December 2010





      Brent Goose and Goldeneye - The Grove and Ferrybridge, 31st December 2010 © Martin Cade (Brent Goose) and Sue Hepburn (Goldeneye)

...a goose was a rather incongruous sight in the middle of a playing field just about as far from water as it's possible to get on Portland. Although there are usually a few Goldeneye during the winter months in the Ferrybridge area (often close to or actually just outside the island boundary) we've only just realised that this species is a 'photo first' for the website.

And for the final photo of 2010 thanks to Liz Dale for this Peregrine from earlier in the week:


  31st December

Another dreary day and feeling quite chilly again in a brisk easterly. There was still quite a bit of movement going on, with a light but steady passage of thrushes - mainly Redwings - heading north throughout the island, several small groups of Skylarks, 2 Mallards, a Wigeon, a Teal and a Red-breasted Merganser heading east offshore at the Bill and a Brent Goose that dropped in briefly at the Grove. Settled thrushes - including, for example, 100 Redwings at the Bill - were still quite numerous everywhere and 2 Snipe and singles of Curlew, Woodcock, Black Redstart were also still at the Bill. The now customary turn of the year build up of seabirds is becoming a feature off the Bill, where today Razorbills were passing at ca3000/hour early in the morning and nearer 6000/hour towards midday; 2 Red-throated Divers also passed by there.




      Waxwing - Easton, 30th December 2010 © Martin Cade 

...and click here to listen to a recording of a couple of quick trills from it as it's settled in some tall trees near the berry bushes.

  30th December

It's been a long time coming but today Portland finally got a very small share of this winter's Waxwing action when a lone bird showed up at Easton. At the Bill there was certainly some movement underway on land and sea - presumably cold weather refugees relocating - with, for example, 5 Brent Geese, 2 Gadwall and a Wigeon through on the sea and some throughput of Skylarks on the land (the Crown Estate Field held 100 at dawn, 400 at midday and only 75 at dusk); 3 Snipe and 2 Woodcock were also at the Bill. Winter thrushes, including 40 Redwings and 20 Fieldfares at the Bill, remained widely distributed and other odds and ends included singles of Mistle Thrush and Siskin at Easton.

29th December

A day of such thick fog that it was difficult to get any sort of feel for the numbers of displaced birds still around, although fieldwork at the Bill did produce 40 Redwings, 10 Fieldfares, 6 Snipe and a Woodcock.

In very mild conditions overnight the lit windows of the Obs lounge were visited for the first time this winter by quite a few Winter Moths.



      Brambling - Southwell, 28th December 2010 © Pete Saunders 

  28th December

Mild, misty and damp conditions saw the arrival of quite a few relocating thrushes, with 50 each of Redwing and Fieldfare showing up at the Bill; 9 Golden Plover, 4 Snipe, 2 Woodcock, 2 Dartford Warblers and singles of Grey Plover, Knot, Curlew, Chiffchaff and Brambling were also logged on the land there and a lone Mallard passed by on the sea. Elsewhere a garden at Southwell attracted 26 Blackbirds, 7 Redwings, 3 Fieldfares and a Brambling, whilst 15 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Slavonian Grebes, a Teal and a Goosander were in Portland Harbour.

27th December

A complete change in the weather saw a freshening southerly wind blow in plenty of cloud and eventually quite a bit of rain. At the Bill most attention was given to the sea, with 277 Gannets, 24 Red-throated Divers, 7 Common Scoter, 2 Black-throated Divers, a Great Northern Diver, a Red-necked Grebe and a Great Skua logged during the morning. Three Snipe and 2 Woodcock, along with a light scatter of plovers and thrushes, lingered on at the Bill and 5 Goosander and a Black-necked Grebe were in Portland Harbour.



      Christmas Day Woodcock - Southwell, 25th December 2010 © Pete Saunders 

  26th December

With the wind already having swung into the south-west by dawn the temperature quickly shot up and soon cleared what had been another sharp overnight frost. There was a good count of at least 7 Woodcock at the Bill, where numbers were otherwise largely unchanged from a couple of days ago, with a new Blackcap at the Obs being the only other obvious new arrival; 8 Red-throated Divers also passed through on the sea there. Further minor highlights among a wide scatter of relatively small numbers of plovers and thrushes everywhere else included 2 Woodcock over Victoria Square and 2 Pochard and singles of Shelduck, Knot and Redshank at Ferrybridge.



  roughly half of the Skylark flock currently residing in the Crown Estate Field - Portland Bill, 25th December 2010 © Martin Cade

...and a few more photos from recent days. Blackcap at Southwell and Sanderling at Ferrybridge  (© Pete Saunders):



and Redwing and Song Thrush at Easton ( © Ken Dolbear):



  25th December

Very little coverage today although a Glaucous Gull that spent the afternoon in the Chesil Beach/Portland Harbour area was a good find. A brief visit to the Bill produced singles of Woodcock and Curlew along with 250 Skylarks and small numbers of plovers and thrushes, whilst another Woodcock, along with 2 Blackcaps and 2 Bramblings, visited a garden at Southwell.





  Great Bustard - Portland Bill, 24th December 2010 © Martin Cade wing-tag No.15

  24th December

Another sharp frost this morning and noticeably fewer birds around the Bill area. The pick of the sightings concerned a wing-tagged Great Bustard - our second record of a bird from the Salisbury Plain reintroduction project - that was found settled at the Bill during the afternoon; it remained around for an hour or so before heading off high to the south-west. Among the more routine fare there Skylark, Chaffinch and Linnet were all still well in excess of 200 but Lapwing and Golden Plover both dropped below the 50 mark; lower totals of other cold weather refugees included 10 Snipe, 2 Knot, 2 Curlew, 2 Woodcock and 2 Mistle Thrushes.






  Mistle Thrush and Snipe from yesterday, part of the Pochard flock over the Bill this morning and Woodcock at dusk today - Southwell and Portland Bill, 22nd and 23rd December 2010 © Pete Saunders (Mistle Thrush and Snipe) and Martin Cade (Pochard and Woodcock)

...and a very brief encounter with a daytime Woodcock today (photos © Martin Cade). He thought he'd make a run for it rather than fly:


...they really can shift when they want to:


...but after a few yards he reached an impenetrable hedge: an escape flight was the only option:


  23rd December

Another cold day saw plenty of displaced birds still lingering around the island but also a little more on the move than recently. Thrushes in particular were more conspicuous, with at least 100 Redwings and 50 Fieldfares passing through and/or dropping in at the Bill through the morning; 70 Pochard and at least 1 Tufted Duck also left to the south over the Bill, Lapwings were a constant feature leaving or arriving in small numbers and Song Thrushes increased to more than 100 there. Further totals of grounded birds at the Bill included 500 Skylarks, 200 Chaffinches, 200 Linnets, 100 each of Lapwing and Golden Plover, 20 Snipe, 10 Purple Sandpipers, 2 or more Woodcock and singles of Grey Plover, Black Redstart and Brambling, whilst elsewhere there were 2 Snipe and a Brent Goose at Reap Lane, 3 Mistle Thrushes at Southwell and a Jack Snipe at Ferrybridge.

22nd December

After a very sharp overnight frost the day begun clear and sunny before a freshening breeze brought with it a veil of heavy, low cloud. There was a little bit of movement of plovers and thrushes arriving in off the sea at the Bill, but for the most part the day's tally there was much as yesterday: 500 Skylarks, 100 each of Lapwing and Golden Plover, 75 Song Thrushes, 25 Snipe, 7 Purple Sandpipers, at least 3 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Stonechats, 2 Redwings, 2 Chiffchaffs, at least 1 Woodcock, a Ruff, a Knot, a Jack Snipe and a Fieldfare on the ground and 2 Red-throated Divers through on the sea. Elsewhere there were 2 Knot and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits at Ferrybridge.





  Bar-tailed Godwits, Fieldfare and Redwing - Ferrybridge and Southwell, 21st December 2010 © Pete Saunders

  21st December

In much quieter and at times quite misty conditions there was still a decent scatter of displaced birds around the Bill (although numbers certainly seemed to be dropping away as the day went on) with an early morning round of the area producing 400 Skylarks, 140 Lapwings, 100 Golden Plovers, 40 Song Thrushes,  20 Black-headed Gulls, 20 Common Gulls, 15 Redwings, 10 Snipe, 5 Mediterranean Gulls, 3 Brent Geese, 3 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Water Rails, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Fieldfares and singles of Ringed Plover, Ruff and Mistle Thrush on the land and 2 Red-throated Divers through on the sea. The only reports from elsewhere were of 4 Slavonian Grebes, 3 Black-necked Grebes and 3 Goosander in Portland Harbour and a selection of thrushes visiting a garden at Southwell that included 26 Blackbirds, 11 Fieldfares and 3 Redwings.




  Ruff and Song Thrush - Portland Bill, 20th December 2010 © Martin Cade

  20th December

There was a slightly surreal start to the day as we watched the TV weatherman issuing an extreme weather warning for deluges of snow across Dorset whilst at the same moment listening to rain hammering on the window behind us; anyway, the upshot of it was that it never did snow and once the rain had cleared through by midday the temperature shot up to a positively balmy 8ÂșC at the Obs. Cold weather refugees made up the bulk of the day's sightings at the Bill where there were 500 Skylarks, 70 Lapwings, 50 Song Thrushes, 25 Golden Plover, 25 Snipe, 20 Redwings, 5 Fieldfares, a Ruff, a Woodcock and a Lapland Bunting. At Ferrybridge birds on the move overhead included 119 Lapwings, 48 Skylarks, 19 Golden Plover and a Grey Plover, whilst 10 Teal, 5 Greenshank, 2 Goosanders and singles of Gadwall and Kittiwake were settled there. Elsewhere a selection of thrushes visiting a garden at Southwell included 10 Fieldfares and 3 Redwings.






 Skylarks arriving in off the sea, Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Wigeon - Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, 19th December 2010 © Martin Cade (Skylarks) and Pete Saunders (wildfowl)

  19th December

On a pretty grim morning of dreary skies, a biting north-easterly and almost continuous snow showers there was increasing evidence of displaced birds on the move or dropping in and in fairer conditions during the afternoon there was a fair scatter of grounded newcomers, particularly at the Bill where combined grounded/moving totals included 400 Skylarks, 300 Lapwings, 75 Golden Plovers, 50 Song Thrushes, 10 Snipe, 10 Redwings, 3 Wigeon, 2 Curlew, 2 Mistle Thrushes, a Grey Heron and an unquantified but steady eastward passage of Black-headed, Common and Lesser Black-backed Gulls quite a few of which lingered for periods in the fields; further winterers making the list from there included 7 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Black Redstart, a Water Rail and a Grey Plover. Ferrybridge produced a good selection of moving and/or settled wildfowl and waders that included 1250 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 32 Curlew, 23 Wigeon, 17 Pale-bellied Brents, 12 Golden Plovers, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Goldeneye, 3 Goosanders, 2 Black Brants, 2 Grey Plovers, a Gadwall and a Tufted Duck.



     Red-breasted Merganser - Ferrybridge, 18th December 2010 © Pete Saunders

  18th December

Another dollop of overnight snow but coverage of the Bill area revealed scarcely any evidence of cold weather movement, with the day's list consisting of just 8 Snipe, 6 Purple Sandpipers, 4 Redwings, a Water Rail, a Lapwing, a Golden Plover, a Grey Plover, a Ringed Plover, a Knot and a Dartford Warbler on the land and 2 Red-throated Divers through on the sea.

17th December

A day of extreme weather contrasts with pleasant sunshine in the morning and afternoon (at times it was getting up to 20°C in the otherwise unheated Obs lounge) punctuated by an hour-long blizzard at midday. Despite quantities of snow reported from not too far inland there was no sign of any cold weather movement, with the day's list from the Bill much as in the last week or so: 2 Water Rails, 2 Knot, 2 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Black Redstarts and singles of Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Snipe, Redwing and Chiffchaff on the land and 3 Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver through on the sea.

16th December

The arrival of a blasting north-westerly and later onset of heavy rain restricted field activities to a bare minimum and the only reports were of 3 Turnstones, 2 Purple Sandpipers, a Grey Plover and a Dunlin at the Bill and 7 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Red-throated Diver through on the sea there.




 Lapland Buntings - Portland Bill, 15th December 2010 © Martin Cade

...pretty hopeless long range shots but you can just about make out they're different individuals. Unfortunately this winter's settled Laps are in amongst some very skittish Skylarks and are rarely as approachable as they can be if they're on their own.

Also a record shot of one of the two Knot caught and ringed during yesterday's late night excursion to the East Cliffs; these were only the second and third Knot ringed at the Bill:


...presumably these are islandica Knot (the form that breeds in Greenland and the Canadian Arctic, and winters in western Europe). It's a shame that this and canutus (the other form in this part of the world that breeds in northern Russia, stages in Holland, and winters in west and southern Africa but, oddly, is seemingly only a rare visitor to the UK) are difficult to separate as you'd think it likely that some of the Knot we see in spring - for example, passing through off Chesil and the Bill or dropping in at Ferrybridge - would be canutus.

  15th December

Another reasonable little list from the Bill today that included a surprising number of new arrivals: 18 Redwings, 6 Purple Sandpipers, 5 Knot, 5 Fieldfares, 4 Snipe, 4 Turnstone, 3 Water Rails, 3 Lapland Buntings, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Chiffchaffs and singles of Merlin, Grey Plover, Curlew and Dunlin on the land, an Eider still settled offshore and a Red-throated Diver through on the sea. Elsewhere there were 3 Shelduck and singles of Goldeneye and Goosander at Ferrybridge. Also click here to listen to a recording of a Common Buzzard 'mewing' at the Bill today; this is an increasingly frequently heard sound now that the species is established as a breeding resident on the island.

14th December

Relatively poor coverage on a cold, dull day. A routine list from the Bill area included 5 Snipe, 4 Knot, 3 Golden Plover and singles of Water Rail, Black Redstart, Fieldfare and Redwing on the land and 6 Red-throated Divers, 2 Brent Geese and 2 Common Scoter through on the sea, whilst elsewhere there was a Blackcap at Southwell, 5 Fieldfares and a Snipe at Ferrybridge and 25 Great Crested Grebes, 10 Black-necked Grebes, 3 Mallard and a Slavonian Grebe in Portland Harbour.



 Dartford Warbler - Portland Bill, 13th December 2010 © Martin Cade

  13th December

Still nothing really changing. The majority of reports came from the Bill area where there were 7 Golden Plover, 5 Knot, 5 Reed Buntings, 3 Snipe, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Chiffchaffs and singles of Water Rail, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Woodlark (click here to listen to a recording of it flying over the Obs this morning), Dartford Warbler and Lapland Bunting on the land and 3 Red-throated Divers passed through on the sea; elsewhere there were 6 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Slavonian Grebes and an Eider in Portland Harbour.




    Lapland Bunting - Portland Bill, 12th December 2010 © Martin Cade

  12th December

More of the same again today: 31 Golden Plover, 4 Knot, 3 Purple Sandpipers, 4 Snipe and singles of Water Rail, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Black Redstart, Chiffchaff and Lapland Bunting were at the Bill, 5 Eider and a Red-throated Diver lingered offshore there and another Lapland Bunting was at Ferrybridge.

The first attempt at moth-trapping at the Obs for some while yielded just a late single Large Yellow Underwing.

11th December

In fairly quiet conditions there wasn't a lot of change at the Bill, where 35 Golden Plover, 6 Knot, 4 Snipe, 2 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Dartford Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs and singles of Water Rail, Ringed Plover, Fieldfare, Redwing, Blackcap and Brambling were logged on the land, an Eider was still settled offshore and 4 Eider, 3 Common Scoter and 2 Red-throated Divers passed through on the sea. After dark there was a steady overhead passage of Redwings - presumably relocating birds? - at Southwell and the Bill, with singles of Snipe and Fieldfare also heard calling over the Obs.

10th December

Overcast and much milder today. In most cases it was a day of less of the same than recently, although an increase in Portland Harbour Black-necked Grebes to 12 (2 Red-necked and 2 Slavonian Grebes were also there) and 3 passing Velvet Scoter off the Bill were noteworthy. At the Bill there were 8 Golden Plover, 8 Redwings, 6 Lapwings, 5 Knot, 4 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Snipe, 2 Blackcaps, a Ringed Plover, a Curlew, a Dunlin, a Black Redstart and a Lapland Bunting on the land, 2 Eider were settled offshore, at least 200 Mediterranean Gulls were amongst the feeding gulls offshore and a Red-throated Diver passed by on the sea. Elsewhere 120 Dunlin, 110 Mediterranean Gulls, 3 Shelduck and a Redshank were at Ferrybridge.




    Woodlark - Portland Bill, 9th December 2010 © Martin Cade

  9th December

On a day when it was beginning to feel noticeably less cold all the reports came from the Bill, where a lone Woodlark - no doubt the bird first seen a couple of days ago - and a Lapland Bunting were the highlights. Along with good numbers of wintering finches and Reed Buntings the land also produced 20 Golden Plover, 10 Lapwings, 5 Knot, 5 Snipe, 4 Chiffchaffs, 3 Fieldfares, 3 Redwings, 3 Blackcaps, 3 Bramblings, a Water Rail, a Ringed Plover and a Black Redstart, whilst 4 Red-throated Divers passed through on the sea.





    Black Brant, Goosander and Mute Swan - Ferrybridge, 8th December 2010 © Pete Saunders the Bill waders - including this Grey Plover - continued to feature:


...Common Buzzards today included one that looked as though it had just arrived in off the sea from the south and this paler than average individual that certainly isn't one of the regular Bill residents:


...and a sad sight was this Shag with a fishing hook impaled in its mouth:



 additional photos © Martin Cade

  8th December

Not quite such a sharp overnight frost but the strength of the wind ensured it still felt pretty raw during the daylight hours. On the birding front there were one or two new arrivals but overall there was little change from recent days with wildfowl and waders again making up the bulk of the day's tally. The Bill area produced a good scatter of plovers and Song Thrushes, along with 5 Knot, 3 Snipe, 3 Dunlin, 2 Water Rails, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Fieldfares, 2 Blackcaps, a Grey Heron, a Grey Plover, a Black Redstart, a Chiffchaff, a Brambling and a Siskin on the land and 2 Wigeon, a Red-throated Diver and a Mute Swan through on the sea. Elsewhere Ferrybridge came up with 240 Dunlin, 210 Mediterranean Gulls, 6 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 3 Goosander, 3 Golden Plover and singles of Mute Swan, Gadwall, Pintail, Knot and a Snipe, whilst 6 Black-necked Grebe, 3 Slavonian Grebes, 2 Eider, a Red-necked Grebe and a Coot were in Portland Harbour.





    Woodlark - Portland Bill, 7th December 2010 © Martin Cade

...and click here to listen to a recording of it calling in flight.

...and a few other odds and ends from the Bill - Goosanders, Eider, Knot and Blackcap (photos © Martin Cade):





  7th December

In perhaps the grimmest conditions of the winter so far - a penetrating frost, mainly overcast skies and a brisk breeze which meant it always felt bitterly cold (and ensured that, very unusually for the Bill, the sea was 'steaming' throughout the morning) - there was still plenty of interest on the bird front. The best of the new arrivals were a Woodlark that dropped in for a while beside the Obs and was later found nearby with 2 further individuals in tow, a Lapland Bunting that flew over at the Bill and 4 Goosanders that passed by on the sea there. The day's list was otherwise again dominated by wildfowl and waders, with at least 72 Golden Plover, at least 30 Lapwings, 5 Fieldfares, 4 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Knot, 3 Snipe, 3 Blackcaps (all new arrivals), 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Mallards, a Ringed Plover and a Dunlin settled/overhead at the Bill, an Eider still offshore at the Bill, 42 Golden Plover, 8 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 6 Teal, 5 Shelduck, 5 Goosanders, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Mallard, 3 Gadwall, 3 Wigeon, 2 Pintail, a Black Brant, a Snipe, a Knot and a Redshank settled/overhead at Ferrybridge and 4 Black-necked Grebes and 2 Eider in Portland Harbour.

6th December

A pleasant sunny day once the early gloom and frost cleared away. No doubt as a legacy of the recent cold spell wildfowl and waders figured strongly, with an unseasonably high total of 10 species of wader at the Bill (including 50 Golden Plover, 25 Lapwings, 10 Snipe, 5 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Knot, a Dunlin, a Redshank and a Jack Snipe), an Eider settled off the Bill and 9 Wigeon, 8 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Shelduck, a Black Brant and a Goosander at Ferrybridge. Two new Chiffchaffs were another minor surprise at the Bill, where there were also singles of Water Rail, Fieldfare, Black Redstart, Blackcap and Brambling.





    Eider, Golden Plover and Pintail/Wigeon/Brent Goose - Portland Harbour, Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, 5th December 2010 © Paul Baker (Eider), Ken Dolbear (Golden Plover) and Pete Saunders (mixed wildfowl)

  5th December

In pleasantly still and mainly sunny conditions there was a fair bit of variety logged at the Bill, where 34 Golden Plover, 9 Grey Plover, 8 Lapwing, 4 Snipe, 3 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Water Rails, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Grey Heron, a Woodcock, a Knot, a Short-eared Owl, a Redwing, a Dartford Warbler and a Brambling put in appearances on the land, 7 Eider, 5 Red-throated Divers, 4 Common Scoter and a Red-breasted Merganser passed through on the sea and another lone Eider was settled offshore. Elsewhere there were 49 Wigeon, 16 Goosander, 8 Grey Plover, 4 Pintail, 2 Redshank, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Knot, a Black Brant, a Mallard and a Pochard overhead/at Ferrybridge and an Eider at Portland Harbour.



    Colour-ringed Pale-bellied Brent Goose - Ferrybridge, 4th December 2010 © Paul Baker

...this bird was first ringed at Strangford Lough, Co Down, in October 2009 and spent last winter in Co Kerry, Eire; thanks to Graham McElwaine, the co-ordinator of this marking project, for these details.

And some more of the Ferrybridge wildfowl (photos © Pete Saunders). Four of the Wigeon:


...and the Velvet Scoter tagging on with a group of Pochard:


  4th December

Back to milder, dreary, westerly conditions today. The Ferrybridge area returned  a long and varied list of wildfowl and waders that included 2090 Brent Geese, 170 Dunlin, 16 Wigeon, 14 Pale-bellied Brents, 9 Pochard, 5 Goosanders, 4 Shelduck, 3 Black Brants, a Velvet Scoter and a Knot. At the Bill a few cold weather wanderers lingering on included 2 Knot, 2 Lapland Buntings and a single Woodcock, whilst among the long-stayers 2 Dartford Warblers and 2 Blackcaps were still about; seawatching there produced 6 Red-throated Divers, a Black-throated Diver and a Great Northern Diver.







    Lapland Buntings and Scaup (with Tufted Ducks) - Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, 3rd December 2010 © Martin Cade (Lap Buntings) and Pete Saunders (Scaup) was quite troublesome getting any useful recordings of the Lapland Buntings as they were often drowned out by the din of accompanying Skylarks (or at least the microphone made it sound that way): click here to listen to an example of the flock whirring round over the field when the Laps can occasionally be heard; now and again they were a little more isolated: click here to listen to a stitched together sequence of some mainly Lap calls at varying distances. And finally click here to listen to one of the Woodlarks calling in flight.

  3rd December

Although yesterday's snow remained overnight its demise was inevitable once the day dawned clear, sunny and, at least during the afternoon, noticeably milder; in fact by mid-evening the onset of a stiff westerly and heavy rain saw to it that every last vestige of snow vanished in quick time. Many of yesterday's cold weather refugees had moved on overnight although at the Bill the 3 Woodlarks remained for a few hours before headed off south, 2 Lapland Buntings joined the flock of 50 settled Skylarks and a Jack Snipe was seen again; amongst the commoner fare there Lapwing, Golden Plover and Snipe all numbered fewer than 20, a few more thrushes than yesterday were scattered about and the mix of other newcomers or old stagers included 2 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Bramblings and singles of Water Rail, Redshank, Black Redstart and Dartford Warbler; 2 Brent Geese and a Red-throated Diver also passed by on the sea there. Elsewhere there was a light scatter of plovers, Skylarks and thrushes everywhere, along with 6 Knot, 5 Tufted Ducks, a Black Brant, a Scaup and a Redshank overhead or settled at Ferrybridge, 12 Pochard, 4 Great Northern Divers, 2 Slavonian Grebes, 2 Goldeneye, a Red-necked Grebe and a Shelduck in Portland Harbour, 2 Black Redstarts at Southwell and 2 Barnacle Geese east over the Beach Road.





    Woodlark and Jack Snipe - Portland Bill, 2nd December 2010 © Martin Cade

...they were the oddities, but overall it just a good day to be wandering around in the field looking at more routine fare. The snowy scenery was a novelty for Portland:



...early morning snow flurries grounded quite a few Lapwings:

...and thereafter small parties of Lapwings, Golden Plovers and Snipe were a constant feature:

...this Grey Heron was lurking in the marsh at Culverwell:

...where the wintering Water Rails were showier than usual.

additional photos © Martin Cade

  2nd December

Portland finally got into the snow action, with 2-3 inches accumulating during the early hours, and although the day produced little in the way of sustained hard weather movement there was still some highly entertaining birding to be had. The only obvious passage involved maybe 500 Lapwings and 150 Skylarks that left to the south over the Bill (in contrast to last winter's cold spell thrushes were almost entirely absent) but there was a steady arrival of birds that dropped in briefly or lingered for periods throughout the day. At the Bill these included 200 Lapwings, 100 Skylarks, 75 Golden Plovers, 50 Snipe, 5 Curlews, 3-4 Woodcock, 3 Woodlarks, 1-2 Jack Snipe, a Grey Heron, a Grey Plover, a Dunlin and a Lapland Bunting, whilst elsewhere noteworthy reports amongst a broadly similar selection included 4 Woodlarks over Portland Harbour and 45 Teal settled in the Harbour; among the winterers still about there were 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Water Rails, 2 Blackcaps, a Black Redstart and a Dartford Warbler at the Bill.




    Lapwings - Portland Bill, 1st December 2010 © Martin Cade

...and a few photos from Ferrybridge - 3 Little Grebes today (© Paul Baker):


and 2 Knot and a Great Northern Diver yesterday (© Pete Saunders):



  1st December

With no change in the weather there was precious little change in the birding. All the day's reports came from the Bill where there were 70 Lapwings, 20 Black-headed Gulls, 10 Golden Plover, 3 Snipe, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Redwing and a Fieldfare on/overhead on the land and 9 Pochard, 5 Mallards and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers through on the sea.