4th May

Beryl Clafton © Royal Manor Theatre

It's with great sadness that we announce the death of Beryl Clafton. Beryl's association with PBO dates back to the very earliest days of ornithological exploration at Portland in the early 1950s when she would travel by motorcycle from Bournemouth with her then boyfriend, Frank - who she would go on to marry in 1954, to assist with the establishment of a seasonal migration monitoring station at the Bill. After a spell on Bardsey Island after Frank's appointment as warden of the Bird Observatory there in 1961, Beryl settled at Portland - where she would live for the rest of her life - in 1963 when Frank was appointed warden of PBO. Beryl undertook a significant role in managing the domestic arrangements at the then fledgling observatory, often involving catering for guests, until Frank's resignation in 1974. In later life Beryl ran a gallery at Wakeham and served with distinction in a variety of roles for the Royal Manor Theatre Company, even winning the award for best producer at the All England Theatre Festival in 2004. Beryl remained a staunch supporter of PBO and was an almost daily visitor - walking her dog in even the foulest winter weather - until shortly before her death. 

Beryl chivvying birds towards a heligoland trap in the Obs garden in May 1966...

...and holding Britain's first Desert Warbler in December 1970 photos © the late Frank Clafton:

With the wind swinging round to the north-west and increasing in speed overnight, it was with low hopes that we began our birding efforts today. The land lived up to expectations: two presumed long-staying Ring Ouzels at the Verne were the pick of the bunch; with a Hobby and Little Egret in off at the Bill and a Spotted Flycatcher at Avalanche Hump the supporting cast. The sea was disappointing with the offshore wind doing its job to ensure that anything passing was miles out to sea. Two Pomarine Skuas, four Arctics and a Bonxie were the highlights at the Bill, whilst Chesil Cove saw a single Black-throated Diver and a selection of common waders. Among the 50 Manx Shearwaters at the Bill was the second Balearic of the year. Ferrybridge has become its usual consistent self with good numbers of Dunlin, Sanderling and Ringed Plovers as well as two Bar-tailed Godwits, five Turnstones and 22 Common Terns

The Ferrybridge Sanderlings are transitioning from their understated monochromatic winter-wear to their rufous summer tones © Pete Saunders