February 2002



Mallard - Portland Bill, February 28th 2002 © Martin Cade

  February 28th Six Stonechats were the only new migrants at the Bill today, although 3 Mallards and a Rook were also good birds for the area and firsts for the year at the Bill. The only other news was of 50 Common Scoter still off the Bill and 12 Brent Geese still at Ferrybridge. February 27th Despite very windy weather and frequent heavy showers, the first few migrant Meadow Pipits and an alba wagtail were seen arriving in off the sea at the Bill during the morning. The wintering Buzzard was still at the Bill, and the lingering flock of Common Scoter offshore had increased to 50; a lone Great Crested Grebe was the only bird of note that passed through on the sea. February 26th After some very stormy weather during the night, Kittiwakes passed through in good numbers at the Bill and Chesil Cove, but there were no other noteworthy seabirds at either site. Thirty Common Scoter were again settled off the Bill, and there were 8 Brent Geese at Portland Harbour. February 25th A pretty grim day, with heavy rain and strong winds setting in by mid-morning. Two Great Skuas passed through at Chesil Cove, and a Grey Wagtail flying north over Ferrybridge was presumably another early migrant, but otherwise there was just a single Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour, and 3 Common Scoter and a Purple Sandpiper at the Bill. February 24th Bird of the day today was a Glaucous Gull seen briefly at Ferrybridge early in the morning. The first Brambling of the spring passed through at the Bill, but the only other birds of note there were 6 Common Scoter offshore. February 23rd A strong north-west wind made birding difficult everywhere, and the only reports were of a Great Skua at Chesil Cove, 30 Common Scoter settled off the Bill, and a small numbers of divers and grebes, including a single Red-necked Grebe, in Portland Harbour.



Black-headed Gull - Ferrybridge, February 22nd 2002 © Martin Cade

  February 22nd Not a lot to report today. A Red-throated Diver passed by off the Bill and the wintering Buzzard and 2 Turnstones were also there.



Little Egret and Mediterranean Gull - Ferrybridge and Portland Harbour

February 21st 2002 © Ben Sheldon

  February 21st A thorough look around Portland Harbour today produced 160 Red-breasted Mergansers, 8 Black-throated and 5 Great Northern Divers, 5 Black-necked and a Slavonian Grebe, 2 Eider and a Mediterranean Gull. Elsewhere there was a Yellowhammer and the wintering Buzzard at the Bill, 5 Common Scoter passed through on the sea there and a Little Egret was at Ferrybridge. February 20th After a stormy night there was an increase in numbers of common seabirds off the Bill, but the only noteworthy birds were the flock of 30 Common Scoter still lingering there. February 19th Very few birders were in the field today, and the only sightings were of 30 Common Scoter and 7 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill, and a lone Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour. February 18th The only reports today were of 30 Common Scoter lingering off the Bill, 7 Purple Sandpipers and a Lapwing in the Bill area, and 3 Black-necked and a Red-necked Grebe in Portland Harbour. February 17th A dull, chilly day that saw the recent run of early spring arrivals come to an end. Portland Harbour produced 6 Black-necked, 3 Slavonian and a Red-necked Grebe, and 3 Great Northern and a Black-throated Diver. The only noteworthy sightings elsewhere were of 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Little Egrets and a Great Skua at Ferrybridge, and 28 Common Scoter and 9 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill. February 16th A Reed Bunting at Reap Lane was a new arrival today, but the only other birds of note were 5 Black-headed Gulls, 4 Common Scoter and 3 Red-throated Divers passing the Bill, and the wintering Buzzard still around Top Fields. February 15th A pleasant day but not too much to report. The only oddity at the Bill was a lone Siskin, although the wintering Buzzard was still present and the wintering Goldcrest at Culverwell was seen for the first time for some while. Seawatching there produced 14 Common Scoter, a Great Northern Diver and a Red-breasted Merganser, whilst elsewhere the only reports were of 12 Little Egrets at Ferrybridge, and 2 Eider and a Great Northern Diver in Portland Harbour. February 14th The only news today was from the Bill, where a Grey Wagtail - the first there this year - and several new Stonechats were further signs of early spring passage. February 13th More pleasant weather and more evidence of early spring passage today. A Chiffchaff at Culverwell and a Chaffinch at the Obs were both new arrivals during the morning, and a Marsh Harrier arrived in off the sea at the Bill during the afternoon. The Bill area also produced 12 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Turnstones, the wintering Buzzard and a Water Rail. A Great Skua and 5 Common Scoter were the only worthwhile sightings off the Bill itself, and the same or another Great Skua was at Ferrybridge. February 12th The first bright, still early morning for a long time saw lots of resident birds in full song, and there was just a hint of spring movement off the Bill where 12 Black-headed and a single Mediterranean Gull passed through; also off there were 13 Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver. Persistent rain set in as the day went on and there were no other noteworthy reports from around the area. February 11th A windy and wet day that produced just 70 Common Scoter and a Great Skua off the Bill, and 2 Red-necked Grebes and a Great Northern Diver in Portland Harbour. February 10th Extraordinary news today of an Allen's Gallinule - the first British record for 100 years - found exhausted early in the afternoon on the West Cliffs by a local person walking their dog. The bird remained alive for a little over an hour after being brought to the Obs but died at 3.15pm (further details). Other news from the area was of 6 Red-throated Divers past the Bill, and 4 Great Northern Divers, 3 Red-necked and a Slavonian Grebe, and 2 Eider in Portland Harbour. February 9th Surprise bird of the day was a Leach's Petrel that lingered for nearly an hour during the morning in Portland Harbour; also there were 3 Red-necked and a Slavonian Grebe, 3 Great Northern Divers and 2 Eider. The only other news was of a Red-throated Diver and a Common Scoter off the Bill. February 8th The island remained very much in the February doldrums, with the only faintly interesting sightings being of 13 Common Scoter passing the Bill and a Black-throated Diver at Ferrybridge. February 7th Still nothing much to report. Eight Common Scoter and 2 Black-throated Divers passed the Bill, a Red-necked and a Slavonian Grebe were close inshore off the Air Station in Portland Harbour, and a Mediterranean Gull was at Ferrybridge. February 6th With the wind having veered to an unhelpful north-westerly, interest dwindled everywhere. Two Red-necked Grebes were still among the scatter of divers and grebes in Portland Harbour, and another Red-necked Grebe, together with a Great Crested Grebe, were at the Bill. The Bill also produced 2 Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver, 3 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Common Scoter and the wintering Buzzard. February 5th The Chesil Cove and Ferrybridge area produced most of the birds today, with the unexpected highlight being a Marsh Harrier passing through. Large flocks of storm-driven gulls attracting the attentions of 2 Great Skuas all morning, and a Sandwich Tern, a Little Gull and a Mediterranean Gull were also there. A selection of grebes and divers, as well as an Eider, were in Portland Harbour, and there were 3 Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver off the Bill.



Sandwich Tern - Portland Harbour, February 4th 2002 © Martin Cade

  February 4th Seawatching during the morning revealed nothing more than 9 Common Scoter lingering off the Bill. In abysmal weather during the afternoon, Portland Harbour produced good numbers of storm-driven Kittiwakes, as well as a Sandwich Tern, a Great Northern Diver and 3 Red-necked Grebes



Kittiwakes - Portland Bill, February 3rd 2002 © Martin Cade

  February 3rd Common seabirds remain much in evidence all round the area, but the only oddities reported were 9 Red-throated Divers, 3 Common Scoter and a Great Crested Grebe off the Bill, and a Petrel sp, thought to be a Leach's Petrel, briefly and distantly off Chesil Cove. February 2nd With Atlantic depressions continuing to dominate the weather, all the interest was again on the sea. Gannets, auks and Kittiwakes trickled past the Bill all day, where there were also 6 Red-throated Divers, a Curlew and a settled flock of 70 Common Scoter; the highlight though was a lone Leach's Petrel that flew west late in the morning. Elsewhere, a Little Gull and a Slavonian Grebe were in Chesil Cove, a Great Skua joined the gull flock at Ferrybridge for a while, and there were 8 Great Northern and 3 Black-throated Divers, a Red-necked and a Slavonian Grebe, and an Eider  in Portland Harbour. February 1st The sea again provided the only interest today, with a Red-throated Diver and a Little Auk off the Bill, and 3 Great Skuas and a Little Gull at Chesil Cove.