15th February

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 10, Common Scoter 7, Meadow Pipit 6 in/off, Mediterranean Gull 5, Shoveler 4e, Short-eared Owl 3, Brent Goose 1, Black Redstart 1, Chiffchaff 1.
Church Ope Cove: Chiffchaff 2, Black Redstart 1.
Grove: Black Redstart 1.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 4, Slavonian Grebe 1.

14th February

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 6, Turnstone 3, Short-eared Owl 3, Skylark 2 in/off, Redwing 2, Rook 2, Greenfinch 2, Grey Heron 1, Red-legged Partridge 1, Barn Owl 1, Collared Dove 1n, Black Redstart 1, Chiffchaff 1.
Reap Lane: Black Redstart 1.
Blacknor: Meadow Pipit 3n.
Chesil: Common Scoter 5, Red-throated Diver 4.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 8.

13th February

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 6, Short-eared Owl 3, Common Scoter, 1, Black Redstart 1, Redwing 1.
Reap Lane: Black Redstart 1.
Church Ope Cove: Black Redstart 2.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 12, Slavonian Grebe 2, Black-throated Diver 1, Great Northern Diver 1, Red-necked Grebe 1.

12th February

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 14, Black-headed Gull 11, Common Scoter 8, Mediterranean Gull 3, Short-eared Owl 3, Shelduck 1, Black Redstart 1, Chiffchaff 1.
Church Ope Cove: Black Redstart 1.
Chesil Cove: Black Redstart 1.
Verne Common Estate: Chiffchaff 1.
Ferrybridge: Pale-bellied Brent Goose 2.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 11, Slavonian Grebe 2, Black-throated Diver 1, Great Northern Diver 1, Red-necked Grebe 1, Kingfisher 1.

A Short-eared Owl from yesterday afternoon © Peter Manley



11th February

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 31, Greenfinch 3, Short-eared Owl 2, Black Redstart 1, Chiffchaff 1, Reed Bunting 1.
Portland Castle: Chiffchaff 4, Black Redstart 1.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 20, Slavonian Grebe 2, Black-throated Diver 1, Great Northern Diver 1, Common Scoter 1.

10th February

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 4, Common Scoter 2, Black-headed Gull 1.
Pennsylvania Castle/Church Ope Cove: Goldcrest 4, Black Redstart 2, Chiffchaff 2.

9th February

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 8, Turnstone 5, Mediterranean Gull 3, Grey Heron 1.
Church Ope Cove: Black Redstart 1.
Ferrybridge: Bar-tailed Godwit 2, Knot 1.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 10, Black-throated Diver 1, Great Northern Diver 1.

8th February

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 4, Black-headed Gull 1, Redwing 1.

7th February

Portland Bill: Purple Sandpiper 5, Red-throated Diver 2, Black Redstart 1.
Church Ope Cove: Black Redstart 2, Chiffchaff 1.
Ferrybridge: Pale-bellied Brent Goose 1, Knot 1.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 7.

Black Redstart at the Bill this morning © Matt Ames:


6th February

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 16, Redwing 3, Short-eared Owl 2, Black Redstart 2, Chiffchaff 2.
Southwell: Goldcrest 1.
Church Ope Cove: Black Redstart 3, Chiffchaff 1.
Wakeham: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1.
Weston: Chiffchaff 1, Goldcrest 1.
Ferrybridge: Bar-tailed Godwit 2, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 1.
Portland Harbour: Goosander 3, Great Northern Diver 1, Common Scoter 1.

5th February

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 2, Brent Goose 2, Grey Heron 1, Black-headed Gull 1, Chiffchaff 1.
Church Ope Cove: Black Redstart 2.
Wakeham: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1.
Chesil Cove: Black Redstart 1.
Ferrybridge: Dunlin 240, Dark-bellied Brent Goose 140, Ringed Plover 40, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 1, Knot 1.
Portland Harbour: Red-necked Grebe 1.

4th February

Wind, rain, low cloud and a sharp rise in the temperature - in other words back to normal for Portland in midwinter. The day's only reports were of 3 Short-eared Owls and singles of Redwing, Chiffchaff and Reed Bunting at the Bill, a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Wakeham and 200 Dunlin, 82 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, a Pale-bellied Brent Goose and a Knot at Ferrybridge.

3rd February

Although there was another sharp overnight frost (it was reported to have been the coldest night of the winter so far on the island) the day dawned clear and sunny with a westerly breeze seeing to it that the temperature rose quite rapidly. Not surprisingly, the cold weather bonanza didn't last with only Redwing still reaching a three figure total at the Bill; 90 Golden Plovers hung on there for while but Fieldfare barely made double figures, Lapwing was completely absent and singles of Snipe, Reed Bunting and Corn Bunting provided a little further interest. Routine sightings included 5 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, 3 Greenfinches, 2 Purple Sandpipers and 2 Chiffchaffs on the land there, 3 Blackcaps and a Goldcrest at Southwell, 2 Black Redstarts and 2 Chiffchaffs at Church Ope Cove, another lone Black Redstart at the Grove, the Black Guillemot and the Red-necked Grebe amongst the regulars in Portland Harbour and 5 Curlew, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Redshank at Ferrybridge.

This morning's Redshank at Ferrybridge © Debby Saunders:


We've heard Barn Owl(s) quite often after dark this winter around the Obs but this evening one was out early in half-decent daylight - it criss-crossed the Bill Road several times which isn't the wisest tactic at any time of the day or night © Martin Cade:


2nd February

With a sharp overnight frost giving way to glorious sunshine today provided much more enjoyable birding conditions than yesterday and although the numbers had dwindled there was still plenty of interest around the island. The cold weather movers were again spread far and wide with a noticeable component of northbound movement off the island through the morning; day-totals looked to be in the region of 2000 Redwings, 400 Golden Plovers, 300 Fieldfares and 100 Lapwings, with 4 Cattle Egrets over Ferrybridge a nice surprise and a scatter of 3 Mistle Thrushes and singles of Brambling, Reed Bunting and Corn Bunting additional bonuses. A reappearance by the Portland Harbour Black Guillemot was welcome after it had been missed/overlooked for a fortnight, with 20 Black-necked Grebes, 3 Slavonian Grebes and singles of Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver and Common Scoter also there. Regulars on view included 6 Purple Sandpipers and 2 Chiffchaffs at the Bill, 17 Red-throated Divers and 2 Common Scoter through on the sea there and 2 Black Redstarts and 2 Chiffchaffs at Church Ope Cove.

Today's beautiful blue skies were just what the photographers ordered and there was plenty of subject matter on offer; Golden Plover and Lapwing © Pete Saunders:



...Fieldfare © Debby Saunders:


...and Corn Bunting © Martin Cade:


The Black Guillemot afforded acceptable 'scope views but for image purposes it was always far too distant for anything other than a snatch of full-zoom video (...and once YouTube have downgraded the resolution it'll probably be barely identifiable!) © Martin Cade:

1st February

There used to be a time when cold weather movements were pretty straightforward: it snowed on the mainland and Portland filled up with displaced refugees and was a great watchpoint for observing birds fleeing high overhead towards the Continent. If that's the norm then the last year has been much more unconventional: the island missed out to a great extent during the infamous 'Beast from the East' back in March 2018, whilst today came up with a largely northbound passage of birds. Overnight snowfall was restricted to the higher parts of the island and, apart from not amounting to much, had largely disappeared by dawn; however, in rapid response to more distant snowfall quantities of Golden Plovers could be heard on the move over the Bill throughout the night (we logged 24 flocks at the Obs in a two and three-quarter hour sound recording session from 1am before the batteries in the recorder died!) and it was this species that returned the best numbers from the early rounds after dawn. Before long though Redwings begun arriving from the southwest and these proved to be the precursors to a steady day-long passage - plenty lingered for periods on the unfrozen horse paddocks throughout the island but the general impression was of a constant throughput of birds, this being further confirmed by observations at Ferrybridge during the afternoon where there was a constant passage of flocks leaving to the northwest along Chesil. With no particular flyway favoured it was really difficult to get any sort of handle on numbers but it seems unlikely there were fewer than 10000 Redwings in total. Back-up day-totals - again, informed guesses rather than accurate counts - included 2000 Fieldfares, 800 Golden Plovers, 250 Lapwings and a Mistle Thrush, whilst there were modest increases of a few dozens in the totals of grounded Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Linnets; further incongruous sights included Common Gulls, Black-headed Gulls and a Mediterranean Gull grounded in the East Cliff fields where they're customarily most infrequent. The likes of Woodcock, Snipe and Jack Snipe were completely absent. Routine fare making the list included 3 Purple Sandpipers, a Short-eared Owl and a Chiffchaff at the Bill, 5 Red-throated Divers and a Shelduck through on the sea there, 3 Blackcaps at Southwell, 2 Black Redstarts at both Church Ope Cove and Chesil Cove and a single at Reap Lane, 167 Brent Geese and a Redshank at Ferrybridge and 4 Black-necked Grebes, a Slavonian Grebe and a Common Scoter in Portland Harbour.

Quite apart from it being dull as ditchwater all day we were enjoying the spectacle too much to bother with photographing things; however, this Redwing did oblige for a moment at the Obs and the camera was close to hand © Martin Cade:

31st January

Portland Bill: auk spp c30000, Kittiwake c1000, Gannet c300, Mediterranean Gull 10, Red-throated Diver 6.
Southwell: Blackcap 2.
Church Ope Cove: Black Redstart 2.
Ferrybridge: Pale-bellied Brent Goose 1.
And a few more things from yesterday that we didn't get round to posting last night:
Southwell: Blackcap 2, Little Egret 1, Goldcrest 1.
Wakeham: Tawny Owl 1.

The Little Egret continues to visit a garden pond at Southwell © Nick Stantiford:



The Pale-bellied Brent Goose at Ferrybridge today © Debby Saunders:

30th January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 7, Purple Sandpiper 6, Mediterranean Gull 5, Common Scoter 3, Short-eared Owl 1, Black Redstart 1, Chiffchaff 1.
Church Ope Cove: Chiffchaff 2, Goldcrest 2, Firecrest 2, Black Redstart 1.
Pennsylvania Castle Goldcrest 3, Chiffchaff 1.
Wakeham: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 4.
Ferrybridge: Pale-bellied Brent Goose 1.

29th January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 16.
Southwell: Greenfinch 12, Blackcap 3.
Ferrybridge: Dunlin 92, Ringed Plover 51, Dark-bellied Brent Goose 10. Pale-bellied Brent Goose 1.

28th January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 4, Greenfinch 3, Grey Heron 1.
Church Ope Cove: Black Redstart 2, Goldcrest 1 + Red Admiral 1.
Pennsylvania Castle: Goldcrest 3, Redwing 2, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 4, Red-necked Grebe 2 + Bottle-nosed Dolphin 2.

We're not too far off being able to send out to Obs members some of the long overdue literature that they're owed - as a taster of what's to come we've uploaded here a review of last year's immigrant lepidoptera and other bugs


27th January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 2.
Church Ope Cove: Rock Pipit 53, Grey Wagtail 2, Black Redstart 2.

26th January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 5, Black Redstart 1.

Hardly surprisingly with so few weather windows that looked in any way enticing, moth interest has been pretty minimal so far this year. Winter Moths have been frequent visitors to lighted windows at the Obs but as often as not absolutely nothing has entered moth-traps when we've operated them! The last couple of milder nights produced just four species in the traps, with Mottled Umber and Mottled Grey of minor interest: the former is surprisingly infrequently trapped here, whilst the latter is one of our late winter staples that from the sound of things may be more numerous here than just about anywhere else in Dorset © Martin Cade



25th January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 28, Common Scoter 6 + Bottle-nosed Dolphin c12.
Wakeham/Pennsylvania Castle: Goldcrest 4, Redwing 1, Chiffchaff 1.

24th January

http://www.at-infocus.co.uk/

A reminder that there's an In Focus field event at the Obs between 10am and 4pm this Saturday, 26th January.

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 16, Common Scoter 7, Mediterranean Gull 3, Black-throated Diver 1, Red-breasted Merganser 1, Black-headed Gull 1 + Bottle-nosed Dolphin 7.
Southwell: Blackcap 3 (one a new arrival).
Church Ope Cove: Gannet 450, Black Redstart 2.
Pennsylvania Castle: Chiffchaff 1, Goldcrest 1.
Ferrybridge: Mediterranean Gull 1300, Dunlin 250, Pied Wagtail 33, Turnstone 9,  Ringed Plover 6, Little Grebe 3, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 3, Curlew 1.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 22, Black-throated Diver 1, Great Northern Diver 1 + Bottle-nosed Dolphin 1.

23rd January

Portland Bill: auk spp c25000, Kittiwake c3000, Gannet c450, Red-throated Diver 9, Short-eared Owl 1, Collared Dove 1, Black Redstart 1, Redwing 1, Goldcrest 1.
Pennsylvania Castle: Chiffchaff 2, Goldcrest 1.
Church Ope Cove: Black Redstart 3.
Easton: Barn Owl 1.
Chesil Cove: Black Redstart 1.

22nd January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 5, Black Redstart 1, Goldcrest 1.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 8, 2 Slavonian Grebe 2.

21st January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 10, Grey Heron 1, Snipe 1, Purple Sandpiper 1, Short-eared Owl 1, Barn Owl 1, Black Redstart 1, Redwing 1, Goldcrest 1.
Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle: Black Redstart 2, Goldcrest 2, Chiffchaff 1.
Blacknor: Black Redstart 1.
Portland Port: Muscovy Duck 1.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 25, Black-throated Diver 1, Great Northern Diver 1, Red-necked Grebe 1.

A Muscovy Duck wasn't the sort of thing that you'd expect to see fly in and land amongst the buildings at Portland Port! © Trevor Owen:


One of the Black Redstarts at Church Ope Cove yesterday © Martin Adlam PortandWey Blog:

20th January

Portland Bill: Black-headed Gull 3, Brent Goose 2, Short-eared Owl 2, Red-throated Diver 1.
Wakeham/Pennsylvania Castle/Church Ope Cove: Chiffchaff 3, Black Redstart 2, Goldcrest 2.
Blacknor: Greenfinch 2 (please let us know of any Greenfinch sightings - from reports we've received it seems that there may be fewer than 15 on the island this winter!).
Chesil Cove: Black Redstart 1.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 16, Great Northern Diver 1, Red-necked Grebe 1.

19th January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 13, Great Northern Diver 1, Common Scoter 1.
Southwell: Blackcap 2, Goldcrest 1, Firecrest 1.
Church Ope Cove: Black Redstart 2.
Wakeham: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1.
Blacknor: Black Redstart 1.
Verne Common: Blackcap 2.
Ferrybridge: Dunlin 240, Dark-bellied Brent Goose 85, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 3, Bar-tailed Godwit 2.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 22, Razorbill 3, Great Northern Diver 2, Slavonian Grebe 2, Guillemot 2, Black-throated Diver 1, Black Guillemot 1.

18th January

Portland Bill: Purple Sandpiper 5, Red-throated Diver 1.
Wakeham: Goldcrest 2, Chiffchaff 1.
Church Ope Cove: Black Redstart 2.
Weston: Chiffchaff 1.
Chesil Cove: Manx Shearwater 1.
Ferrybridge: Brent Goose 207.

17th January

We'll probably get told off for reverting to list format until the action perks up a bit but it's getting quite tedious trying to think up different ways of reporting that the same birds are in the same places every day.

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 3, Mediterranean Gull 3, Short-eared Owl 2, Snipe 1, Black Redstart 1, Goldcrest 1.
Southwell: Blackcap 3.
Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle: Black Redstart 2, Chiffchaff 2.
Chesil Cove: Black Redstart 2.

16th January

Breezy, drizzly and increasingly chilly once the sky started to clear late in the day. Just regular winterers reported today: the Grey Heron and Black Redstart at the Bill where more than 500 Kittiwakes were feeding offshore, the 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest at Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle and 150 Dunlin and 38 Brent Geese at Ferrybridge.

One of the Church Ope Black Redstarts © Matt Ames: