Monday, 26 September 2016

Anstruther twitching Brünnich’s Guillemot

When the news of a Brünnich’s Guillemot in Fife broke on the Sunday, I registered the news with a bit of regret that I would not be able to public transport twitch it and therefore not see it. That being said, it was quickly forgotten about, the prospect of continuing to bird Spurn hardly a bad substitute. But when Andy Roadhouse came into Log asking if I wanted to go, that he was going on news in the morning, I did not hesitate for long.
News came through positive, largely unsurprising given the bird was in full wing-moult and was hardly going anywhere in a rush. We headed off at half 7, four of us in Andy’s car. We managed to get lost in Edinburgh, so that added a little extra onto the journey, meaning we arrived at Anstruther at 15.00. By this point we were all exhausted, having been lost and then driven through a fairly serious rainstorm, so we were fairly relieved when we pulled into the harbour and picked out the bird immediately.
For the next hour or so we followed the bird round as it frequently dived and vanished for extended periods. Initially we got great views, but it then swam out of the harbour mouth and was lost for about 10 minutes before it was relocated. It then swam back into the harbour right in front of us and performed fantastically. 
-Brünnich’s Guillemot
We watched the bird preen and dive just off the pier wall, sometimes almost directly below us as we stood above it to. It did not seem to care at any point, just behaving naturally, chilling around the harbour. Sadly the light was somewhat against us, the gloom of impending rainclouds meaning photography was not easy, despite the bird being as close as it was. I was a little disappointed by the number of sharp photos I got, but I can’t be picky after watching the bird perform like that.
There were some doubts raised about the bird initially, but in the field the bill alone seemed to me unquestionable. The silver stripe was extremely clear, and the shape of the bill was also so different to common guillemot, almost halfway between common and razorbill. The general size of the bird seemed striking to me, very large, almost duck sized. That being said, they are not supposed to be bigger so it could just have been the fact that it was on its own.
In the end it was a fantastic day out. Good company, great bird, nice location and a great takeaway of fish and chips with IRN BRU to drink. A classic twitch. It helped power us through the return journey, which was serious suffering as a result of the A1 being closed near Northallerton. We set off back at 17.00 but did not arrive back until 1.30 the following day. We were all really feeling it by the end of the day.

Species List:

Anstruther: Redshank, Eider, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Oystercatcher, Shag, Brünnich’s Guillemot, 

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