Well as 2013 draws to a close we all got a late Christmas prezzie in the shape of the mega alert going off on Boxing Day morning with the gripping news that a Brunnich’s Guillemot was in the harbour at Portland. Well we had to hope that this individual bucked the trend of previous Brunnich’s which have either died or disappeared after a very short time. The only twichable birds have been on far flung islands so this was one we had to get to. Now this bird was apparently looking fit and well on Boxing Day and indeed re appeared early doors on the following day. Sadly again we had to wait but as luck would have it we were able to head south on Saturday. We set off later than we had hoped but arrived at Portland Harbour (much changed after the Olympics) at about 12.30pm. We ran into Rob and Lucy in the car park and they advised us not to run after it but stay put at one end near the red gigs. Have to say I got immediately distracted by this tame Shag sitting in front of the birders on the rip-rap on the shoreline.
Then we turned round and looked at the waters edge and the bird surfaced a few feet in front of us! Crippling views! Panic as I had not even set the camera up and I coudn’t get the bird in the frame as I was on full zoom and couldn’t find the bird either it was too close, but I managed two snaps one of which was not fully in the frame, both were a bit dodgy exposure wise too! The bird was actually a real pain to get video or stills of as it dived a lot and traveled long distances under water!
First view… I had not even got the camera set up properly!
Eventually we were treated to brilliant views of the bird, as it fed up and down the sea wall. The harbour also held a smashing winter plumaged Black Guillemot along with Razorbill, some cracking Red breasted Mergansers and a couple of Great Northern Divers.
We spent several hours watching the bird on and off, it spent some time on several occasions disappearing into the marina amongst the boats.
Whilst we were there we also were treated to a Coastguard Helicopter taking off from the base behind us, and we discovered a Lynx “gate guard” round the back.
After a short drive round to Radipole we decided to try to see the drake Hooded Merganser, now this bird is a puzzle, it arrived one spring as a 2cy exhausted in a drain near Chesil Beach after a westerly storm and ended up at Radipole where it has stayed, learning to grab bread alongside the Tufted Duks etc… This bird wasn’t hard to see, indeed it was obvious, floating about near the visitors centre. I had walked into the visitors centre and had just started to say “I wonder where it….” when I looked out of the dirty window to see the bird just outside! It was mostly asleep but did wake up a couple of times! Also here a first winter Med Gull showed briefly.
The light was fading now but a dash up the road resulted in fairly distant views of an adult Glossy Ibis on a football pitch!