Saturday, 28 December 2013

Wow! and Wow!! (27th December)

Down to Devon!

Brixham Harbour

The White billed Diver was first on the agenda and thanks to a lift from Josh Jones, a group of four of us (including fellow young birders Daniel and James) we found ourselves at Brixham harbour at first light.  A brief search from the harbour wall was soon put to a stop as a call came through on the opposite side of the harbour with claims that the bird was showing nicely from their side.  Making our way round, I only just missed it by a minute before a grueling half hours search ensued as we chased around the harbour in search of it.  Eventually, all of us were finally treated to the WHITE-BILLED DIVER as it popped up in the very centre of the harbour!!  Brilliant!!!

Far from what I had anticipated, this wasn't just a GND with a huge white bill but an entirely different character with a stunning bulging white throat pattern ad an immediate paleness that stood out just as obviously as other Black-throated Divers also venturing around the harbour.

the White-billed Diver!!!

At one point we found ourselves stunned with exceptional views as it emerged from the water barely feet away showing off brilliantly before repeatedly diving again.

A Long-tailed Duck just outside the harbour wall was an added bonus and one of the guys next to me called out a surprise "shearwater!".  I was the only one who heard him and it certainly paid off as a Balearic Shearwater circled into the harbour entrance before banking and leaving as quickly as it had come.

Next stop Portland Harbour for our second target bird of the day.  After a nerve racking journey, involving more than our fair share of traffic, we skidded into the car park and joined the dwindling masses on the seafront.  There was plenty of action to be had and a hundred odd were still jogging up and down the path chasing after the guille.  I hadn't even set up my tripod when the BR√úNNICH'S GUILLEMOT burst the surface of the water and yet another swathe of people lunged its way.  The sense of excitement could be felt throughout the crowd and it was certainly a very enjoyable twitch.

As an added bonus, the majority of the crowd watched the bird in relative silence instead of loud voices boasting to one another about the last time they saw X species on X date in X conditions so it was great to see the assembled birders actually enjoying the Arctic stunner!

In fact, it was rather fun following it's feeding habits as it ventured up and down the harbour affording some excellent views to start.  A short burst of rain and a brief gust of wind didn't suit the bird as it went missing for a while before (thankfully) re-appearing where it continued to put on a good performance albeit a little more distantly.

Br√ľnnich's Guillemot!

A couple other good birds to be had in Dorset too, including a Black-throated Diver, dozens of Red-breasted Mergansers and a GLOSSY IBIS in Weymouth en route back home.

Glossy Ibis in Weymouth

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