17th March

Passage gathered a bit of momentum today with a good spread of grounded Chiffchaffs and a strong movement of Meadow Pipits providing the sort of numbers that had begun to seem a little overdue and will hopefully become routine in the next few weeks. The Chiffchaff tally included 50 at the Bill and 10 at Portland Castle, whilst regular sample counts put the Meadow Pipit passage at around the 500 mark through the morning; variety on the ground included 17 Redwings, 2 White Wagtails, a Blackcap and a Firecrest, whilst a handful of Sand Martins enlivened the flow of pipits and wagtails overhead. A scatter of 3 Black Redstarts and a Merlin as likely involved winterers as new arrivals, with the singles of Moorhen and Water Rail at the Bill also involving apparent off-passage lingerers. Common Gulls continued to trickle westwards and an Iceland Gull headed north off West Cliffs but the sea was otherwise rather slow.

Water Rails are a less than annual catch in the Obs mist-nets so one today was a nice surprise. Ringing evidence has shown us that even relatively insignificant boggy patches or ponds such as those at Culverwell and the Obs garden have hosted the same individuals in successive winters; today's bird was unringed and seems more likely to have been a migrant rather an overlooked winterer © Martin Cade/Erin Taylor:

We had another surprise in the mist-nets today when this ringed Chiffchaff turned up. The ring number seemed somehow familiar and on further investigation it turned out that the bird had been originally ringed here exactly four years ago on 17th March 2017. We do have the occasional pair of Chiffchaffs attempt to breed at the Bill but this individual had never been recaught until today so seems pretty certain to be a passing migrant rather than an incoming breeder. Here at Portland the recapture of a migrant in a subsequent year is a really unusual event - it's only happened ten or so times in more than sixty years! © Martin Cade: