harris
Glossy Ibis, Weymouth: R. Harris

Addtional images:  Andy Grinter returned for a second viewing of the Guillemot on 31st December and managed some much closer photos:


Brünnich's Guillemot: Andy Grinter
Brünnich's Guillemot: Andy Grinter
As well as this stunning adult Med gull at Raddipole in Weymouth:

Mediterranean Gull: Andy Grinter

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