18th May

A wonderfully warm, clear day was prevented from becoming overly hot by a keen sea breeze. We were almost out for a duck at the nets before two Chiffchaffs came to the rescue, although this should tell the reader everything they need to know about the day's birding. An early morning Pomarine Skua gave the impression that more passage could be in store on the sea, but alas this hope was short-lived and a handful of Manx Shearwaters, Common Scoters and a lone Sanderling were all we had to show for our efforts. The land was almost hauntingly quiet with just a Lesser Whitethroat and a handful of Wheatears by way of new arrivals at the Bill, however, the silence was finally broken in the afternoon by a chorus of gulls as an Osprey came soaring up the West Cliffs, before rapidly evading its noisy entourage by heading out to sea.

It's been a remarkably poor spring for Ospreys on Portland with this bird being only the second recorded © Erin Taylor:

A couple of days ago we made passing reference to an odd Chiffchaff trapped at the Obs. Since being on a slightly more systematic lookout in recent years for potential Iberian Chiffchaffs we've got so used to picking out seemingly bright green-and-yellow chiffchaffs, some of which have had slightly out of the ordinary morphology and other pro-Iberian features, that we no longer make much of a fuss about it and rarely get very excited about them - genetic analysis has should that all our possible candidates to date have turned out to be 'Common' Chiffchaffs (...or at least, their mothers have). To be truthful, we really haven't got a clue how you nail a silent, in-hand Iberian Chiffchaff with absolutely certainty - you can have an inkling but that usually turns out to be wrong! Anyway, Saturday's bird was a dinky little female that was clearly not going to sing and certainly didn't call but it immediately struck us as worth further attention. Time will tell what the outcome is... © Martin Cade: