3rd March

Although the island didn't feel the full force of Storm Freya it was still a pretty miserably soggy and windy day. The sea had looked to offer the best chance of providing some interest but in the event it was the land that stole the show in the form of a Cirl Bunting discovered in peculiar circumstances at Southwell. The season's first Manx Shearwater passed through off the Bill along with 9 Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver, whilst what little shelter there was on the land came up with a Chiffchaff at the Obs and 2 Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff and a Firecrest at Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle.

Despite our proximity to their UK heartland in east Devon (on a clear day many of their breeding sites are visible from the West Cliffs!), Cirl Bunting is these days a high value rarity at Portland and certainly not the sort of thing that you'd have been expecting when asked by a member of the public for help with a 'finch-like bird' that had become trapped in the roof space of a garage at Southwell. At first the identity of the mystery bird fluttering in the gloom amongst the rafters of the garage wasn't immediately apparent but once we were atop a step ladder wafting a hand net at it it became clear what it was - not quite an Allen's Gallinule moment but surprisingly galvanising nonetheless © Martin Cade: