19th April

In what seemed on the face of it to be slightly unlikely conditions - cloudless, almost calm and with a big moon in the sky - the island was graced with easily the largest fall of the spring to date, with common migrants reported in plenty from everywhere that got coverage. The Bill area was positively alive with Willow Warblers, with the log total of 500 probably a huge underestimate; well into three figure totals were also reached by Wheatear and Chiffchaff, whilst amongst the also-rans 15 Redstarts, 3 Grasshopper Warblers, 3 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Common Sandpipers, 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Ring Ouzels, 2 Sedge Warblers, a Hobby, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Siskin were of particular note. The Bill was by no means the only favoured location, with notable reports from elsewhere that included 120 Blackcaps, 15 Redstarts and 12 Sedge Warblers around the centre of the island, a Cuckoo at Verne Common and a scatter of at least 12 more Pied Flycatchers. Visible passage was just as impressive, with the constant stream of hirundines topping 1000 per hour for several hours either side of midday (Sand Martins were unexpectedly well represented and made up more than a third of the total at the Bill). It didn't prove to be a day of rarities although an Iceland Gull that lingered for a while at the Bill before heading away to the north was a useful addition to the year list. The only poor relation was the sea: although 3 Great Northern Divers and a Black-throated Diver lingered on in Portland Harbour and the Ferrybridge Little Terns increased into double figures, offshore passage was almost non-existent.

Iceland Gull - Portland Bill, 19th April 2016 © Martin Cade

This one oddity aside, today was really a day to gross out on Portland spring migration at its best; many thanks to the photographers who've sent us a few images from the day:

The Bar-tailed Godwit in Top Fields(!) from Roger Hewitt:

...two of the Pied Flycatchers at the RN Cemetery from John Wall:

...and one of the Ferrybridge Little Terns from Pete Saunders: