Sunday 4 July 2021

Nemesis defeated...well, not quite!

My nemesis bird, Black-browed Albatross, made a reappearance at Bempton Cliffs during the week. This was fantastic news as many birders - myself included- had assumed it had been killed by White-tailed Eagles earlier this year in Denmark. This would have been a sad end for this majestic bird.

With some lieu time owing, I shot over there, hoping and praying it would still be present. I had tried four times for this bird last year without success, whilst everybody else who visited, seemed to get spectacular views. 

I anxiously drove east with adrenaline pumping, before sprinting off down the track to the clifftop. To my relief, the bird was still sitting on the sea when I arrived and I squinted down some kind birder's scope to see it. Relief, delight and more relief as my eye focussed in on this giant, slightly incongruous seabird, bobbing about regally on a gently swelling North Sea. Not the view I had dreamed of, but I had a couple of hours before I needed to be off, so plenty of time for it to make a fly-past. Despite the distance, the bird's dark eye marks could be seen and the large pale yellow bill with a darker tip. At one point it lifted its galactic black wings, holding them in the air as if to take off - it didn't. It promptly went to sleep. It gradually, almost imperceptiby, drifted further out to sea. With time, the features melted away and by 3pm, it was a black and white pixel floating somewhere towards Filey Brigg. I kept my scope on it, to help arriving birders locate it, as by now it was very hard to find. The time came when I had to depart and to be honest, despite the build-up, I felt somewhat underwhelmed. I had hoped to marvel as this winged wanderer cruised along the clifftop, perhaps even eyeballing me. It hadn't quite been that experience. I returned home, happy and priveleged to have seen it, but desperately wanting more.

That evening, my second Covid vaccination kicked in, leaving me shivering and sweating under a heap of blankets. A restless night dripping in sweat put paid to me heading east early doors for another look. I had seen my nemesis bird that had evaded me for so long, yet somehow, I felt it had still beaten me. I would have to try again...if I got chance.

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