5th July

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 50etc, Common Scoter 1e 9w, Whimbrel 1w, Arctic Skua 1e, Mediterranean Gull 18 etc/w, Black-headed Gull 1e, Sandwich Tern 1e, Swift 30s, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1, Sand Martin 6s, Grey Wagtail 1, Reed Warbler 1, Chaffinch 1.

Canada Goose 1, Dunlin 8, Whimbrel 1, Redshank 1, Turnstone 1, Roseate Tern 1, Sandwich Tern 1.

Canada Goose, Whimbrel and Little Tern at Ferrybridge this morning © Pete Saunders:

Chalkhill Blue and Grayling at Tout Quarry © Roy Norris:

4th July

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 175etc, Mediterranean Gull 10etc, Black-headed Gull 1e 1w Sandwich Tern 3w, Swift 31, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1, Sand Martin 4s.

Dunlin 4, Sanderling 1, Whimbrel 1, Redshank 1, Roseate Tern 1.

Dispersing young Great Spotted Woodpeckers have become a customary July event in recent years © Martin Cade:

BOC Roseate Tern, Ferry-bridge, Chesil, 16:30 onwards @DorsetBirdClub @PortlandBirdObs pic.twitter.com/XSRQImErHa

3rd July

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 15w, Common Scoter 6e 7w, Arctic Skua 1e, Mediterranean Gull 12 etc, Black-headed Gull 1w.

Dunlin 6, Redshank 1.

2nd July

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater c700 mainly w, Grey Heron 3w, Mediterranean Gull 2w, Swift 2s, Chiffchaff 1.

1st July

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 13w, Common Scoter 10w, Arctic Skua 2w, Mediterranean Gull 3etc.

30th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 9, Balearic Shearwater 1e, Common Scoter 9w, Redshank 1, Common Tern 30etc, Arctic Skua 1w, Mediterranean Gull 9, Black-headed Gull 1w, Chiffchaff 1.

29th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 10w, Common Scoter 16w, Arctic Skua 1e 2w, Mediterranean Gull 5etc, Black-headed Gull 1e.

With all the tern and other seabird horror stories emerging from elsewhere it's very pleasing to see that the Chesil Little Terns haven't suffered any disease issues and that the first of this year's crop of youngsters are now on the wing, albeit still very much dependent in their parents © Pete Saunders:

The young Peregrines at Southwell are now getting a lot more mobile © Pete Saunders

In view of their numbers earlier this summer it doesn't come as a surprise to hear that two Painted Lady larvae were discovered today on Spear Thistle at Kingbarrow Quarry - it may be that there are lots more of them to be found but our experience in previous good Painted Lady years has been that you find far fewer larvae than you imagine are going to be about © Andy Collins:

28th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater c200 mainly w, Balearic Shearwater 2e, Cory's Shearwater 1w, Common Scoter 5e, Arctic Skua 2e 5w, Mediterranean Gull 12etc, Sandwich Tern 2w, Common Tern c50etc.

27th June

Portland Bill 
Manx Shearwater c100etc, Balearic Shearwater 1etc, Common Scoter 6w, Arctic Skua 1w, Mediterranean Gull c25etc, Black-headed Gull 1w, Common Tern c100etc.

Little Ringed Plover 1, Dunlin 4, Whimbrel 1, Bar-tailed Godwit 1, Sandwich Tern 2.

26th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 20w, Common Scoter 2w, Mediterranean Gull 10etc.

Whimbrel 1, Curlew 1, Bar-tailed Godwit 1, 

25th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 90w, Mediterranean Gull c50etc, Black-headed Gull 1w, Sandwich Tern 1w, Common Tern c40etc.

Dunlin 1, Bar-tailed Godwit 1, Whimbrel 1.

Barely a month after they last graced the sandflats at Ferrybridge the first returning Whimbrel was back there today © Debby Saunders:

24th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 5, Mediterranean Gull c100etc, Blackcap 1.

23rd June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 10etc, Balearic Shearwater 1etc, Grey Heron 1n, Common Scoter 11w, Great Skua 1w, Arctic Skua 1etc, Mediterranean Gull 250etc, Black-headed Gull 2e, Swift 37n.

Bar-tailed Godwit 1.

A selection from Southwell and Ferrybridge - Peregrine, Common Tern and Bar-tailed Godwit © Pete Saunders:

22nd June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 6, Balearic Shearwater 1e, Common Scoter 3e 3w, Arctic Skua 1e, Mediterranean Gull 100etc, Black-headed Gull 1etc, Sand Martin 2s.

Sanderling 4, Sandwich Tern 3, Mediterranean Gull 214.

21st June

Portland Bill
Common Scoter 2e, Arctic Skua 1w, Mediterranean Gull 50etc.

Just at the moment our sad lack of seasonable rarities is being slightly compensated for by some good showings of local fledglings of interest, amongst which the Southwell Peregrines have been quite obliging © Debby Saunders:

20th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 5w, Grey Heron 1e, Common Scoter 1w, Curlew 2, Arctic Skua 1etc, Mediterranean Gull c30etc, Black-headed Gull 2s, Little Tern 1w, Common Tern 50etc.

19th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 10etc, Mediterranean Gull 20etc, Black-headed Gull 1w, Chiffchaff 1, Jay 1.

18th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 30etc, Great Skua 1w, Mediterranean Gull 70 etc, Chiffchaff 1.

Sanderling 3, Curlew 2, Mediterranean Gull 110.

Peregrines are now fledging from eyries around the island - this family are at Westcliff © Andy Mitchell:

And the Ferrybridge Little Terns now have plenty of young to feed © Pete Saunders:

17th June


A reminder that there's an InFocus field day at the Obs between 10am and 4pm this Sunday, 19th June.

Portland Bill
Common Scoter 1e, Reed Warbler 1.

Shelduck 1, Mediterranean Gull 50, Black-headed Gull 30, Sandwich Tern 2.

16th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 55, Common Scoter 22e 6w, Turnstone 1s, Mediterranean Gull 15etc, Sand Martin 1s, Reed Warbler 3, Chiffchaff 1.

Sandwich Tern 5, Wheatear 1.

15th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 2etc, Common Scoter 1e, Grey Heron 2n, Sparrowhawk 1, Mediterranean Gull 9etc, Nightingale 1, Blackcap 1, Chiffchaff 3, Rosy Starling 1.

Just the sight of today's Rosy Starling zooming past the Obs patio at a rate of knots looking for all the world like it had just arrived in off the sea was more than enough to indicate it wasn't going to be last week's bird reappearing and that fact was quickly confirmed once it was pinned down in Top Fields: it was an altogether brighter, glossier bird...

                                            ...than last week's drab immature © Martin Cade:

Unexpected mid-June catch at the Obs: a Common Nightingale; a good brood patch evident in the hand so presumably a departing failed breeder pic.twitter.com/BNebjPFLfA

There's been no shortage of butterflies to get amongst during the last few days of unbroken sunshine, including plenty of Silver-studded Blues and Marbled Whites © Roy Norris:

14th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 16, Common Scoter 7e, Mediterranean Gull 5etc, Swift 23, Willow Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 1, Spotted Flycatcher 2, Yellowhammer 1.

13th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater c10etc, Balearic Shearwater 1w, Grey Heron 1s, Mediterranean Gull 4w, Black-headed Gull 2e, Blackcap 1, Willow Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 2, Spotted Flycatcher 1.

12th June

Portland Bill
Grey Heron 1, Common Scoter 3w, Black-headed Gull 2w, Sandwich Tern 1w, Swift 18n, Wheatear 1, Blackcap 1.

Hobby 1n.

11th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater c25etc, Common Scoter 5w, Arctic Skua 1e.

Grey Plover 1, Sanderling 4, Dunlin, 4, Turnstone 2.

The Arctic-breeding waders just keep coming, with this Grey Plover the pick of the bunch at Ferrybridge today; it seems almost inconceivable that these birds are actually going to get to the far north in time to breed but, since there seems to have been no break in the passage this spring we're presuming they are still heading in that direction - maybe the reality is that there's actually a mix of birds that have already failed, decided they're not going to bother or are too immature but are just going through the migration motions © Debby Saunders

10th June

Portland Bill
Hobby 1, Rosy Starling 1.

The Rosy Starling had presumably recent arrived at the Bill where it pitched in only briefly in between swirling around with Starlings...

...later however it showed up at Southwell where it was altogether more confiding © Martin Cade:

9th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater c100etc, Balearic Shearwater 1w, Chiffchaff 1.

Sanderling 17, Dunlin 9, Turnstone 7.

Sanderlings and the Oystercatcher family at Ferrybridge this morning © Debby Saunders:

8th June

A diary date for Obs members: we're very pleased to announce that after two years of having to be held as a virtual meeting this year's AGM will take place as an in-person meeting at the Obs on Saturday 9th July; full details and an agenda are available HERE - copies of the minutes of last year's meeting and of the accounts for 2021 will be made available before the meeting.

Portland Bill 
Manx Shearwater c100, Common Scoter 4e, Turnstone 1.

Portland Harbour
Sanderling 14, Dunlin 12. 

Northbound waders continue to trickle through, with new Sanderlings, Dunlins and Turnstones still a daily feature around the shoreline of the island and passing Dunlin flocks still an almost nightly feature on our nocmig recordings at the Obs © Martin Cade:

7th June

Portland Bill
Cattle Egret 1, Spotted Flycatcher 1.

Grey Plover 1.

In this era of egret excesses our rather forlorn-looking Cattle Egret this morning was of no great interest to anyone from away although for us it was a medium-value scarcity - the all-time island tally only got into double figures last year © Martin Cade:

6th June

Portland Bill 
Great Skua 1e, Reed Warbler 2.

Dunlin 15, Sanderling 7.

With action on the bird front very low key indeed there's plenty of time to dwell on other facets of the island's natural history; after this year's record breaking first emergence date, the main hatch of Lulworth Skippers is now well underway © Roy Norris:

5th June

4th June


3rd June


2nd June


1st June

We've spent a few recent nights renewing our acquaintance with our old friends the Storm Petrels at the Bill tip. The rewards have been pretty hard won since we've tried three times and still only trapped six (the first try last week was a flop since we were dense enough to have forgotten to charge the lure that promptly died on us just as soon as the first birds had shown up; this week's two attempts produced three apiece which is on a par with the catch rate in recent years - they're far less numerous these days than they used to be). However, with the help of the thermal imager we've had a lot of fun watching what they get up to; conventionally, we use the imager on the 'hot white' setting but the 'hot black' setting seems more appropriate for petrels at night even if it does give the entirely false impression that the action's taking place in some sort of semi-twilight which of course it isn't - it really is pitch dark down there in the early hours! © Martin Cade:

31st May

Portland Bill
Sanderling 1e, Mediterranean Gull 9etc, Swallow 1n, Wheatear 1, Chiffchaff 2, Spotted Flycatcher 4.

30th May

Portland Bill 
Manx Shearwater 4e, Common Scoter 22e, Mediterranean Gull 10 etc, Sandwich Tern 3e 2w, Reed Warbler 1.

29th May

Portland Bill
Balearic Shearwater 1w, Common Scoter 42e, Arctic Skua 3w, Mediterranean Gull 2 etc, Reed Warbler 3, Blackcap 1, Chiffchaff 1.

We're always being asked about Puffins at the Bill and the answer is always that they are still returning to the auk colony every year but these days there are so few that you usually need a lot of patience to actually see one. This year there have been up to three individuals seen from time to time; most sightings have been of fly-bys but today's bird was bobbing about on the sea below the colony © Steve Copsey:

With seemingly rather little about at the Bill this morning it wasn't a difficult decision to jack in for a while and nip off to see the Gull-billed Tern that Brett Spencer had just discovered at RSPB Radipole Lake © Steve Copsey (still) and Martin Cade (video):

28th May

Portland Bill 
Manx Shearwater 100etc, Common Scoter 113e, Sparrowhawk 1, Dunlin 2w, Little Gull 1e, Black-headed Gull 1e 1n,  Swift 5n, Wheatear 7, Whinchat 2, Reed Warbler 4, Spotted Flycatcher 2.

Suckthumb Quarry
Reed Warbler 1.

27th May

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 10etc, Balearic Shearwater 1etc, Little Egret 5n, Common Scoter 6e 3w, Sparrowhawk 1, Sanderling 3w, Arctic Skua 1e, Yellow Wagtail 1n, Wheatear 2, Chiffchaff 1.

Sanderling 2e.

With immigrant interest having somewhat fizzled out the moth catches haven't been particularly interesting over the last few nights. However, this morning this tiny tortrix was spotted settled on the perspex top of one of the traps (it was so small that the Blackbirds must have overlooked it in their dawn raids); it was unfamiliar to us but did ring some bells because things rather like it have been featuring online in recent weeks: the use of pheromone lures has shown that the Ash-bark Piercer Pammene suspectana is not the great rarity it was believed to be but rather a relatively widespread inhabitant of the English countryside (including a few recent records from Dorset) - our moth certainly looked a lot like it so we sought the opinion of Phil Sterling who kindly confirmed that it was either this or the very similar Blotched Piercer P. albuginana. Both these species would be new for Portland so, whatever the eventual ID outcome is, it's a nice if rather serendipitous 'non-pheromone' find © Martin Cade:

26th May

Portland Bill
diver sp 1w, Manx Shearwater c100etc, Sooty Shearwater 1 flew east twice during the day but no sign of it lingering within visible range, Whimbrel 1e, Great Skua 1e, Arctic Skua 2e, Little Gull 1w, Glaucous Gull 1etc, Swallow 23n, Sand Martin 1n, Reed Warbler 1, Serin 1 briefly at the Obs.

Portland Port
Bee-eater 1 heard calling overhead.

Dunlin 16, Sanderling 25.

It was pleasing to finally get a decent view of a/the Glaucous Gull after suspecting one nearly a month ago that had to be let go after look-alike singles of both Glaucous and Iceland turned up in Weymouth in subsequent days and then missing out on the long range views of the bird a fortnight ago that showed well at West Bexington the next day. Today's bird first appeared as a distant white-winged gull amongst the offshore gull flock before later coming ashore and settling for a short while in the East Cliff fields below Culverwell where its identity was immediately apparent:

We strongly suspect all these records relate to the same individual; the bird on 27th and 28th April immediately looked enormous even if that bulk maybe isn't conveyed in our very long-range photos of it but these do show, for example, the conspicuously blotchy underparts that were also apparent on the photos of the West Bexington bird on 13th May and were very obvious on today's bird (the local Iceland Gull was in similar plumage but had far less mottling about its underparts) © Martin Cade:

25th May

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater c400etc, Balearic Shearwater 1w, Sooty Shearwater 1e, Storm Petrel 1e, Merlin 1n, Arctic Skua 1e, Spotted Flycatcher 1.

Dunlin 21, Sanderling 23.

Although Manx Shearwaters have been daily offshore for many weeks their numbers have for the most part been on the low side; as often happens, today's stiffer blow brought with it a conspicuous arrival of birds coming in from the west during the afternoon although most of these had moved on or dispersed further offshore by the evening © Martin Cade

We've been keeping an eye out for nectaring Striped Hawkmoths around the Obs patio since the beginning of their current influx and were finally rewarded this evening © Martin Cade:

24th May

Portland Bill
Grey Heron 2w, Black-headed Gull 1etc, Bee-eater 1w over the Obs at 09:00, Spotted Flycatcher 1.

The weirdest arrival of the day was this escaped Goldfinch (it was ringed with avicultural rings); we're told that in the cage-bird trade these pale birds are known as Siberian Goldfinches which seems rather appropriate for this ghostly-pale individual © Martin Cade:

Today's Bee-eater passed by so rapidly that you'd have needed a camera literally up at your eye as it called for the first time to have got a meaningful image of it - we spent so long running about bellowing for other birders that we knew were in the vicinity that our only binocular view of it was as a vanishing speck! However, even without the odd single rares that are the rule at this time of year there are plenty of nice local residents to get amongst - this Barn Owl was on the roadside at Southwell at dusk...

...whilst the offshore gull flock continues to be a fantastic spectacle even if it hasn't attracted anything better than the Sooty Shearwater so far this summer © Martin Cade:

Clear air in Dorset today, this is Portland Bill taken from Hardy's Monument, a distance of 12.5 miles (20km). Lighthouse clearly visible as is the Stopery to the left. A section of the Fleet, with Rifle range, is visible in the foreground. @PortlandBirdObs pic.twitter.com/9M5LEY01v5

23rd May

Portland Bill
Grounded migrants: Wheatear 2, Reed Warbler 2, Willow Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 1.
Visible passage: Grey Heron 1.
Sea passage: Common Scoter 7w, Mediterranean Gull 1e.

Common Rosefinch 1 male briefly in song at 08:00 but not no sign subsequently.

Red Kite 19 (largest flock ever recorded at Portland).

Dunlin 25, Sanderling 25.

22nd May

Portland Bill
Grounded migrants: Wheatear 3, Turtle Dove 1, Spotted Flycatcher 1.
Visible passage: Swift 3, Grey Heron 1, Yellow Wagtail 1.
Sea passage: Common Scoter 5e, Mediterranean Gull 1e 1w, Black-headed Gull 1e, Arctic Skua 1e.

21st May

Portland Bill
Grounded migrants: Wheatear 3, Spotted Flycatcher 3, Turtle Dove 1, Willow Warbler 1.
Sea passage: Manx Shearwater c20etc, Common Scoter 10e, Arctic Skua 3e, Sooty Shearwater 1etc, Black-headed Gull 1e.

Spotted Flycatcher 1.

Grove Stadium
Turtle Dove 1.

Sanderling 14, Dunlin 12, Whimbrel 1.

20th May

A morning of rain assisted our needy cause today, dropping first a Cuckoo at Pennsylvania Castle and a handful of routine late arrivals at the Bill, before 2 Golden Orioles made brief appearances in the Grove Stadium area later in the afternoon. The morning had also seen a reappearance of the Sooty Shearwater off the Bill where, additionally, 22 Common Scoter and an Arctic Skua passed by.

The Sooty Shearwater was again frustratingly distant during its latest visit to the Bill where it first joined the gull melee over the tide race before striking off purposefully westward © Martin Cade:

And thanks to John Martin for a couple of photos from his visit to Portland this week. The Red Kite over the Bill on the 17th...

...and one of the few Small Tortoiseshells reported so far this year - this one was at Tout Quarry on 18th © John Martin:

19th May

Premier League we may have been back in the heady days of late April but fast forward a month and proceedings feel a lot like being stuck in a League Two relegation battle - with today's abject performance suggesting we're nailed on for a drop into the Noddy leagues. Ten or so hours of mist-netting at the Obs for no birds, the grounded migrant total for the Bill area in low single figures and the sandflats at Ferrybridge entirely bereft of migrant waders - the litany of underperformers was almost squad-wide, with only the sea putting up any sort of fight: 4 Arctic Skuas and a Great Northern Diver were nice tardy migrants and a Balearic Shearwater was still lingering offshore but the oddest movement of the day concerned 28 Black-headed Gulls, along with 3 Common Gulls and 2 Mediterranean Gulls, passing by.

It's often under-appreciated by visitors just how scarce Black-headed Gulls are at the Bill: being more inshore/inland birds they're rarely present amongst feeding gulls offshore, whilst most migrants take the short-cut over Chesil Beach and Portland Harbour; this year, just 13 migrants were logged passing the Bill during April and, up until today, 31 had passed during May - quite why 28 should suddenly pass by today in a steady procession of small groups in utterly benign conditions defied obvious explanation but was one of those silly little things that keeps you looking and pondering © Martin Cade:

18th May


A reminder that there's an InFocus field day at the Obs between 10am and 4pm this Sunday, 22nd May.

The topsy-turvy conditions of recent days continued with a fierce and extremely noisy swell - presumably generated by a distant Atlantic depression - dominating proceedings on what was otherwise for the most part a day of benign warm and clear skies until heavy showers rolled in again from the south during the evening. Migrant-wise, events were hardly compelling with singles of Hobby and Jay the pick of the limited selection on the ground and overhead at the Bill; waders were also inexplicably largely absent, with no more than 3 Dunlin and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits at Ferrybridge. A lingering Balearic Shearwater off the Bill was likely/hopefully an indication of things to come through the summer months, whilst 4 passing Arctic Skuas provided the day's only signs of the last knockings of spring sea passage (the majority of the day's 35 Common Scoter were heading west which suggested the joys of an imminent breeding season wasn't really on their minds).

At a national level, the recent episode of moth immigration has been extremely interesting: the likes of the Striped Hawkmoth and Cosmopolitan that graced the Obs moth-traps this morning (along with the season's first Rush Veneer and Delicate) weren't a huge surprise since these are the sort of scarcities that turn up in May given appropriate conditions, but hearing of the likes of Vagrant China-mark Diasemiopsis ramburialis and Vestal - both usually summer or autumn moths in Britain - being trapped elsewhere suggests that this is a more varied event that could just be the portent of a rewarding immigrant season © Martin Cade: