13th May

A small improvement in the hitherto pretty grim migrant situation saw a reasonable scatter of mainly routine arrivals everywhere. The only quality came in the form of the Tree Sparrow still about at the Bill/Southwell and a Wood Warbler at Verne Common, but the list from the Bill area included 20 Wheatears, 15 Chiffchaffs, 5 Willow Warblers, 4 Garden Warblers, 3 Blackcaps, 2 each of Yellow Wagtail, Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher, and singles of Little Egret, Greenshank, Black Redstart and Bullfinch. The breeze was always a little too far offshore for the sea, with the rewards from the Bill limited to 4 Arctic Skuas, a Great Northern Diver and a Pomarine Skua.

Today's Black Redstart © Nick Hopper: 

Wall Browns are now on the wing in good numbers © Ken Dolbear: 

Portland has a pretty rich bee fauna, with as many as 106 species listed for the island; amongst these, Brown-banded Carder Bees are on the wing in some numbers at the moment. This rare bumble bee was once widespread across lowland Britain but has undergone substantial declines during the second half of the 20th century, with modern day strongholds for the species now confined to Salisbury Plain, the coasts of southeast and southwest England and south Wales. This species needs a good flow of nectar throughout its flight period, with the well connected mosaics of dry, flower-rich grassland found at Portland helping to provide these requirements; the Observatory's blocks of flowering brassica-based Countryside Stewardship seed mixes are clearly attractive, with at least ten individuals nectaring in Helen's Fields yesterday additional information and photos © James Phillips: