20th April

A right old miscellany of sightings in today's continuing glorious weather, notable amongst which were 2 Common Cranes that did a Ferrybridge to the Bill and back again fly-round of the island in the evening and seawatch singles of Avocet and Black Tern off Chesil  and Goosander off the Bill. The grounded migrant situation wasn't expected to improve given the cloudless conditions, but in the event there was probably enough of a headwind to encourage birds to drop, even if only briefly; Willow Warbler retained a commanding lead in the numbers stakes, with perhaps as many as 200 through at the Bill alone, whilst less frequent migrants around the centre and south of the island included 8 Redstarts, 7 Whinchats, 3 Ring Ouzels, 2 Firecrests, a Black Redstart, a Pied Flycatcher and a Bullfinch. Visible passage of hirundines in particular was very conspicuous, with 800 per hour through along West Cliffs during the late afternoon; several more Yellow Wagtails and a Merlin were among the other movers during the day at the Bill. Bar the highlights mentioned already, sea passage was for the most part very slow although there were promising signs during the evening of Bar-tailed Godwits beginning to feature, with 50 through over Chesil (in addition to the 11 there during the morning); 2 each of Arctic Skua and Little Gull were also of note at Chesil.

Two Clouded Yellows and several Red Admirals were at the Bill, where the first Green-veined Whites of the year were also on the wing.

Common Cranes - Southwell and the Grove, 20th April 2015 © Pete Saunders (close over Southwell) and Martin Cade (distant over the Grove)

...and finally a couple of images posted for a bit of fun - we defy anyone to either guess the species or to have guessed that we were actually seawatching at the time they were taken. When you're used to conventional seawatching at the Bill, the lure of events that transpire at Chesil continue to drag us down there of an evening - the light and views are invariably rubbish but the spectacle is just so unlike anything you're used to that it remains peculiarly compelling:


The top image is of a party of Bar-tailed Godwits passing Wyke Church and the second of an Arctic Skua passing the communication mast at the top of Wyke Regis. This evening we were watching from the 'Checkpoint' halfway between Chesil Cove and Ferrybridge so the little specks that are the birds in these photos were a mile and a half or more from our viewpoint. Pretty well everything we saw through the evening didn't bother with going round the Bill but came straight at us from the middle of Lyme Bay, veered off west for a mile or so and then towered up hundreds of metres before crossing Chesil and Wyke Regis at great speed before dropping down into Weymouth Bay.