It's friday afternoon and you have a guillemot on your lawn

Posted: 2011-09-16

Not an expected occasion. But that's what happened today.

I've seen guillemots often on the Isles of Scilly - but I've never seen them sitting in my garden in Oslo before. Nor have I seen them in their winter plumage other than online - so this was quite a surprise.

When we arrived home today we found a guillemot sitting on the lawn. Just sitting there with a couple of worried neighbours looking on. Apparently it had been waddling a bit around the street for a few hours.

So - what next?

As someone keen on photography - the first answer was obvious - take some photos. So I grabbed the camera - put on the 1,7x and the 70-200 and tried to grab some shots. It became apparent that the bird was just going to sit there but try and block me by closing its eyes. Managed to get some (see attached gallery).

But then the inevitable next question is - what on earth next?

We found an article on NRK which not only mentioned that they think these birds are slightly off course/too far to the east - but also gave some more information.

Amongst other things - they are not used to towns, can't tell the difference between water and tarmac and importantly - that it's a good idea to capture them and take them to water - either salt or fresh - just get them somewhere with water.

So - that's what we did - took an old box and lined it with a towel and then cornered the bird (which tried to penguin waddle off) and dropped another towel on top. Not sure if it applies to all birds but I've read covering the eyes causes them less stress.

Then off in the car to Sognsvann to release it.

On release it swam off, dived a bit and seemed an awful lot happier (see video in the attached gallery).

Quite an experience. I've always been fond of birds and I like to see them around - especially the unusual ones. I don't need to tick them off in a book - but I do like the chance to take some photos.

But it's something else again to hold one and then help it out of this kind of situation and to release it back into its own habitat where it has a far better chance of survival.

I feel quite privileged today.