27th April

Wow, what a ripping day - not that that was altogether surprising given the combination of clear, cold air that followed the passing of an overnight rain band but certainly a 'Portland at its best' spring arrival to remember. Compiling some meaningful day-totals for the island as a whole wasn't the easiest task since there was a conspicuous and rapid throughput of birds from the Bill to points northward so duplication was an issue; however, likely conservative summations include 350 Wheatears (nearly all northwestern birds), 250 Willow Warblers, 180 Whitethroats, 160 Blackcaps, 30 Chiffchaffs, 28 Redstarts, 23 Sedge Warblers, 22 Whinchats, 20 Yellow Wagtails, 15 Grasshopper Warblers, 11 Garden Warblers, 10 Lesser Whitethroats, 9 Reed Warblers, 6 Pied Flycatchers, 5 Ring Ouzels and singles of Turtle Dove, Tree Pipit, Black Redstart, GoldcrestSpotted Flycatcher and Redpoll; visible passage was sadly neglected but Swallows were in the mid-hundreds, Sand and House Martins certainly well into three figures and Swifts in the low dozens. So fantastically gripping was today's Dungeness seawatch that it's almost embarrassing to mention our paltry efforts, but 400 Gannets (their highest total of the spring to date), 205 commic terns, 180 Bar-tailed Godwits, 47 Sandwich Terns, 20 Arctic Terns, 5 Arctic Skuas and singles of Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver and Pomarine Skua were a fair little tally for here.

The sound of the day was the reeling of Grasshopper Warblers - they were everywhere at the Bill even if the majority, like this one at the Higher Light, remained buried deep in cover even at point blank range © Martin Cade:

There isn't a more reliable site on the island for Ring Ouzels than the slopes above the Verne Moat which ought to serve as a reminder to the local conservation authorities that there are two sides to every story: from the flora and invertebrate point of view there's good reasoning behind ridding the island of invasive, non-native Cotoneaster but, on the other side of the coin, this same plant provides vital provisioning for migrant thrushes; bird-wise, the fact that some of the mats of Cotoneaster on the Verne Citadel have escaped conservation management is certainly a blessing © Martin Cade:

And a few more of the day's migrants: Pied Flycatcher, Redstart and Whitethroat © Debby Saunders...

...and Turtle Dove © Martin Cade: