22nd March

Something of a catching up day on the migrant front, with a nice pulse of tardy arrivals making the most of benign conditions. Although the most choice of the newcomers - the first Ring Ouzel of the spring - showed up in a garden at Southwell and there was a scatter of commoner fare everywhere, it was the Bill area that picked up the best of the numbers, with totals there that included 60 Wheatears, 40 Goldcrests, 30 Chiffchaffs, 9 Redwings, 4 Firecrests, 3 Fieldfares, 2 Blackcaps, a Short-eared Owl (together with another Asio owl that arrived in off the sea at the Bill tip but was confidently identified as a Long-eared Owl from one viewpoint but as a Short-eared Owl from another) and a Bullfinch on the ground and 500 Meadow Pipits, 100 alba wagtails and singles of Swallow and Sand Martin overhead; visible passage elsewhere included 290 Wood Pigeons north at the Heights. Light passage continued on the sea, with 106 Black-headed Gulls, 9 Knot, 6 Shelducks, 5 Red-throated Divers and 2 Pintails the best off Chesil and 36 Common Scoter, 4 Red-throated Divers, 4 Brent Geese, 2 Wigeon and a Black-throated Diver through off the Bill.

The first Comma butterfly of the year was on the wing at the Bill.

A Spindle Smudge Ypsolopha mucronella caught overnight at the Obs appears to be a new moth for the island.

Goldcrest and Spindle Smudge - Portland Bill, 22nd March 2016 © Martin Cade

We felt sure we'd recorded mucronella before this but we can't seem to find either a published record or a specimen in the voucher collection (...and the DMG website - quite apart from suggesting that the species is uncommon and thinly distributed in the county as a whole - doesn't show any records from Portland or Weymouth) so it's looking like our memory was more defective than usual.