1st March

On what should have been the first day of spring Portland looked a lot more more like a Siberian wasteland than somewhere that might have been appealing to an early Wheatear. The well below zero temperature created some entertainment at the Obs where the water pipes froze, our decorator's paint left in an unheated porch froze solid and even containers of water left in the kitchen froze! On the bird front the rather unusual advance from the south of the worst of the weather saw to it that the island was largely bypassed by the quantities of fleeing waders and thrushes that were so evident along the mainland coast but there was still a decent enough flurry of oddities to get amongst. The Bill area returned totals of 72 Golden Plovers, 38 Dunlin, 33 Fieldfares, 22 Lapwings, 5 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Snipe, 2 Teal and singles of Merlin, Bar-tailed Godwit and Woodcock, whilst elsewhere there were 3 Fieldfares and a Redwing at Southwell, singles of Snipe and Woodcock at Weston and 370 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 200 Dunlin, 8 Shoveler, 5 Teal, 4 Grey Plovers, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Redshank, 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, a Golden Plover and a Black-tailed Godwit at Ferrybridge.

A random selection of cold weather refugees from around the island today - Dunlin, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Golden Plovers and Teal © Joe Stockwell:

With Garganey arriving either side of us today we did wonder if some of today's birds might even have been migrants rather than cold weather refugees; Shovelers are a classic early migrant off the Bill where they've quite often been accompanied in the past by Garganey - maybe today's Ferrybridge flock were fresh in over Chesil © Pete Saunders:

Likewise, this new unringed Stonechat cowering for shelter in a crevice in the Bill Quarry had all the feel of a migrant © Martin Cade:

And a few scenery snaps from around and about © Martin Cade:

...finally, whilst we appreciate that in the social hierarchy of Portland having four horses elevates you to well above your neighbour who only has one - and that fact has to advertised for all to see - but is it really necessary to leave them out with no shelter whatsoever in this weather?