18th April

Although the ongoing upturn in the weather was certainly inspiring, there was nothing particularly inspiring about the quality of the day's birding - at least not until a pair of Continental Coal Tits dropped in unexpectedly at the Obs during the afternoon. The Hoopoe lingered for another day at the Bill and a second individual popped up at the Grove but otherwise quality on the migrant front was limited to the year's first Cuckoo over Ferrybridge; there was a small improvement in overall numbers at the Bill where 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Black Redstarts and singles of Yellow Wagtail and Firecrest were of interest, with a Ring Ouzel at Barleycrates Lane the best elsewhere. Much had been expected of the sea in a light southeasterly but in the event numbers there were hardly impressive with 58 Whimbrel, 56 commic terns, 31 Common Scoter, 12 Sandwich Terns, 4 Red-throated Divers, 3 Great Skuas and an Arctic Skua through off the Bill, 3 Great Skuas, 3 Arctic Terns, a Red-throated Diver and an Arctic Skua off Chesil and a lone Mute Swan logged at various times off Blacknor, the Bill and Chesil.

Speckled Wood at Culverwell and Clouded Yellow at Church Ope Cove were both first records for the year.

The vast majority of Portland Coal Tit records relate to individuals of the Continental form ater that's a tolerably frequent autumn stray - usually in small influxes every few years; spring records of this form are far rarer, with today's pair the first since March 2007 © Martin Cade:

Vagrant Coal Tits at Portland are often quite vocal and these birds - presumably since they were a pair - were giving all sorts of calls as they moved around together; before their capture the male did sing very briefly but due to our crass ineptness we failed to recognise it/record it and when a Great Tit flew out of the same trees dismissed the mystery song as something freakish from that bird's repertoire!

It was a glorious day of unbroken warm sunshine from dawn 'til dusk - rather too nice to have expected any sort of arrival of migrants but very welcome in the context of this year's cool, late spring © Emily Cade: