17th December

Quiet conditions for the second successive day were both a novelty and very welcome after so many weeks of turbulence. The millpond waters of Portland Harbour invited scrutiny and returned double figure totals of Great Northern Diver and Black-necked Grebe along with the Black Guillemot and 2 each of Black-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe and Eider; noticeably sparse were Red-breasted Mergansers - do they all disappear up the Fleet to escape from the water sports activities these days? A Sanderling on the harbour shore was a decent mid-winter bird and 6 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were again at Ferrybridge. Three Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver passed by off the Bill where 5 Purple Sandpipers were on the shore and a Great Spotted Woodpecker showed up at the Obs; elsewhere there were 2 Firecrests, a Blackcap and the eastern Lesser Whitethroat at Wakeham/Pennsylvania Castle, singles of Siberian Chiffchaff and Chiffchaff at Blacknor and Chiffchaff at Portland Hospital.

The Black Guillemot was way too far away for anything other than an attempt at phone-scoping © Martin Cade: