21st February

Well, nobody saw this one coming. The daily early perusal of Ferrybridge came up trumps in dramatic fashion when a Ross's Gull dropped in for just a few minutes today; it very quickly flew off up the Fleet but a later appearance at Lodmoor offered the possibility that it may yet return . Considering how little time was put in elsewhere there was a more than respectable back-up cast that included the year's first Glaucous Gull that was settled on the shore at the Bill during the evening and 13 Purple Sandpipers, 4 Short-eared Owls and a Merlin also at the Bill.

A single Harbour Porpoise was off the Bill during the morning.

It's not often that we can't be fairly definitive about the status of a particular species at Portland but Ross's Gull is one that's always perplexed us: the Dorset literature (the bird report of the year and The Birds of Dorset) asserts that an adult was seen from a vessel anchored in Portland Harbour on 13th August 1967, but in contradiction the BBRC report for that year accepts the bird - that constituted only the fifth record for Britain - as having been seen in Weymouth Bay by an observer with a remarkable track record for spotting rare seabirds in British waters. In cases like this we usually take what's published in the PBO report as most likely to accord to the truth and, perhaps tellingly, there's not a mention of it there. Whatever the resolution of this matter, there's no disputing now that Ross's Gull has put in an appearance at Portland © Pete Saunders: