June 2004

June 30th A quiet end to a quiet month. Swifts continued to trickle through overhead but the only birds on the land at the Bill were the Pheasant and the first Robin for several weeks in the Obs garden, Seawatching at the Bill produced 40 Common Scoter and 4 Sandwich Terns. June 29th Poor reward again today, with the best of a poor showing at the Bill being the Pheasant, a Curlew and a Reed Warbler; a few more Swifts and a Sand Martin also passed through overhead; the sea came up with just 21 Common Scoter and a single Sandwich Tern. In the evening Ferrybridge produced a Redshank and a Curlew amongst small numbers of commoner waders; dispersing Black-headed Gulls are increasing in number there, but the count of Little Terns dwindled to just 3. June 28th Odds and sods at the Bill included a few Swifts and 2 Sand Martins passing overhead, a new Chiffchaff trapped at the Obs, the long-staying Pheasant still in Top Fields, the 2 island-bred family parties of Ravens making a brief visit and a Manx Shearwater and a Sandwich Tern lingering offshore.



   Little Tern - Ferrybridge, June 27th 2004 © Martin Cade

  June 27th Extremely quiet today, with the only news from the Bill being of seawatching that produced just 4 Common Scoter, 3 Manx Shearwaters and a Sandwich Tern. At Ferrybridge this evening the only Little Terns present were flocked on the shoreline, with the breeding colony on Chesil Beach appearing to have been deserted (Fox predation is reported to have devastated the colony again this year). June 26th Miserable wet and breezy conditions returned and again kept birding to a minimum. A Storm Petrel lingered off the Bill for a while early in the morning, but otherwise seawatching there produced just 14 Common Scoter, 4 Manx Shearwaters, 3 Curlews and 2 Sandwich Terns. Swifts were passing overhead in quantity, with more than 500 flying south into the wind over the Bill. Of further interest at the Bill, the well-watched Little Owls in the Obs Quarry have bred successfully - a very vocal juvenile was on view there today. June 25th Quieter weather today allowed more birding on the land, where a Sand Martin, a Grey Wagtail, a Reed Warbler and a Willow Warbler were new arrivals at the Bill; the long-staying Pheasant was seen again there. Offshore, Manx Shearwaters trickled westwards, with 131 passing the Bill during the morning, and 8 Common Scoter and 8 Curlew also passed through. June 24th Despite quite an improvement in the weather nothing of note was found on the land and it was left to seawatching at the Bill - that produced just 25 Manx Shearwaters, 3 Common Scoter and an Arctic Skua - to salvage some interest from the day. June 23rd An unseasonably stormy day, with winds strong enough to not only devastate the warden's carefully nurtured sweet-pea patch but also to break substantial branches from trees in the Obs garden. In such conditions seawatching was the only birding possible, although this proved to be less rewarding than anticipated, with just a steady passage of Gannets, 26 Manx and a Balearic Shearwater, 4 Great and an Arctic Skua, and 3 Common Scoter off the Bill. A similar assortment off Chesil Cove early in the day included 2 Great and an Arctic Skua. June 22nd Precious little to report from what little birding was done before the first substantial rain for many weeks set in late in the morning. A Chiffchaff and a Pheasant were at the Bill, where 9 Common Scoter also passed through on the sea. June 21st A day with more of a feel of early autumn than late spring, with 52 Common Scoter moving down-Channel off the Bill and a Sand Martin leaving to the south from there; likely autumn returnees at Ferrybridge included 33 Dunlin, 2 Sandwich Terns and a Black-headed Gull. The only obvious late spring arrival was a Reed Warbler in song at the Bill.



   Waterspout - Portland Bill, June 20th 2004 © Martin Cade

  June 20th Single Reed Warblers were new arrivals at the Bill and Verne Common, but the only other news was of seawatching at the Bill where the 16 Common Scoter, 4 Manx Shearwaters and 1 Arctic Skua that passed through were somewhat eclipsed by the sighting of a distant waterspout. June 19th A surprise flurry of late migrants/failed breeders perked things up a little today, with a Whinchat, a Sedge Warbler, a Chiffchaff and a Spotted Flycatcher all new arrivals at the Bill; the long-staying Pheasant there was the only other sighting of note. June 18th Another new Chiffchaff trapped at the Obs was the only worthwhile sighting on the land, whilst seawatching there produced nothing more than 15 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Common Scoter and 2 commic terns. June 17th The arrival of much fresher, windier weather did nothing to improve the bird situation on the land, with the only news being of a trickle of Swifts overhead, a lone Chiffchaff at the Bill and 26 Dunlin and 3 Sanderling at Ferrybridge. During the afternoon Manx Shearwaters were on the move in some numbers off the Bill, where the first 2 Balearic Shearwaters of the summer also passed through.



   Coal Tit - Portland Bill, June 16th 2004 © Martin Cade

  June 16th A juvenile Coal Tit was a most unexpected capture in the Obs garden this morning, but the only other reports were of a Reed Warbler and a Chiffchaff at the Bill. June 15th Flaming June continues to provide clear blue skies and hot sunshine, but noteworthy birds remain at a premium. Seven hours mist-netting in the Obs garden produced not a single bird, whilst the only worthwhile sightings elsewhere were of a couple of Chiffchaffs at the Bill, a lone Reed Warbler at Barleycrates Lane, 4 Manx Shearwaters passing on the sea off the Bill and 13 Dunlin and a Sanderling at Ferrybridge. June 14th The search for another June rarity is proving to be hard work and less than rewarding, with today producing nothing better than a light passage of Swifts overhead and 3 Chiffchaffs and a Reed Warbler at the Bill. Wader passage seems to petering out at Ferrybridge, where there were just 19 Dunlin in the evening. June 13th Virtually a repeat of yesterday, with 2 Chiffchaffs and a Pheasant at the Bill and 17 Manx Shearwaters and 8 Common Scoter passing on the sea there. Waders at Ferrybridge included 19 Dunlin and 10 Sanderling. June 12th More of the same today. Two Chiffchaffs, a Pheasant and a Sedge Warbler were the only noteworthy sightings on the land at the Bill, where 7 Common Scoter and 6 Manx Shearwaters passed through offshore. In the evening 25 Dunlin and 19 Sanderling were at Ferrybridge. June 11th Back to form today, with little of interest reported from the island. Six Chiffchaffs and a Turtle Dove were at the Bill and Southwell, where there were also a few Swifts and a Hobby overhead. Two Common Scoter, a Manx Shearwater and a Sandwich Tern passed through off the Bill and a lone Curlew was the pick of the waders at Ferrybridge. June 10th Unfortunately, today's quality June rarity - a Greenish Warbler in the Obs garden during the morning - proved to be no more than the most fleeting of visitors. The only other news was of 3 Chiffchaffs, a Pheasant and a Curlew at the Bill, and 30 Dunlin and 14 Sanderling at Ferrybridge. June 9th Very few interesting sightings today, with just 2 Chiffchaffs, a Pheasant, a Turtle Dove and a Reed Warbler at the Bill, and 11 Common Scoter and 3 Great Skuas passing on the sea there.



  Transit of Venus and Red-backed Shrike - Portland Bill and Reap Lane, June 8th 2004 © Martin Cade

  June 8th Just when it looked like the highlight of the day would be views of the transit of Venus across the Sun, a Red-backed Shrike was found at Reap Lane to at least provide some bird interest. The only other news was of 2 Chiffchaffs and a Pheasant at the Bill and 15 Common Scoter, 6 Black-headed Gulls and 3 Sandwich Terns passing through on the sea there. June 7th Another hot, sunny day that had seemed as birdless as recent days until a Black Kite and another raptor - perhaps a second Black Kite - flew north over Weston and Easton late in the afternoon. The only other news was of 4 Chiffchaffs and 2 Reed Warblers at the Bill, 24 commic terns, 18 Common Scoter, 4 Sandwich Terns, a Manx Shearwater and a Black-headed Gull passing on the sea off the Bill and 40 Dunlin, 8 Sanderling, a Grey Plover and a Redshank at Ferrybridge. June 6th Still precious little to report, with the Bill area producing just 3 Reed Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Curlew and a Blackcap; 14 passing Common Scoter were the only birds of note on the sea there. June 5th A touch of the summer doldrums today, with clear blue skies, hot sunshine and few birds. The most obvious new arrivals were 49 Sanderling at Ferrybridge, where there were also 70 Dunlin. The only reports from the rest of the island were of 2 Chiffchaffs, a Wheatear, a Blackcap and a Spotted Flycatcher at the Bill, and another Spotted Flycatcher at Barleycrates Lane. June 4th There were high hopes of another decent June rarity when the day dawned with overcast skies and a few spots of rain. In the event all that could be found at the Bill were 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, one of the long-staying Pheasants, a Grey Wagtail, a Sedge Warbler, a Blackcap, a Garden Warbler and a Willow Warbler; 48 Common Scoter and 3 Manx Shearwaters passed through on the sea. June 3rd No sign of the Common Rosefinches today, so it was left to a handful of tardy migrants to provide some interest. Two Turtle Doves, 2 Reed Warblers, a Grey Wagtail and a Spotted Flycatcher were in the Bill area, 3 more Spotted Flycatchers and 2 Chiffchaffs were at Weston Street and 46 Dunlin and 2 Sanderling were at Ferrybridge. Seawatching at the Bill produced a steady passage of Gannets, along with 17 Manx Shearwaters, 11 commic terns, 9 Sandwich Terns, 6 Common Scoter and a Mallard.



   Common Rosefinch - Southwell, June 2nd 2004 © Steve Arlow

  June 2nd Yesterday's 'red' Common Rosefinch was found again at Verne Common, although it remained extremely elusive; in the evening a 'brown' male was discovered lurking in a weedy field at Southwell, where it too proved tricky to see. It was otherwise still very quiet, with 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and a Garden Warbler the only noteworthy migrants at the Bill. June 1st With a wet and foggy night having delivered nothing more than a couple of Chiffchaffs and a Garden Warbler to the Bill area it was quite a surprise when a singing adult male Common Rosefinch was found at Verne Common early in the afternoon; unfortunately it proved to be no more than a fleeting visitor and later searches drew a blank. Small numbers of Manx Shearwaters remained off the Bill and 2 Sanderling were the best of the waders at Ferrybridge.