20th January

Bill: Black-headed Gull 3, Brent Goose 2, Short-eared Owl 2, Red-throated Diver 1.
Blacknor: Greenfinch 2 (please let us know of any Greenfinch sightings - from reports we've received it seems that there may be fewer than 15 on the island this winter!).
Chesil Cove: Black Redstart 1.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 16, Great Northern Diver 1, Red-necked Grebe 1.

19th January

Bill: Red-throated Diver 13, Great Northern Diver 1, Common Scoter 1.
Southwell: Blackcap 2, Goldcrest 1, Firecrest 1.
Church Ope Cove: Black Redstart 2.
Wakeham: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1.
Blacknor: Black Redstart 1.
Verne Common: Blackcap 2.
Ferrybridge: Dunlin 240, Dark-bellied Brent Goose 85, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 3, Bar-tailed Godwit 2.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 22, Razorbill 3, Great Northern Diver 2, Slavonian Grebe 2, Guillemot 2, Black-throated Diver 1, Black Guillemot 1.

18th January

Bill: Purple Sandpiper 5, Red-throated Diver 1.
Wakeham: Goldcrest 2, Chiffchaff 1.
Church Ope Cove: Black Redstart 2.
Weston: Chiffchaff 1.
Chesil Cove: Manx Shearwater 1.
Ferrybridge: Brent Goose 207.

17th January

We'll probably get told off for reverting to list format until the action perks up a bit but it's getting quite tedious trying to think up different ways of reporting that the same birds are in the same places every day.

Bill: Red-throated Diver 3, Mediterranean Gull 3, Short-eared Owl 2, Snipe 1, Black Redstart 1, Goldcrest 1.
Southwell: Blackcap 3.
Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle: Black Redstart 2, Chiffchaff 2.
Chesil Cove: Black Redstart 2.

16th January

Breezy, drizzly and increasingly chilly once the sky started to clear late in the day. Just regular winterers reported today: the Grey Heron and Black Redstart at the Bill where more than 500 Kittiwakes were feeding offshore, the 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest at Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle and 150 Dunlin and 38 Brent Geese at Ferrybridge.

One of the Church Ope Black Redstarts © Matt Ames:

15th January

Largely routine happenings again today, with Black Redstarts at Church Ope Cove (2) and the Bill, 8 Red-throated Divers and a Brent Goose through off the Bill and singles of Purple Sandpiper and Chiffchaff on the land there, 4 Goldcrests and a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle and 9 Black-necked Grebes, 3 Kittiwakes and a Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour.

14th January

Not a great deal of coverage today but what there was did turn up a new Eider in Portland Harbour; 18 Black-necked Grebes and singles of Black-throated and Great Northern Divers were also there. Elsewhere, a second Black Redstart joined the long-stayer at Church Ope Cove where a Chiffchaff was also present, another Black Redstart and 2 Purple Sandpipers were at the Bill and 2 Red-throated Divers passed through offshore there.

13th January

Breezier conditions made it hard going today and the only reports were of 3 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, 6 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill, single Black Redstarts at Chesil Cove and Church Ope Cove and 2 Chiffchaffs at Pennsylvania Castle.

A Red Admiral was on the wing at Church Ope Cove.

12th January

The first drizzly rain of the month - not for long and not in any quantity - coupled with a freshening northwesterly gave a different complexion to the day but the birding remained at a very samey level; 2 Common Scoter, 2 Mediterranean Gulls and a Red-throated Diver passed through off the Bill, single Black Redstarts were still at Church Ope Cove and Chesil Cove and the Black-necked Grebe flock and singles of Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver and Slavonian Grebe were still about in Portland Harbour.

Five Bottle-nosed Dolphins were off the Bill with the long-staying singleton still in Portland Harbour.

11th January

Nothing out of the ordinary today but a fair spread of the regulars: 6 Common Scoter and 2 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, singles of Purple Sandpiper, Black Redstart and Chiffchaff scattered on land at the Bill, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle, a Black Redstart at Blacknor and 15 Black-necked Grebes and a Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour.

10th January

Although there was one of the frostiest dawns of the winter to date the day itself was again calm enough for fieldwork to be a pleasure rather than a chore. The rewards were hardly spectacular but Purple Sandpipers increased to 9 at the Bill where 3 Lapwings were also new arrivals, 3 Eider, 2 Red-throated Divers and a Great Northern Diver passed by on the sea and 3 Redwings and the Grey Heron were about on the land. Another Redwing showed up at Reap Lane and Portland Harbour held 18 Black-necked Grebes and singles of Great Northern Diver and Slavonian Grebe.

9th January

Lovely bright and calm conditions tempted out a few more observers today, with singles of Chiffchaff at the Bill, Fieldfare at Southwell and Great Spotted Woodpecker at Pennsylvania Castle either new arrivals or on show for the first time in a while; the Purple Sandpipers at the Bill have also increased in recent days, with 6 counted today. A selection of the regulars making the list included 7 Red-throated Divers and a Common Scoter through off the Bill, 3 Short-eared Owls and 3 Redwings at the Bill, 2 Blackcaps at Southwell and 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests and the Black Redstart at Pennsylvania Castle/Church Ope Cove.

Fieldfare and Blackcap making use of the ready supply of apples at Southwell © Debby Saunders:


8th January

The only reports from a day of limited coverage were of 8 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, the Black Redstart still at Church Ope Cove and 2 Slavonian Grebes and a Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour.

7th January

There's certainly a feeling setting in that without a jazzing-up in the weather - bitter cold or very stormy - this winter's going to fizzle out rather uneventfully. Today saw a noticeably fresher breeze after a long quiet spell but the only reports were of 3 Red-throated Divers and a Common Scoter through off the Bill and a Snipe flushed up on the land there.

In calm, mild conditions overnight lighted windows at the Obs were festooned with Winter Moths but the only capture in the couple of traps operated was a lone Diamond-back Moth.

6th January

More quiet weather and samey birding today: 3 Red-throated Divers and a Common Scoter through off the Bill, singles of Purple Sandpiper and Redwing on the land there, singles of Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove, Blacknor and Chesil Cove, a Chiffchaff at Pennsylvania Castle, 13 Redwings at Wakeham and 20 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Great Northern Divers and a Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour.

5th January

The lack of even a hint of sunshine today saw the temperature hover in the low single figures all day; however, that didn't deter the weekend visitors and there was some decent coverage. A Golden Plover over the Bill and 7 Brent Geese passing by offshore were another nod to the drop in temperature but the bulk of the day's sightings were of routine lingerers: 7 Purple Sandpipers, 4 Turnstones and a Black Redstart at the Bill, 2 Red-throated Divers through on the sea there, the Black Redstarts at both Church Ope Cove and Chesil Cove, 15 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Great Northern Divers, a Black-throated Diver and a Common Scoter in Portland Harbour and 78 Oystercatchers, 89 Black-headed Gulls and the Merlin at Ferrybridge.

4th January

Portland didn't seem to fair as frostily as the mainland (as a sign of the dip in temperature a Lapwing had been heard over the Obs during the early hour) and it was a positive pleasure to be out exploring during the morning. Sadly, the quality of the birding wasn't up to much and the relatively mundane selection from the Bill got no better than 9 Red-throated Divers through on the sea and 3 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Redwings, a Black Redstart and a Greenfinch (the latter the first of the year there!) scattered on the land; the regular Black Redstart was also still about at Church Ope Cove.

With some business to attend to in Weymouth we took the opportunity to have a look for a couple of the lingering rarities there, neither of which we'd actually been back to see since their respective first appearances back in the autumn; fortuitously, both the Lesser Yellowlegs at Lodmoor and the Ring-necked Duck at Radipole required precious little effort to catch up with and were showing very nicely © Martin Cade:


3rd January

In the continuing quiet, chilly conditions Goosander and Snipe - the former in Portland Harbour and the latter at the Bill - were additions to the year list. Another 8 Red-throated Divers, 2 Brent Geese, 2 Common Scoter and a Mediterranean Gull passed by off the Bill, 4 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Short-eared Owls and 2 Redwings were again knocking about on the land there and single Black Redstarts were still at Church Ope Cove, Blacknor and Chesil Cove.

2nd January

Today's main interest concerned a big increase in seabird numbers offshore: the auk total in the first hour of daylight was in the region of 15-20000, whilst Kittiwakes numbered c400 and Gannets c100; another 6 Red-throated Divers also passed by there and a Black-throated Diver passed through off Chesil. The only other reports were of 4 Redwings, 3 Turnstones, 2 Short-eared Owls and 2 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill and single Black Redstarts at Church Ope Cove, Blacknor and Chesil Cove.

The wintering Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove © Martin Adlam Port and Wey Blog

1st January

There couldn't have been nicer conditions for a New Year flourish of coverage and, whilst the rewards were hardly compelling, there were one or two additions to what's been the recent routine fare. The feeding flock of common seabirds off the Bill was noticeably larger than of late but 5 Red-throated Divers and singles of Common Scoter and Black-headed Gull were the only really worthwhile sea sightings there; 2 Purple Sandpipers were also on the shore at the Bill and 3 Redwings, the Grey Heron and at least 1 Short-eared Owl were still about on the land. Two Blackcaps at both Sweethill and East Weare, together with single Chiffchaffs at Sweethill and Pennsylvania Castle and 2 Goldcrets at East Weare, were also logged on the land, whilst the Ferrybridge Merlin made another of its sporadic appearances.

Singles of Red Admiral and Peacock were on the wing in the pleasant sunshine during the morning, whilst a lone Silver Y at the Obs constituted the only immigrant moth interest.

Never a regular mid-winter bird at Portland, the Merlin made a timely reappearance over Ferrybridge and so secured the species a rather earlier than usual place on the year list © Debby Saunders:

31st December

A low-key end to the year in the continuing quiet, dreary conditions. The only reports were of 5 Red-throated Divers and 2 Common Scoter through off the Bill, 5 Redwings at the Bill and a Chiffchaff at Pennsylvania Castle.

The mothing year ended with 2 Diamond-back Moths trapped overnight at the Obs.

30th December

A largely more of the same selection today: 7 Red-throated Divers and a Great Northern Diver through off the Bill, the Grey Heron still there, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests and a Black Redstart at Pennsylvania Castle/Church Ope Cove, 5 Goldcrests at Foundry Close, 140 Goldfinches at Blacknor and 21 Black-necked Grebes and a Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour.

29th December

Drearier but still mild today. It was less rewarding on the bird front, with 4 Red-throated Divers, 2 Wigeon and 2 Common Scoter through off the Bill, singles of Black Redstart at both the Bill and Osprey Quay, 3 Goldcrests at Pennsylvania Castle, a Chiffchaff at Wakeham and 18 Black-necked Grebes and 3 Great Northern Divers in Portland Harbour.

A flurry of immigrant moths saw 4 Diamond-back Moth, 2 Silver Y and a Rusty-dot Pearl trapped overnight at the Obs; another single Silver Y was trapped at the Grove.

28th December


http://www.at-infocus.co.uk/


A reminder that there's an In Focus field event at the Obs between 10am and 4pm tomorrow, Saturday 29th December.

It was again a lovely day to be out birding - calm, mild and, at least until midday, bright - and there was a decent little array of sightings. The sea was well covered and returned totals of 19 Red-throated Divers, 5 Common Scoter, 3 Brent Geese and a Great Northern Diver through off the Bill; auk numbers there have been less than impressive so far this winter, with a sample count this morning coming up with just shy of 1000 in an hour (a total that would be just 5 or 10 minutes worth in many recent winters). Three Redwings at the Obs were overnight arrivals that left as soon as dawn broke, whilst other odds and ends from the land included 4 Purple Sandpipers, 4 Turnstones, 3 Short-eared Owls and the Grey Heron at the Bill, 3 Chiffchaffs at Pennsylvania Castle, 2 Goldcrests at Avalanche Road, a Firecrest at Thumb Lane and a Black Redstart at Blacknor. Elsewhere, 21 Black-necked Grebes and a Great Northern Diver were in Portland Harbour.
Late news for the last couple of days: at least 3 Short-eared Owls in the afternoons at the Bill and a Blackcap visiting feeders in a private garden at Southwell.

We haven't had any current moth news to report for a few days (no immigrants have been trapped since before Christmas), but indoors our bred stock of Radford's Flame Shoulders have been emerging. Since we were going to be out of circulation for more than a fortnight during December we hadn't really intended trying to breed any through but such was the quantity of eggs obtained from some of last autumn's wild-caught specimens whilst they were briefly confined in tubes that we kept a few just to see how they'd do. In the event they fed up so voraciously that they'd all pupated in a little less than a month and we ended up having to chill the pupae so they didn't emerge whilst we were away. A variety of foodplants have been tried by folk who'd had some of our eggs or obtained some of their own; given a selection of choices, our larvae took readily to Bristly Oxtongue and went right through very successfully on this alone. The fully fed larvae were much of a muchness, with just some minor variation in colour tone - these two photographed specimens were perhaps towards the pale end - and in the strength of the black and white lateral lines: 



The bred moths were, as might be expected, rather more beautifully richly-coloured and crisply marked than the majority of wild-caught specimens. Since we released literally hundreds of unwanted eggs and tiny larvae it'll be interesting to see if there's evidence next year of a summer brood of wild-caught specimens (the literature is in places a little ambiguous but seems to suggest that the species is usually bivoltine) - to date our moth-trap captures have only been of late season moths and we still have the feel for them all being primary immigrants© Martin Cade:

27th December

A lovely crisp, calm and sunny day but not too much to report: 5 Red-throated Divers and 3 Common Scoter passed through off the Bill, the wintering Grey Heron was still there, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest were at Southwell and the Black Redstart and a Chiffchaff were at Church Ope Cove/Pennslyvania Castle.
Late news for yesterday evening: a/the Tawny Owl was calling for some time at Fortuneswell.

As it was a nice day we decided on a whim to have a look for Freddy Alway's Dusky Warbler over on the mainland at East Fleet Farm. What would have been a pleasant excursion was slightly spoilt by the very unfriendly land-owner who took exception to the bird's presence (amongst other things he claimed to have shot it several weeks ago!), our presence and our parking beside his private road but, that aside, the bird did oblige of sorts.


It was quite readily heard whenever it was in the vicinity...



...but, with no access off the road, getting decent views of it was not so straightforward © Martin Cade: 


26th December

After being sorely missed the sun finally put in an appearance today as the breeze dropped to barely more than a waft of easterly. Another 10 Red-throated Divers, together with 3 Eider, 3 Black-headed Gulls and a Black-throated Diver, passed through off the Bill, at least 1 of the Short-eared Owls was still about on the land there, singles of Black Redstart, Chiffchaff and Firecrest were still at Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle and 600 Mediterranean Gulls were at Ferrybridge.
Late news for yesterday: 5 Redwings at the Bill and a Great Skua through on the sea there.

25th December

Despite a not unexpected reduction in coverage - together with some pretty depressingly miserable foggy and often drizzly conditions - there was a surprising amount to report today: 8 Red-throated Divers and 2 Velvet Scoters passed through off the Bill, 2 wintering Chiffchaffs were still at Southwell and another 2 Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest were still about at Pennsylvania Castle, the garden pond frequenting Little Egret was a surprise visitor to rooftops at the Grove, 4 Goosanders and a Great Northern Diver were at Ferrybridge and several Great Northern Divers and Black-necked Grebes were in Portland Harbour.

Although they hadn't shown up for more than a fortnight it seems like the Goosanders have never been too far away as they made a fleeting fly-by visit Ferrybridge this morning © Pete Saunders: 



A Christmas afternoon boat trip around Portland Harbour was enlivened by having the long-staying Bottle-nosed Dolphin in almost constant attendance© Martin Adlam Port and Wey Blog

24th December

The return of an easterly breeze saw the temperature take a bit of a dip but did nothing to clear the unrelentingly gloomy skies of recent days. A flurry of Red-throated Divers offshore - 17 passed the Bill through the morning - most likely involved birds relocating to the more sheltered waters of Lyme Bay; 4 Common Scoter also passed by there. The only other reports from a day of minimal coverage were of the Grey Heron and a Short-eared Owl still at the Bill and the Black Redstart still at Church Ope Cove.

23rd December

A few passing Redwings audible overnight at the Obs - 34 calls were logged in the hour between midnight and 1am before the onset of rain curtailed the movement - were the precursors to a small arrival around the island during the hours of daylight that included 9 at Southwell, 5 at Reap Lane and 11 at Blacknor. The first skua of the month - a single Great Skua through off the Bill - was a welcome sight on the sea, with 6 Common Scoter, 4 Red-throated Divers and a Black-throated Diver also through off there and 5 Great Northern Divers, 4 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Slavonian Grebes and a Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour. On the land single Black Redstarts were at Church Ope Cove and Blacknor and 2 Goldcrests and a Chiffchaff were at the Grove.

22nd December

There were a couple of minor surprises at the Bill in the form of an unseasonable Woodlark overhead and another flock of 35 tardy Goldfinches leaving to the south, whilst more routine fare there included 7 Red-throated Divers and 2 Brent Geese through on the sea and 2 Short-eared Owls knocking about on the land. The only other report was of one of the wintering Black Redstarts on show at Church Ope Cove.

A lone Rusty-dot Pearl provided a hint of immigrant interest in the Obs moth-traps.

21st December

It might have been the shortest day of the year but there were more than enough hours of daylight to ascertain that nothing much had changed on the bird front, with the only worthwhile reports of 2 Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest at Pennsylvania Castle, a Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove and at least one of the Short-eared Owls still at the Bill.