31st December

A quiet end to the year with 3 Teal through off the Bill the only unexpected sighting. Three Red-throated Divers also passed by, 9 Purple Sandpipers and a Blackcap were still at the Bill, a Firecrest was again at Pennsylvania Castle and Portland Harbour hosted a more of the same selection of divers, grebes and seaduck.

30th December

For no obvious reason given that the weather's quietened right down the final few days of the year are coming up with a few new arrivals, with a Blackcap in the Obs garden, a passing Pomarine Skua off the Bill and a Sandwich Tern in Portland Harbour today's offerings. Routine fare putting in appearances included 8 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill and 3 Firecrests at Pennsylvania Castle. Also of local interest, in the early hours Tawny Owls were heard calling for the first time in ages at Wakeham.

Such has been the utter dearth of birds in the Obs garden just lately that we'd got out of the habit of skewering a few apples on the trees. The completely out of the blue appearance of today's Blackcap - the first one at the Obs for over a month - necessitated a quick dash to the store of apples and within 10 minutes of a few being put out the bird had found them and was feasting! © Martin Cade:

29th December

Today's only 'new' news came from the Bill where a passing Long-tailed Duck was the highlight; 6 Red-throated Divers, 4 Brent Geese and a Great Skua also passed by and at least 50 Common Scoter were still offshore. The Grey Heron was again wandering around the south of the island, 400 Mediterranean Gulls were at Ferrybridge and the usual selection of divers and seaduck were in Portland Harbour.

Local social media has been featuring lots of photographs of this Grey Heron that's been visiting garden ponds all over the centre and south of the island in recent weeks; this evening it was settled on a roof at the Coastguard Cottages © Martin Cade:

28th December

Nice mild, quiet conditions but not too much to report: 4 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill where c50 Common Scoter were still lingering, 2 Firecrests in the Obs garden, another Firecrest at Pennsylvania Castle and several Great Northern Divers and 2 Eider still in Portland Harbour.

A small flurry of immigrant moths included 3 Rusty-dot Pearls trapped at the Obs and a White-speck trapped at the Grove.

27th December

Not a lot to be seen today through the murkiness of persistent drizzly mist. Twelve Red-throated Divers passed through off the Bill where 13 Purple Sandpipers were on the shore; a Siberian Chiffchaff was again at Blacknor.

26th December

Back to wet and windy today. The only reports were of 3 Firecrests and a Blackcap at Pennsylvania Castle, 3 Great Northern Divers in Portland Harbour and 200 Dunlin, 140 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and a Pale-bellied Brent at Ferrybridge.

25th December

Lovely balmy and millpond calm conditions were perfect for even the briefest of forays into the field in between the inevitable other commitments. Nothing new cropped up but regulars on show included 11 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill, a Chiffchaff at Southwell, 2 more Chiffchaffs, the eastern Lesser Whitethroat and a Firecrest at Wakeham/Pennsylvania Castle, 190 Dunlin and a Bar-tailed Godwit at Ferrybridge and 8 Great Northern Divers, 3 Eider and 2 Black-throated Divers in Portland Harbour

If only every midwinter day was as pleasant as today...and what a pleasure to see Portland Harbour almost entirely bereft of watersport activities © Martin Cade:

23rd December

In pretty decent conditions there were a couple of additions to the run of the mill assortment of recent days: a Great Skua through off the Bill was the first skua of any sort for six weeks, whilst 4 Wigeon and 3 Mute Swans at Ferrybridge weren't really expected on a mild day. Among the regulars, 3 Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest were at Pennsylvania Castle.

This morning's Wigeon at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders...

...and a Red Admiral on the wing again at Pennsylvania Castle © Martin Adlam Port and Wey:

22nd December

A bright and breezy day saw a selection of the regulars putting in appearances: 55 Common Scoter settled and 2 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, 11 Purple Sandpipers on the shore at the Bill, a Grey Heron at Southwell, the eastern Lesser Whitethroat at Wakeham and a Firecrest nearby at  Pennsylvania Castle, 3 Great Northern Divers, 2 Eider, a Black-throated Diver and a Black-necked Grebe in Portland Harbour and 101 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and 7 Pale-bellied Brents at Ferrybridge.

There are two apparent family groups of brents with mixed parentage visiting Ferrybridge this winter - it looks like the youngsters of this pair would easily be passed of as 'pure' Pale-bellied Brents if it weren't for one of the parents being a Dark-bellied bird © Pete Saunders:

21st December

Still very little to report from around the island: 80 Common Scoter settled off the Bill with a Red-throated Diver passing by and 4 Purple Sandpipers on the shore there, a Blackcap at Wakeham and another Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest at Pennsylvania Castle.

20th December

A day of largely fair conditions but rather little to report: 3 more Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, a Blackcap along with several Chiffchaffs and Firecrests at Pennsylvania Castle, 115 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and a Pale-bellied Brent at Ferrybridge and several Great Northern Divers and 2 Eider in Portland Harbour.

Showy divers have been a nice feature of the Portland Harbour birding this winter - these 2 Great Northerns were at Osprey Quay this morning © Pete Saunders:

19th December

A reminder that there's an InFocus field day at the Obs between 10am and 4pm this Saturday, 21st December.

A day with ever changing conditions through which the only constant was a buffeting southerly wind. The middle and end of the day were wash-outs but under grey skies through much of the morning and sunshine for a period during the afternoon the sea was always worth attention, with 50 or more Common Scoter still settled offshore and 9 Red-throated Divers, 6 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 6 Mediterranean Gulls, 3 Velvet Scoter and a Great Northern Diver passing by. Land sightings were restricted to 2 Firecrests and a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle.

18th December

It didn't take long for the weather to revert to what's become the norm, with today seeing the return of first the wind and later the rain. The day's only reports were of 5 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, 10 Long-tailed Tits making a rare mid-winter foray to the Obs garden and ones and twos of Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver and Eider in Portland Harbour.

17th December

Quiet conditions for the second successive day were both a novelty and very welcome after so many weeks of turbulence. The millpond waters of Portland Harbour invited scrutiny and returned double figure totals of Great Northern Diver and Black-necked Grebe along with the Black Guillemot and 2 each of Black-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe and Eider; noticeably sparse were Red-breasted Mergansers - do they all disappear up the Fleet to escape from the water sports activities these days? A Sanderling on the harbour shore was a decent mid-winter bird and 6 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were again at Ferrybridge. Three Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver passed by off the Bill where 5 Purple Sandpipers were on the shore and a Great Spotted Woodpecker showed up at the Obs; elsewhere there were 2 Firecrests, a Blackcap and the eastern Lesser Whitethroat at Wakeham/Pennsylvania Castle, singles of Siberian Chiffchaff and Chiffchaff at Blacknor and Chiffchaff at Portland Hospital.

The Black Guillemot was way too far away for anything other than an attempt at phone-scoping © Martin Cade:

16th December

The nicest, most birdable conditions for a while were a treat today as Portland steered clear of a rain front that lingered in the Channel all day. The calm conditions allowed for decent scrutiny of Portland Harbour where 10 Black-necked Grebes, 6 Great Northern Divers, 2 each of Black-throated Diver and Slavonian Grebe, and singles of Eider and Common Scoter were on show; further divers included 3 Red-throated and a Great Northern through off the Bill. Elsewhere, the eastern Lesser Whitethroat showed again at Wakeham with 2 Firecrests and a Chiffchaff nearby at Pennsylvania Castle, a Black Redstart was at Fortuneswell and a Snipe at the Bill.

The good views of divers have been a treat on the few occasions it's been calm so far this winter - these Black-throated Divers were off Hamm Beach this morning © Pete Saunders:

15th December

This weekend has seen signs of the customary mid-winter build up in auk numbers, with sample counts this morning suggesting totals of 8-9000/hour - seemingly predominantly Razorbills - passing the Bill; at least 85 Common Scoter were still offshore there whilst a lone Fieldfare showed up in Top Fields. Singles of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chiffchaff and Firecrest were still about at Pennsylvania Castle and the Velvet Scoter and a Black-throated Diver were still in Portland Harbour.

14th December

Cursory coverage and few reports today: a lone Red-throated Diver passed by off the Bill and 3 Firecrests, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Chiffchaff were at Church Ope Cove/Wakeham.

13th December

Very little to report today: the Bill Common Scoter flock increased to at least 94, the eastern Lesser Whitethroat was still at Wakeham and a Firecrest was still at Pennsylvania Castle.

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

12th December

Just token coverage today during the odd spells when it wasn't raining: 50 Common Scoter still off the Bill, an Eider still in Portland Harbour and 2 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill.

11th December

The unrelenting wind is beginning to become a real bore and, to boot, there were still plenty of squally showers to dodge again today. A Velvet Scoter in Portland Harbour was the day's only obvious new arrival (...assuming it was different to the bird that's been lurking just up the Fleet for a few weeks); 2 Black-necked Grebes and 2 Eider were also still there, 10 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and a Great Northern Diver were the pick of the bunch at Ferrybridge, 4 Firecrests were still at Pennsylvania Castle, at least 50 Common Scoter were still settled off the Bill and 3 Red-throated Divers passed by there.

The miscellany at Portland Harbour and Ferrybridge today included Velvet Scoter, Great Northern Diver and a few Pale-bellied Brents amongst the brent flock © Pete Saunders:

10th December

A shocker of a day weather-wise and bird-wise. The only reports were of 54 Common Scoter still off the Bill, 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and few routine waders at Ferrybridge and 2 Black-necked Grebes in Portland Harbour.

9th December

Two Pintail and 2 Brent Geese through off the Bill were a little unexpected in the aftermath of a night of pretty wild winds but the rest of the day's action was relatively routine: at least 50 Common Scoter still settled off the Bill with a single Red-throated Diver through there, the eastern Lesser Whitethroat still at Wakeham, 3 Firecrests still at Pennsylvania Castle, 2 Black-throated Divers and an Eider in Portland Harbour and 5 Greenfinches, 2 Shelduck and a Great Northern Diver at Ferrybridge.

Three Red Admirals were on the wing at Church Ope Cove.

8th December

Today's increasingly strong wind wasn't at all conducive to rewarding coverage and the only reports were of the Eastern Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Firecrests still at Wakeham, an Eider still in Portland Harbour and 3 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill.

7th December

With fair-ish conditions on a weekend day coverage got a boost today. The Black Guillemot showed up again Portland Harbour where 2 Wigeon and singles of Black-throated Diver and Eider were also present. The wintering Common Scoter flock off the Bill totalled 48 with a lone Red-throated Diver also through there, whilst passerine variety around and about included 2 Firecrests at Avalanche Road, the Eastern Lesser Whitethroat at Wakeham, 4 Redwings at Easton Fire Station and a Black Redstart at Blacknor.

6th December

Portland Harbour again provided most of the news with 8 Black-necked Grebes, 2 each of Black-throated and Great Northern Diver, an Eider and the Black Guillemot seen during the morning. Ten Purple Sandpipers were still at the Bill and a Chiffchaff was at Portland Marina.

2nd December

Apologies for the lack of news but we're going to be off the air for a few days whilst finishing off swanning around in Africa - normal service should resume on Friday.

Postscript: many thanks to Paul Swann for sending us through some great photos of the Portland Harbour Black Guillemot from this afternoon - initially it was off Billy Winters but later drifted right under the Smallmouth road bridge © Paul Swann:

1st December

The first day in December was beautiful, clear and bright. An Avocet at Ferrybridge was a nice late addition to the year list but otherwise the day's totals remained much the same as in previous days.

This morning's Avocet at Ferrybridge Cliff Smith