28th April

A lot of time at Bird Observatories is spent speculating about the weather for the week ahead - often our predictions are wildly inaccurate but as today approached the forecast looked increasingly promising. Waking up this morning the air was thick with the petrichor of the first rain in over a month, the wind was stronger than forecast but this aided in moving the rain to allow the nets to open and the fieldworkers to get out into what turned out to be a pretty spectacular field. Despite a slow start in the nets at the Obs, the first bird trapped at Culverwell was a Turtle Dove (it's 10 years since the last one was trapped). Things picked up from there as the Willow Warblers began pouring through the garden and surrounding area. Lesser Whitethroats fell just short of double figures in the nets and Blackcaps just short of 50 by the end of the day. 

Meanwhile, the watchers on the West Cliffs witnessed a similar spectacle with Whitethroats filling every bramble bush and Willow Warblers occupying every available Alexanders plant. Overhead passage was truly impressive with over 200 spring plumage Yellow Wagtails accompanied by 48 Tree Pipits and a plethora of common migrants. Mixed in with all of the above were double figure counts of Redstarts, Sedge Warblers and Reed Warblers. The morning session came to a close as the rain clouds gathered once more and the heavens opened. 

However, it does not do to give up on a fall on Portland and once the rain had cleared after an hour and half it would begin again. This time Blackcaps, Garden Warblers and Whitethroats were the commoner species. A Cuckoo apiece in the Top Fields and Suckthumb began to sing, and three Turtle Doves were added to the day's tally. Spotted Flycatchers became more prevalent with three trapped and three elsewhere. Additional Pied Flycatchers were added to the list bringing the island total to six, as well as five reeling Grasshopper Warblers and a Wood Warbler. Swallows were recorded moving continuously, even through the toughest of rain storms, and across such a broad front that only estimates of 1000's of birds could be assumed. Along with the other Hirundines the Swallow passage attracted a minimum of four Hobbys. The second wave also included the movement of at least 120 Wheatears and just short of 20 Whinchats. A thoroughly impressive day. 

A selection of the key players involved in a day that delighted all of those present © Debby Saunders (Pied Flycatchers, Sedge Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler), © Joe Stockwell (Cuckoo, Turtle Dove and Yellow Wagtail):