29th March

The high hopes accorded today proved to be well wide of the mark, with sea passage much less conspicuous than yesterday and the migrant tally on the land reduced to a level that would have been disappointing in mid-month, let alone where we are now on the cusp of April. The sea came up with what numbers there were, with 80 Common Scoter, 14 Sandwich Terns, 12 Red-throated Divers, 4 Great Skuas and a Red-breasted Merganser through off the Bill; also over the sea, an Iceland Gull was lingering during the afternoon either side of the harbour breakwater at Portland Port. The overcast skies and southwesterly breeze that followed a pulse of overnight rain looked quite promising for the land but the paltry total of just 4 Wheatears logged at the Bill were evidence enough of how the birds thought otherwise; a late afternoon pulse of phylloscs pushed Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler totals in the Bill/Southwell area to 40 and 15 respectively but there was little else of note in the passerine line; 2 Purple Sandpipers and at least 1 Short-eared Owl were also still about at the Bill.

Insect interest came in the form of a presumed Vagrant Emperor dragonfly at the Bill: with no other dragonflies on the wing at the moment and Vagrant Emperors currently appearing elsewhere in southwest England, it seems most unlikely that the dragonfly watched hawking along low cliffs near the Bill tip during a brief bright spell during the afternoon would have been anything other than this species; sadly, the significance of the sighting wasn't appreciated at the time so the insect wasn't scrutinised in detail and later searches for it in much drearier conditions drew a blank.

A single Rush Veneer was again the only immigrant moth caught overnight at the Obs.

Bird-wise, the day's only real oddity - the Iceland Gull at Portland Port - permitted only very long range views from the cliff top above East Weare © Roger Hewitt:

Skuas - including this Bonxie passing the Bill this morning - have been quite well represented for so early in the seawatching season over the last couple of days © Keith Pritchard:

Routine fare posing for the cameras included a Common Buzzard over Southwell © Pete Saunders:

...and Sparrowhawk, Purple Sandpiper and Little Owl at the Bill © Paul Hopwood: