18th June

A reminder that there's an InFocus field day at the Obs between 10am and 4pm this Sunday, 20th June.

With Portland right on the cusp of an almost stationary weather front with rain to east and brightness to the west, today could have gone either way but in the event the rain just won out and persisted until late afternoon. A very frustrating event for the observer concerned saw what was very likely a pratincole pass rapidly up the Slopes at the Bill without giving any sort of clinching view before it disappeared from sight. With routine activities heavily curtailed by the rain the day's only other reports were of a Cuckoo at the Obs and a few Manx Shearwaters and Common Terns milling around offshore.

Maybe unexpectedly, Portland does already have a track record for pratincoles, with two birds that couldn't been be specifically clinched in Top Fields on 9th October 1971 and a Collared Pratincole high over the Bill on 31st May 1992. This woefully inadequate image of the latter (this is only a quick phone snap of the transparency - despite being a tiny image of the bird, you'll have to take our word that when projected it's possible to see perfectly well that it's a Collared Pratincole!) is a tangible reminder of one of those unforgettable Portland moments: in this case Geoff Moyser burtsting into the Obs after a lung-bursting run and blurting out there there was something that was either a pratincole, an Alpine Swift or a Hobby hawking insects high over the Privet Hedge! 'Scope views duly confirmed it was a Collared Pratincole and, since it was in view for only a few minutes before towering away and being lost to view, it's remained a high value sighting as there's been no subsequent record of a pratincole of any sort in Dorset  © Martin Cade:

Turning to moths, in the pretty stakes this fantastically richly-coloured Beautiful Marbled from the Grove moth-trap has been the hands-down winner in recent nights...

...however, we were much more excited to catch this Sloe Pug at the Obs last night as this is a new species for Portland. We've always been on the look out for this slightly tricky to identify moth having imagined it really ought to be here what with the amount of its food plant - Blackthorn - on the island; whether it really is here but has always escaped attention or this individual is just a stray from the mainland where it's thinly distributed right across Dorset remains to be clarified © Martin Cade: