28th March

Yesterday's vanguard of sea passage did indeed prove to be the start of better things, with far more on the move in today's gentle southwesterly; sadly, passerines didn't find these conditions to their liking and it was unexpectedly quiet both on the ground and overhead. The lion's share of the sea passage was logged at the Bill, where 357 Common Scoter, 84 Common Gulls, 15 Sandwich Terns, 14 Red-throated Divers, 9 Velvet Scoter, 8 Arctic Skuas, 4 Mediterranean Gulls and singles of Curlew, Great Skua and Yellow-legged Gull passed through and the first Puffin of the year visited the auk colony; Chesil got much less coverage but 6 of the Velvet Scoter were logged from there as well. On the ground, 3 Twite that dropped in and appeared to be settled around Fancy's Farm would have been a real crowd-puller but couldn't be found in later searches. Visible passage was reduced to a mere trickle in comparison with recent days, whilst grounded arrivals at the Bill amounted to just single figure totals of the routine early spring fare, amongst which a lingering Firecrest was about the best on offer; winterers still about included the Hume's Warbler at Thumb Lane and 4 Purple Sandpipers and a Short-eared Owl at the Bill.

A lone Rush Veneer was the only immigrant moth trapped overnight at the Obs; additionally, a March Moth was a good local record at Weston.

The sea was well worth attention for a few hours after dawn when the Velvet Scoters and Arctic Skuas were the pick of the passage © Keith Pritchard:

...we've never been quite sure why it is that on average Red-throated Divers on spring passage pass far closer to the Bill than they do when they're toing and froing in mid-winter © Martin Cade:

This March Moth from Duncan Walbridge's garden at Weston was easily the highlight from overnight mothing; it seems from the records as though this is a species that's been lost from Portland after seemingly being a transitory resident: there were no reports of it during the Victorian era (when the island was very well recorded), but we have Obs records stretching right back to 1959, with it being trapped frequently enough during the 1980s (the last was on 31st March 1987) that it was surely resident at that time. Since the female is wingless it seems hardly possible that the species colonised the island of its own accord during the first half of the 20th century - perhaps it was accidentally introduced on imported vegetation by the early Obs pioneers? © Martin Cade: