Saturday, 11 July 2020

Dipped the Yelkouan Shearwater at Portland

I drove down to Portland yesterday morning arriving at 7am planning a full day at this beautiful place and hoping to connect with the remarkable Shearwater that has been very well photographed over the last few days and stands a real chance of acceptance as a Yelkouan and not something I ever thought would be twitchable. I sat a good distance from the small gathering and tried alone to pick out the target but found only Balearic and Manx among the fifty odd birds rafting with the large gull flock.

I moved back towards the gathering to check nobody had the bird and we all agreed on a likely candidate sat on the sea but we really needed the bird to fly to check further. After a while the gull flock was disturbed by a boat approaching and took flight, the shearwaters followed but we managed to miss the bird we'd been waiting for. Later in the morning another flying group appeared to hold the Yelkouan and displayed all the attributes expected but it was only seen by three of us and we all decided we just couldn't be sure enough to call it. I relocated in an effort to find the group again but they were nowhere to be seen and later the Balearics gathered again but in smaller numbers so I'm left thinking I may have seen the bird but in no way did I see anything I could say with certainty  was a Yelkouan Shearwater so it remains on the dipped list. Interestingly it was reported by somebody else as lost to view at the Obelisk mid morning....our sighting was the other side of the Obelisk mid morning so I guess somebody else saw the same bird and had more confidence to call it although the majority of the thirty or so on site had not seen it or didn't know they'd seen it.

Balearic Shearwater
Scanning the Shearwaters 
Just a great place to sit and enjoy doing nothing
Guillemot and Razorbill flew up and down all day and occasionally the Gannets came in to fish. Fulmars glided along the shoreline and Shag was noted on the water at times. A single Whimbrel flew over the Bill early in the day and a small flock of Common Scoter flew west at lunchtime. A single Med Gull and a few Rock Pipits the only other birds of note.

At sea a Tui cruise ship is docked and stands as a reminder to the pandemic we still face and also of note was an RAF A400 Airbus which spent the day in what appeared a training routine overhead.

The A400 Airbus
The sad site of a docked cruise ship

Portland remains one of my favourite places to visit even if I missed the target bird.

Year list now 230

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