12th March

A day of some nice variety, with early rain dropping the first small fall of the spring amongst which Chiffchaffs reached a three figure total at the Bill. Migrant interest otherwise included 20 Wheatears, 3 Black Redstarts, 2 Redwings and 2 Blackcaps at the Bill, 4 Red-throated Divers and a Great Skua through off the Bill, another Blackcap and plenty more Chiffchaffs around Southwell, 2 Black Redstarts and a Lapwing at Blacknor and a Yellow-legged Gull at Ferrybridge. Other interest included the Hume's Warbler still at Thumb Lane, 190 Dunlin, 34 Oystercatchers and 16 Bar-tailed Godwits at Ferrybridge, 3 Black-necked Grebes in Portland Harbour and 2 pairs of Canada Geese settled on the harbour breakwaters.

The lepidoptera highlight was the first island record of Small Eggar caught overnight at the Obs; another arrival of immigrants included a Painted Lady watched coming in off the sea the Bill, 7 Diamond-back Moths, 3 Rush Veneer and a Red Sword-grass caught overnight at the Obs and 2 Dark Sword Grass and a Rush Veneer caught overnight at the Grove.

These days Canada Geese aren't quite the novelty island oddity that they once were and it looks like these two pairs are going to be following in the footsteps of a pair that bred on the harbour breakwaters once before (in 2011) © Nick Stantiford:

The last few wintering Black-necked Grebes are still about and getting into quite decent plumage before departing © Nick Stantiford:

Not surprisingly, a good many of the day's Chiffchaffs were 'pollened' around the face © Keith Pritchard (top - on the shore at the Bill tip) and Martin Cade (bottom - in the Obs garden):

In our junior mothing days Small Eggar was a rather sought-after local special in coastal west Dorset but it recent years it seems to have spread into the Weymouth area and we'd had it marked down as a pretty likely future addition to the Portland list; if the females are as seemingly lethargic as some of the other female eggars then Chesil Beach/Ferrybridge might prove to be an insurmountable barrier to future colonisation but clearly males like last night's specimen are capable of reaching the island © Martin Cade:

Diamond-back Moths and Rush Veneers are no big deal later in the season but they're quite high value species in early spring © Martin Cade: