Friday, 27 December 2013

MEGA TART (Double Guillemot Delight) - 26.12.13

2 Photos of the Brunnich's Guillemot and a record shot of the Black Guillemot

So after nearly 2 months I've finally updated this blog. A mixture of no noteworthy news and lack of inspiration led to some birding doldrums. One highlight was identifying the Welsh Orphean Warbler from photos on the internet but the thought of an 11 hour round trip put me off going! Frustratingly a lack of holiday leave and having my son on alternate weekends meant I couldn't get to see the Merseyside Baikal Teal or the Yorkshire Ivory Gull in time. But just as I'd resigned myself to only having seen 4 new species this year (my worst since starting twitching) I was sat in bed flicking through Twitter when I came across a photo of a Brunnich's Guillemot that had apparently just been taken in Dorset! Minutes later and the mega alert was going off on the pager and sure enough it was true! I quickly phoned my mum to see if Boxing Day dinner could be delayed but she said she would come along with me and the boy! The traffic was a complete nightmare along the M25 and M3 and I was beginning to worry that I would run out of daylight. Fortunately the traffic eased and we arrived at Portland Harbour by 2.30pm. A brisk walk got me to the other birders but there had been no sign for 20 minutes. I bumped into Tony Blake who told me what it had been doing before he walked towards where it had last been seen. While scanning the harbour I noted lots of Red-Breasted Merganser and a few Shag. Next on the list was a nice Black-Throated Diver but then I finally picked up a long awaited tarts tick in the form of a winter plumaged BLACK GUILLEMOT. It was one of the few species I failed to see on my only visit to Scotland and the nearest I got to seeing one was after twitching the Angelsey Sooty Tern but my car broke down on the way. I watched the bird for a while and managed the one photo above before I started heading around to where Tony was. I suddenly got a call from him saying the bird was showing again and heading our way so I set up my scope and up popped my first ever BRUNNICH'S GUILLEMOT just 20ft or so off shore! You could clearly see the off white moustachial stripe it was that close. It dived frequently and after what seemed an age it would pop up again quite a distance away.Even my son got engaged into watching it! So the end of the year has perked up a bit and with it my first 2 tick day since 30th April 2009 when I saw Collared Flycatcher (also on Portland) and Crested Lark (Dungeness).

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