26th May

A really rather varied day compared with the past few weeks led to a couple of nice surprises, but also some missed chances with two potentially interesting calling fly-overs that weren't clinched - probably not surprising given the glorious conditions that would have prompted anything to carry on without stopping. The early morning revealed a continuation of yesterday's trickle of Phyllocs although the Spotted Flycatchers had dried up almost entirely. The highlights of the day were an elusive Turtle Dove in the Top Fields and a Marsh Harrier over Ferrybridge but the likes of 3 passing Hobbys were good back-ups. Waders were also still on the move, with 10 Dunlin, 6 Sanderling and a Bar-tailed Godwit gathered at Ferrybridge and a Whimbrel through at the Bill. Surprises from the sea included an unseasonable Eider and a tardy Red-throated Diver off the Bill.

Last night we had our first foray of the season down to the Bill tip to see if we could renew our acquaintance with one of the most charismatic of visitors to the Bill. It was only really an impromptu mission to check the lie of the land and the state of our kit but 2 Storm Petrels were sound-lured while we were there so it was successful - in fact doubly successful since the first of them was already bearing a ring that wasn't one of ours (details on that when we receive them) © Martin Cade:

Our hitherto really random selection of picks from the moth-traps to feature here seems to be evolving into a highlighting of Portland inhabitants that are scarce or local in the rest of Dorset. Hemlock Yellow Conch Aethes beatricella was a first for the year today and is seemingly something that's pretty thinly spread in Dorset as a whole. Hemlock does occur on the island (although apparently not at the Bill) but here the only documented foodplant is Alexanders - the moth has been reared from larvae inhabiting their stems quite often over the years. It seems from the records that beatricella is a relatively recent arrival here - it wasn't known to the Victorian lepidopterists who worked the island and may not have colonised until quite late in the 20th century - but it's certainly quite common these days © Martin Cade: