19th January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 8, Brent Goose 2, Firecrest 1; also c6 Bottle-nosed Dolphins.

18th January

Portland Bill: Common Scoter c30, Purple Sandpiper 11, Red-throated Diver 3, Firecrest 1.
Southwell: Blackcap 3, Chiffchaff 1.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 6, Great Northern Diver 5, Eider 3, Black-throated Diver 1.
Ferrybridge: Dunlin 80.

With only one other sighting this month at the site it looks like today's little arrival of three Blackcaps at Sweethill represented a movement from further afield than just adjacent gardens © Debby Saunders:



It was a lovely bright day to get amongst a few of the regulars; Chiffchaff at Sweethill © Debby Saunders...


...Common Buzzard at Sweethill and Black-necked Grebes in Portland Harbour © Pete Saunders...



...Purple Sandpiper at the Bill © JR Norris...


...and Short-eared Owls at the Bill © Martin Cade:

17th January

Portland Bill: Common Scoter c40, Red-throated Diver 2, Firecrest 1.
East Weare: Chiffchaff 3.

16th January

A shocker of a day - not a single sighting logged on the day-sheet at the Obs!

15th January

Portland Bill: auk spp well in excess of 50,000 (sample counted only but the feeling was that the true total could easily have been as many as 100,000), Common Scoter 18.
Chesil Cove: Black Redstart 2.
Portland Harbour: Great Northern Diver 4, Black-necked Grebe 3, Eider 2, Black-throated Diver 1.
Ferrybridge: Brent Goose 118.

Black-necked Grebes have been ever present in Portland Harbour this winter but their behaviour seems to have changed from what we're usually accustomed to: in the past you'd expect to see most if not all of them in a loose flock off Sandsfoot Castle but this winter they've been spread far and wide in much smaller groups - these two were off Billy Winters this morning © Pete Saunders:


Moth interest has been hovering between the minimal and the non-existent for most of the winter, to the extent that a few days ago we tasked Matt Ames with finding us a female Winter Moth in the Obs garden...he's up for that sort of thing!. Male Winter Moths are very routine mid-winter visitors to lighted windows at the Obs but seem to be oddly scarce elsewhere on the island (are they really or is it just that nobody looks for them/reports them?); females on the other hand need a bit of searching for and we hadn't bothered for many years. It took Matt a while but he came up with the goods for us; here's a male...


...and a female © Martin Cade:


14th January

Pennsylvania Castle: Firecrest 2.
Portland Harbour: Great Northern Diver 2, Black-throated Diver 1, Black-necked Grebe 1.

13th January

Portland Bill: auk spp c30000/hour early morning, Red-throated Diver 3.
Pennsylvania Castle: Firecrest 1.
Ferrybridge: Turnstone 16.
Portland Harbour: Eider 1.

Some of the Turnstones at Ferrybridge this morning (the count of 16 was the highest there since last autumn) © Debby Saunders:


As seems to have become customary at this time of year there are now very few large gulls loitering on the fields at the Bill so ring-readings have dwindled; however, there are usually a few small gulls to keep an eye on at Ferrybridge - this Black-headed Gull there yesterday was first ringed (as an adult male) in a breeding colony in north-east Germany in May 2013 and has spent most winters since then in the Weymouth/Portland area © Debby Saunders:


12th January

Portland Bill: Common Scoter 25, Purple Sandpiper 4, Red-throated Diver 2, Great Skua 1.
Portland Harbour: Great Northern Diver 3, Black-throated Diver 2.

Long-tailed Tit at Southwell today © Pete Saunders:




11th January

Portland Bill: Common Scoter 210, Red-throated Diver 7, Purple Sandpiper 7, Firecrest 1.
Pennsylvania Castle: Firecrest 3, Chiffchaf 1.
Portland Harbour: Great Northern Diver 3.

10th January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 5, Purple Sandpiper 1, Wryneck 1.
Pennsylvania Castle area: Firecrest 2, Chiffchaff 1.

9th January

Portland Bill: Common Scoter c50, Purple Sandpiper 9, Red-throated Diver 2, Pomarine Skua 1, Black Redstart 1.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 5, Great Northern Diver 2, Black-throated Diver 1, Eider 1.
Ferrybridge: Dunlin 135.

One of the Great Northern Divers in Portland Harbour and one of the Purple Sandpipers at the Bill © Pete Saunders:



8th January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 1.
Pennsylvania Castle area: Firecrest 2, Chiffchaff 1.
Chesil Cove: Black Redstart 2.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 10, Great Northern Diver 3, Shelduck 3, Eider 2, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 1, Common Scoter 1.
Ferrybridge: Curlew 7, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 1.

The Grey Heron continues to patrol the garden ponds of Southwell © Debby Saunders:


7th January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 2, Bottle-nosed Dolphin 1.
Pennsylvania Castle/Wakeham: Firecrest 3.
Portland Harbour: Great Northern Diver 2, Eider 2, Sandwich Tern 1.

6th January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 2, Blackcap 1.
Portland Harbour: Great Northern Diver 2, Eider 2, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 1.
Ferrybridge: Dunlin 46, Ringed Plover 33, Arctic Skua 1.

5th January

Portland Bill: Red-throated Diver 9, Purple Sandpiper 8, Great Northern Diver 1, Blackcap 1.
Pennsylvania Castle: Firecrest 4 Great Spotted Woodpecker 1, Goldcrest 1.
Blacknor: Black Redstart 1.
Portland Harbour/Ferrybridge: Black-necked Grebe 8, Great Northern Diver 2, Eider 2, Black-throated Diver 1, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 1.

It won't be lost on regular visitors to the blog that our abilities to find something to write about nothing in particular have finally been defeated by the current samey nature of the birding and we've reverted to a simple list of sightings - the narrative will return just as soon as things pick up!

Eider and Pale-bellied Brent Goose at Portland Harbour/Ferrybridge this morning © Pete Saunders:


4th January

Portland Bill: Common Scoter 49, Red-throated Diver 2, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 1, Blackcap 1.
Pennsylvania Castle: Chiffchaff 2, Firecrest 1.
Bumpers Lane: Firecrest 1.
Chesil Cove: Black Redstart1.
Portland Harbour: Black-necked Grebe 6, Great Northern Diver 2, Eider 2, Black-throated Diver 1, Slavonian Grebe 1, Common Scoter 1.

3rd January

Chillier but eventually brighter today after a weather front had passed through overnight. Merlin, Snipe and Great Skua all put in first appearances of the year at the Bill, where 10 Red-throated Divers and a Great Northern Diver also passed by on the sea and 10 Purple Sandpipers, the 2 Firecrests and the Blackcap were about on the land.

Although mild for a good part of the night it was way too windy to have expected much in the moth-traps - a lone Rusty-dot Pearl was all that made it into the Obs traps.

Long-tailed Tits seem to really numerous everywhere this winter, with it being suggested by some of the locals that there may well be more than 100 across the island as a whole; this group were visiting a feeder at Wakeham this afternoon © Martin Cade:


2nd January

The recent run of unexpected waterfowl continued with 2 Gadwall and a Shoveler through off the Bill; 16 Red-throated Divers, a Black-throated Diver and Eider also passed by, whilst c70 Common Scoter remained offshore. The day's other odds and ends included 7 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Firecrests and a Blackcap at the Bill and singles of Eider and Common Scoter along with the usual divers and grebes in Portland Harbour.

A Red Admiral was a surprise overnight catch in one of the Obs garden moth-traps.

Not the sort of wildfowl scarcities that we're very interested in: these two Muscovy Ducks originate from Fancy's Farm but they've been at liberty for some months and are currently waddling about at Victoria Square © Debby Saunders:


The Portland Harbour Eider © Pete Saunders...


...and a Great Crested Grebe and Great Northern Diver from Ferrybridge and the harbour © Debby Saunders:



The moth-trap Red Admiral - as far as we can recollect, the first time we've ever caught a butterfly in the traps in mid-winter  © Martin Cade:

1st January 2020

The new year begun much as last year had finished: 7 Red-throated Divers, 4 Teal and a Shelduck through off the Bill, the Blackcap still at the Obs, a Mallard at Reap Lane, a Firecrest at Chesil Cove, 2 Great Northern Divers, a Black-throated Diver and an Eider in Portland Harbour and 4 Shelducks at Ferrybridge.

The only immigrant moth interest came in the form of a Rusty-dot Pearl settled on the Obs front door in the early hours.

The wintering Grey Heron was again at Southwell today...


...and the same garden has been hosting another slightly out of the ordinary visitor: this Common Buzzard has taken a liking to perching on a children's swing just lately © Nick Stantiford:


A Kingfisher providing a nice splash of colour along the Portland Harbour shore today © Joe Stockwell:


The super abundance of Mediterranean Gulls at Ferrybridge still never ceases to amaze - this was a small part of yesterday's tally of 860 there © Pete Saunders:


The lighted glass in the Obs front door is often more productive than the moth-traps at this time of year - this Rusty-dot Pearl joined the throng of Winter Moths in the early hours © Martin Cade:

31st December

A quiet end to the year with 3 Teal through off the Bill the only unexpected sighting. Three Red-throated Divers also passed by, 9 Purple Sandpipers and a Blackcap were still at the Bill, a Firecrest was again at Pennsylvania Castle and Portland Harbour hosted a more of the same selection of divers, grebes and seaduck.

30th December

For no obvious reason given that the weather's quietened right down the final few days of the year are coming up with a few new arrivals, with a Blackcap in the Obs garden, a passing Pomarine Skua off the Bill and a Sandwich Tern in Portland Harbour today's offerings. Routine fare putting in appearances included 8 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill and 3 Firecrests at Pennsylvania Castle. Also of local interest, in the early hours Tawny Owls were heard calling for the first time in ages at Wakeham.

Such has been the utter dearth of birds in the Obs garden just lately that we'd got out of the habit of skewering a few apples on the trees. The completely out of the blue appearance of today's Blackcap - the first one at the Obs for over a month - necessitated a quick dash to the store of apples and within 10 minutes of a few being put out the bird had found them and was feasting! © Martin Cade:

29th December

Today's only 'new' news came from the Bill where a passing Long-tailed Duck was the highlight; 6 Red-throated Divers, 4 Brent Geese and a Great Skua also passed by and at least 50 Common Scoter were still offshore. The Grey Heron was again wandering around the south of the island, 400 Mediterranean Gulls were at Ferrybridge and the usual selection of divers and seaduck were in Portland Harbour.

Local social media has been featuring lots of photographs of this Grey Heron that's been visiting garden ponds all over the centre and south of the island in recent weeks; this evening it was settled on a roof at the Coastguard Cottages © Martin Cade:


28th December

Nice mild, quiet conditions but not too much to report: 4 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill where c50 Common Scoter were still lingering, 2 Firecrests in the Obs garden, another Firecrest at Pennsylvania Castle and several Great Northern Divers and 2 Eider still in Portland Harbour.

A small flurry of immigrant moths included 3 Rusty-dot Pearls trapped at the Obs and a White-speck trapped at the Grove.

27th December

Not a lot to be seen today through the murkiness of persistent drizzly mist. Twelve Red-throated Divers passed through off the Bill where 13 Purple Sandpipers were on the shore; a Siberian Chiffchaff was again at Blacknor.

26th December

Back to wet and windy today. The only reports were of 3 Firecrests and a Blackcap at Pennsylvania Castle, 3 Great Northern Divers in Portland Harbour and 200 Dunlin, 140 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and a Pale-bellied Brent at Ferrybridge.

25th December

Lovely balmy and millpond calm conditions were perfect for even the briefest of forays into the field in between the inevitable other commitments. Nothing new cropped up but regulars on show included 11 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill, a Chiffchaff at Southwell, 2 more Chiffchaffs, the eastern Lesser Whitethroat and a Firecrest at Wakeham/Pennsylvania Castle, 190 Dunlin and a Bar-tailed Godwit at Ferrybridge and 8 Great Northern Divers, 3 Eider and 2 Black-throated Divers in Portland Harbour

If only every midwinter day was as pleasant as today...and what a pleasure to see Portland Harbour almost entirely bereft of watersport activities © Martin Cade:

23rd December

In pretty decent conditions there were a couple of additions to the run of the mill assortment of recent days: a Great Skua through off the Bill was the first skua of any sort for six weeks, whilst 4 Wigeon and 3 Mute Swans at Ferrybridge weren't really expected on a mild day. Among the regulars, 3 Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest were at Pennsylvania Castle.

This morning's Wigeon at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders...


...and a Red Admiral on the wing again at Pennsylvania Castle © Martin Adlam Port and Wey:

22nd December

A bright and breezy day saw a selection of the regulars putting in appearances: 55 Common Scoter settled and 2 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, 11 Purple Sandpipers on the shore at the Bill, a Grey Heron at Southwell, the eastern Lesser Whitethroat at Wakeham and a Firecrest nearby at  Pennsylvania Castle, 3 Great Northern Divers, 2 Eider, a Black-throated Diver and a Black-necked Grebe in Portland Harbour and 101 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and 7 Pale-bellied Brents at Ferrybridge.

There are two apparent family groups of brents with mixed parentage visiting Ferrybridge this winter - it looks like the youngsters of this pair would easily be passed of as 'pure' Pale-bellied Brents if it weren't for one of the parents being a Dark-bellied bird © Pete Saunders:


21st December

Still very little to report from around the island: 80 Common Scoter settled off the Bill with a Red-throated Diver passing by and 4 Purple Sandpipers on the shore there, a Blackcap at Wakeham and another Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest at Pennsylvania Castle.

20th December

A day of largely fair conditions but rather little to report: 3 more Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, a Blackcap along with several Chiffchaffs and Firecrests at Pennsylvania Castle, 115 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and a Pale-bellied Brent at Ferrybridge and several Great Northern Divers and 2 Eider in Portland Harbour.

Showy divers have been a nice feature of the Portland Harbour birding this winter - these 2 Great Northerns were at Osprey Quay this morning © Pete Saunders:


19th December


A reminder that there's an InFocus field day at the Obs between 10am and 4pm this Saturday, 21st December.

A day with ever changing conditions through which the only constant was a buffeting southerly wind. The middle and end of the day were wash-outs but under grey skies through much of the morning and sunshine for a period during the afternoon the sea was always worth attention, with 50 or more Common Scoter still settled offshore and 9 Red-throated Divers, 6 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 6 Mediterranean Gulls, 3 Velvet Scoter and a Great Northern Diver passing by. Land sightings were restricted to 2 Firecrests and a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle.