12th January

With the constantly windy and frequently wet conditions beginning to look depressingly reminiscent of last January there was limited enthusiasm for trudging the land, where the only sightings of note today concerned 6 Purple Sandpipers and at least 1 of the Blackcaps still at the Bill. The sea has been coming up with plenty of birds to look through in recent days - at the Bill this morning auks were passing at 1500/hour and 200 fishing Gannets were a constant presence - but quality hasn't exactly been a feature, with nothing more than 14 Brent Geese (rather oddly, looking as through they'd arrived from across the Channel) and a lone Red-throated Diver through off the Bill today.

Common Gull - Ferrybridge, January 2015 © Pete Saunders
...we've always been puzzled by the peculiarly disjunct winter distribution and feeding ecology of Common Gulls in south Dorset: at the Bill they have all the look of a more of less true pelagic species - indeed they often outnumber Kittiwakes amongst the offshore feeding flocks, whilst in Weymouth they're a mix of day-time loafer - sometimes in the hundreds if the conditions are right at Radipole - and afternoon/evening fly-over en route to Weymouth Bay where often many thousands that have spent the day feeding in fields all across inland Dorset gather to roost; in contrast to the relative abundance at these sites, on the mud-flats at Ferrybridge/Portland Harbour it's unusual to see more than double figures at a time before migrants start to drop in during February (and even then decent counts are infrequent). Are the birds we're seeing dip-feeding for surface scraps off the Bill the same individuals every day, or are they with us one day before heading off to pull earthworms from a sheep pasture on the mid-Dorset downs the next day?