30th June

First juv Yellow-legged Gull of the season off the Bill this evening along with the only Balearic Shearwater of the day; sea otherwise uneventful. Trickle of departing Swifts, 4 Whimbrel, a Sand Martin and a Grey Wagtail the best from the land. Summering GNDiver still in Portland Harbour.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 30, 2024 at 22:14

30 June - Silver Washed Fritillary at the Naval Cemetery, Portland. No photo but underside of hind wing seen well when perched. @portlandbirdobs.bsky.social New Ground/Verne Bee orchids mostly finished but Pyramidals everywhere. Gentians starting. Burnet moth sp larva and Mother Shipton #teammoth

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— Steve M (@steveweynature.bsky.social) Jun 30, 2024 at 16:46

Three more Black-tailed Godwits at Ferrybridge this morning © Pete Saunders:

In what's proving to be a rather indifferent breeding season for a lot of species it was good to see today that one of the pairs of island Buzzards has a nest full of seemingly thriving youngsters © Steve Mansfield:

29th June


Many thanks to Don Ainsworth for just popping us through his photos of the Red-footed Booby off the Bill on Monday afternoon - grippingly it was settled not far off Pulpit Rock! These were taken at 14:48 so a few hours before it turned up settled on a boat off Purbeck during the evening.

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 29, 2024 at 21:59

No surprises today and no sign of a return in Balearics with just a single - along with 26 Manx - off the Bill this mrng; Med Gull nos continued to increase offshore + 18 Com Scoter settled and 7 Mallards and a Whimbrel thru. Singles of Ringed Plover and Grey Wagtail the best from the land.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 29, 2024 at 23:25

Ferrybridge this morning 140 Med Gulls, Black-tailed Godwit (ad)

— Debra Saunders (@debbyseamist.bsky.social) Jun 29, 2024 at 7:29

This morning's Black-tailed Godwit at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders

28th June


Seems like most of the Balearics have headed off across Lyme Bay - just 11 from various watches at the Bill today; also c150 Manx through west off there. A Greylag Goose overhead the best from the land today.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 28, 2024 at 23:17

27th June

An exodus of Balearics today with just 2 logged off the Bill; freshening wind through the afternoon saw a few dozen Manx getting moving offshore. Steady trickle of Swifts sw over the Bill through the mrng. First Grayling of the yr on the wing at Tout Quarry

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 27, 2024 at 22:03

Roseate Tern just gone east off the Bill

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 27, 2024 at 7:46

Little Ringed Plover south over the Bill 0620, Wheatear about as well

— Debra Saunders (@debbyseamist.bsky.social) Jun 27, 2024 at 7:06

After a few weeks of not really bothering with systematic recording we've been giving the nocmig recorder a few outings this week as the early autumn wader season gets underway. Waders might have proved to be hard to come by but there's been some entertainment in the form of Guillemots audible through each night. We could get far better recording of these seasonable vocalisations by going over to the auk colony on West Cliffs but the weather's been so calm and birds so noisy that the nocmig recorder deployed at the Obs - several hundred metres from the sea - has been picking up some of the action as the little jumplings and their attendant parents are carried away eastwards on the tide off East Cliffs. In this sequence from just before midnight last evening the adults are presumably making the braying calls (this is the same call they use to call the youngsters off the cliffs) to keep in touch in the darkness with the youngsters that can be heard giving bursts of their shriller piping calls; we don't know how many youngsters left the cliffs last evening but the last contact calling between them and the adults was faintly audible way off in the distance at 03.25am:

The warm and increasingly humid nights earlier this week saw moth interest pick up quite dramatically. A good selection of local specials are now on the wing including Samphire Knot-horn Epischnia asteris...

...and Crescent Dart:

However, immigration - at least from the continent - was almost non-existent, to the extent that we're tempted to wonder if the small flurry of Olive-tree Pearls Palpita vitrealis didn't derive from a not very away breeding event (last year's total of them here was more than twice that of any previous year so they're massively on the up these days):

The main interest from our point of views concerned the selection of strays and dispersers that are customary in this sort of weather. The most interesting of these was what looks to be a Yarrow Pug from John Lucas' garden at Southwell; we do have at least one now long-ago previous record for the island that maybe ought to be revisited but it looks as though any records for Dorset are good ones - the county website mentions only 6 records in total:

More conventional fare included a good selection of woodland wanders, amongst which Mottled Oak Tortrix Zeiraphera isertana is quite a regular in hot spells...

...but Yellow Oak Tortrix Aleimma loeflingiana...

...Grey Oak Knot-horn Acrobasis consociella...

...and Gold W Argyresthia brockeella are all less frequent visitors to these parts © Martin Cade:

26th June

Again, too hot for pleasurable fieldwork today and reports from the Bill were limited to 30 Common Scoter, c20 Balearic Shearwaters, 4 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Sandwich Terns, a Black-headed Gull and an Arctic Skua either lingering or passing on the sea. Fifty Mediterranean Gulls and 6 Sandwich Terns were at Ferrybridge.

Last night was an almost perfect one for another attempt to lure some Storm Petrels at the Bill tip - it was millpond calm and very warm with a lovely moonrise after midnight...

...and another half-dozen petrels were eventually trapped and ringed.

During these night-time excursions we spent a fair bit of time scanning around for petrels with the thermal imager and often spot other things of interest; last week this included the presence of a couple of bats active over the slope between our netting site on the wave cut platform and the Bill Quarry - it was interesting to contrast their behaviour and use of the airspace with that of the petrels © Martin Cade:

25th June


No great enthusiasm for prolonged fieldwork in today's blistering sunshine. A blank for new migrants on the land but more than 20 Balearic Shearwaters remained off the Bill where an Arctic Skua passed through.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 25, 2024 at 22:58

Singles of Curlew and Whimbrel were at Ferrybridge this morning along with an increase to 13 in the Mediterranean Gull tally © Pete Saunders:

24th June

Heavily overcast and humid conditions prompted a small arrival of grounded migrants at the Bill that included yet more singing Reed Warblers - at least 2 at the Obs - along with 2 Lapwings and Turnstones; lingering singles of Blackcap and Chiffchaff were also still at the Bill. As in recent days it was the sea though that provided the day's numbers, with c40 Balearic Shearwaters remaining offshore throughout the morning; a lingering Arctic Skua and more than 20 Common Scoter were also still about.

Puffins have been a lot showier off the Bill in recent weeks than at any time in the last few years - all the sightings seem to involve just two individuals that, like this morning, are often together © Pete Saunders:

Lapwings have gone rather the way of Puffins and are pretty infrequent visitors to the Bill these days: they can still be abundant during the increasingly irregular snowy spells in mid-winter and there are sometimes fair showings of migrants in easterly weather during October but post-breeding dispersers that used to be frequent during late May and June are rarely seen these days, presumably reflecting the decline in British breeding numbers © Martin Cade:

The recent arrival of good numbers of Balearic Shearwaters into local waters has got plenty of attention and late last week our photos of some of them revealed an interesting-looking shearwater in the background that immediately brought to mind the putative Yelkouan Shearwater(s) of a few years back; there were a lot of Manx about on this particular day and we weren't paying as much attention to the 'black and white' birds as we were to the Balearics. This individual was pretty obviously not a Balearic but its state of moult/ragged plumage ought to be extremely unusual for a Manx at this time of year - at least, that's what we thought...

...those thoughts were quickly shelved however when first this equally heavily moulting individual passed through amongst a strong evening passage of Manx the next day and then a third individual in an even more extreme state of moult was seen well but not photographed the next morning:

In every respect except for their state of moult these latter two individuals were perfectly obvious Manx and we suspect the first bird might well have been as well but we can't be absolutely certain of that as it wasn't watched in the field and, for example, leg-length isn't visible in the photographs © Martin Cade

19th-23rd June

 19th June

Another good shearwater showing this mrng with c350 Manx and c100 Balearics off the Bill; 18 Common Scoter settled offshore + 10 commic terns and an Arctic Skua thru. Migrants: a Willow Warbler new at the Obs and another single Sand Martin thru overhead.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 19, 2024 at 22:28

20th June

Shearwaters continued with c400 Manx and c160 Balearics logged at the Bill; autumn Common Scoter passage also got going with 85 west, 10 returning Med Gulls were offshore and singles of Sooty Shearwater and Arctic Skua passed by. Quiet on the land: a Yellow Wagtail over and 13 Swallows leaving south

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 20, 2024 at 22:34

21st June

A balmy mill-pond calm morning eventually gave way to wind and rain by dusk and the day's shearwaters reflected the conditions: c90 becalmed Balearics through the mrng and 500+ Manx streaming east during the evening. An Arctic Skua and 50+ Med Gulls also off the Bill. Just a new Reed W on the land.

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 21, 2024 at 23:29

22nd June

Still at least 50 Balearics lingering off the Bill with one observer tapping into a strong movement of 290 leaving to the west early in the day; also c300 Manx thru and an Arctic Skua still offshore. 2 departing Sand Martins the only passerines of note. Summering GNDiver still in Portland Harbour

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 22, 2024 at 22:50

23rd June

A Corn Bunting trapped in the Crown Estate Field this mrng. Once one of the commonest farmland breeding birds at Portland, agricultural change saw them lost as a breeding bird during the 1980s; although more than 300 have been ringed at the Bill it's 40 years since the last one was trapped here!

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 23, 2024 at 9:28

18th June

After a first half of June that's been almost uniformly dire on the bird front - in fact pretty grim for most natural history - today was such an outlier of quality that it deserves a foray back into proper blog posting. Interest began early with the sound-luring/trapping of 3 more Storm Petrels at the Bill tip during the small hours; our lack of reward on this numbers front was compensated for by our activities being accompanied by a subcontinental barbecue in full swing beside us - the combination of the smells of the Orient and the sound of our petrel-lure was slightly surreal but the generosity of the barbecuers in sharing their food was welcome! It was also the sea that provided a good portion of the interest and certainly the bulk of the numbers once dawn broke, with quite a shearwater-fest off the Bill: 1500 Manx and 100 Balearic Shearwaters were very much minimums for the two main protagonists that were feeding, rafting and generally toing and froing in such quantity that more precise counts were impossible; a passing Sooty Shearwater was a nice bonus, with 34 Common Scoter, 2 Arctic Skuas, a Mediterranean Gull and a Black-headed Gull at that time and a Great Skua during the evening of additional interest. Grounded arrivals at the Bill consisted of just singles of Wheatear and Reed Warbler, whilst a lingering Hobby over Southwell was also new in. Overhead movers were unexpectedly varied and included at the Bill the year's first Green Sandpiper, along with 2 Shelducks and singles of Little Egret, Whimbrel and Curlew; hirundines looked to be going both ways: 2 departing Sand Martins passed over during the morning, whilst 2 Swallows arrived from way out to sea during the evening.

Any opportunity to boost this spring's paltry all-island Hobby total of just 13 birds should be gratefully accepted so this morning's individual lingering over Southwell was very welcome © Pete Saunders:

Whilst migrant interest has been extremely limited just lately there's been plenty of other goings on to keep us occupied. A real success story has been the continuing increase in breeding Kittiwakes at the Bill: there are plenty of active nests on the visible part of the cliffs and we're told that there are many more on the 'invisible' stretch within the QinetiQ compound fence  - if anyone's out on a boat underneath the cliffs in the next few weeks we'd really appreciate some photographs of the bits we can't see...

...amongst the visible breeders is this Brittany-ringed individual that's now incubating two eggs:

The Shags on the cliffs seem to be particularly good at hiding their nests just behind various strategic promontories but from one slightly precarious viewpoint it's possible to see that at least one pair has been successful:

Sadly, it's looking like the auks haven't had a lot of luck, with not a single bird on the visible ledges that only a week or two back had been busy with breeders - the prime suspects in their demise weren't far away on the clifftop and were looking suitably egg-filled and lethargic © Martin Cade:

17th June


Bill seawatch this mrng: at least 12 Balearics lingering offshore + 200 Manx; 3 Arctic Skuas and a Bonxie also lingering. First 2 autumn Sand Martins thru south.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 17, 2024 at 13:06

15th and 16th June

 15th June

This summer's incursion of Balearic Shearwaters into local waters gathered momentum: 19 thru off the Bill today; plenty of Manx still offshore + the Sooty mentioned earlier, 2 Arctic Skuas and 10 Sandwich Terns. Grey Plover still at Ferrybridge.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 15, 2024 at 22:39

16th June

Far fewer Manx offshore today and just 2 Balearics through off the Bill A Short-eared Owl a surprise on East Cliffs at the Bill. Family party of Lesser Whitethroats in the hut fields - only the second breeding record south of Southwell. Norfolk Hawker at Suckthumb.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 16, 2024 at 22:34

Hundreds of Pyramidal Orchid along the East Weares on Portland today including just one example of this white form starting to flower.

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— Paul Harris (@paulupwey.bsky.social) Jun 16, 2024 at 16:26

14th June


Very quiet at the Bill bar the continuing presence of plenty of Manx Shearwaters offshore. Ferrybridge: 33 Dunlin, singles of Grey Plover, Knot, Sanderling and Turnstone.

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 14, 2024 at 23:04

13th June

Overnight, 12 Storm Petrels sound-lured and trapped at the Bill tip. During the day, in increasingly wet and windy conditions, the only reports were of lots of shearwaters off the Bill: 2 Balearics passed by but Manx monopolised the numbers, with hundreds feeding offshore + up to 900/hour passing

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 13, 2024 at 23:25

 A few photos and some thermal imager video from last night's petrel session © Martin Cade:

Although a good many of the petrels we ring are encountered again during subsequent weeks/years on Burhou, Channel Isles (the nearest breeding site to Portland), we're not sure that until last night we'd ever actually caught one wearing a Channel Isles ring

9th-12th June

9th June

16 Swifts and a single Yellow Wagtail in/off the only migrant arrivals at the Bill today. c300 Manx Shearwaters offshore and a single Arctic Skua through. First Delicate of the year from the Obs moth-traps; local specials new over the last couple of nights incl Bartsia Straw and Chalk Hill Tortrix

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 9, 2024 at 23:11

10th June

Bill migrants: new singles of Blackcap and Reed W dropped by a couple of brief early showers; also a Grey Heron thru overhead and a steady inbound movement of weather-displaced Swifts Sea: c600 Manx, a RtDiver and an Arctic Skua Ferrybridge: 34 Dunlin, 11 Sanderlings, a Knot and a Med Gull

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 10, 2024 at 22:54

11th June

Flurry of 8 new singing Reed Warblers was unexpected at the Bill today; singles of Blackcap, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat also new in there.

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 11, 2024 at 22:50

12th June 

Not much migrant activity at the Bill but an unseasonable Lesser Redpoll was a surprise, a single Spot Fly passed over and a Little Egret was new. An Arctic Skua the best from the sea. Ferrybridge: 25 Dunlin, 12 Sanderling, singles of Barwit, Knot and Turnstone.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 12, 2024 at 22:22

Butterfly numbers in general seem to be woefully for us so far this summer so nice to see the first Marbled White of the season on the wing this morning beside the Obs garden

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 12, 2024 at 9:07

6th-8th June

6th June

Still adrift in the migration doldrums: 2 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Wheatears, a Reed Warbler and a Whitethroat the only new arrivals on the land at the Bill.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 6, 2024 at 22:27

Portland Bill Yesterday's Puffin 2 off the Bill and near the colony late morning. Also Manx Shearwater 3, Common Scoter 10: Crown Estate Fields opposite the Bird Observatory Wheatear 2 @portlandbirdobs.bsky.social @kojak020.bsky.social #birds #birdwatching #seawatching

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— Dorset Bird Tours (@dorsetbirdtours.bsky.social) Jun 7, 2024 at 9:16

7th June

Bird-wise, still slow at the Bill. Today's new migrant arrivals: 3 Wheatears, 2 Reed Warblers and 2 Chiffchaffs. An unseasonable 5 Eiders through on the sea. Moths busier this week incl a few more local specials getting on the wing:

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 7, 2024 at 22:59

8th June

Lodmoor RSPB This mornings 0930hrs adult Yellow-legged Gull on west scrape whose mantle looked a similar shade to the Herrings in certain light. Seen at Ferrybridge by other observers pm also a Knot, Sanderling 3, Ringed Plover 5, and Dunlin 27 @portlandbirdobs.bsky.social

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— Dorset Bird Tours (@dorsetbirdtours.bsky.social) Jun 8, 2024 at 18:55

5th June

Remained pretty hopeless for migrants at the Bill with 2 Wheatears and a Bcap the only grounded arrivals; 2 Yellow Wagtails and a handful of Swifts and Swallows through overhead; 1300 Manx, 26 commic terns, 3 Balearics and a RtDiver through on the sea.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 5, 2024 at 22:02

4th June

Despite cloudier skies there were poor rewards on the migrant front today, with just singles of Bcap, Spot Fly and WW grounded at the Bill; a few Swifts and hirundines were still arriving and 3 Sanderling headed north. Singles of Balearic Shearwater and Arctic Skua thru offshore during the mrng...

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 4, 2024 at 23:00

...with a freshening westerly pushing through a movement of c2000 Manx Shearwaters during the evening (the highest total so far this yr). The single presumably summering GNDiver was still in Portland Hbr.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 4, 2024 at 23:02

2nd and 3rd June

2nd June

Despite the sunny sky and rising temperature new arrivals continued to drop in at the Bill today incl 5 Reed W, 3 each of Wheatear and Whitethroat, 2 each of Chiffchaff and Spot Fly, and singles of Yellow Wagtail and Garden W; photos still to check of a candidate Marsh Warbler in Top Fields

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 2, 2024 at 23:29

3rd June

New arrivals continued to trickle through at the Bill: 14 Swifts and 6 Swallows in/off; 2 each of Bcap, CC and Spot Fly, and singles of Wheatear and Wthroat grounded; 7 Sandwich Terns, 5 Arctic Skuas, 2 RtDivers and singles of GNDiver, Sanderling and Common Gull thru on the sea.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 3, 2024 at 23:06

Spotted Flycatcher at Portland Castle this morning also a dolphin close in by one of the boats. Ferrybridge: Bar-tailed Godwit in breeding plumage with Sanderling 18, Dunlin 12, Ringed Plover 12, Turnstone 3, Little Tern 30+ @portlandbirdobs.bsky.social @kojak020.bsky.social

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— Dorset Bird Tours (@dorsetbirdtours.bsky.social) Jun 3, 2024 at 21:52

Moth numbers and variety continuing to improve. A Bordered Straw at the Obs last night the best of a very thin selection of migrants just lately; Four Spotted the latest of the local specials to appear on the wing

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 3, 2024 at 23:15

1st June

Another trickle of new arrivals at the Bill today: Swift, Swallow and House Martin all into double figures in/off overhead; 6 Spot Flys, 3 each of Reed W and Wthroat, and singles of Bcap and Garden W on the ground. 200 Manx offshore, with 3 Arctic Skuas also thru on the sea.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 1, 2024 at 23:29
Bird of the day was this exhausted Honey Buzzard that first made landfall near the Ferrybridge car park before settling for a while on Chesil Beach © Freddy Alway:

30th-31st May

30th May

Unlike some UK bird observatories we're currently grateful for very small mercies so a little arrival of new common migrants has been welcome this mrng: 3 each of Reed W and Spot Fly, 2 Wthroats and a Bcap new around the Obs so far; singles of RtDiver and GNDiver thru on the sea.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 30, 2024 at 11:42

31st May

Migrants going both ways at the Bill this mrng: first presumably departing Cuckoo has just shown up at the Obs, whilst a brisk headwind has dropped a steady little arrival of late arrivers incl double figures of Reed Ws and several Spot Flys.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 31, 2024 at 12:10