19th May

Although the day dawned as pleasantly as the last few it was soon apparent from the cloud streaming in from the south-west that the forecast arrival of thundery showers would come a good deal sooner than expected. The day's highlight proved to be crane/stork that flew rapidly north along the West Cliffs at Blacknor; sadly, it was only spotted as it was disappearing into the distance and on the less than satisfactory views couldn't be clinched, although the observer strongly suspected it to be a Black Stork. Even the onset of the cloud didn't improve the rather grim migrant situation, with 2 each of Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher, and singles of Whimbrel, Turtle Dove, Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear just about all that could be mustered from the Bill; 13 Sanderling were the best of the waders at Ferrybridge. With the easterly breeze having freshened a little the sea remained worth some time, with 28 Common Scoter, 24 commic terns and a Pomarine Skua through off the Bill, and 160 commic terns and 6 Sanderling east over Chesil.

Sanderlings & Dunlin and commic terns - Ferrybridge and Chesil Beach, 19th May 2014 © Pete Saunders (Sanderlings & Dunlin) and Martin Cade (commic terns)

...the ever-compelling sight of tern passage over Chesil (and for that matter off the Bill) invariably throws up as many questions and opinions as it does answers and truths. Our two images above show part of one flock that shaved the top of the beach on their first attempt at the crossing and headed off rapidly eastwards over Ferrybridge, and part of a second flock that made several attempts hundreds of feet above us but always bottled out at the last minute. Close examination of the series of photos of these flocks show that, as is often suspected with these 'late' birds, the vast majority are Arctic Terns; more worrying however, at least from the recording point of view, is that there are several clear-cut Common Terns (as well as a few birds we're not sure of) amongst them. Bearing in mind that the vast majority of flocks can't be subjected to the photographic scrutiny that these were, it really does seem safest just to log the lot as commic terns.