5th April

Although we do still get occasional 'conventional' fall days when it's busy on murky, drizzly mornings, it seems that the numbers these days are a good deal more likely to occur on mornings of clear skies and a brisk headwind; such was certainly the case today with a nice island-wide flurry of mainly Phylloscs that moved through very rapidly into the fresh north-westerly. These sort of falls are terrifically difficult to count but it looked like an minimum of 200 birds passed through at the Bill where there was close to a 50:50 Willow Warbler vs Chiffchaff split; further up the island it seemed like Willow Warblers made up a far higher proportion of the still good-sized movement. Being relatively early in the season variety wasn't great, but Blackcaps were quite numerous and the likes of 10 Redstarts, 4 Firecrests, 3 Short-eared Owls, 3 White Wagtails and 2 Black Redstarts provided interest at the Bill. Overhead passage was considerably stronger than in recent days and, quite apart from producing first records for the year in the form of Tree Pipit over the Bill and Yellow Wagtail along West Cliffs and oddities such as a Canada Goose, Merlin and Hooded Crow at the Bill, came up with sample one hour totals of around 200 Swallows, 100 Linnets and dozens of Meadow Pipits and Sand Martins moving along West Cliffs.

Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Fulmar and Comma - Portland Bill, 5th April 2016 © Martin Cade (Chiffchaff), Matt Phipps (Willow Warbler), Joe Stockwell joe-stockwell.blogspot (Fulmar) and Ken Dolbear (Comma)

Also today, one of those freaks of nature that we rather enjoy; these two leucistic Chiffchaffs were trapped more or less simultaneously this morning in the Obs garden:

...we're not sure that there's a great deal of evidence of siblings travelling together during their first autumn migration, let alone still being together the following spring; however, it does seem a weird coincidence that these two oddities should have been in the Obs garden at the same moment today and it does make you wonder if they mightn't be related!

Finally, thanks to Martin King for a nice little selection of photos from around the Bill at dawn this morning: