March 2009






   Black Redstart refuelling at dawn, Kestrel and Rock Pipit - Portland Bill, 31st March 2009 © Martin Cade (Black Redstart) and Max Seaford (Kestrel and Rock Pipit) the caption that went with our last Rock Pipit photograph (on 16th March) we mentioned the presence of local breeding birds with unexpected plumage and today's individual proved to be a case in point: since it's laden down with nest-material it pretty obviously isn't a Scandinavian Rock Pipit but the strong grey cast to the upperparts and the striking supercilia are certainly features that many observers would associate with that form.

  31st March

The first really promising-looking dawn of the spring - hardly a breath of wind, a good cloud cover overhead and much clearer skies away to the south - saw the best arrival of migrants so far. The Bill area returned totals of 250 Willow Warblers, 60 Wheatears, 60 Chiffchaffs, 30 Goldcrests, 7 Blackcaps and 3 Black Redstarts on the ground and good numbers of passing Swallows and Sand Martins overhead, whilst elsewhere additions to the tally included a couple of Redwings and a Ring Ouzel at Southwell, another Ring Ouzel at the High Angle Battery and an Osprey over Portland Harbour.




   today's Siskin and yesterday's Iceland Gull - Southwell and Portland Bill, 30th and 29th March 2009 © Pete Saunders

  30th March

It was again much too clear overnight to have expected much of an arrival of grounded migrants and as the day went on there was surprisingly little on the move overhead. The highlight of the day - an Osprey at Portland Harbour - wasn't altogether surprising although the fact that it was seen settled on a rock eating a fish made the sighting more gripping than usual. The small numbers of grounded migrants at the Bill included 35 Wheatears, 15 Willow Warblers, 10 Chiffchaffs, 3 Goldcrests, a White Wagtail and a Scandinavian Rock Pipit, whilst overhead there was little more than a light trickle of Swallows and Meadow Pipits on the move. The sea was equally quiet, with 13 Common Scoter and 3 Red-throated Divers all that could mustered at the Bill. The only report from elsewhere was of a Siskin at Southwell.





  White Wagtail - Portland Bill, 29th March 2009 © Martin Cade

...always a quality capture, this was the first spring White Wagtail handled at Portland for many years. This individual struck us as being a fairly obvious first-summer male although that might not be immediately apparent in these photos which were taken in blazing sunshine (subtle moult contrasts etc always seem to photograph so much better in flat light); in life the retained, faded brown, juvenile flight feathers and median/greater coverts were certainly conspicuous. Wagtails are one of those families that you have to be careful with since their partial pre-breeding moult can introduce moult-limits into the wing-coverts of adults as well as first-summers. This individual looks to have three generations of feathers in the greater coverts (which it ought to have; an adult would have just two) although assigning each individual feather to the juvenile, post-juvenile or pre-breeding generation isn't at all straightforward.

  29th March

The return of lovely still, clear conditions brought an end to the recent migration hiatus and although it wasn't busy there was quite a bit to be seen around the island. Hirundines were in evidence overhead, with in excess of 200 Swallows, 30 Sand Martins and 4 House Martins passing through at the Bill, whilst an Iceland Gull also headed north along the West Cliffs at the Bill and a Marsh Harrier (along with 5 Common Buzzards) appeared overhead at the Bill. On the ground Wheatears numbered around 60 at the Bill, where there were also 5 Blackcaps, 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipits and a White Wagtail amongst a few grounded Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests. The only reports from the sea were of 15 Common Scoter, 3 Red-throated Divers and a Little Gull passing the Bill.



  Silver Y - Portland Bill, 28th March 2009 © Martin Cade

  28th March

Ever so slightly more around today although none of the commoner summer migrants reached beyond low single figure totals at the Bill, where winterers such as 3 Purple Sandpipers and 2 Short-eared Owls provided the only real interest on the land. Seawatching there produced 4 Red-throated Divers and 2 Manx Shearwaters, whilst elsewhere there were several Sandwich Terns in Portland Harbour.

A single Silver Y provided some immigrant interest in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.



  Bottle-nosed Dolphins - Portland Bill, 27th March 2009 © Martin Cade

  27th March

Absolutely dire on the migrant front today with the likes of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest being completely absent at the Bill where 3 Wheatears, 2 Short-eared Owls and a Merlin were the only worthwhile sightings on the land. Seawatching there produced 9 Red-throated Divers, 4 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Common Scoter.

A party of at least 8 Bottle-nosed Dolphins lingered off East Cliffs at the Bill for a while either side of midday.

Shuttle-shaped Dart and Red Chestnut were both new for the year in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.




  Comma from earlier in the week - Church Ope Cove, 23th March 2009 © Paul Hodges

  26th March

A stiff and chilly westerly wind saw to it that there was again little incentive to spend long in the field. All the reports were from the Bill where 4 Red-throated Divers, 3 Manx Shearwaters and 3 Common Scoter passed through on the sea and a few Chiffchaffs lurked in sheltered spots like the Obs garden and Culverwell.

25th March

Precious little serious fieldwork today with the apparent lack of migrants and the strength of the cold north-west wind deterring many birders. The only reports of note were of 5 Purple Sandpipers, a Redwing and a handful of common summer migrants grounded at the Bill and 6 Common Scoter and 2 Red-throated Divers through on the sea at the Bill.





   Greenfinches - one in song and the other taking part in an aerial duel with another male - and Pale Pinion - Portland Bill, 24th March 2009 © Martin Cade anyone who has visited the Obs will know, the spring soundscape there is dominated by the incessant trilling and wheezing of singing Greenfinches; we're not quite sure why Greenfinches have two such radically different song types - and BWP didn't really enlighten us - but click here to listen to the trilling song and here to listen to the wheezing song.

  24th March

Another day sadly lacking in quality and numbers. A Corn Bunting was the best of the very few new arrivals at the Bill, where there were otherwise just 3 Short-eared Owls and ones and twos of Swallow, Wheatear, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest on the land and 27 Common Scoter and 6 Red-throated Divers passed by on the sea. The only other news was from Ferrybridge where there were 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, a Knot and a Mediterranean Gull.

The Obs garden moth-traps remain pretty quiet although a Pale Pinion - a species we don't catch every year - was a minor highlight last night.



   Dartford Warbler - Portland Bill, 23rd March 2009 © Martin Cade

  23rd March

The beginnings of a change in the weather were evident with the north-west wind freshening throughout the day but there certainly wasn't much improvement in migrant numbers, with all of the commoner species again returning just single digit totals at the Bill. What interest there was was provided by a Dartford Warbler (trapped and ringed at the Obs so likely to be a new arrival as opposed to one of the wintering birds) and a Firecrest at the Bill, a Blackcap and another Firecrest at Church Ope Cove and 26 Common Scoter, 10 Red-throated Divers, a Great Skua and a Sandwich Tern passing through on the sea at the Bill.





   Wood Pigeons in a courtship chase and Iceland Gull - Portland Bill, 22nd March 2009 © Martin Cade

  22nd March

Unfortunately the day's highlight - an Iceland Gull that dropped in amongst a melee of gulls attracted by ploughing at the Bill - showed up at the end of the afternoon after most visitors had jacked in for the day. Earlier, in the absence of anything in any numbers (for example, none of the commonest summer migrants such as Wheatear and Chiffchaff reached anything like double figure totals at the Bill) interest was limited to a rather late first Sandwich Tern of the spring in Portland Harbour, 2 Bramblings, a Snipe, a Redwing, a Black Redstart and a Firecrest at the Bill and 27 Common Scoter, 4 Red-throated Divers, 2 Brent Geese, a Tufted Duck and a Goldeneye passing through on the sea at the Bill.

Late news for last Thursday (19th): a Red Kite flew over Portland Port around lunchtime.

21st March

Apart from some more glorious sunshine there wasn't much to get excited about today. The very thin scatter of migrants at the Bill included just 2 White Wagtails and singles of Black Redstart, Redwing, Firecrest and Reed Bunting by way of minor quality; elsewhere there were 5 Redwings, 2 Fieldfares and a Blackcap at Barleycrates Lane. The sea was almost as quiet as the land, with a Red-throated Diver and the first Manx Shearwater of the spring being the only worthwhile sightings off the Bill.

As website visitors will have noticed we've developed a particularly unhealthy interest in Siberian Chiffchaffs this year and we made a quick dawn visit to Radipole Lake this morning to listen to the song of the individual that's been there for the last few days; click here to listen to some sound recordings and see some photographs from this off-island foray.










   Four White Wagtails and Sand Martin - Portland Bill, 20th March 2009 © Martin Cade (White Wagtails) and Pete Saunders (Sand Martin)

  20th March

Much poorer today with low numbers on the ground (and many of them were lingering on from previous days) and much less than expected overhead; the only particularly out of the ordinary sighting was of a Kingfisher settled on the shore at the Bill. Most of the other reports were also from the Bill where there were 20 Wheatears, 8 Purple Sandpipers, 4 White Wagtails, 3 Black Redstarts, 3 Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest on the ground, a Golden Plover amongst a light trickle of hirundines and Meadow Pipits overhead and 15 Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver through on the sea. Singles of Fieldfare and Blackcap at Barleycrates Lane constituted the only worthwhile sightings from elsewhere.



   ..and finally, many thanks to The Birdwatcher's Yearbook 2009 team for their kind comments that we've taken the liberty of copying above. We recently took a quick peek at their Top 50 Most Useful Websites for Birdwatchers chapter on the off chance that we might just have sneaked in at something like number 49 and were rather flabbergasted to find that we'd made the top spot. We know we must be doing something right as we're getting hits from 1500-2000 unique visitors a day at the moment but it's still nice to see an appreciation like this in print...thanks guys...and of course it goes without saying that particular thanks are also due to everyone who chips in their sightings and photographs to us every day.





   Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell - Portland Bill, 19th March 2009 © Paul Baker

  19th March

With the weather remaining set in what seems to have become a traditional spring vein of clear skies and brisk easterlies there was again little change in the species composition although diurnal migrants put on their best show so far. On the ground Wheatears totalled around 200 at the Bill where most were moving through very rapidly; 4 Chiffchaffs, 4 Goldcrests and singles of White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Blackcap and Firecrest were also there. Also at the Bill a one hour sample count of movement overhead returned totals of 260 Meadow Pipits, 27 Linnets, 8 Goldfinches, 5 alba wagtails and 4 Sand Martins, whilst at other times a few Swallows and singles of Golden Plover and Grey Wagtail were amongst other species logged. More of the same elsewhere included additional single Black Redstarts at Reap Lane and Tout Quarry. The only reports from the sea were of 31 Common Scoter and 4 Red-throated Divers passing the Bill.

18th March

Not much change in the species list today. Nearly all the reports were from the Bill where there were 20 each of Wheatear and Chiffchaff, 6 Purple Sandpipers, 5 Goldcrests, 4 Turnstones, 3 Black Redstarts, a Merlin, a White Wagtail, a Fieldfare and a Firecrest on the ground, 100 Meadow Pipits, a Ringed Plover and a Sand Martin passed through overhead, 2 Great Crested Grebes were settled offshore and 200 auks ('non-locals' on the move up-Channel) and 15 Common Scoter passed through on the sea. Elsewhere there were singles of Red-legged Partridge and Merlin on Chesil Beach.

Late news for yesterday: Red Admiral and Small White were on the wing for the first time this year.






   Meadow Pipits in song, Black Redstart and Ring Ouzel - Portland Bill, 17th March 2009 © Martin Cade (Meadow Pipits) and Paul Baker (Black Redstart and Ring Ouzel)

...and click here to listen to one of the pipits singing. The rank grassland that has replaced former pasture/arable fields at the Bill is much favoured by Meadow Pipits; from the spot on the East Cliff fields where we took the photographs of the two singing males above it is possible to clearly hear six different singing males and, out of earshot, at least another seven males can be seen song-flighting in the distance.

  17th March

Another lovely clear, sunny day, with the fresh easterly breeze that sprung up as the morning went on being instrumental in dropping visible migrants to a height where they could be seen. A Ring Ouzel at Barleycrates Lane was the pick of the new arrivals, although most news was once again from the Bill where 500 Meadow Pipits, 30 alba wagtails, 25 Wheatears, 8 Linnets, 6 Swallows, 3 Sand Martins, a Sparrowhawk, a Golden Plover, a Redshank and a White Wagtail passed over and 20 Wheatears, 5 Chiffchaffs, 4 Goldcrests, 3 Black Redstarts, 2 Redwings and 2 Firecrests were amongst the migrants on the ground.




   Goldcrest and Rock Pipit - Portland Bill, 16th March 2009 © Martin Cade

...and don't bother to ask whether the pipit is a Scandinavian Rock Pipit - we haven't got a clue! It could well be one but the more we look at the local breeding Rock Pipits the more alarmed we become at the frequency with which we see conspicuous supercilia, grey casts to the mantle/crown and reduced streaking on the breast. We'd guess that a great many of the unpaired birds like today's individual that wander around on the Bill Common/hut fields at this time of year are littoralis (indeed some moult into much 'better' plumage that this bird) but this seems to be another subject where the boundaries are very blurred.

  16th March

The fact that the weather seems to have skipped spring and gone straight into high summer is all well and good but it isn't exactly helping us to see a lot of migrants. All the day's reports came from the Bill area where there were 20 Wheatears, 10 Goldcrests, 4 Chiffchaffs, 3 Rooks, 2 Black Redstarts, a White Wagtail and a Firecrest on the ground and a fair number of alba wagtails and Meadow Pipits, along with a handful of Sand Martins and a single Starling, on the move overhead; just 7 Red-throated Divers, 6 Common Scoter and a Mediterranean Gull passed by on the sea.

Also we received distressing news today that Saturday's Alpine Swift lingered longer than first reported: a local resident got in touch with a good description of the bird which he watched swooping around along the Grove cliffs in the late afternoon/early evening; we popped up there today just in case but inevitably there was nothing to be seen!

15th March

A list that was distinctly low on quantity today with the clear, sunny skies not being at all conducive to dropping early migrants in any numbers. Most of the reports were from the Bill area where there were 15 Wheatears, 3 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Firecrests, 2 Rooks, a Grey Heron, a White Wagtail and a Chiffchaff on the ground and a steady passage of Meadow Pipits and alba wagtails overhead; 4 Common Scoter and a single Red-throated Diver also passed through on the sea. Odds and ends elsewhere included a Redshank at Ferrybridge.

Further to yesterday's news of the Alpine Swift, we received fuller details of the sighting today: it was seen well but quite briefly low overhead at the southern end of Top Fields at 2.45pm; other birders in the area were alerted soon afterwards but evidently it didn't linger.




   Firecrest tail detail and Speckled Wood - Portland Bill, 14th March 2009 © Martin Cade many of the 'crests we catch at Portland appear to be first-year birds that we sometimes wonder if the conventional ageing criteria (tail shape shape seems to be all you can go on in the absence of any obvious difference in the pattern of the juvenile and post-juvenile wing coverts) might be a bit iffy. With that in mind it was reassuring to catch a Firecrest today that had a mixture of pointed juvenile feathers and rounded adult feathers in its tail; presumably this youngster had accidentally lost part of its tail during the winter and the replacement feathers - which were not yet fully grown - were of the next generation shape.

  14th March

At sometime during the afternoon when nobody else was about a note was added to the day sheet in the Obs lounge reporting that an Alpine Swift had been seen over Top Fields; just at the moment we haven't heard anything else regarding the circumstances surrounding this sighting but a good look around later in the afternoon/evening drew a blank. More routine migrants included 25 Wheatears, 8 Chiffchaffs, 7 Goldcrests, 3 Black Redstarts, 3 Firecrests and 2 White Wagtails grounded at the Bill, an early Willow Warbler at Southwell, another Black Redstart at Nicodemus Knob and fair numbers of Meadow Pipits and alba wagtails passing overhead everywhere. Seawatching produced 24 Common Scoter, 8 Red-throated Divers and a Great Northern Diver through off the Bill.

The first Speckled Wood of the year - seemingly the earliest ever record at Portland - was on the wing in the Obs garden.





   Song Thrush and Firecrest - Portland Bill, 13th March 2009 © Martin Cade

...cold-coloured 'non-British' Song Thrushes like today's individual are quite frequent at this time of year.

  13th March

Another nice still day that started quite dreary and overcast but saw sunny intervals break through by the afternoon. The day's bird list was the longest so far this year although in terms of numbers there are perhaps a good deal fewer Wheatears and Chiffchaffs appearing than might be expected. Pretty well all the coverage was of the Bill area that produced 8 Wheatears, 5 Goldcrests, 4 Black Redstarts, 4 Chiffchaffs, 4 Firecrests, 2 White Wagtails, 2 Redwings, a Red-legged Partridge, a Water Rail, a Dartford Warbler, a Brambling and a Reed Bunting on the ground and fair numbers of Meadow Pipits, alba wagtails and 4 Sand Martins overhead. Additionally, 50 Common Scoter, 2 Shoveler and a Red-throated Diver passed through on the sea at the Bill, a Black Redstart was still at Portland Castle and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose was still at Ferrybridge.





   Wheatear, Goldcrest and Dark Sword Grass - Portland Bill, 12th March 2009 © Paul Baker (Wheatear) and Martin Cade (Goldcrest and Dark Sword Grass)

  12th March

This week has produced one or two quite unexpected sightings and today chipped in with an out of season Balearic Shearwater off the Bill. On the migrant front the first Merlin of the spring showed up at the Bill, along with 2 Redwings, 2 Wheatears, a Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest; 4 Turnstones and a Reed Bunting also lingered on there and 20 Common Scoter, 5 Eider and a Red-throated Diver passed by on the sea.

The first immigrant of the year - a Dark Sword Grass - was a welcome overnight capture in the Obs garden moth-traps.



   Black-headed Gull - Ferrybridge, 11th March 2009 © Martin Cade 

  11th March

Despite quite promising-looking mild, still and overcast conditions the birding was a bit of a dead loss today. At the Bill the migrant tally didn't extend beyond a few Meadow Pipits arriving in off the sea and 4 Redwings, 2 Wheatears and 2 Chiffchaffs on the ground; 4 Purple Sandpipers, 4 Turnstones and a Short-eared Owl were also still there and 3 Red-throated Divers passed by on the sea. The only other reports were of 9 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 6 Mediterranean Gulls and a Great Northern Diver at Portland Harbour/Ferrybridge.

10th March

Very routine fare so far today: 6 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Turnstones, a Short-eared Owl and a Wheatear at the Bill, 3 Red-throated Divers through on the sea at the Bill, 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Ferrybridge and a Chiffchaff at Verne Common.

Also of interest, Jason Fathers has kindly pointed us towards a nice video clip of the 2008 highlights from the camera overlooking the 'hidden' part of the auk colony within the QinetiQ compound at the Bill (the camera was installed by Jason's company Wildlife Windows); click here to have a look at this footage that includes several sequences of the 'bridled' Guillemot.



    'bridled' Guillemot - Portland Bill, 8th March 2009 © Simon Johnson

...there's been a 'bridled' Guillemot in attendance at the auk colony at the Bill for just about as long as we can remember (certainly since at least the mid-1970s) and with auks being so long-lived perhaps it's always been the same individual.

  9th March

Weather-wise, not too bad a day but with the wind remaining firmly in the west/north-west there was precious little by way of new arrivals until a Nuthatch that showed up at Culverwell provided a very unexpected late afternoon highlight. A trickle of Meadow Pipits arrived in off the sea at the Bill where there was also a singles of Short-eared Owl and Wheatear but the land otherwise produced nothing else of note. Two Red-throated Divers and a Great Skua passed though off the Bill and 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geeese were at Ferrybridge.





   a few of last week's Common Gulls - Ferrybridge, March 2009 © Martin Cade

... these were just a few of the decent numbers of grounded migrant Common Gulls at Ferrybridge that we mentioned last week. Although numbers there have dropped away there is still a small but steady up-Channel passage taking place off the Bill.

  8th March

With the breeze freshening constantly and some nasty showers setting in by the afternoon there were just a few reports from the Bill: a Red-legged Partridge was an unexpected new arrival at the Higher Light, 2 Puffins were on the sea below the auk colony, 9 Common Scoter, 6 Red-throated Divers and 4 Black-headed Gulls passed through on the sea and a solitary Wheatear was the only new migrant on the land.




   Puffin and Dotted Border - Portland Bill, 7th March 2009 © Simon Johnson (Puffin) and Martin Cade (Dotted Border)

  7th March

With the exception of the first returning Puffin off the Bill there was relatively poor reward again today. Five Purple Sandpipers, 5 Short-eared Owls, 2 Redwings, 2 Rooks, a Wheatear, a Dartford Warbler and a Bullfinch were at the Bill and 11 Common Scoter and 4 Red-throated Divers passed through on the sea there.

A Dotted Border found settled on the Obs front door this morning was a first record for the year (the Obs garden moth-traps have been hopelessly unproductive whenever we've operated them recently).





Skylarks - Portland Bill, 6th March 2009 © Martin Cade

...and click here to listen to one of them singing. Portland still has a healthy population of Skylarks - the indications seem to be that they have increased in recent years - and on nice still mornings like this morning there can't be many spots on the southern half of the island from where it isn't possible to hear at least one singing.

  6th March

Fair weather but few birds today. All the news was from the Bill where there were 6 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Turnstones, 2 Wheatears, 2 Rooks, a Short-eared Owl, a Chiffchaff and a Yellowhammer on the land and 2 Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver passed by on the sea.



   After missing all the snow back in the winter we woke to this...


...but a migrant Chiffchaff appeared just as soon as the snow cleared - Portland Bill, 5th March 2009 © Martin Cade

...we have had a wintering Chiffchaff around the Bill but the plastering of pollen around the forehead of this bird gives it away as a certain migrant.

  5th March

A day of extreme contrasts, with the dawn carpet of snow having vanished in quick time once glorious sunshine broke through. The only news was of 2 Redwings and singles of Lapwing, Short-eared Owl, Wheatear and Chiffchaff at the Bill and 250 Common Gulls and 2 Mediterranean Gulls at Ferrybridge.



   two Mediterranean Gulls from last weekend - Ferrybridge, 28th February 2009 © Guy Campbell 

  4th March

With the exception of a hefty hail shower during the afternoon it was clear and sunny today, although the north-westerly breeze that had set in after yesterday's rain cleared through made it feel a good deal chillier than of late. Given the conditions it wasn't a surprise that the only new arrivals on the land were singles of Wheatear and Fieldfare at the Bill; at least 18 Stonechats, 7 Purple Sandpipers and a Reed Bunting also lingered on there and 11 Black-headed Gulls, 10 Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver passed by on the sea. Migrant gulls grounded at Ferrybridge included 175 Common Gulls and 12 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, whilst 4 Mediterranean Gulls and the Black Brant were also still present there.



   Black Brant - Ferrybridge, 3rd March 2009 © Martin Cade 

  3rd March

A complete change in the weather saw wind and rain sweep in as the day went on. Red-throated Divers have been conspicuous for many weeks but the movement of 16 past the Bill through the morning - all heading up-Channel - had the look of spring passage about it; the sea otherwise produced just 10 Common Scoter and a Great Northern Diver off the Bill. The only other reports were of a dozen Stonechats and a Chiffchaff at the Bill and one of the Black Brants at Ferrybridge.



   Stonechats - Portland Bill, 2nd March 2009 © Martin Cade 

...we had a nice time bumbling around in the sun today catching a few of the migrant Stonechats that are currently passing through. We often suspect the presence of Continental birds amongst the British breeders (rubicola as opposed to hibernans) at this time of year and the two fine males above both looked to be good rubicola candidates: they were conspicuously whiter-bellied and whiter-rumped than hibernans, and the underparts were rather less saturated than on hibernans (the reference books refer to rufous-cinnamon vs rufous-chestnut). Unfortunately there's a rather blurred boundary between these forms so in the 'is it or isn't it' stakes these birds can't really be elevated beyond the good candidate level.

  2nd March

Clear skies resulted in a touch of frost on the ground at dawn but the day was otherwise fine and pleasant. Stonechats again numbered around the 20 mark at the Bill, where a lone Wheatear, 5 Purple Sandpipers, a Short-eared Owl and a Dartford Warbler were also present. Seawatching at the Bill produced 7 Common Scoter, 6 Red-throated Divers and a Mediterranean Gull, and 3 Great Northern Divers and 2 Black-necked Grebes were in Portland Harbour.


The next In Focus field event at the Obs takes place between 10am and 4pm tomorrow, Tuesday 3rd March.



   Wheatear - Portland Bill, 1st March 2009 © Martin Cade 

  1st March

A lovely spring day and a few spring birds, the most noteworthy of which were the first few Wheatears of the year: at least 3 at the Bill and another couple of singles elsewhere around the island. Stonechats were still conspicuous, with 20 or more at the Bill, a light trickle of Meadow Pipits and alba wagtails arrived in off the sea, 5 Purple Sandpipers, 4 Rooks, a Goldcrest and a Reed Bunting were at the Bill and 3 Fieldfares were at High Angle Battery. The sea received plenty of attention, with 22 Common Scoter, 20 Mediterranean Gulls, 4 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great Northern Divers and singles of Shelduck, Pintail and Tufted Duck passing the Bill but there was no sign of yesterday's Black Guillemot.