5th July

Early July certainly packs a punch when it comes to out of the blue rarities - to the extent that you do wonder what more might be revealed if there was even half-decent coverage of the Bill area, let alone the rest of the island, at this time of year. Today's breezy, dreary morning when, frankly, absolutely nothing was expected came up with the rudest of awakenings, when a perfunctory Bill seawatch was suddenly brought to life with a Black-browed Albatross cruising past; the bird headed rather languidly eastward, even lingering briefly to do a lap of the West Shambles buoy, before disappearing behind trees in the Obs garden and not being picked up again. The day's only other reports were of 50 Manx Shearwaters and an Arctic Skua through off the Bill, and 16 Dunlin and a Sanderling at Ferrybridge.

Singles of Dark Sword Grass and Buff Footman were the only immigrants/wanderers caught overnight in the Obs moth-traps; additionally, a Sand Dart  was found at the Grove (more on this tomorrow).

Black-browed Albatross - off Portland Bill, 5th July 2014 © Martin Cade
...the gut-wrenching adrenaline rush that kicked in saw us make a complete pig's ear of getting a record shot until the bird's close approach to the West Shambles buoy (which is about 2 miles from the Obs) belatedly gave us a point of reference to focus on, fire away and hope for the best; this single frame is the only one in which the bird featured and, if nothing else, maybe gives a feel for the massive arched wings - a shape which we weren't really expecting having never seen an albatross before - that brought to mind a hugely outsized Cory's Shearwater.