Boxing Day and news breaks of a "Mega" found in Portland Harbour in Dorset. A Brunnich's Guillemot had been found "showing well from Osprey Quay".
A species that is normally to be found wintering off the Arctic coasts of Greenland, Iceland and Newfoundland in Canada. Although many remain throughout the year in the Barents Sea North of Norway and Russia
Today was the first chance we had of making the trip, and so after meeting up at 5am we started the 168 mile trip from Essex.
Making great time, despite the dreaded average speed cameras on route and several lorry convoys, we pulled into Mulberry Avenue and had parked the car by 7.30am
As was expected a good number of birders were already searching for the bird, even though the harbour was still in semi darkness.
Making our way towards the first group of birders, a small dark shape appeared close in to the water's edge. It was quickly confirmed as the Brunnich's.
As the light improved many more birders arrived , At some points during the morning the whole length of the harbour walkway was covered with birders and photographers.
The bird would appear briefly, giving brief views before diving under the water and re-appearing some distance away from where it dived.
It then became a guessing game as to where it would pop up next. Many birders and photographers choosing to walk up and down the length of the harbour walkway.
A small group of people from the sailing club appeared on the jetty and took to the water in a small rowing boat. As luck would have it when they returned the bird popped up right in front of them and it pushed the bird closer towards the water's edge.
This was my chance to grab a couple of photo's before it disappeared under the surface again.
While waiting for the Brunnich's to re-appear, several scans of the harbour produced plenty of other good birds.
None more so then the Black Guillemot that was found feeding around a small boat and a group of buoys. There were 2 possibly 3 Great Northern Divers within the harbour and large numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers were on show. Several Shags were joined by a Common Guillemot and a couple of Razorbills and a Kingfisher zipped past close by.
After several hours we dropped in at Radipole Lake. The reserve centre was showing plenty of signs of storm damage, and was surrounded by scaffolding, but it remained open to visitors.
After having been informed of the presence of a Glossy Ibis showing well a short distance away in a flooded playing field, it would have been wrong not to have a look for it.
The playing field was only partially flooded and contained 1 football pitch and a children's play area.
The bird was still present and busy feeding among the sodden grass. It didn't seem bothered by the children playing on the swings or the small group of birders watching it.
Occasionally it took to the air, only to circle round and land again soon after.
On the way home we made a detour to Walpole Park in Gosport hoping to bag the Ring-billed Gull.
Parking the car our luck was in when a local lady was busy feeding the local gulls. Among them was our target bird.
I grabbed a couple of photo's before the birds were put up into the air by a local dog. They took to the small lake and once they had settled a Mediterranean Gull was also found among them.
A great day.