18th March

Although a sharp frost at dawn indicated how clear it had remained overnight, before too long a heavy cloud cover rolled in that dropped plenty of birds - although getting amongst them was none too pleasant in a raw north-easterly. In-bound Meadow Pipits again made up the bulk of the numbers, with more than 4000 through over the Bill and passage further up the island peaking at more than 2000 per hour along West Cliffs; variety overhead still wasn't great, with 11 Stock Doves, a Lapwing and a Woodlark the best at the Bill. Grounded migrants were a little more conspicuous than of late, with 10 Chiffchaffs, 8 Wheatears, 3 Black Redstarts, 2 Redwings, 2 Goldcrests, a Short-eared Owl and a Firecrest of note at the Bill, whilst the sea came up with 117 Common Scoter and 3 Red-throated Divers off the Bill and 33 Black-headed Gulls, 14 Common Scoter, 2 Curlew and a Red-throated Diver through off Chesil.

Wheatear - Portland Bill, 18th March 2016 © Nick Hopper

Calm, clear conditions overnight enticed Nick Hopper down for a recording session and he was rewarded with a nice highlight when a Little Grebe flew over the Obs:

...although Little Grebes are regular winter visitors at both Ferrybridge and Portland Marina, they're a huge rarity at the Bill where the only previous records are of singles settled off the Bill tip on 1st November 1974 and off East Cliffs on 14th October 1984. Overnight passage was otherwise pretty subdued, with the other callers consisting of 17 Redwings, 3 Song Thrushes and a Lapwing; Oystercatcher and Short-eared Owl calls most likely related to local birds, whilst Dunnocks gave random bursts of song throughout the night (...is this documented behaviour? - Nick's now recorded it quite often both last year and now again this year).