9th May

Another wader and sea day, with passage perking up nicely prior to and during the passing of a rain band that rolled in from Channel during the late afternoon and evening. The Bill fared best during the morning when the bulk of the totals of 64 commic terns, 45 Common Scoter, 15 Grey Plovers, 12 Dunlin, 9 Pomarine Skuas, 3 Arctic Skuas and a Black-throated Diver passed through; in contrast - and as has been the case rather often just lately - Chesil had a much better evening: 357 commic terns, 19 Sanderling, 10 Black Terns, 7 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Great Skuas, 2 Knot, 2 Redshank and an Arctic Skua were among the day totals logged, of which the bulk of the numbers - including nearly all the terns - passed through during and after the rain; yesterday's Red-necked Grebe also made a brief reappearance off the beach. Wader totals on the ground included 2 Sanderling, a Lapwing and a Purple Sandpiper at the Bill and 100 Dunlin, 20 Sanderling, 15 Turnstones, 13 Whimbrel, 6 Grey Plover and 6 Bar-tailed Godwits at Ferrybridge. The waders aside, the land was hopeless for anything in the way of numbers: a lone Reed Warbler was by far the best of the handful of passerines at the Bill, whilst single Hobbys passed over at Barleycrates Lane and Blacknor.

Another small overnight catch of immigrant moths included 10 Diamond-back Moth and a Dark Sword Grass at the Obs and a total of 6 more Diamond-back Moth and a Silver Y from three 'up-island' garden traps.

candidate American Herring Gull? - Chesil Beach, 9th May 2016 © Joe Stockwell joe-stockwell.blogspot 

We don't usually bother with crappy possibles and probables on the blog (...unless they're Siberian Chiffchaffs!) but this gull looks to be well worth closer inspection - particularly a settled view. The story is that it was first spotted on a Chesil seawatch three evenings ago (Friday 6th) when it flew through amongst a flock of migrating Black-headed Gulls; in the failing light its arresting pale-headed appearance immediately caught the eye but the grabbed photos taken at the time were inconclusive when it came to confirming or otherwise suspicions that it might be an American Herring Gull, with the tail not looking to be as extensively dark as might have been hoped and the obvious primary moult being an unexpected peculiarity (photos © Martin Cade):

...with nothing more having been seen of the bird it was assumed to have moved on, but this afternoon Joe Stockwell noticed it again flying through at Ferrybridge/Chesil; Joe's photos were taken at a fair range but certainly confirm that this is quite a stand-out bird:

We don't know nearly enough of the minutiae of American Herring Gull ID and are well aware of the many pitfalls but this looks to be a bird worth having a closer look at.

Amongst the considerable backlog of photographs we've accumulated in recent days Pete Saunders sent us this one of a colour-ringed Little Tern at Ferrybridge:

...we'd assumed this would turn out to be a bird ringed there in recent years and the coincidental receiving of the following requests from John Dadds - technical advisor to the Chesil Beach Little Tern Recovery Project - gave us an instant answer.

Another Little Tern breeding season is fast approaching and the Chesil Beach Little Tern Recovery Project would like to make two requests. The first is for information on any sightings of colour-ringed Little Terns. Last year, in partnership with the EU LIFE Little Tern Recovery Project, local ringer Steve Hales trapped and ringed 7 adults and 12 chicks. The rings, which may be read with a telescope or more likely through photography, are darvic rings with a combination of numbers and letters (see photo). Please email Steve (steve_hales@btinternet.com) with any sightings and photos if available.

Also the project is again looking for volunteers to assist with the 24 hour wardening. If you would like to be involved in the sharp end of conservation and witness the life story of these charming birds up close, then please come along to our pre-season volunteer evening at the Chesil Beach Centre this Thursday at 7pm. Free parking available. For further details about the terns please contact the project officer Ali Quinney  (alice.quinney@rspb.org.uk) tel: 07590 441414. The Chesil Beach Little Tern Recovery Project is a partnership between The Crown Estate, Portland Court Leet, Dorset Wildlife Trust, the RSPB, Natural England and the Chesil and Fleet Nature Reserve.