6th May

Serendipity plays a large part in birding- often it is all about being in the right place at the right time. The Pulpit Bushes and the surrounding area have a rich history of single observer (but well photographed) sightings, particularly of buntings that have rarely hung around for long. Today was no exception as a Cirl Bunting came in overhead, pitched for just enough time to be photographed before charging back up the island. This brief flash in the pan was to be the highlight of an otherwise quiet day with a Tree Pipit trapped at Culverwell the only other bird of note (the last individual trapped in the spring was in 2014). Common land-based migrants included: low double figures of Wheatears and singles of Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher and Garden Warbler. Summer plumage Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone added some glamour to the otherwise quiet shoreline. The sea was flat calm and mostly empty with three Red-throated Divers and singles of Great Northern Diver, Arctic SkuaBonxie and Puffin the only notable sightings. 

Despite the heartland of the current British breeding population being visible on a clear day from West Cliffs, this morning's Cirl Bunting was only the fourth to visit Portland in the last 25 years © Martin Cade:

Spring migrants don't come much better than male Whinchats...

...we don't get a lot of experience with handling them in spring and the books urge caution with ageing at this time of year (they do awkward things like have a partial pre-breeding moult) but this bird struck us as being a first-summer: its flight feathers had a distinctly brown cast to them as did the outer primary coverts that were also quite ragged and pointed; the central tail feathers were also noticeably pointed although we can't remember whether Whinchats are one of those birds that always have pointier than average tail feathers © Martin Cade: