18th April

Yesterday was so good that today was always going to seem an anticlimax but, in the event, even as a shadow of what went before there was more than enough to entertain today. The constituents of the day's arrival were largely unchanged save for switches in proportions, with Blackcaps to the fore and the two common phylloscs about equally numerous - Blackcap likely topped a three figure total around the southern half of the island, where Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler hovered around 50 each; Wheatear did well with more than 50 at the Bill alone, whilst the spread of the less numerous included a few Whinchats and Redstarts, 3 Grasshopper Warblers and singles of Hobby (the first of the spring), RedshankShort-eared Owl, Cuckoo, Pied Flycatcher and Firecrest. Scarcities put on a decent show, with 3 Ospreys over Portland Harbour, 2 or more Serins at the Bill, a Red Kite over the centre and north of the island and the reappearance of a Cirl Bunting at the Bill. The sea provided variety rather than great numbers, with 2 Arctic Skuas the best off the Bill and 38 Whimbrel, 21 Bar-tailed Godwits, 10 Grey Plovers, 4 Sanderling and a Greenshank noteworthy amongst the miscellaneous selection from Chesil.

A Vagrant Emperor dragonfly was on the wing at Tout Quarry.

We've said it before but if ever there's a migrant that's undercounted at Portland it's the Blackcap. Today was one of those days when you knew from odd calls or subliminal glimpses that there were one or two in a particular Blackthorn hedge but when you waited beside a gap for them to pass through and reveal themselves for just a little longer there were actually half a dozen or more there: 

Pied Flycatchers have given the Bill area a wide berth thus far this spring so this nice male at Culverwell was appreciated:

Our freak of nature of the day was this leucistic Meadow Pipit - in flight the white tertials and inner wing were really striking and conveyed something of the look of a female Snow Bunting to it:

We don't usually have trouble with fly-by Serins as the twinkling call is so characteristic. However, this bird that flew past at the Obs during the morning was calling so seemingly oddly that there was a reluctance to claim it as completely certain until the recording had been reviewed - from this it sounds rather like a tiny snatch of song was being used as a flight call...

...and we suspect this individual was probably the bird that later in the day turned up - along with a female in tow - in the Upper Strips. Here the male sung more fully in flight but, at least when we popped up to see them, they were only showing at very long range in poor conditions © Martin Cade: