May 2013

31st May

We can't think there'll have been many previous 31st Mays when there were quite as many - or such a variety - of late common migrants as made the log today; the only disappointing aspect of the day's proceedings was the total lack of a quality rarity to provide the icing on the cake. The recent influx of Jays continued at the Bill, where there were 3 new arrivals and 1 of yesterday's lingering on, but the numbers there came in the form of 30 Spotted Flycatchers, 10 Willow Warbler and 8 Reed Warblers on the ground and another steady arrival of Swifts and House Martins in off the sea; variety there was provided by counts of between 1 and 5 of Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Sand Martin, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Wheatear, Whinchat, Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff, with a good scatter of a similar range of routine fare elsewhere. A late passing Red-throated Diver was the best of the few sightings from the sea.




  Jay - Southwell, 30th May 2013 © Pete Saunders

  30th May

In keeping with what's proved to be a very late spring for many migrants today's threatening skies dropped another small arrival of tardy summer visitors. As in similar recent flurries Spotted Flycatchers and Willow Warblers made up the bulk of the numbers, with 30 and 15 respectively at the Bill and quite a good spread more elsewhere around the centre of the island; variety was provided by another 2 single Jays at the Bill/Southwell, 2 Wheatear, 2 Whinchats, 2 Blackcaps and a Garden Warbler grounded at points around the centre and south, 13 Sanderlings amongst the waders at Ferrybridge and a steady passage overhead of incoming Swifts and hirundines. The light northerly breeze restricted interest on the sea to the customary Manx Shearwaters milling around off the Bill.




  Peregrine and Raven - Penn's Weare and Portland Bill, 29th May 2013 © Keith Pritchard Birding Portland UK (Peregrine) and Nick Hopper A Hard Day at the Office (Raven)

  29th May

Today's big news was only really of local interest but concerned the confirmation of a new breeding record for Portland: following occasional sightings of Moorhens over the last few weeks at an isolated small pond at north Portland, today a nest and eggs were discovered at the site. In a similar vein, it's worth mentioning that Water Rails continue to be heard calling from time to time at two sites at the Bill and, since there's no precedent for presence as late as this, it has been suggested that they too might be breeding. With the exception of another 2 Jays that showed up at the Bill, the rest of the day's sightings were altogether more mundane: the smallest of arrivals of grounded migrants included 4 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Willow Warblers, a Reed Warbler and a Bullfinch at the Bill, and 10 Sanderling, 2 Mediterranean Gulls and 2 Wheatears, whilst a steady overhead passage of Swifts and hirundines included a sample 90 minute count of 226 House Martins, 73 Swallows and 10 Swifts heading north along West Cliffs at the Bill. 




  Manx Shearwater and Spotted Flycatcher - Portland Bill and Southwell, 28th May 2013 © Pete Saunders

  28th May

A bit of a dead-loss of a day with the early promise of  overcast skies after a damp night coming to nothing as rain set in by mid-morning and lasted for the rest of the day. There were a few encouraging signs at the Bill, where 10 Spotted Flycatchers and singles of Whinchat, Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler and Willow Warbler were all new arrivals on the ground and a good passage of Swifts and House Martins developed overhead but enthusiasm for fieldwork quickly waned once the rain set in. Seawatching at the Bill came up with 62 Common Scoter, 2 Red-throated Divers and a Pomarine Skua passing through and fair numbers of Manx Shearwaters milling around offshore.




  Little Owl and Green-veined White - Portland Bill, 27th May 2013 © Tony Hovell The Travelling Naturalist

  27th May

Despite it gradually clouding over as the afternoon went on the promised rain held off until after dark. The sea came up with most of the day's interest, notably another remarkable total for so late in the spring of 233 Common Scoter passing through off the Bill; 150 commic terns, 105 Manx Shearwaters, 2 each of Whimbrel, Great Skua, Arctic Skua and Sandwich Tern, and singles of Black-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver also passed through there, whilst another Arctic Skua passed over at Ferrybridge. The land was very much the poor relation: 26 Sanderling were at Ferrybridge, but the centre and south of the island couldn't muster more than 10 Wheatears, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and a lone Blackcap. 26th May

The almost freakish pleasant conditions for a bank holiday weekend continued for a second day and, with a bit of perseverence, there was a fair list of late migrants to be accrued around the south of island today. The species list was much as in recent days, with 25 Spotted Flycatchers and 12 Willow Warblers making up the bulk of the numbers, whilst the likes of Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat, Wheatear, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff all chipped in ones and twos on the tally; a Honey Buzzard reported over Southwell at midday was the only unexpected oddity to show up. Also as on several recent days there was still late Common Scoter passage taking place, with 150 passing the Bill during the morning; singles of Red-throated Diver and Black-throated Diver also passed by there. 25th May

Despite a huge improvement in the weather there was precious little change in the birding, with a fair bit of coverage of the centre and south of the island only coming up with 9 Wheatears, 2 each of Yellow Wagtail, Willow Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher and a single Redpoll. Manx Shearwaters were still milling around in some quantity off the Bill, where 26 Common Scoter, 2 Great Northern Divers, a Red-throated Diver and a Whimbrel also passed through.



  Wheatear - Ferrybridge, 24th May 2013 © Pete Saunders

  24th May

A truly grim day that we can only hope won't be repeated over the upcoming bank holiday weekend. A blasting north-westerly was a feature throughout and made it feel unpleasantly cold for late May. Not surprisingly migrants were at a premium, with nothing more than 6 Wheatears, a Reed Warbler and a Willow Warbler logged at the Bill, where a few Manx Shearwaters and commic terns were milling around offshore for most of the day. Elsewhere there a Spotted Flycatcher at Southwell and 5 Sanderling and a Wheatear at Ferrybridge.



 Sadly, there was no crock of avian gold at the end of today's rainbow - Portland Bill, 23rd May 2013 © Joe Stockwell

  23rd May

A very distinct down turn in the weather saw it feel a lot cooler as the north-westerly freshened up and started to blow through some hefty showers by the afternoon. A Long-eared Owl discovered at roost in Culverwell was an unexpected highlight, but in general the quality of the birding took quite a dip with only a handful of other migrants showing up: a Cuckoo was the best of the bunch at the Bill, where 7 Wheatears, 5 Spotted Flycatchers and singles of Whinchat, Redstart and Reed Warbler were the only other new arrivals worth a mention. The recent procession of passing Great Northern Divers continued with 6 more through off the Bill, where 3 Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Arctic Skuas and small numbers of Manx Shearwaters and commic terns also passed by on the sea.



A reminder that the next In Focus field event at the Obs takes place between 10am and 4pm this Saturday, 25th May. 






 Red-backed Shrike and putative Siberian Chiffchaff - Portland Bill, 22nd May 2013 © Martin Cade

  22nd May

A big improvement today which was all the more surprising for coming without there being any particularly profound change in the prevailing weather conditions. A Red-backed Shrike that turned up quite out of the blue in a mist-net at the Obs was the principal reward, whilst a likely Siberian Chiffchaff discovered in similar circumstances was equally unexpected; the morning also produced what for late May was a very respectable arrival of at least temporarily grounded commoner migrants. Spotted Flycatchers were again prominent, with probably a good 50 scattered widely around the southern half of the island, whilst at the Bill further migrant totals included 50 Willow Warblers, 25 Chiffchaffs, 10 Whinchats, 5 Yellow Wagtails and 5 Sedge Warblers, along with ones and twos of a good range of other routine fare. Two Gadwall were a minor highlight on the sea at the Bill, where 100 Manx Shearwaters, 38 Common Scoter, 2 Mallards and singles of Great Northern Diver, Great Skua and Arctic Skua also passed through.




Jay and Wood Warbler - Portland Bill and Southwell, 21st May 2013 © Martin Cade (Jay) and Pete Saunders (Wood Warbler)

  21st May

Quiet, overcast conditions today which, although they hadn't led to much of a dawn fall of migrants, looked to be dropping a steady little selection of late arrivals as the day went on. Jays continued to feature, with 3 at Avalanche Road and 2 at the Bill early in the morning, whilst a Wood Warbler was new in at Southwell, 2 more Redpolls showed up at the Bill and 3 Roseate Terns joined a melee of feeding terns in Portland Harbour. Amongst the commoner migrants Spotted Flycatchers again got up to around 15 at the Bill, with several more elsewhere, whilst Wheatear, Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler and Willow Warbler all got on to the list in low single figure totals. Late migrants passing on the sea included 2 Great Skuas, a Great Northern Diver and a Pomarine Skua off the Bill.



  Turtle Dove - Southwell, 20th May 2013 © Pete Saunders

  20th May

Ultimately the warmest day of the year to date, although before the muggier air arrived the morning had been cool and occasionally drizzly. Migrant-wise the day was very disappointing, with nothing more than odd ones and twos of a few entirely expected tardy arrivals; a single Turtle Dove at Southwell and the wandering Corn Bunting now at Barleycrates Lane were the only sightings of minor interest. The sea was hardly more productive, with another 6 Great Northern Divers through off the Bill easily the best of a bad job.




   Whinchat and Whitethroat - Reap Lane and Southwell, 19th May 2013 © Pete Saunders

  19th May

A day spoilt by almost constant drizzly rain - never enough to completely put a stop to fieldwork but seemingly more than enough to have put the block on most cross-Channel migration as it was considerably quieter than had been the case over the last couple of days. There were still birds about, with 4 Jays - presumably yesterday's little flock - still about at the Bill, further singles of Hobby and Redpoll there and the likes of Spotted Flycatcher still quite conspicuous (including 10 at the Bill and another 6 at sites around Southwell) amongst an otherwise light smattering of expected late migrants. The seawatchers could only come up with singles of Great Northern Diver and Arctic Skua through off the Bill. 18th May

A veil of cloud overhead at dawn dropped a decent little flurry of late migrants but, with the exception of another 4 Jays heading south over Southwell during the morning, surprises were few and far between. At the Bill Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher all got well into double figures, whilst 5 Yellow Wagtails, 4 Sedge Warblers, 3 Whinchats, 2 Hobbys, 2 Redstarts, 2 Reed Warblers, a Cuckoo, a Tree Pipit and a Redpoll provided interest amongst the commoner migrants; elsewhere, 3 Common Sandpipers at Blacknor, a Corn Bunting at Reap Lane and a Pied Flycatcher at Southwell were of particular note. Sea passage was a bit of a non-event, with little more than 2 Red-throated Divers, a Great Northern Diver and an Arctic Skua through off the Bill.





Hobby, Honey Buzzard and Montagu's Harrier - Portland Bill and Barelycrates Lane, 17th May 2013 © Martin Cade (Hobby and Montagu's Harrier) and Pete Saunders (Honey Buzzard)

...the Montagu's Harrier - which looked to be a first-summer male - was the first of the two that arrived in off the sea at the Bill; sadly, the second individual - an adult male - was too distant/brief for a record photo. Also overhead today there was another fly-past by the Jays:


  17th May

With the breeze having shifted into the east the expectation of a bit more quality was fulfilled in decent style: 2 Montagu's Harriers arrived - half-an-hour apart - in off the sea at the Bill, a Nightjar also arrived from the south there, whilst elsewhere a Honey Buzzard passed over at Barleycrates Lane. It was a good deal busier overhead than it was on the ground, with a sample half-hour count of passage along the West Cliffs at the Bill coming up with 345 House Martins, 102 Swallows and 58 Swifts, as well as lesser numbers of a variety of other diurnal migrants; what were presumably yesterday's 2 Jays also put in another appearance and 3 Hobbys passed through at various sites. On the ground the scatter of mainly expected fare did include oddities such as a Corn Bunting and late singles of Black Redstart and Firecrest at the Bill. The sea was not as busy as in recent days, but still came up with singles of Great Northern Diver, Garganey and Great Skua through off the Bill, where more than 200 commic terns were lingering offshore.



Jay - Southwell, 16th May 2013 © Debby Saunders 

  16th May

In complete contrast to yesterday today was calm, sunny and very pleasant - the perfect day to enjoy being out in the field even if the rewards were, with one exception, largely what would be expected in the circumstances. Two flightly Jays that headed south from Southwell before returning northwards provided the highlight on the land, where hirundines were moving through in impressive quantity - sample counts indicated totals of up to 500 Swallows and 150 House Martins per hour during the morning at the Bill - but grounded migrants weren't at all plentiful: only Wheatear, Willow Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher made double figure totals at the Bill, where the also-rans included singles of Little Egret, White Wagtail, Redpoll and Corn Bunting; a Wood Warbler at Portland Castle was the best of the bunch elsewhere. The sea continued to be worth attention, with 350 commic terns and 220 Common Scoter providing the numbers at the Bill, where 2 Pomarine Skuas, 2 Roseate Terns and singles of Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Great Skua and Little Tern also passed by.



Storm Petrel - Portland Bill, 15th May 2013 © Martin Cade 

  15th May

The unseasonably stormy conditions that blew in yesterday evening lasted throughout the hours of darkness although the wind did gradually abate after dawn. Off the Bill Storm Petrels were almost constantly on view until mid-morning although there were suspicions that perhaps as few a couple of lingering individuals accounted for most of the sightings; 28 Common Scoter, 11 Dunlin, 9 Great Northern Divers, 6 Sanderlings, 2 Great Skuas, 3 Arctic Skuas, 2 Whimbrel and a Red-throated Diver also passed by on the sea at the Bill and another 2 Great Northern Divers passed overhead at Ferrybridge. The land was certainly the poor relation: a Serin dropped in briefly at Southwell and there was a steady arrival of Swifts and House Martins in off the sea but little more than 2 Wheatears and a Willow Warbler showed up on the ground at the Bill; 99 Dunlin and 36 Sanderling were amongst the waders at Ferrybridge.




Arctic Tern and Great Northern Diver - Portland Bill, 14th May 2013 © Pete Saunders

...and a bit of video of the waders at Ferrybridge:


  14th May

The wind and rain that had been expected held off long enough to permit quite good coverage of both land and sea, both of which came up with a fair spread of typical mid-May migrants. Great Northern Divers featured well off the Bill, where the 9 logged represented the highest total so far this spring; 52 Common Scoter, 49 commic terns, 3 Great Skuas, 3 Arctic Skuas, 2 Black-throated Divers, a Storm Petrel and an Arctic Tern also passed through there, whilst in increasingly stormy conditions during the evening at least 200 Manx Shearwaters were offshore. On the land grounded arrivals at the Bill included 10 Willow Warblers, 5 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Garden Warblers and singles of Wheatear, Whinchat, Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler, whilst elsewhere there was a Wood Warbler at Easton and 90 Dunlin, 34 Sanderling and a Little Ringed Plover at Ferrybridge. Prior to the rain a steady procession of Swifts and hirundines were arriving in off the sea, whilst extras overhead included single Yellow Wagtails at Easton and the Bill and a Hobby at Easton.





Spotted Flycatcher and Orange-tip - Southwell and Bottomcombe Quarry, 13th May 2013 © Pete Saunders (Spot Fly) and Ken Dolbear (Orange-tip) 

  13th May

The continuing brisk westerlies saw to it that most of the day's interest was again on the sea, with 9 Great Skuas, 8 Pomarine Skuas, 7 Arctic Skuas and 2 Roseate Terns passing through off the Bill, where Manx Shearwaters staged easily their best evening movement of the year to date, with a good many of the 300 or more that arrived from the west stopping to feed offshore in the last couple of hours of the day. On the land late singles of Brambling at Weston and Siskin over Weston were of note, but routine fare at the Bill/Southwell consisted of little more than 5 Wheatears, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, a Whimbrel, a Reed Warbler, a Blackcap and a handful of phylloscs.







Peregrine, Serin, Pomarine Skuas and Small Blue - Southwell, Portland Bill and Bottomcombe Quarry, 12th May 2013 © Pete Saunders (Peregine and Serin), Martin Cade (Pom Skuas) and Ken Dolbear (Small Blue) 

  12th May

On the date that we often think of as marking about the latest that we get big falls of summer migrants at Portland it can only be reported that this spring either there's still a lot to come or there wasn't many coming in the first place. Today's tally from the land did include a potential real highlight in the form of a brief sighting of a Cirl Bunting reported from near the Obs, an equally brief Serin at Southwell, a Hobby over the Bill and a Turtle Dove at Avalanche Road, but the less said about the shockingly low numbers of commoner migrants the better. Fortunately the sea again came up with some salvation: watches at the Bill provided totals of 300 commic terns, 11 Arctic Skuas, 8 Pomarine Skuas, 4 Great Northern Divers, 4 Roseate Terns, 3 Great Skuas, 2 Black-throated Divers and 2 Storm Petrels, whilst another 2 Arctic Skuas passed through off Chesil; elsewhere, 6 Manx Shearwaters lingering in Portland Harbour were very out of the ordinary. 11th May

The brisk Atlantic airflow looks to be well-established and pretty well all the interest was on the sea. At the Bill the day's totals included 100 Common Scoter, 70 Manx Shearwaters, 7 Arctic Skuas, 3 Great Northern Divers, 3 Pomarine Skuas, 3 Great Skuas and 2 Roseate Terns, whilst at least 2 Arctic Skuas passed through at Chesil Cove. The only reports of any note from the land were of 3 Whimbrel, 2 Hobbys and a Yellow Wagtail at the Bill. 10th May

Less than spring-like again today in a brisk, cool westerly with rain setting in towards dusk. With new arrivals almost entirely absent from the land it was a bit of a surprise when a Serin made a typically near-subliminal visit to the Obs garden during the morning. Lingering skuas were evident at Chesil Cove from first light when 6 Pomarine Skuas and 2 Arctic Skuas were settled there, and there was some evidence that these birds later drifted out to the Bill where settled skuas were present for a good part of the afternoon; the day's seawatch totals from the Bill - including these lingering birds - were 10 Arctic Skuas, 6 Pomarine Skuas, 2 Balearic Shearwaters and singles of Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver and Great Skua. 9th May

Unseasonably wild conditions had been expected although that didn't lessen their impact in effectively halting passerine passage and even making seawatching a rather unpleasant option. With nothing of consequence to report from the land beyond a single fly-by Hobby at the Bill it was left to the stalwart seawatchers to come up with pretty well all the day's news: 21 Great Skuas, 8 Arctic Skuas, 5 Pomarine Skuas and 2 Roseate Terns passed through/lingered off Chesil Cove and 7 Great Skuas, 5 Arctic Skuas, 4 Great Northern Divers, 3 Pomarine Skuas and singles of Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Balearic Shearwater, Little Egret and Roseate Tern passed through off the Bill.





Pomarine Skuas and Arctic Skua - Portland Bill, 8th May 2013 © Martin Cade

and a couple of slow-motion video clips of these birds:


  8th May

The hours of darkness brought the first substantial rainfall for some while which in turn dropped the best little arrival of migrants for getting on for a fortnight; 74 new arrivals were trapped and ringed at the Obs, whilst totals for Bill area as a whole included 75 Willow Warblers, 50 Whitethroats, 25 each of Sedge Warbler and Garden Warbler, 20 Blackcaps, 10 Spotted Flycatchers, 6 Whinchats, 4 Redstarts, 2 Reed Warblers and singles of Hobby and Ring Ouzel. Despite a lot of watching the sea didn't come up with much by way of routine passage but quality came in the form of 2 Roseate Terns lingering off the Bill and another - or maybe even one of the same - lingering off Chesil Cove, and 150 Manx Shearwaters, 6 Pomarine Skuas, 6 Arctic Skuas, 2 Great Skuas, 2 Little Terns and a Black Tern through off the Bill.




Grey Plovers and Spotted Flycatcher - Ferrybridge and Southwell, 7th May 2013 © Pete Saunders 

  7th May

The promised cloud that we'd been expecting from quite early in the morning didn't materialise until shortly before dusk and it almost goes without saying that the land was again extremely poor for early May: the handful of grounded migrants included nothing unexpected beyond singles of Redpoll and Bullfinch at the Bill and 2 Grey Plovers at Ferrybridge, whilst overhead passage was largely restricted to less than impressinve numbers of hirundines that dribbled through all day. With such slim pickings on the land it was no surprise that the sea got plenty more attention: 2 Roseate Terns that lingered off the Bill for a while shortly after dawn were the chief reward from the morning watches that otherwise came up with little more than 158 commic terns, 13 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Great Northern Diver through off the Bill; passage picked up a little in the evening, when 120 commic terns, 2 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Pomarine Skuas, an Arctic Skua and a Roseate Tern passed the Bill and 180 commic terns, 2 Arctic Skuas and a Black Tern passed Chesil. 6th May

The combination of light winds, increasingly warm air and a still very cold sea inevitably led to the appearance of that perennial Portland spring blight of dense fog that rolled in overnight. Meaningful birding was ruled out for a good part of the morning, with seawatching out of the question until well on into the late afternoon. After the eventual clearance watches from the Bill came up with 167 Common Terns, 26 Arctic Terns, 24 Manx Shearwaters, 14 Whimbrel, 14 Bar-tailed Godwits, 4 Arctic Skuas, 3 Roseate Terns, a Great Northern Diver, a Pomarine Skua and a Black Tern, whilst Chesil came up with 300 commic terns, 10 Sanderling and singles of Brent Goose, Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwit. There was very little worth mentioning on the land: good numbers of hirundines and several more Yellow Wagtails passed overhead wherever there was any visiblity, but 3 lingering Purple Sandpipers and singles of White Wagtail, Sedge Warbler and Common Sandpiper were the best of a bad job on the ground at the Bill.




Garden Warbler and Pomarine Skua - Southwell and Portland Bill, 5th May 2013 © Debby Saunders (Garden Warbler) and Martin Cade (Pom Skua)

  5th May

Patchy cloud cover through the morning gave way to a much fairer afternoon and, although Wheatears were quite well represented on the ground, it was again the sea and overhead passage that came up with the bulk of the day's numbers. The Wheatear total at the Bill got up to around the 200 mark but there were few other surprises amongst the grounded migrants bar a Cuckoo at Penn's Weare and another Bullfinch at the Bill. Swallows, and to a lesser extent Swifts and House Martins, were again passing over in quantity, with a good 500 or more per hour arriving in off the sea at the Bill at times during the morning; another 7 Yellow Wagtails, a Hobby and a Redpoll also passed through at the Bill. The sea was well watched at the Bill, where totals included c600 commic terns, 120 Common Scoter, 25 Bar-tailed Godwits, 6 Red-throated Divers, 6 Arctic Skuas, 5 Pomarine Skuas, 2 Great Northern Divers, 2 Great Skuas, a Balearic Shearwater and a Little Tern.


Also an update for PBO members who were unable to attend the Extraordinary General Meeting held yesterday at the observatory. The meeting approved the proposal that PBO apply to the Charity Commission to register as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO); the full minutes of the meeting can be inspected here. 4th May

Against expectations, particularly bearing in mind the heavy cloud cover that had rolled in overnight, grounded migrants were almost absent today, although there was some compensation in the form of spells of quite heavy visible passage and some decent sea passage. At the Bill the total of just 3 migrants trapped and ringed all day at the Obs adequately reflected the dearth of nocturnal arrivals everywhere, which was made all the more surprising once hirundines begun piling in off the sea not too long after dawn; 5 Hobbys also passed through during the course of the morning. Fortunately there was a good deal of interest to be salvaged from the sea, with watches at the Bill coming up with 100 Manx Shearwaters, 87 commic terns, 12 Great Skuas, 9 Arctic Skuas and 2 Pomarine Skuas.



Fulmar - The Grove, 3rd May 2013 © Ken Dolbear

...and a few migrants from the Bill - Redstart, Greenland Wheatear and Whitethroat (© Martin Cade):




  3rd May

Rather unexpectedly - since there was precious little change in the weather - there was a small fall of new migrants at the Bill: 100 Willow Warblers, 40 Wheatears and 10-15 each of Redstart, Blackcap, Garden Warbler and Chiffchaff made up the bulk of the numbers, with 8 Yellow Wagtails, 4 Whimbrel, 3 Whinchats, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Siskins, a Common Sandpiper, a Grasshopper Warbler, a Tree Sparrow, a Redpoll and a fly-over Lapland Bunting among the supporting cast. The only particularly worthwhile report from elsewhere was of the Kentish Plover reappearing once during the afternoon at Ferrybridge. Sea passage remained very slow, with 4 Red-throated Divers, 4 Great Skuas and a Black-throated Diver through off the Bill and a Canada Goose overhead at Ferrybridge.

Overnight moth-trapping has been so uneventful just lately that we've got out of the habit of mentioning it: we haven't recorded more than 6 species or 15 individuals in a night so far this spring at the Obs (where we've been running 2 traps every night); the only immigrant activity has been a small influx of Dark Sword Grass and Silver Y, with 5 Dark Sword Grass this morning the highest count to date.

Also a reminder for PBO members of the General Meeting taking place this weekend:

Important announcement for Obs members

The trustees propose that the current charity - Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre UK Registered Charity No.211630 - apply to be registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). This change in status requires the approval of the membership at a General Meeting; this meeting will be held on Saturday 4th May 2013 at 5pm at the Observatory. Further details are available here.



Kentish Plover - Ferrybridge, 2nd May 2013 © Pete Saunders

  2nd May Anticyclonic conditions remained well-established and, with the notable exception of a Kentish Plover that dropped in at Ferrybridge, the birding was very uneventful. The fact that only 20 new migrants were trapped and ringed all day at the Obs spoke volumes about the general dearth of routine migrants, with 7 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Hobbys, 2 Bullfinches, 2 Redpolls, the first Turtle Dove of the spring, a Tree Pipit and a Lesser Whitethroat providing most of what little interest there was at the Bill as a whole; elsewhere another Hobby passed through at Blacknor and 2 Sanderling and an Arctic Tern were at Ferrybridge. Offshore, 30 lingering commic terns hardly kept the seawatchers entertained at the Bill.



   Whimbrels - Portland Bill, 1st May 2013 © Martin Cade

  1st May A great day for lounging around in the sun but pretty hopeless on the migrant front. The brisk headwind did the trick with dropping birds out of a clear sky yesterday morning, but couldn't come up with the goods again today, when the thinnest of spreads of new arrivals at the Bill included nothing better than 8 Whimbrel, 7 Yellow Wagtails and singles of Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat; elsewhere minor interest came in the form of a Grey Wagtail at Southwell and singles of Redstart and Black Redstart at Reap Lane. A lot of hours spent looking at the sea at the Bill came up with 63 commic terns, 5 Pomarine Skuas, 3 Arctic Skuas and 2 Great Northern Divers.