30th April

A shocker of a day migrant-wise, with the total of just one summer visitor trapped and ringed all day at the Obs adequately reflecting the dearth of birds everywhere, both on the ground and overhead. What few morsels of interest there were included 8 Whimbrel and singles of Hobby and Yellow Wagtail at the Bill, a Ring Ouzel at Coombefield Quarry and 4 Sanderling and a Knot at Ferrybridge. The sea was no better, with 2 Great Northern Divers, 2 Arctic Skuas, a Red-throated Diver and a Great Skua the best of what little there was on the move off the Bill.

A single Pearly Underwing was the only immigrant moth caught overnight at the Obs.

Just as a quick snapshot of how the spring's going we've collated the April ringing figures at the Obs which are well on par with most recent years. The month total of 1657 birds was dominated by the usual suspects: Willow Warblers made up 51% of the total, with the combined Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap total constituting no less than 84% of the total; among the also-rans, Redstart fared well with a tally of 43, but taken together just 7% of the overall total consisted of other trans-Saharan migrants. We usually do much better for these other species during May so with any luck there's plenty of action still to come.

Large Red Damselfly and Bullfinch - Portland Bill, 30th April 2015 © Ian Smith (Large Red Damselfly) and Martin Cade (Bullfinch)
We're not sure we've ever featured Large Red Damselfly on the site before. These days it's a common enough inhabitant of the ponds in the Obs garden although we're not sure of the origins of the population there which wasn't noticed until relatively recently; perhaps most likely they were introduced - by accident or design - but it doesn't seem to be recorded whether or not the species was present elsewhere on the island before this event (no Portland records are given in The Dragonflies of Dorset 1991).
The Bullfinch was on interest - quite apart from the fact that, at least at this moment, it was considerably more visible than they usually are at the Bill - since in the hand it was discovered to be an individual ringed at the Obs last December but no seen there again until today; we usually assume that most Bullfinches straying out to the Obs are of slightly more distant origin than Portland itself (there is a small resident population centred on the Verne Common area) - and there is some ringing evidence to back up that supposition - but clearly that isn't always the case.