The Gill and the Gloss

It’s been thirty-three years since I last saw a Brϋnnich’s Guillemot. The towering cliffs looking out over the cobalt-blue Barents Sea at the mouth of Varangerfjord – wild, windswept and bustling with breeding seabirds – was the location with that ‘standing on the edge of the world’ feeling.  Time to get reacquainted.

It took less than three and a half hours for Gary Pullan, Frank Smith and myself to arrive at Portland Harbour, where a couple of hundred birders had already assembled.

DSCN0295And there it was, just bobbing about like a black and white cork, sheltering in the lee of a moored boat from the rather strong, blustery wind and rain which started lashing the area as soon as we got out of the car. At fairly close range the identification was straightforward. Aside from the obvious diagnostic features, this bird appeared to have a noticeably longer primary projection than the accompanying Common Guillemot, which shows well in the photos below.

Brunnich's Mike Alibone4

Brunnich's Mike Alibone2Brunnich's Mike Alibone1Brunnich's Mike Alibone5Brunnich's Mike Alibone3

[click on the cogwheel and change resolution to 720 HD for marginally better definition]

After a while, it moved very rapidly to another part of the harbour, where it seemed settled and continued to attract a steady stream of admirers.

Birders at the Brunnich's 27 Dec 2013Other interesting species in the harbour at the same time were Great Northern and Black-throated Divers, Red-breasted Mergansers, Shag, Razorbill and Black Guillemot – all nice to see.

On the way home we swung by Radipole Park Drive, where a Glossy Ibis has been feeding on a flooded football pitch for the past couple of days.

A cold, blustery day out with some excellent festive season birding!

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4 Responses to The Gill and the Gloss

  1. Bob says:

    What`s that got to do with Northants Birds?

  2. Alex Holt says:

    If it would be possible to add a section to the site, it could actually be interesting to see more Northamptonshire peoples’ submitted trip reports from elsewhere in the country/world, but I think keeping them separate from the main news column to prevent that getting pushed downwards too much would probably be a good idea.

    • Mike Alibone says:

      There are already numerous blogs detailing the exploits of birders based in Northants. I would see this, therefore, as some duplication or even detraction from their individual sites and style. Interesting idea, though.

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