9th April

In most respects a day to forget in a hurry with rain, drizzle or fog throughout, although even in these dismal conditions there were tantalising hints that there was a surprising amount of diurnal passage afoot. Grounded migrants were really hard to get amongst but odds and ends of note at the Bill included 5 Redwings, 3 each of Firecrest and Brambling, and 2 each of Little Egret, Black Redstart and Bullfinch; the 'Eastern' Lesser Whitethroat was also still at Southwell. The stalwarts venturing out tapped into frequent indications of migrants on the move overhead, with a sample 45 minute watch on the West Cliffs at the Bill coming up with 260 Meadow Pipits, 95 Linnets, 4 Swallows and 2 House Martins; singles of Whimbrel and Siskin were amongst the overflyers of interest at other times.

We were very pleased to have Nick Hopper back in residence over this last weekend to try his luck with some nocturnal recording. Sadly, both nights were disappointingly quiet - at least in terms of volume of passage - but both did come up with a few minor highlights: Friday/Saturday night (6th/7th April) produced singles of Grey Plover, Dunlin, Moorhen and Redwing, whilst Saturday/Sunday night (7th/8th April) chipped in with a small flock of Common Scoter, the first Common Sandpiper of the spring, 2 Dunlin, 2 Redwings and a nocturnal recording tick in the form of a Linnet at 02:45. We're often intrigued at how some of the finding from these nocturnal surveys are at variance with conventional wisdom when it comes to the temporal distribution of passage, for example, we usually think of spring Grey Plovers as being on the move in late April/early May when, for instance, they drop in at Ferrybridge or pass through during seawatches, but here's one on the move at night in early April:

You'd get the impression from our daytime censuses that both Moorhen and Coot are really unusual visitors to Portland but the nocturnal surveys keep revealing just how relatively frequent both are overhead at night - both must be really accomplished night migrants that rarely make mistakes and end up grounded in places they didn't mean to end up in. Nick's recording of Saturday morning's Moorhen is a particularly good one of an individual that took quite a while to pass over - presumably as it struggled in the stiff headwind that had developed at the time...

...the sonogram of this recording is also worth a look at: