30th January

29th January

Thick fog and a stiff breeze thwarted the morning's birding possibilities and the day's only worthwhile sighting concerned three Long-tailed Tits that turned up during the afternoon at the Obs - the first that have made it right out to the Bill so far this year; we did catch a couple of them and one was a retrap, first ringed at Culverwell last September - it's most likely been hanging around in Southwell all winter and by the look of how barren the Obs garden looks at this time of year it and its mates might have been better off staying there for a few more weeks © Martin Cade:

The weather make-up looked very promising overnight for migrant moths but in the event our extra trapping efforts drew an almost complete blank - the only migrant logged was this Diamond-back at the Obs...

...the only new macro-moth for the year in the last couple of nights was this Mottled Grey at the Obs © Martin Cade:

28th January

27th January

Another fine day gave plenty of fieldwork opportunities, with a big increase in the Ferrybridge Mediterranean Gull tally to at least 1820 suggesting that their spring passage may be getting underway; auks were also spectacularly numerous off the Bill, with sample counts indicating there were 15-20000 offshore during the morning. More mundane happenings included 21 Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver through off the Bill and several Purple Sandpipers and 2 Black Redstarts still knocking around the Bill tip.

Another single Dark Sword Grass was trapped overnight at the Obs.

This dead Puffin was a rare find amongst the tideline debris at Chesil Cove today; despite the huge numbers of commoner auks wintering offshore, mid-winter sightings of live Puffins are nowhere near annual here and even then very often involve sickly birds wrecked close inshore, most of which presumably up dead like this hapless individual © Mark Dobson via Nikki Fryer

With their numbers having tumbled at most breeding sites on the island's cliffs it was good to see that the Grove Point ledges still had 20 or more birds in residence today; on the downside, yet again there doesn't look to be a Wallcreeper wintering at this poor man's Les Baux © Martin Cade:

26th January

A lovely fine day for getting amongst a lot of the regular winterers; additional to the social media reports copied below, 24 more Red-throated Divers passed through off the Bill and there was a fly-by Merlin at Easton.

This Dark Sword Grass trapped overnight at the Obs was the year's first migrant moth © Martin Cade:

25th January

No change to report, with 14 Red-throated Divers through offshore and 2 Black Redstarts still about on the land the best of the day's sightings at the Bill.

Passing Red-throated Divers continue to account for most of the interest off the Bill...

...although, with few other signs of spring in the air, it was good to see that several of the passing Cormorants are now in breeding plumage - these two look to be a carbo and a sinensis © Martin Cade:

An uptick in the temperature has seen a few moths appear on the wing, with Double-striped Pug and Dark-streaked Tortrix Acleris umbrana amongst the four species trapped overnight at the Obs; it's only a little over five years since umbrana was first recorded on the island but it already looks to be firmly established here © Martin Cade:

Another bug out and about in recent days was this Western Conifer Seed Bug found by Duncan Walbridge in his garden at Weston; as often happens with new colonists, their numbers seem to have fallen away after a few bumper seasons and, at least at the Bill, they haven't been anything like the regular sight they were a few years ago © Martin Cade:

23rd and 24th January

Poor weather on 23rd resulted in not a single entry on the day-sheet but quieter conditions on 24th allowed for better coverage at the Bill. A total of 18 Purple Sandpipers was this winter's highest count to date; singles of Short-eared Owl and Black Redstart were still about, 220 Gannets were feeding offshore and 3 Red-throated and a single Great Northern Diver were logged.

21st and 22nd January

Two very quiet days with stormy conditions producing large feeding aggregations of common seabirds off the Bill but precious little of note amongst them. Routine wintering birds were still about including a good total of 14 Purple Sandpipers on 22nd.

20th January

Negligible coverage and few reports today: 4 Purple Sandpipers and a Little Egret were at the Bill where singles of Red-throated and Black-throated Diver passed by on the sea.

19th January

Very little news again today: 27 Red-throated Divers passed through off the Bill, the 2 wintering Black Redstarts were still in residence there and 2 Little Egrets were at Culverwell.

18th January

Two Lapwings and 2 Redwings were appropriate arrivals at the Bill where, despite it being a day of unbroken sunshine, the thick layer of ice on any standing water was testament to how cold the nights have been just lately. The day's only other sightings were entirely routine: 9 Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver through off the Bill and 3 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Water Rails and a Black Redstart still about on the land there.

17th January

With heavy rain within sight out in the Channel today was comprehensively overcast with very little coverage. A Great Skua lingering off the Bill was a first for the year but the only other reports were of a Red-throated Diver through offshore and 5 Purple Sandpipers still about at the Bill tip.

Late news for yesterday: the year's first Merlin was at the Bill, a Chiffchaff was at Southwell and a Goosander was in Portland Harbour.

16th January

A lovely day of pretty well unbroken sunshine but not particularly rewarding on the bird front. Another 5 Pintail through off the Bill were the highlight, with 17 Red-throated Divers also through offshore, 2 Redwings knocking about and the usual 5 Purple Sandpipers and a Black Redstart still in residence.

15th January

Five Pintail through off the Bill were a minor oddity but the day's only other reports were of a few of the regulars: 14 Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver also through offshore and 2 Purple Sandpipers and singles of Short-eared Owl and Black Redstart still about on the land.

14th January

Back to par today, with 2 Goosanders on the Fleet beyond Ferrybridge perhaps only tenuously qualifying as a Portland sighting. Twenty more Red-throated Divers passed by off the Bill, 6 Purple Sandpipers and 2 Black Redstarts were also at Bill, another Black Redstart was at Church Ope Cove and the Ferrybridge/Portland Harbour tally was varied and again included 4 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Black-throated Divers and 2 Red-necked Grebes.

13th January

The breeze dropping right away ensured it remained heavily overcast but did allow for better coverage today. Three Fieldfares, a Knot and a Redwing were new at the Bill, 2 Common Scoter joined the rather lowly selection of winterers in Portland Harbour and the Mediterranean Gull tally at Ferrybridge topped 1100 - the highest total there this winter. Routine fare included 18 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, 5 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Black Redstarts and singles of Water Rail and Short-eared Owl at the Bill, a Goldcrest at the Grove, 3 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Slavonian Grebes and a Red-necked Grebe in Portland Harbour and 7 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 3 Shelducks and 2 Mute Swans at Ferrybridge.

The Shelduck and family group of Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders:

The Knot on East Cliffs at the Bill was an extremely confiding bird © Martin Cade:

With the temperature up a degree or two on recent nights the Obs porch attracted half a dozen Winter Moths overnight © Martin Cade:

12th January

Dreary and chilly enough today to make field excursions not especially inviting today. The only reports were of a few of the regulars: 14 Common Scoter and 13 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, 4 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Turnstones and singles of Grey Heron, Short-eared Owl and Redwing at the Bill, and singles of Black-throated Diver and Red-necked Grebe amongst the waterfowl selection in Portland Harbour.

A Bluefin Tuna was off the Bill - thought to be the first mid-winter record there.

11th January

Three Wigeon at Ferrybridge were a first for the year today but the only other worthwhile report was of another 42 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill.

10th January

Brighter and not quite so chilly today. There were still odd signs of displacement, including a total of 6 Lapwings overhead here and there, and a Little Egret that lingered at Culverwell all day; Red-throated Divers also got going again offshore, with 51 through off the Bill. Five Purple Sandpipers and singles of Grey Heron, Water Rail and Goldcrest were still at the Bill and 2 Chiffchaffs were still at Southwell.

9th January

With the wind-chill taking the apparent temperature well below zero it wasn't exactly inviting outdoors today but there were a few rewards to tap into, notable amongst which was a Spoonbill that dropped in for a few minutes at Ferrybridge. Four Velvet Scoters and a Pochard through off the Bill, 2 Ringed Plover settled on the shore there and a Teal settled in Portland Harbour provided some further quality, whilst regulars on offer included 5 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, 4 Purple Sandpipers and a Black Redstart there, at least 2 more Black Redstarts elsewhere and the usual selection of divers and grebes in Portland Harbour.

The Spoonbill during its all too brief stop at Ferrybridge © Martin Adlam Port and Wey

8th January

A raw-feeling day in a stiff northeasterly; heavy cloud and occasional showers were offshore for the duration with a few flakes of snow blowing in the wind towards dusk. The only reports were of 2 Chiffchaffs in a private garden at Southwell - the first there for a while - and another 42 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill.

7th January

With a chilly northeasterly blowing divers were still moving offshore and 3 Redwings and Fieldfare through at the Bill hinted at a few birds making precautionary relocations in case it turns any colder. The morning's diver totals were 74 Red-throated and a Great Northern through off the Bill, where a Great Crested Grebe also passed by and 30 Common Scoter on the move well out looked not to be the local winterers. Amongst all the talk of it turning colder 2 Canada Geese had other thoughts in mind and were already sniffing around their now regular breeding site on the harbour breakwaters; the harbour itself held the customary selection of waterfowl that included 2 Black-throated Divers and a Red-necked Grebe.

6th January

Calm, sunny conditions in mid-winter usually see Red-throated Divers get moving/relocating offshore so today's highest total of the winter - 115 - came as no great surprise; 3 Great Northern Divers and an Eider also passed by there. Otherwise there was precious little change: singles of Snipe and Redwing were likely a product of better coverage at the Bill, whilst 6 Purple Sandpipers and a Black Redstart were still there, 2 Black-throated Divers and a Red-necked Grebe were still amongst the waterfowl selection around Portland Harbour, 140 Dunlin, 45 Ringed Plovers and 8 Shelduck were at Ferrybridge and several Black Redstarts were scattered about at other sites.

Great Northern Diver at Portland Harbour and Black Redstart at the Bill © Matt Cooper:

5th January

A nicely calm and bright day allowed for a lot of coverage of Portland Harbour that revealed there was a fair bit more about there than had been apparent in the rougher weather of late; 2 Red-necked Grebes were the chief reward, but 7 each of Great Northern Diver and Black-necked Grebe, 3 Slavonian Grebes and a Black-throated Diver were also on show there. As usual in quieter conditions, Red-throated Divers got moving in some numbers of the Bill where 22 were logged, with a lone Great Northern Diver also passing by. A winter peak of 15 Purple Sandpipers - along with a Short-eared Owl - were at the Bill, with at least 3 of the wintering Black Redstarts also showing at regular spots about the island.

4th January

A pleasantly benign couple of hours after dawn were a wholly unrepresentative prelude to what followed as rain set in that was heavy and continuous enough to cause unprecedented flooding across the Crown Estate Field and Bill Road as well as a number of other spots around the island. The first Red-necked Grebe of the winter in Portland Harbour was a nice highlight from the early fieldwork, with more routine fare coming in the form of 9 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, 15 Common Scoter still settled offshore there and 3 Turnstones and 2 Purple Sandpipers on the shore at the Bill tip.

3rd January


2nd January


1st January

Not the most auspicious of starts to the new year, what with half the day being written off by the arrival of belting rain being driven through on a gale force southwesterly. However, the morning had been perfectly birdable with a fly-by Caspian Gull along the north side of Portland Harbour (...perhaps only tenuously a 'Portland' sighting but we'll take anything at the moment) easily the day's highlight. The customary selection of divers and grebes in the harbour again included singles of Black-throated Diver and Slavonian Grebe, whilst 2 each of Mute Swan and Shelduck at Ferrybridge were newcomers. Long-stayers making the list included single Black Redstarts at the Bill and the Osprey Quay, whilst the 30 Greenfinches remained on station at Ferrybridge.

The overhead comings and goings of divers at Ferrybridge/Portland Harbour are always worth attention; today it was a Great Northern...

...whilst a couple of days ago it was a Red-throated putting on a show © Pete Saunders:

Who'd have thought that one day we'd get to the point that a flock of Greenfinches merited a mention on 1st January - or even that it should be felt necessary to put seed out for them lest they up sticks and head off elsewhere © Pete Saunders: