18th January

Bill: 5 Purple Sandpipers, 1 Red-throated Diver.
Wakeham: 2 Goldcrests, 1 Chiffchaff.
Church Ope Cove: 2 Black Redstarts.
Ferrybridge: 70 Brent Geese.

17th January

We'll probably get told off for reverting to list format until the action perks up a bit but it's getting quite tedious trying to think up different ways of reporting that the same birds are in the same places every day.

Bill: Red-throated Diver 3, Mediterranean Gull 3, Short-eared Owl 2, Snipe 1, Black Redstart 1, Goldcrest 1.
Southwell: Blackcap 3.
Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle: Black Redstart 2, Chiffchaff 2.
Chesil Cove: Black Redstart 2.

16th January

Breezy, drizzly and increasingly chilly once the sky started to clear late in the day. Just regular winterers reported today: the Grey Heron and Black Redstart at the Bill where more than 500 Kittiwakes were feeding offshore, the 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest at Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle and 150 Dunlin and 38 Brent Geese at Ferrybridge.

One of the Church Ope Black Redstarts © Matt Ames:

15th January

Largely routine happenings again today, with Black Redstarts at Church Ope Cove (2) and the Bill, 8 Red-throated Divers and a Brent Goose through off the Bill and singles of Purple Sandpiper and Chiffchaff on the land there, 4 Goldcrests and a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle and 9 Black-necked Grebes, 3 Kittiwakes and a Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour.

14th January

Not a great deal of coverage today but what there was did turn up a new Eider in Portland Harbour; 18 Black-necked Grebes and singles of Black-throated and Great Northern Divers were also there. Elsewhere, a second Black Redstart joined the long-stayer at Church Ope Cove where a Chiffchaff was also present, another Black Redstart and 2 Purple Sandpipers were at the Bill and 2 Red-throated Divers passed through offshore there.

13th January

Breezier conditions made it hard going today and the only reports were of 3 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, 6 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill, single Black Redstarts at Chesil Cove and Church Ope Cove and 2 Chiffchaffs at Pennsylvania Castle.

A Red Admiral was on the wing at Church Ope Cove.

12th January

The first drizzly rain of the month - not for long and not in any quantity - coupled with a freshening northwesterly gave a different complexion to the day but the birding remained at a very samey level; 2 Common Scoter, 2 Mediterranean Gulls and a Red-throated Diver passed through off the Bill, single Black Redstarts were still at Church Ope Cove and Chesil Cove and the Black-necked Grebe flock and singles of Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver and Slavonian Grebe were still about in Portland Harbour.

Five Bottle-nosed Dolphins were off the Bill with the long-staying singleton still in Portland Harbour.

11th January

Nothing out of the ordinary today but a fair spread of the regulars: 6 Common Scoter and 2 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, singles of Purple Sandpiper, Black Redstart and Chiffchaff scattered on land at the Bill, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle, a Black Redstart at Blacknor and 15 Black-necked Grebes and a Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour.

10th January

Although there was one of the frostiest dawns of the winter to date the day itself was again calm enough for fieldwork to be a pleasure rather than a chore. The rewards were hardly spectacular but Purple Sandpipers increased to 9 at the Bill where 3 Lapwings were also new arrivals, 3 Eider, 2 Red-throated Divers and a Great Northern Diver passed by on the sea and 3 Redwings and the Grey Heron were about on the land. Another Redwing showed up at Reap Lane and Portland Harbour held 18 Black-necked Grebes and singles of Great Northern Diver and Slavonian Grebe.

9th January

Lovely bright and calm conditions tempted out a few more observers today, with singles of Chiffchaff at the Bill, Fieldfare at Southwell and Great Spotted Woodpecker at Pennsylvania Castle either new arrivals or on show for the first time in a while; the Purple Sandpipers at the Bill have also increased in recent days, with 6 counted today. A selection of the regulars making the list included 7 Red-throated Divers and a Common Scoter through off the Bill, 3 Short-eared Owls and 3 Redwings at the Bill, 2 Blackcaps at Southwell and 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests and the Black Redstart at Pennsylvania Castle/Church Ope Cove.

Fieldfare and Blackcap making use of the ready supply of apples at Southwell © Debby Saunders:


8th January

The only reports from a day of limited coverage were of 8 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, the Black Redstart still at Church Ope Cove and 2 Slavonian Grebes and a Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour.

7th January

There's certainly a feeling setting in that without a jazzing-up in the weather - bitter cold or very stormy - this winter's going to fizzle out rather uneventfully. Today saw a noticeably fresher breeze after a long quiet spell but the only reports were of 3 Red-throated Divers and a Common Scoter through off the Bill and a Snipe flushed up on the land there.

In calm, mild conditions overnight lighted windows at the Obs were festooned with Winter Moths but the only capture in the couple of traps operated was a lone Diamond-back Moth.

6th January

More quiet weather and samey birding today: 3 Red-throated Divers and a Common Scoter through off the Bill, singles of Purple Sandpiper and Redwing on the land there, singles of Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove, Blacknor and Chesil Cove, a Chiffchaff at Pennsylvania Castle, 13 Redwings at Wakeham and 20 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Great Northern Divers and a Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour.

5th January

The lack of even a hint of sunshine today saw the temperature hover in the low single figures all day; however, that didn't deter the weekend visitors and there was some decent coverage. A Golden Plover over the Bill and 7 Brent Geese passing by offshore were another nod to the drop in temperature but the bulk of the day's sightings were of routine lingerers: 7 Purple Sandpipers, 4 Turnstones and a Black Redstart at the Bill, 2 Red-throated Divers through on the sea there, the Black Redstarts at both Church Ope Cove and Chesil Cove, 15 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Great Northern Divers, a Black-throated Diver and a Common Scoter in Portland Harbour and 78 Oystercatchers, 89 Black-headed Gulls and the Merlin at Ferrybridge.

4th January

Portland didn't seem to fair as frostily as the mainland (as a sign of the dip in temperature a Lapwing had been heard over the Obs during the early hour) and it was a positive pleasure to be out exploring during the morning. Sadly, the quality of the birding wasn't up to much and the relatively mundane selection from the Bill got no better than 9 Red-throated Divers through on the sea and 3 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Redwings, a Black Redstart and a Greenfinch (the latter the first of the year there!) scattered on the land; the regular Black Redstart was also still about at Church Ope Cove.

With some business to attend to in Weymouth we took the opportunity to have a look for a couple of the lingering rarities there, neither of which we'd actually been back to see since their respective first appearances back in the autumn; fortuitously, both the Lesser Yellowlegs at Lodmoor and the Ring-necked Duck at Radipole required precious little effort to catch up with and were showing very nicely © Martin Cade:


3rd January

In the continuing quiet, chilly conditions Goosander and Snipe - the former in Portland Harbour and the latter at the Bill - were additions to the year list. Another 8 Red-throated Divers, 2 Brent Geese, 2 Common Scoter and a Mediterranean Gull passed by off the Bill, 4 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Short-eared Owls and 2 Redwings were again knocking about on the land there and single Black Redstarts were still at Church Ope Cove, Blacknor and Chesil Cove.

2nd January

Today's main interest concerned a big increase in seabird numbers offshore: the auk total in the first hour of daylight was in the region of 15-20000, whilst Kittiwakes numbered c400 and Gannets c100; another 6 Red-throated Divers also passed by there and a Black-throated Diver passed through off Chesil. The only other reports were of 4 Redwings, 3 Turnstones, 2 Short-eared Owls and 2 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill and single Black Redstarts at Church Ope Cove, Blacknor and Chesil Cove.

The wintering Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove © Martin Adlam Port and Wey Blog

1st January

There couldn't have been nicer conditions for a New Year flourish of coverage and, whilst the rewards were hardly compelling, there were one or two additions to what's been the recent routine fare. The feeding flock of common seabirds off the Bill was noticeably larger than of late but 5 Red-throated Divers and singles of Common Scoter and Black-headed Gull were the only really worthwhile sea sightings there; 2 Purple Sandpipers were also on the shore at the Bill and 3 Redwings, the Grey Heron and at least 1 Short-eared Owl were still about on the land. Two Blackcaps at both Sweethill and East Weare, together with single Chiffchaffs at Sweethill and Pennsylvania Castle and 2 Goldcrets at East Weare, were also logged on the land, whilst the Ferrybridge Merlin made another of its sporadic appearances.

Singles of Red Admiral and Peacock were on the wing in the pleasant sunshine during the morning, whilst a lone Silver Y at the Obs constituted the only immigrant moth interest.

Never a regular mid-winter bird at Portland, the Merlin made a timely reappearance over Ferrybridge and so secured the species a rather earlier than usual place on the year list © Debby Saunders: