3rd May

Not before time - even if they've likely played a significant role in the decent numbers of migrants we've been logging - the below par temperatures of the last few weeks look to be on their way out, with today's warm sunshine being most welcome. Migrant-wise, there was nothing to complain about in the day's showing of a general spread of medium to low numbers everywhere which was probably more than might have been expected after a clear, calm night. At the Bill, both Wheatear and Blackcap got to around the 75 mark, whilst there were fair totals of 10 each of Reed Warbler and Garden Warbler amongst the back-ups; 2 late-ish Short-eared Owls there were the only oddities reported. Visible passage wasn't quite as strong as might have been hoped, but Swallows were still passing at around 300 per hour in the middle of the island where a late Siskin was also of interest. Sea passage was pretty insignificant but did still include the first 2 Roseate Terns of the spring (singles off both Chesil and the Bill), as well as 7 Great Northern Divers through off the Bill and a lone Arctic Skua off Chesil.

Late news for the last few days: yesterday's Pale-bellied Brent Goose tally at Portland Harbour ended up on at least 96 (flocks of 19, 14 and at least 63). The year's first Clouded Yellow butterfly was on the wing at the Bill on Saturday (30th April).

Common Gull - Portland Bill, 2nd May 2016 © Ted Pressey

With a long posting and lots of photographs to get through last evening we completely forgot this wacky-looking Common Gull that had passed by during the afternoon. It was sufficiently startling when first spotted at distance off Chesil Cove to merit a tip-off call to report that it was heading towards the Bill, where Ted happened to be on station and was able to secure some images at closer range; at distance its creamy-white wings had invited thoughts of a larger white-winged gull and it was only the closer views and photographs that enabled the ID to be clinched. Although first-summer Common Gulls do often get pretty bleached there was something about this bird that suggested the extreme paleness of the wings more likely arose due to some sort of plumage abnormality.

Also, news from last month of an interesting fungus discovered/photographed on blackthorn in the Obs garden by Ken Dolbear and Bryan Edwards:

...Bryan reports as follows: I finally got round to sectioning the fungus from the other weekend and the microscopic features all tally with Perenniporia ochroleuca. It is the third Dorset record and the species is widespread in Cornwall but uncommon or rare elsewhere and usually on or near the coast; it is essentially a Mediterranean species at the northern edge of its range. As with a lot of fungi it is probably under-recorded, especially as Blackthorn thickets are not the easiest or most inviting of habitats to survey. As well as the small one photographed on the stick we found three slightly larger brackets on dead standing Prunus stems.