27th April

The final third of April continues to be kind to us, with no shortage of common migrants again today both on the ground and overhead. Although still very clear for the best part of the day it never really warmed up in the keen northeasterly which, together with a veil of cloud overhead for a while during the early afternoon, perhaps contributed to keeping new arrivals trickling in until late in the afternoon. Willow Warbler and Wheatear again made up the bulk of the numbers on the ground, with 150 and 100 respectively at the Bill, but variety continues to increase with the lingering Ring Ouzel the pick of an assortment of most of the expected late April arrivals. Overhead, hirundine numbers perked up again with sample counts suggesting Swallow made a low thousands total; both House and Sand Martins were well represented, with the first 8 Swifts of the season and 4 Hobbys a further bonus. The sea had less on offer than might have been hoped, with a candidate Glaucous Gull the highlight of reduced numbers off the Bill where 3 Little Terns and an Arctic Skua were the best of the rest; shorter looks off Chesil provided a few waders including 98 Bar-tailed Godwits.

We hesitate about being too confident when it comes to heavily bleached first-summer white-winged gulls at a distance off the Bill; today's bird immediately struck us as being pretty hulking and shows a noticeable two-tone bill in the photos suggesting it might be a Glaucous but we weren't fully convinced, as much because there have been the occasional look-alike leucistic Herring Gulls seen in this part of the world in recent years - it might be safest to put this bird on hold and hope it turns up in Weymouth and permits closer scrutiny © Martin Cade:

A major surprise this afternoon was the discovery at Ferrybridge by visitors Martin Bell and Ai-Lin Kee of a single 'going-over' spike of what might well be an Early Spider Orchid - although easy enough to see on Purbeck, Early Spider Orchid has never been recorded at Portland. With a rather imperfect specimen to support what would be such an important record we sought the opinion of our go-to botanist, Bryan Edwards, who kindly replied as follows: 'It looks 95% OK but I really need to see a fully-formed open flower to be 100% sure. The flowers look a bit pinched or mal-formed, possibly it is not liking the shingle/sand combination with a lack of calcium. It is one species that could turn up on Portland: it has shown a few signs of moving from the Purbeck limestone being found on the Purbeck Chalk Ridge a few years back and then more recently at Tyneham which is visible from Portland. The only other possibility is some other Mediterranean Ophrys: there are a few orchid fanatics who have planted things like Woodcock Orchid and Sawfly Orchid on Purbeck in the past so you have be aware of this too'. In the light of Bryan's comments full confirmation will probably have to wait until next year, but a great discovery and clearly something to look out for elsewhere on the island © Ai-Lin Kee: