7th April

Migrants continued to make the most of the anticyclonic conditions and there was another good spread of birds on all fronts. All the numbers on the ground at the Bill were again immediately after dawn, with Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff topping 100 each, and 60 Wheatears and 30 Blackcaps making up the bulk of the rest of the total; 2 Ring Ouzels, a White Wagtail, a Firecrest and a brief Serin constituted the quality there, with 2 more Ring Ouzels and a Redstart in the Suckthumb Quarry area. The conditions were much to the liking of diurnal migrants as well: the steady passage along West Cliffs was dominated by Meadow Pipits (including 350 counted in just short of two hours), with singles of Little Ringed Plover, Redpoll, Bullfinch and Reed Bunting providing interest amongst the varied list of other movers over the Bill; a Tree Pipit over West Weare and an Osprey over Fortuneswell were the best elsewhere. Sea passage was also varied rather than spectacular, with the bulk of the numbers make up of 122 Common Scoter and 101 Manx Shearwaters  off the Bill and 111 Black-headed Gulls off Chesil; list-padders included 4 Avocets through off both sites, 5 Red-throated Divers and 2 Arctic Skuas off the Bill and 3 Red-throated Divers, a Little Ringed Plover and a Goosander off Chesil.

A Brimstone butterfly at Blacknor was noteworthy (Portland records are infrequent at best).

Avocets - Chesil Beach, 7th April 2015 © Sean Foote The Portland Naturalist

As we mentioned last evening, Nick Hopper's been up to some more nocturnal sound recording and has been getting more fascinating results; thus far Nick's only been able to get through the recordings for the night before last (he's got his work cut out since, quite apart from doing survey work by day, he's also got last night's recordings and whatever he comes up with tonight to get through as well) but these continue to show how varied the quantity of audible passage is though the hours of darkness. We'd referred to the 81 Redwing calls in 9 minutes at 8pm, but these were followed by no more for three hours and then just 9 between midnight-ish and dawn. As usual, it's impossible to say for sure how many individuals are involved in these events, but we wouldn't mind betting that on a crystal-clear night pulses such as the 81 calls in quick time involve a concerted passage of many birds moving in unison rather than a handful of birds lingering overhead. Apart for the Redwings the night also came up with 4 Song Thrushes, 3 Robins and singles of Snipe, Meadow Pipit and Fieldfare, as well as a real highlight in the form of 4 Coots (all singles scattered through the night); here's Nick's lovely recording of one of them at 2.32am that sounds as though it's passing right over the Obs:

Just to put four Coots in one night in context, the bird present for a few hours back on 22nd January was only the sixth daytime record for the Bill and the first there for 34 years. The available evidence points toward Coot being the consummate nocturnal migrant - it's nice to get evidence from Nick's ongoing project that suggests some of this movement takes place over Portland.