Skip to main content

Brunnich's Guillemot - the triple county twitch weekend

Hope you all had a great Christmas! Mine was fairly quiet though things picked up Boxing Day - a message from my friend David (Ginger) Baker brought me back from a Mince Pie induced coma. 'Are you off to Weymouth today mate?' The fact that I had allowed my RBA subscription to lapse in the last week left me ignorant to the news. "What's in Weymouth?" - BRUNNICH'S GUILLEMOT! 

Brunnich's Guillemot (Thick-billed Murre) is a high arctic breeder which normally spends its winter out at sea off central Norway. This individual, a probable storm blown bird, is apparently the first twitchable mainland bird in Britain. David Baker and I headed down Saturday morning, arriving just after 09:00 am. There was close to 100 people already on site with more arriving all the time. The bird had been seen but had headed out of the harbour. We didn't have to sweat for too long as when everyone was scanning the bay with scopes, Dave looked down at the channel in front of us and said "there it is!" 

Over the next hour we all got fantastic looks at this rare northern auk. Other species of note included Black-throated Diver (Arctic Loon), Great Northern Diver (Common Loon), Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag and Kingfisher. We then decided to try for another rarity in Devon but first made two quick stops adding GLOSSY IBIS and Mediterranean Gull.

With two more really cool birds in the bag we were feeling pretty good and optimistic for our next twitch, though not the two hour drive. On arrival at Brixham Harbour in Devon the rain stopped falling and the sun came out; as our luck continued. Within minutes of being at the harbour we were ogling another British lifer for us both - WHITE-BILLED DIVER (Yellow-billed Loon).

This adult put on a great show; fishing up and down in front of us and was also joined by Black-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver; giving good opportunity for comparison. While we were there we noticed a few Turnstone out on a boat and a couple running in between our legs, oblivious to all us birders. It got me to thinking about Purple Sandpiper which prompted Dave to look on the other side of the harbour wall - and there was about 6 Purple Sandpiper! The best look I've had and after walking the wall we counted 13 individuals. 

Finally the light started to go and we made quick trip around the bay and tried to connect with a possible Red-necked Grebe, but no joy. No complaints, we had a great days birding!

The following day Lori and I headed out to Buckinghamshire where I snagged my 30th British lifer for 2013 - CATTLE EGRET! We then headed to Otmoor Rspb where we witnessed the Starling roost and got a sneaky look at a Bittern before heading home; a fly-by Woodcock above our heads put the icing on the cake on an amazing weekend. 



Popular posts from this blog

Pied-billed Grebe

Silly o'clock and a drive to Summerset + a 2 1/2 hour watch at Ham Wall RSPB Reserve produced good looks at my first British P ied-billed Grebe. We turned up just after eight and just in time to miss this North American mega by  minutes! Little Grebes kept us on our toes but we had to wait it out until about 10:40 am when it appeared from the corner where it had disappeared. There was a nice crowd here, all remaining hopeful and humorous during this very cold vigil. This little beauty made a b-line to open water, affording all great views. Bonus bird at this site was a  Great White Egret .

Stains Moor

Today I checked the Staines Reservoir for some reported birds including Black Turn and Ruff. My target birds were not relocated but I did get another year bird: Wheatear . This was across the road; perched on a fence post. After an hour I headed to Staines Moor , a site I have never been to before. Good directional signs were non existent and I ended up asking the locals. It takes about 25 minutes from parking to actually getting onto the moor. This route is basically two public footpaths. It is definitely worth it and is a fantastic site with good visibility in all directions.The River Colne meanders through; making it very attractive and good for wildlife.  One of the features here that really stands out is the amount of yellow meadow ant hills; a favored perching spot for Wheatear I here. Birds seen included Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Linnet, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Robin, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Black-headed Gull, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Kestrel, Hobby, Green

Kefalonia -Greece 2015

K efalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands, (700 sq km) and is located off the west coast of Greece. Though, in recent times, it is most notably known as the location for Captain Corellis Mandolin; it also has lots of history, interesting geography and endangered fauna.  As it sits in the earthquake zone it has seen lots of changes, especially the 1953 earthquake which badly affected all but the northern town of Fiskado. Mount Ainos dominates the landscape and at 1628 meters can be seen from most areas. One of the most famous residents is the endangered Loggerhead Turtle which breed on the southern beaches.   What follows is a short trip report highlighting my casual observations from 23rd August – 30th August 2015. Though this was not a birding holiday, I did manage a few morning sorties in various areas and hope that this will give some indication of what to expect. Kephalonia is not a ‘birding destination’ but for those of you who visit, a little effort will afford