Just a couple of photos from the final twitch of 2013 (or maybe not, given the way this year’s been going on?!)
Like many other birders, I practically had to read the message twice when it popped up in the morning: Brunnich’s Guillemot in Portland Harbour. Whaaaaaat??? And then there’s a photo – it definitely is a Brunnich’s, and it looks like it’s paddling around at the finder’s feet. Better get cracking!
I didn’t have much time to play with, and the traffic was painfully bad for most of the route down there – problems on the M25 and M3, and then the road west from the M27 never seems to be quick in daylight (at least, not when there’s a good bird on Portland!). Fortunately, though, the usual bottlenecks around Weymouth were clear, and a phone-call with directions to the best parking spot from Matt was well timed as I crossed the end of the Fleet.
It’s never that easy, though – as I joined the crowd of c. 70 people, it was clear that the bird had been lost, and as usual in these situations the ratio of folk looking to talking was not favourable! After legging it backwards and forwards up and down the Castletown seafront with a few others, getting a couple of tantalisingly brief views of the back-end of a very black-and-white auk diving, the Brunnich’s eventually gave itself up again… and in style, down to 10 metres at times.
The distance it covered underwater was nothing short of amazing – I imagine any non-birding bystanders watching a bunch of grown men literally running along the quayside trying to keep up were probably in hysterics.
Regardless, what a bird, though! I’ve seen Brunnich’s well previously on Hornoya, a small island off Vardo in NE Norway (more details here – and what a trip that was, by the way!), but a live, twitchable bird in England (and maybe even anywhere outside the Northern Isles?) is unprecedented. Whether the combination of this one, and Mark Pearson’s bird at Filey, within a short space of time is just a coincidence or the start of a change in status, we’ll have to wait and see. Glad I got this one, though… that’s all I’m saying!
PS: thanks to Tony B for the pun-tastic title… had me laughing out loud on the quayside when it appeared on my phone!