31st December

 Portland Bill Common Scoter c60etc. It rained all day!

30th December

Portland Bill Common Scoter 40etc.

Reap Lane Cirl Bunting 1.

Ferrybridge Shelduck 7, Kittiwake 3.

Portland Harbour Great Northern Diver 3, Red-necked grebe 1, Black-necked Grebe 4, Eider 3.

29th December

Portland Bill Red-throated Diver 3w, Common Scoter 40etc, Purple Sandpiper 5, Turnstone 2.

Sweethill Redwing 1.

Reap Lane Cirl Bunting 1.

Weston Black Redstart 1.

Chiswell Black Redstart 2.

Ferrybridge Shelduck 2, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 2, Bar-tailed Godwit 4.

Portland Harbour Black-throated Diver 1, Great Northern Diver 4, Red-necked Grebe 1, Black-necked Grebe 1, Eider 4, Kittiwake 1.

The Cirl Bunting continues to show at Reap Lane © Alan Mayell...

...whilst among the day's other regulars there were Pale-bellied Brents back at Ferrybridge during the morning © Pete Saunders:

After yesterday's wind and rain that culminated in a pretty fierce gale for a few hours either side of midnight we half expected to be seeing or hearing about something nice like a Leach's Petrel this morning but the only storm-driven stray reported was this Kittiwake in Portland Harbour © Pete Saunders:

28th December

Portland Bill Common Scoter 30etc.

Portland Castle Black Redstart 1.

Ferrybridge Great Skua 1.

Portland Harbour Great Northern Diver 1, Red-necked Grebe 1.

This afternoon's Bonxie heading through Ferrybridge...

...it even pitched in briefly on top of Chesil - much to the surprise of some passers-by © Pete Saunders:

We're always surprised that the news services feel it necessary to put out every Black Redstart that gets reported to them from a place like Portland - are they really that rare anywhere in coastal southern England? Even with minimal mid-winter coverage we have records for this month of what looks to be a minimum of 18 individuals dotted about the island and, given their penchant for urban/industrial settings that get little or no coverage, we wouldn't mind betting the true total isn't well past 25 which makes them way more numerous winterers here than the likes of Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest or Firecrest and more on a par with something like Stonechat. This is one of the regulars at Portland Castle © Pete Saunders:

27th December

Portland Bill Red-throated Diver 3w, Common Scoter 40etc, Little Gull 1etc, Cetti's Warbler 1.

Reap Lane Cirl Bunting 1.

Chiswell Black Redstart 1.

Osprey Quay Rook 2, Black Redstart 3.

Hamm Beach Black Redstart 1.

Portland Harbour Red-necked Grebe 1.

26th December

Portland Bill Red-throated Diver 3w, Black Redstart 1.

Reap Lane Cirl Bunting 1.

Portland Harbour Eider 3.

25th December

Portland Bill Cetti's Warbler 1.

Reap Lane Cirl Bunting 1.

Blacknor Black Redstart 1.

Osprey Quay Black Redstart 3.

Portland Harbour Great Northern Diver 1, Black-necked Grebe 2.

24th December

Portland Bill Red-throated Diver 5w, Common Scoter 40etc, Golden Plover 1, Purple Sandpiper 9, Black Redstart 1, Cetti's Warbler 1.

Reap Lane Cirl Bunting 1.

Portland Castle Black Redstart 1.

Portland Harbour Great Northern Diver 1, Eider 3.

The Reap Lane Cirl Bunting can be a frustratingly tricky bird to find, as much because it's often extremely confiding and not in the least spooked by the close approach of either humans or horses - rather, it seems perfectly happy to scratch about on the ground at close range where it's very easy to overlook © Martin Cade:

23rd December

Portland Bill Red-throated Diver 4w, Common Scoter 30etc, Purple Sandpiper 2.

Sweethill Redwing 6.

Blacknor Black Redstart 1.

Ferrybridge Bar-tailed Godwit 3, Redshank 1.

Redshank and Bar-tailed Godwits amongst the regulars at Ferrybridge this morning © Pete Saunders:

22nd December

Portland Bill Red-throated Diver 1w, Long-tailed Duck 1etc, Common Scoter 20etc, Red-breasted Merganser 2w, Little Gull 1, Cetti's Warbler 1.

Sweethill Redwing 15over + 14 grounded, Fieldfare 1.

Ferrybridge Pale-bellied Brent Goose 2, Bar-tailed Godwit 4, Curlew 1, Redshank 1.

Portland Harbour Black-necked Grebe 3, Eider 4.

21st December

Reap Lane Cirl Bunting 1.

Portland Harbour Red-necked Grebe 1, Eider 4. 

Ferrybridge Redshank 1, Bar-tailed Godwit 3, Dunlin 200, Ringed Plover 30, Shelduck 1, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 1. 

A hint of migrant activity in the moth traps last night with 2 Diamond-backs and singles of Rusty-dot Pearl and Turnip.

20th December

After 2 days of almost incessant rain (apologies for the lack of blog posts!), today's break in the weather provided an opportunity to catch up with some of the lingering birds around the Bill. 

Portland Bill Common Scoter 23, Lapwing 26, Purple Sandpiper 7, Merlin 1, Redwing 3, Dartford Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 1.

Reap Lane Cirl Bunting 1, Redwing 13, Black Redstart 1. 

Wakeham Grey Heron 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Meadow Pipit 2, Fieldfare 2, Redwing 28, Song Thrush 3.

Inmosthay Redwing 17. 

Ferrybridge Bar-tailed Godwit 4, Dunlin 163, Ringed Plover 30, Turnstone 12, Brent Geese 240 (with 2 Pale-bellied), Shelduck 2. 

Some more photographs of the very mobile male Cirl Bunting at Reap Lane © Debby Saunders

17th December

A little milder today with a freshening southwesterly seemingly ushering in the beginnings of a complete change from the Arctic influence of the last week back to a more usual Atlantic airflow.

Portland Bill Red-throated Diver 1e, Common Scoter 20etc, Lapwing c30, Golden Plover c155, Snipe 10, Green Sandpiper 1, Redwing 4, Fieldfare 1.

Reap Lane Cirl Bunting 1.

Grove Lapwing 3, Redwing 10, Blackcap 1, Goldcrest 1.

Whilst a run of three records in the three years between 2019 and 2021 has seen to it that Cirl Bunting isn't quite the rarity it had been for many years (these were the first since 2008 and today's bird is only the seventh this century) it's still a high value scarcity that'll get a fair bit of attention if it sticks about; a nice find by Graham Bright who's been plugging away at the Weston/Reap Lane area throughout what would usually be considered the most unpromising of seasons © Debby Saunders (top) and Pete Saunders (bottom):

16th December

The coldest night of the recent chilly spell was followed by a surprisingly pleasant day of unbroken sunshine and hardly a breath of breeze.

Portland Bill Red-throated Diver 1e, Common Scoter 40etc, Lapwing c50 grounded + 44s, Golden Plover c200 grounded, Purple Sandpiper 3, Snipe 7, Woodcock 1, Redwing 11, Song Thrush c40, Fieldfare 2, Black Redstart 2, Dartford Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 1.

Sweethill Lapwing 6, Golden Plover 18, Snipe 1, Redwing 12, Song Thrush 12.

Inmosthay Woodcock 1, 

Blacknor 1.

Skate Park Black Redstart 1.

Ferrybridge Teal 1, Pintail 1, Shoveler 1, Merlin 1, Lapwing 62, Golden Plover 25, Bar-tailed Godwit 4, Redshank 1.

15th December

Much improved conditions saw clear skies and sunshine throughout even if the temperature continued to hover around freezing.

Portland Bill Red-throated Diver 4e, Great Northern Diver 1w, Grey Heron 2, Little Egret 1, Water Rail 1, Lapwing c100 grounded + 31e, Golden Plover c400 grounded, Snipe c20, Woodcock 1, Redshank 1, Green Sandpiper 1, Black-headed Gull c30, Redwing 13, Fieldfare 1, Mistle Thrush 1, Black Redstart 3, Cetti's Warbler 1, Dartford Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 1, Goldcrest 1.

Southwell Redwing 6, Black Redstart 1.

Church Ope Cove Black Redstart 3.

Mid-island Golden Plover scatter of small flocks on many suitable fields.

Ferrybridge Pintail 1, Lapwing 167, Golden Plover 61, Bar-tailed Godwit 1, Curlew 2, Redwing 2.

There's nothing like a bit of cold weather to jazz up what are usually pretty mundane day-lists in mid-winter - Pintail and Snipe were just two of today's bonuses © Pete Saunders:

The various wintering Dartford Warblers are either extremely mobile or there are more about than we realise: today's single in Top Fields was hundreds of metres away from the two earlier in the week in the Crown Estate Field © Martin Cade:

14th December

Remaining very cold today in a stiff northeasterly and under mainly overcast skies.

Portland Bill Red-throated Diver 2e 2w, Common Scoter c32etc, Shelduck 2e, Teal 6etc, Merlin 1, Lapwing min200 grounded + c110s/e, Golden Plover min250 grounded, Snipe 5, Jack Snipe 1, Woodcock 1, Black-headed Gull c20etc, Redwing 3, Fieldfare 1, Black Redstart 2, Cetti's Warbler 2, Snow Bunting 1n.

Reap Lane Great White Egret 1, Green Sandpiper 1, Blackcap 1.

Blacknor Black Redstart 2.

Verne Common Siberian Chiffchaff 1, Cetti's Warbler 1.

Ventnor Road Black Redstart 1.

Ferrybridge Common Buzzard 1, Lapwing 5, Sanderling 1, Knot 1, Bar-tailed Godwit 2, Curlew 3.

Cold weather refugees were more numerous and more varied today although Lapwings and Golden Plovers continued to make up the bulk of the numbers © Debby Saunders:

13th December

Still feeling very cold in a stiff northeasterly.

Portland Bill Common Scoter c40etc, Lapwing 55, Golden Plover c150, Snipe 1, Jack Snipe 1, Black-headed Gull 10, Black Redstart 1.

Sweethill Redwing 12, Black Redstart 1.

Reap Lane Golden Plover 30, Redwing 1.

High Angle Battery Snipe 3.

Chesil Cove Black Redstart 1.

With thrushes seemingly hardly affected at all it's been plovers that have made up the bulk of the numbers during the current chilly spell, with Golden Plovers still conspicuous at the Bill today © Pete Saunders:

12th December

Feeling pretty raw today with the temperature hovering just above zero, very little sunshine and a freshening northeasterly.

Portland Bill Lapwing 1, Golden Plover 43, Purple Sandpiper 7, Turnstone 1, Redwing 3, Fieldfare 1, Black Redstart 2, Dartford Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 1.

Sweethill Redwing 10, Black Redstart 1, Goldcrest 1.

Reap Lane Merlin 1, Lapwing 5, Redwing 6.

Skate Park Black Redstart 1.

Portland Harbour Great Northern Diver 1.

11th December

Another cold day with laying hail/freezing rain after heavy showers at dawn.

Portland Bill Grey Heron 1, Common Scoter 30etc, Lapwing 18, Golden Plover 43, Purple Sandpiper 8, Redwing 4, Black Redstart 1, Dartford Warbler 2.

Skate Park Black Redstart 1.

Golden Plovers on the Bill Common this morning © Martin Cade:

Spot the Little Owls hanging on at Broadcroft Quarry - during the working week, currently one of the busiest, noisiest and generally most hostile environments on Portland © Martin Cade:

Some nice results from a day out at Portland © Matthew Barfield

10th December

Portland Bill Red-throated Diver 1, Great Northern Diver 2w, Common Scoter 10etc, Golden Plover 1, Snipe, 1 Redwing 1, Black Redstart 2. 

Southwell Redwing 4, Black Redstart 1.

Wakeham Blackcap 1.

Penn's Weare Chiffchaff 1.

Ferrybridge Rook 2s.

Redwing and Black Redstart at Southwell © Pete Saunders:

9th December

Portland Bill Red-throated Diver 1e, Common Scoter 20etc, Water Rail 1, Lapwing 6, Golden Plover 1, Purple Sandpiper 7, Redwing 6, Black Redstart 2, Dartford Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 2, Goldcrest 2.

Ferrybridge Swallow 1.

8th December

Portland Bill Red-throated Diver 3e, Little Egret 3, Pintail 15e, Eider 3e, Long-tailed Duck 2w, Common Scoter 7etc, Water Rail 1, Merlin 1, Purple Sandpiper 2, Snipe 1, Redwing 2, Fieldfare 1, Black Redstart 2, Firecrest 1.

Southwell Grey Heron 1, Blackcap 2.

Pennsylvania Castle Chiffchaff 2, Goldcrest 2, Firecrest 1.

Skate Park Black Redstart 2.

Portland Harbour Great Northern Diver 5, Black-necked Grebe 5, Eider 1.

7th December

Portland Bill Little Egret 1, Common Scoter 20etc, Snipe 1, Redwing 1, Fieldfare 2, Black Redstart 1, Dartford Warbler 1, Brambling 1.

6th December

Portland Bill Red-throated Diver 2e 2w, Brent Goose 1w, Purple Sandpiper 11, Dartford Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 1, Siskin 1.

Ferrybridge Brent Goose 383, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 4 Goosander 2, Knot 2, Bar-tailed Godwit 1.

Portland Harbour Great Northern Diver 1, Eider 3.

5th December

Still comprehensively dreary but, with a little less of a breeze blowing, just a little more birdable today. New arrivals were few and far between, with the best being single Fieldfares at the Bill and Southwell, 150 Starlings arriving from the south at the Bill and 4 Pintail and 3 Grey Plovers through at Ferrybridge. Long-stayers were well recorded and included 5 Purple Sandpipers and singles of Water Rail, Cetti's Warbler, Dartford Warbler and Firecrest at the Bill, another Dartford Warbler at Barleycrates Lane, the 2 Goosanders at Ferrybridge and 5 Black Redstarts dotted about. The sea was busy numbers-wise, with 5 Brent Geese and 2 Red-throated Divers of note off the Bill, whilst 340 Brent Geese, 250 Dunlin and 96 Cormorants were worthwhile totals amongst the waterfowl and waders at Ferrybridge.

Always an infrequent sight at Portland, today's Pintails through at Ferrybridge were the latest additions to what's looking likely to be one of the better annual totals of this species © Pete Saunders:

An interesting event that's been unfolding at Ferrybridge in recent mornings has been a mass gathering of Cormorants - there were 96 there today - that have been gorging on a glut of fair-sized (up to 8" long) fish in the tide-pool beside the car park; it's speculated that either the fish were pushed up into the pool during the recent stormy weather and have now got stuck there or perhaps the Cormorants are driving them into the pool at high tide. Thanks to Debby Saunders for the information and photo © Debby Saunders:

4th December

The extremely miserable conditions continued, with not a glimmer of brightness in the sky and hardly a glimmer of interest on the bird front. Three Redwings were new at the Bill, where 2 passing Wigeon could just about be made out amongst what looked to be pretty decent numbers of birds offshore. Elsewhere, singles of Grey Plover and Knot were of note at Ferrybridge, with 4 passing Goosanders and 10 Shelducks new at Portland Harbour; long-stayers in that area included 6 Pale-bellied Brents, the 2 settled Goosanders and one of the Eider.

3rd December

Pretty miserable dreary, breezy and chilly conditions were the order of the day and enthusiasm for fieldwork was at a low ebb. New arrivals included a Redwing at the Bill, a Short-eared Owl over Wide Street and 2 Egyptian Geese over Ferrybridge, whilst long-stayers putting in appearances included a Firecrest at the Obs, single Black Redstarts at the Bill and Broadcroft and 2 of the Goosanders at Ferrybridge.

Ferrybridge action included three Egyptian Geese overhead and two of the lingering Goosanders © Pete Saunders:

2nd December

The northeasterly breeze is getting fresher and keener by the day and although the frost held off it felt very chilly for the first time this winter; however, this did no harm on the birding front and there was a decent little list accrued by the few stalwarts in the field. A flurry of thrushes included 15 Redwings and 3 Fieldfares through at the Bill (where 147 Redwing calls had been logged overnight by the nocmig recorder at the Obs); also, 96 Starlings arrived in off the sea, 2 Golden Plovers passed through, a Blackcap was new on the ground and 2 long-staying Cetti's Warblers remained. The sea was also rewarding, with 10 Red-throated Divers, 7 Teal, 5 Eider, 3 Mallards, a Great Northern Diver and a Goldeneye through off the Bill, where 20 Common Scoter were still settled offshore. Elsewhere, an Avocet dropped in at Ferrybridge, where singles of Great Northern Diver and Goosander remained, and 4 Great Northern Divers, 4 Black-necked Grebes and 2 Eider were in Portland Harbour.

Tolerably regular there in very late autumn, this Avocet made the briefest of stops at Ferrybridge this morning © Pete Saunders:

1st December

Just as we were thinking it might be timely to revert to simple lists on the blog during the upcoming quiet months, so the improved conditions delivered a day-tally more akin to mid-November than the first day of meteorological winter. In unbroken sunshine, albeit always tempered by a single-digit temperature, yesterday's Pallas's Warbler remained and 53 Chaffinches, 8 Redwings, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 each of Fieldfare, Siskin and Redpoll and singles of Merlin, Swallow, Snow Bunting and Reed Bunting made up a very respectable arrival at the Bill, where 3 Black Redstarts, a Water Rail and a Cetti's Warbler also lingered on. The sea was also worth a look, with 15 Common Scoter, 3 each of Red-throated Diver and Pintail, and a lone Brent Goose through off the Bill. Elsewhere, a Little Gull through over Southwell and a Knot at Ferrybridge were of note amongst a selection that included several more Black Redstarts and the usual sprinkle of Great Northern Divers, a Black-necked Grebe and a Goosander at Ferrybridge/Portland Habour; in the exotic department, 2 Black Swans flew over Ferrybridge.

A Hummingbird Hawkmoth was on the wing at Wakeham, with Red Admirals on the wing at several sites.

After affording only brief glimpses yesterday, the Pallas's Warbler duly turned up in a mist-net at the Obs this morning - in so doing becoming the first Pallas's recorded here during December © Jodie Henderson:

30th November

A rather quiet morning kicked into gear with the arrival of a Pallas's Warbler in the obs garden, which briefly called before appearing in the undergrowth below the patio. However from there, it quickly proceeded to flit across the wall into the depths of the garden where, not for want of trying, it was not seen again. Other birds logged around the Bill included 3 Redwing, 2 Fieldfare, 1 Black Redstart, 2 Water Rail plus singles of Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Cetti's Warbler, Firecrest and Blackcap (different from yesterday's). Sea passage past the Bill included 15 Common Scoter, 10 Red-throated Diver and a Fulmar. A Goosander and 3 Bar-tailed Godwits were still at Ferrybridge.  

29th November

A cold start to the day was accompanied by a rather thick blanket of fog which lingered well into the morning. Birds logged around the Bill included 4 Black Redstarts, 2 Turnstones and singles of Merlin, Lapwing and Water Rail with 3 Redwing and a Blackcap emerging from the obs garden as the day went on. At sea, a total of 20 Common Scoter, 3 Red-throated Diver and 1 Little Egret were seen passing through. Elsewhere, an adult Little Gull was seen off Chesil Cove, with 2 Great Northern Divers, 2 Black-necked Grebes, c20 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Eider in Portland Harbour. Ferrybridge totals included 1 Goosander, c160 Dunlin, c25 Ringed Plover and 2 Bar-Tailed Godwits. An additional 3 Black Redstarts were present at the Cove and Hamm Beach.   

One of today's Great Northern Divers fishing off Ferrybridge © Debby Saunders

28th November

Portland Bill Common Scoter 9, Turnstone 4, Fulmar 1, Black Redstart 2, Woodcock 1.

Blacknor Black Redstart 1. 

Portland Harbour Red-breasted Merganser 29, Great Northern Diver 1, Black Redstart 2 (Smallmouth Bay).

27th November

The reappearance of the ringed Cetti's Warbler and Firecrest in the obs garden this morning just goes to show what may have been tucked away in the wet and windy weather of the last week. Sea passage off the Bill included 7 Common Scoter, 5 Red-throated Divers, 2 Fulmars, 18 Common Gulls, 49 Kittiwake and 19 Mediterranean Gulls with a total of 3 Black Redstarts also present. At Portland Harbour, a single Leach's Petrel was logged, alongside 5 Great Northern Divers, 3 Black-necked Grebes and 2 Eider as well as the lingering Common Tern. Totals from Ferrybridge included 1 Goosander, c200 Dunlin, c30 Ringed Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Pale-bellied Brent Geese.

Today's Leach's Petrel and Common Tern from Portland Harbour © Pete Saunders

26th November

Portland Bill Turnstone 2, Purple Sandpiper 2, Black Redstart 2 (with a further 2 at Blacknor and 1 at Portland Castle). Sea passage: Common Scoter 15, Red-throated Diver 3, Fulmar 8, Little Gull 1. 

Portland Harbour Great Northern Diver 4, Eider 2, Black-throated Diver 1.

Ferrybridge Goosander.

Just some of the 700 Mediterranean Gulls present at Ferrybridge this morning © Pete Saunders 

25th November

Whilst today's drop in the wind made for more pleasant conditions in the field, it did not appear to greatly alter the general mix of birds present. Around the Bill, 9 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Turnstones and 1 Black Redstart were logged, with a single Chiffchaff and 2 Water Rails heard calling at Culverwell. Elsewhere, 2 Great Northern Divers were at Portland Harbour, 1 adult Little Gull was at Chesil Cove and 3 Goosanders, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and a late Swallow were at Ferrybridge. A scattering of Black Redstarts away from the Bill included singles at Southwell, Hamm Beach and the Cove. 

24th November

With the weather showing no sign of relenting, it was yet another day of difficult birding for those that braved the Bill, with just singles of Merlin and Black Redstart logged. Elsewhere, 3 Little Gulls made a brief appearance at Ferrybridge where the Common Tern was also present. 

One of today's Little Gulls at Ferrybridge was this 1st winter type © Pete Saunders

A steady stream of Kittiwakes was logged at Ferrybridge, with approx. 100 passing through in 2 hours © Pete Saunders

The upside to getting caught out in one of this afternoon's showers was this rather impressive rainbow © Jodie Mae Henderson

23rd November

The highlight of today's birding was the (presumed) reappearance of yesterday's Glaucous Gull at the Bill Common, although yet again it made an all too brief appearance before flying off towards the West Cliffs. Other birds logged around the Bill included 3 Turnstones, 2 Purple Sandpipers and 1 Black Redstart, with 2 Red-throated Divers seen heading west. Elsewhere, a Barnacle Goose as well as 4 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were seen at Ferrybridge, with an additional Black Redstart in the cove. 

Today's Barnacle Goose from Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders

22nd November

Today turned out to be a bit of a gull-fest, with both a 1st winter Caspian Gull and a juvenile Glaucous Gull dropping in amongst the mixed flock that typically congregate in the fields below Culverwell. Further up island, a juvenile Sabine's Gull was still lingering in Chesil Cove with 2 Little Gulls also present. Work on the ground continued to be tricky in the strong winds, with a total of just 3 Turnstones, 1 Purple Sandpiper and 1 Black Redstart, with a new Blackcap visiting the apples in the obs garden. At Portland Harbour, a single Leach's Petrel was observed mid-morning, as well as 2 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Great Northern Divers and singles of Eider and Goosander. A total of 6 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were at Ferrybridge, where a Pomarine Skua was observed at close range drifting along The Fleet. 

Images from Portland Harbour today with this Eider © Debby Saunders 

And Goosander © Pete Saunders