Guillemot on the River Dee

By David Winnard


I always find it interesting how we can get excited about some birds more than others, it is all about context. Take for instance this Common Guillemot which Lauren Hough and myself found on the River Dee at Queensferry on the 10th Sept 2020, a bird that we have seen literally thousands of around the North Wales coast including seeing them breed at RSPB South Stack. But to find one 400m from our doorstep felt like we had really hit patch gold. Guillemots in the River Dee (usually been seeing from Connah's Quay Nature Reserve at high tides) are about annual in autumn as long as there has been some strong winds blowing in to the mouth of the river, but one so far up river is a bit more unusual.

This bird was gently paddling upstream at low tide,occasionally being investigated by the Black-headed Gulls or Herring Gulls. With it being low tide and with the water flat calm and knowing Guillemots are usually quite friendly I decided to get the camera and get some pics of the bird. Laying down in wet muddy sand was worth it to get a really close encounter as the bird sailed past me and carried on upstream. The thrill of having such an amazing encounter with this bird was just like finding a Siberian Rubythroat on my own patch (OK maybe that is the gin talking but you get the idea).

No sign of the bird the next day, the bird was diving whilst I was there so hopefully it went back out to see during the evening high tide.


Dave Winnard