29th March

Under clear skies and with a freshening south-easterly the sea was always going to be in with a shout for a bit of variety - and so it came to pass. A small passage of Little Gulls was a surprise for so early in the season, with 23 off the Bill, 19 off Chesil and a singleton lingering at Ferrybridge, but further interest came in the form of 100 Common Scoter, 97 Black-headed Gulls, 26 Sandwich Terns, 2 Red-throated Divers, 2 Dunlin, an Arctic Skua and the Iceland Gull off Chesil, and 67 Common Scoter, 17 Sandwich Terns, 4 Red-throated Divers, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and singles of Pintail, Grey Plover and Arctic Skua off the Bill; an Iceland Gull - likely yesterday's Bill bird, and seemingly not the Chesil individual - was also off East Cliffs near Southwell. The land didn't disgrace itself, with a fair scatter of arrivals around the Bill in particular. The first Redstart of the spring was at Southwell and a Ring Ouzel showed up at Tout Quarry but the numbers were further south, with 75 Chiffchaffs, 40 Wheatears, 10 Blackcaps, 5 Willow Warblers and singles of Black Redstart and Firecrest at the Bill; visible passage wasn't properly censused but overflying Meadow Pipits were conspicuous and a few hirundines were tagging along.

? Lady Amherst's Pheasant - Easton, 29th March 2014 © Zoe Gough

...we know next to nothing about dodgy pheasants, but this bird - which has been frequenting private gardens at Easton for the last fortnight - looks from the unbarred belly and other features to be a fair bet for a Lady Amherst's Pheasant. We don't know who keeps dumping all these dubious gamebirds around the island, but a few Lady A's would be a welcome replacement for the Common Pheasants whose few years of residence looks now to have fizzled out.