28th March

We start with the sad news of the passing of two of the very last links with the 'pre-Old Lower Lighthouse' era of Portland birding. Barry Mathews and David Godfrey, who both died last week, were two of the true pioneer Portland birders who'd been active right back into the 1950s when the potential of the island as a migration watchpoint was first being explored. Once the Obs as we know it today had been established and formerly recognised as an accredited bird observatory, both Barry and David served long and distinguished terms as committee members and trustees. Our sincere condolences go out to the families and friends of both Barry and David.

Damp and increasingly turbulent conditions saw the sea get most of the attention today. The rewards weren't exactly fulsome but the feeling was certainly of up-Channel passage gathering a bit of momentum, with 76 Common Scoter, 8 Red-throated Divers, 2 Arctic Skuas and singles of Little Egret, Teal and Caspian Gull through off the Bill and 6 Pintail and 2 different Arctic Skuas through off Chesil. The land did get some attention before the worst of the weather blew in, with 30 Chiffchaffs and several Wheatears and Goldcrests new at the Bill where at least 2 Firecrests lingered on.

Today's small movement of Common Scoter was hopefully the harbinger of things to come in the next few weeks. What we're guessing won't be featuring in this years Channel dash are Great Skuas: time-wise and weather-wise, today looked ideal for a pulse of Bonxies yet not a single one was logged which, taken together with their terrible showing last autumn and complete absence through the winter, suggests that avian flu really has ravaged their population © Martin Cade: