31st May

Since it looked like the only day during a long run of very samey anticyclonic weather that would have any sort of cloud cover at dawn expectations were certainly on the positive side today. Although migrants did respond there was perhaps not quite as much on offer as had been hoped, with 57 Swifts and 25 Spotted Flycatchers at the Bill and 64 Sanderling at Ferrybridge accounting for the bulk of the numbers; a Turtle Dove at the Bill was the only oddity discovered. Variety came in the form of 6 Willow Warblers, 3 each of Reed Warbler and Blackcap, 2 Garden Warblers and singles of Whinchat and Chiffchaff at the Bill/Southwell, another Whinchat at Reap Lane and a Grey Plover at Ferrybridge. The sea always gave hope but, as with the land, never quite reached its full potential, with 46 Common Scoter, 26 commic terns, 3 Sandwich Terns and singles of Great Northern Diver, Balearic Shearwater, Shoveler and Arctic Skua the best of the morning tally at the Bill.

Today belonged to Spotted Flycatchers...

...and Sanderlings © Martin Cade:

30th May

Relatively quiet today, although such is the ongoing momentum of late passage that even a quieter day had more on offer than we'd usually dare hope for on the penultimate day of May. The day's grounded migrant tally included 10 Spotted Flycatchers, 5 Willow Warblers, 2 Whinchats and a Reed Warbler at the Bill and 50 Ringed Plovers, 10 Sanderlings, 3 Dunlin, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and 2 Turnstones at Ferrybridge; there looked to be very little visible passage to speak of although the first Sand Martin for a while was of interest at the Bill. The sea continued to be worth attention, with 41 commic terns, 13 Mediterranean Gulls and singles of Balearic Shearwater, Arctic Skua and Common Gull among the movers off the Bill.

In the absence of quite so many migrants as of late there was plenty of time to dwell on the local breeders including the Ferrybridge Skylarks in full voice © Debby Saunders and the recently fledged Rock Pipits at the Bill tip running their mother ragged © Martin Cade:

And in the butterfly line there are Adonis Blues to be found even if their numbers look to be pretty depleted this year © Verity Hill

29th May

Goodness knows when this is going to end but if we're seeing this many late migrants drop in when there's hardly been a cloud in the sky for the last week then there must be an awful lot of birds still on the move. Today suffered from severely reduced coverage but there was still 10 Spotted Flycatchers, 4 Whinchats, 3 Willow Warblers and singles of Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Blackcap grounded at the Bill/Southwell, with a sample hour-long watch on West Cliffs producing 35 Swifts, 6 House Martins and 5 Swallows passing through overhead. Small waders are usually on the move far later than the passerines, so the 40 Ringed Plovers and 9 Sanderling amongst others at Ferrybridge weren't such a surprise; 8 Shelducks also dropped in there. The sea was hardly watched so the lone Balearic Shearwater, along with 14 Common Scoter and 7 commic terns, through off the Bill probably weren't a fair gauge of what may or may not have been on the move offshore.

28th May

Passage continues to tick over far more impressively than ought to be the case in late May, with a big increase in wader numbers and variety a notable feature today. Before getting overrun with holidaymakers and dogs the sandflats at Ferrybridge were busy, with totals that included 70 Ringed Plovers, 13 each of Dunlin and Sanderling, 4 each of Shelduck and Grey Plover, 3 Turnstones, 2 Shoveler and singles of Knot and Redshank; this richer vein of waterfowl and waders was reflected elsewhere, including 5 Mallards and singles of Whimbrel and Sanderling at the Bill. Tern passage also continued, with 160 more commic terns, along with 2 Balearic Shearwaters and a Great Skua, through off the Bill. In comparison, passerines were the poor relation although even their numbers far exceeded what would usually be expected at this juncture: 2 Hawfinches at the Obs were easily the highlight, with 9 Spotted Flycatchers, 8 Willow Warblers, 4 Whinchats, 2 each of Tree Pipit, Wheatear and Reed Warbler, and a Yellow Wagtail a more than respectable back-up list from the Bill/Southwell; a Hobby over Easton was the pick of a similar selection of lower totals of late migrants elsewhere.

The sight of mixed wader flocks was quite a novelty at Ferrybridge after a month-long barren spell...

...a pair of Shoveler were also an unexpected sight there and extends their spring passage period this year to more than three months © Pete Saunders:

Along with a lot of other things right now, the local Common Buzzards obviously have hungry mouths to feed © Pete Saunders:

27th May

More lovely, settled weather and more late migrants today. After yesterday's promising signs it was the sea that returned to the fore to provide the best of the day's action including a strong passage of terns: 790 commics made up the bulk of the numbers, but the addition of 25 Sandwich and a single Black, together with 58 Common Scoter and singles of Arctic Skua and Common Gull, made for a pretty decent late May watch at the Bill. Passerines still featured but there was certainly evidence of diminishing returns on that front, with 10 Willow Warblers, 8 Spotted Flycatchers and 3 each of Whinchat and Reed Warbler grounded at the Bill, where a Siskin and a handful of Swifts and hirundines trickled overhead. Nine Sanderling, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and singles of Grey Plover and Whimbrel featured amongst the waders at Ferrybridge.

Sanderling and Ringed Plover at Ferrybridge this morning © Debby Saunders:

A Barn Owl out in broad daylight at the Bill this afternoon © Martin Cade:

And back to a bit of catching up from earlier in the week: we'll start with our little voyage of discovery around a Cuckoo. This story begun when we came by a Cuckoo that had been found seemingly stunned under a window at a private house in the Verne Citadel. Despite being rather dopey - evidently it had crawled up into a bush where it had then sat motionless for at least eight hours! - it seemed otherwise OK so we kept it overnight to assess its condition in the morning. 

The bird immediately stuck us as quite odd-looking: we imagined from the brown wash and barring around the head and chest that it must be a female but, although predominantly grey above, the upper wing coverts were plastered in brown notches and bars - a feature we couldn't remember having seen on a spring Cuckoo before but presumed must be related to some sort of immaturity; however, the plumage all seemed to be fresh and of the same generation, with no sign of any moult discontinuities or suspensions that might indicate it was in first-summer plumage. Seeking help from our betters we had a scan through the standard field guides and, perplexingly, discovered none of them depicted a bird that looked anything like this - basically, they showed female as either plain grey above or rusty with dark bars in hepatic morph individuals. It was eventually the ever-dependable detailed plumage description in BWP that came up with the answer: a proportion of adult females do in fact show this feature to a greater or lesser extent.

The next issue to dwell on was whether it was definitely a Common Cuckoo. Oriental Cuckoo is always at the back of our mind with late spring or late autumn occurrences but few if any of these sightings actually afford the sort of views required to tackle this massively difficult ID issue - however, a bird in the hand is a different kettle of fish! The essential reference for a bird like this is Identification of Oriental Cuckoo and Common Cuckoo based on primary pattern from Dutch Birding - in our bird both the number of white bars on the outer three primaries and the extent of the barred area on each feather is bang on for Common Cuckoo and outside the range for Oriental:

Just for comparison purposes with our bird (above), we hope the folk at Dutch Birding won't mind us lifting this photo and caption from the article that relates to the Finnish Oriental Cuckoo in 2015 and shows really well the difference in primary pattern (and, for example, the extent of barring on the underwing coverts):
And finally, our Cuckoo story ended very satisfactorily: after feeding the bird on ermine caterpillars for most of the next day it looked to have really perked up so we decided to attempt to release it; for a little while it looked rather bemused at the prospect of liberty but just as we were thinking perhaps we ought to pick it up again it flew strongly away into nearby trees and we left it to take its chances © Martin Cade:

26th May

Very fair, almost cloudless conditions seem to be setting in which is a shame as there are clearly still late migrants on the move and the chances of them dropping look to be diminishing. Today's Bill tally included 17 Spotted Flycatchers, 7 each of Whinchat and Willow Warbler, 5 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Reed Warblers and singles of Turnstone, Tree Pipit, Wheatear, Redstart and Blackcap, with a handful of Swifts and hirundines still arriving overhead; a second singing Corn Bunting there was additional to the long-stayer still present. Spotted Flycatchers in particular were spread quite liberally elsewhere, whilst an Osprey passed over at Portland Harbour; Ferrybridge waders included 26 Ringed Plovers, 8 Dunlin, 4 each of Bar-tailed Godwit and Sanderling, 3 Turnstones and a Whimbrel. A surprise offshore was a surge in commic terns, with 288 through off the Bill; sea passage was otherwise almost non-existent although Manx Shearwaters were again milling around offshore in numbers.

A bit of the recent Ferrybridge wader action: Bar-tailed Godwits and Whimbrel today © Pete Saunders and Grey Plover © Pete Saunders and Knots © Martin Cade from two days ago:

25th May

The migrants keep coming, with today's grounded tally at the Bill including 10 each of Willow Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher, 8 Whinchats, 7 Reed Warblers, 4 Yellow Wagtails, 2 or 3 each of Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat, and singles of Turtle Dove and Mistle Thrush; overhead, Swallows picked up a little but Swifts and House Martins hardly featured. The sea provided 3 Arctic Skuas but precious little else on the move.

The Scarce Blue-tailed Damselflies have clearly persisted for another year on the pond in the Crown Estate Field, with several on the wing there today © Mark Cutts:

24th May

Another day with passerine migrants in far greater numbers and variety than would be expected on this date - and it was all the more surprising that they should arrive on a day of balmy sunshine and hardly a waft of a breeze. The Bill area was well covered and provided the bulk of the numbers that included 20 Willow Warblers, 15 Spotted Flycatchers, 10 Whinchats, 5 Reed Warblers, 3 each of Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff, and singles of Hobby, Yellow-legged Gull, Wheatear and Grasshopper Warbler; a few Swifts and hirundines were also still on the move overhead. Other areas weren't so well covered but a scatter of Spotted Flycatchers in particular was evident everywhere and a Cuckoo was at the Verne Citadel. Wader variety improved, with 20 Dunlin, 14 Ringed Plovers, 9 Sanderling, 2 Grey Plover, 2 Knots and a Turnstone grounded at Ferrybridge and 12 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Whimbrel passing overhead there. Manx Shearwaters were again ever-present off the Bill although in lower numbers than yesterday, with 18 Common Scoter, 2 Common Gulls, 2 Sandwich Terns, a Balearic Shearwater, an Arctic Skua and a Mediterranean Gull also through there.

We ended up with so many photos/videos/recordings from today that we couldn't sort them all out before hitting a late night wall of tiredness/befuddlement whilst trying to work out how to age and sex Knots! - they'll have to follow in the next few days.

23rd May

Today was always going to struggle to live up to yesterday's happenings and so it proved - although in all fairness there was far more about than would usually be expected in late May. The day's perfectly respectable migrant totals at the Bill included 107 Swifts, 28 House Martins, 15 Spotted Flycatchers, 8 Blackcaps, 6 Willow Warblers, 5 Reed Warblers, 3 Wheatears, 2 Whinchats, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Blue-headed Wagtail and a Garden Warbler, with Ferrybridge chipping in with 30 Dunlin, 24 Ringed Plover, 4 Turnstones, 3 Sanderlings and singles of Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit and Common Sandpiper. The sea merited attention as well, with the year's first Black Tern through off the Bill quite a highlight in this day and age of their extreme paucity in these waters; further totals from there of c500 Manx Shearwaters, 70 commic terns, c25 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Common Scoter and a Great Skua marked it out as a pretty decent watch given the benign conditions.

The expectation for a rarity travelling alone on the day after a fall of common migrants fell flat - maybe there were just still too many commoner things about? Wheatear and Whinchat at the Bill © Martin Cade and Common Sandpiper at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders:

And even without the migrants the breeding birds were loving the perfect conditions and showing at their best - Skylark and Little Tern at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders:

22nd May

With a stiff headwind and intermittent cloud lapping the coast after a very clear night the stage was always set for a bit of late movement today but the logjam of migrants delayed by the hitherto cool spring - and perhaps also the recent turbulent conditions further south? - was clearly greater than we'd imagined and the blistering migration event that unfolded as dawn broke caught everyone out. Big Spotted Flycatchers movements aren't frequent events here so the spectacle of 282 through at the Bill - a total only exceeded by the likely once in a lifetime tsunami of 1000 on 1st June 2013 - was lapped up by the few observers in the field; Swifts staged a strong showing with 502 through that, together with the c100 each of Swallow and House Martin and other odds and ends including 29 Wood Pigeons, a few Tree Pipits and Yellow Wagtails and a lone Siskin, ensured that for the first few hours of the day overflying migrants were a constant feature. In many respects events on the ground were overshadowed by what was going on overhead and almost escaped attention were it not for the Obs garden and Culverwell mist-nets tapping into a constant flow of tardy warblers that included 50 Willow Warblers, 25 Blackcaps, 15 Reed Warblers, 10 Whitethroats and a few Sedge Warblers, Garden Warblers and Chiffchaffs. The sea was well-watched but produced little more than 37 Common Scoter and 4 Great Northern Divers. Wader numbers remained less than impressive but did include the year's first Little Stint at Ferrybridge.

Whilst our occasional huge falls of warblers and other terrestrial trans-Saharan migrants always includes a component of visible movement - particularly along West Cliffs - this is usually confined to low-level 'bush-hopping' so to be able to watch quantities of Spotted Flycatchers passing straight through at tree-top height is always a compelling spectacle...

...and when they're mingled amongst a strong passage of equally low Swifts and hirundines it's all the more impressive © Martin Cade:

This evening's Little Stint - some salvation during what's so far proving to be a dire late spring for waders at Ferrybridge © Martin Cade:

21st May

In most routine spring migration seasons passerine passage is all but over by mid-May but from time to time a late season sees movement continue for a fortnight or more after this and so it's proving this year. Today's arrival around the south of the island was less about the conspicuous visible passage of recent days and more about a seemingly constant throughput of tardy newcomers that dropped in but were clearly eager to get elsewhere as quickly as possible. Totals from the Bill included 26 Spotted Flycatchers, 20 Willow Warblers and singles figure totals of Redshank, Whinchat, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Chiffchaff; there was overhead passage of Swifts and hirundines but they were fewer than in recent days. Further up island there were aggregations of Spotted Flycatchers in particular - including 20 at Tilleycombe - whilst a Dartford Warbler was a very unseasonable find near High Angle Battery and a Hobby passed through at Barleycrates Lane; a welcome if small increase in waders saw totals of 31 Ringed Plovers, 8 Dunlin, 4 Sanderling and 3 Turnstones accumulate by the evening. Offshore passage was very light but did include 120 Manx Shearwaters and 3 more Great Northern Divers through off the Bill where a passing Little Tern was the first this spring away from Chesil/Portland Harbour.

If our very cursory explorations away from the Bill were anything to go by it wouldn't surprise us if the island tally of Spotted Flycatchers wasn't up towards three figures today © Martin Cade:

Not before time there was the most modest of increases in small wader numbers today, including these three of four Sanderlings at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders:

20th May

A day of very birdable clear, sunny and increasingly warm conditions provided another good flurry of late migrants but looked to be fizzling out without any particular highlight when a classic Portland 'out of nowhere' mid-afternoon rarity - a Western Subalpine Warbler in this case - showed up in the Obs garden mist-nets. The majority of the morning passage involved visible migrants, with 136 House Martins, 85 Swallows, 84 Swifts and a Tree Pipit through at the Bill; a good many of the 30 or so Spotted Flycatchers logged around the south of the island were also active migrants that headed straight through overhead, whilst the likes of 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blackcaps and 2 Willow Warblers were new on the ground at the Bill and the 2 long-staying Corn Buntings there and at Barleycrates Lane were still about. Loitering Manx Shearwaters dominated offshore, where 27 Common Scoter, 5 Sandwich Terns, 3 Great Northern Divers and a Sanderling also passed by.

What with the Moltoni's Warbler only a little over a week ago and now today's apparent Western Subalpine Warbler it seems that some vector of Subalp vagrancy is headed toward Portland right now - not great for them but fun for us. In comparison to the Moltoni's what red there was on today's bird immediately struck as as orangey-toned and not in the least bit pink; it was also in pretty shoddy plumage whereas the Moltoni's was in really good order - with the tail pattern straight away having ruled out Eastern Subalpine, to our eyes these features strongly favoured Western Subalpine:

Although clearly not a fine male we were hesitant with sexing the bird - the literature urges caution so although the overall whiteness of the underparts seems to favour it being a female we're not sure that completely eliminates the possibility of it being a young male:

If we're interpreting the state of moult correctly then age-wise it's most likely a first-summer since there are three new outer primaries, two new inner secondaries and a new alula - all of which have been gained during the partial prebreeding moult in Africa (this moult is more extensive in young birds than it is in adults):

In typical Western Subalpine fashion there were multiple generations of tail feathers: it looks like the very worn central pair are old juvenile feathers, whereas the others are a mix of post-juvenile and prebreeding moult feathers © Martin Cade:

19th May

More cloud in the sky today - particularly when a spectacular electric storm and downpour rolled in during the afternoon - that dropped another steady arrival of late migrants and also brought down to audible and just visible height a surprise package in the form of 2 Bee-eaters departing to the south over the Obs. The migrant variety included 20 Spotted Flycatchers, 6 Turnstones, 5 Willow Warblers, 4 Chiffchaffs, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Wheatears, a Whimbrel, a Dunlin and a Reed Warbler around the south of the island and 20 Ringed Plovers, 6 Dunlin, 3 Sanderling and a Black Redstart at Ferrybridge; at least 2 of the long-staying Corn Buntings were also about on the land. Overhead passage wasn't as conspicuous as it had been at times earlier in the week but Swifts and Swallows were still on the move and a lone Yellow Wagtail passed through at the Bill. As they have been for several weeks, Manx Shearwaters were ever-present offshore; 48 Common Scoter, a few tardy Common Gulls and singles of Red-throated Diver and Arctic Skua also passed through off the Bill.

The second Cypress Tip Moth Argyresthia cupressella for the island was trapped overnight at Sweethill.

In days gone by there'd have been no tangible evidence for the pass overhead by the Bee-eaters - today's event happened so quickly that even folk close by dipped them - but these days by the simple expedient of leaving the nocmig recorder running we get left with something to review at our leisure. In this case things weren't helped by the dish pointing a good 90° away from the birds and the world and his wife talking loudly right beside it; however, with the volume maxed out the birds are quite audible and the sonogram clearly shows the four loudest calls that we've highlighted (we have had to chop out a few seconds of really intrusive extraneous racket between each call so the calls are a little closer together than they were in real time):

With the ecological breakdown manifesting itself most obviously in our moth-traps we haven't had much to report lately bar a steady few mostly routine immigrants - the majority of indigenous species have been in pitifully low numbers all spring. However, there have been a few Radford's Flame Shoulders showing up in the traps and with Flame Shoulder also now on the wing there have been some nice comparisons to check out. The differences visible at repose are well enough documented in the standard literature and show up well enough in this side-by-side photograph...

...however, we do sometimes see specimens that are trickier - most often because they're worn or damaged - and then it pays to have a quick 'manipulation' to make sure the ID's correct; this is easily done by nipping the end of one of the forewings to expose the abdomen and give a clear view of the hindwing - on a Radford's the white hairs at the base of the abdomen and the altogether silkier-white hindwing immediately contrast with creamier abdomen hairs and duller hindwings of an 'ordinary' Flame Shoulder.

Incidentally, we've been pleased to see a few Radford's this spring after their quite catastrophic fall in numbers last year: having been relentlessly on the up and reaching a remarkable year-total of 620 in 2021, last year's total plunged to just 30 © Martin Cade.

18th May

More of the same today: always the feel that there was something to be unearthed but whatever it was it didn't materialise or couldn't be found! The migrant tally ticked along with a scatter of Wheatears, Whinchats, Reed Warblers, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Spotted Flycatchers dotted about on the ground and a few Swifts and hirundines - along with 2 each of Tree Pipit and Yellow Wagtail - through overhead; in the context of the island and what we're hoping it might presage, an increase to 3 Corn Buntings - 2 together at Barleycrates Lane and the single at the Bill - were a very welcome sight. Offshore, an unexpected resurgence in Common Scoter passage saw 200 logged passing the Bill, with 2 Balearic Shearwaters also through there; additionally, overnight the first Storm Petrel of the year was sound-lured and trapped at the Bill tip.

One of the day's half a dozen Spotted Flycatchers © Debby Saunders:

17th May

A rather low-key day after the recent excitements with no more than a trickle of expected mid-May migrants on the ground and overhead. The numbers were again overhead, with arriving Swifts and Swallows both getting into three figures with House Martins just getting past 50; the majority of the single figure totals of Spotted Flycatchers, Tree Pipits and Yellow Wagtails also involved birds heading straight through. It was tough going on the ground, with a light scatter of Reed Warblers, 2 Whinchats and a lone Grasshopper Warbler the best that could be mustered around the south where the two long-staying Corn Buntings were both still present. Offshore, 3 more passing Arctic Skuas were of note at the Bill.

16th May

May continued to work its magic today with a Woodchat Shrike showing up at the Bill and lingering in the Strips all day, whilst on the common migrant front the clear, sunny sky clearly tempted plenty of late migrants aloft, with the noticeable headwind dropping many - particularly Swifts - to a height where they were readily encountered arriving over the Bill. The day's tally of 254 Swifts was certainly the high point numbers-wise; tardy Swallows and House Martins reached 184 and 86 respectively, whilst a fair few of the 21 Spotted Flycatchers logged around the south of the island were watched passing straight through overhead. The migrant variety otherwise included the Hawfinch that had roosted overnight but quickly left northwards at dawn, an overflying Greylag Goose, an unseasonable Snipe, a single passing Hobby and ones and twos of a fair few commoner species. Given the conditions nothing was expected from the sea so 3 Great Northern Divers and a single Arctic Skua represented a fair return from the Bill.

Portland's first record of Woodchat Shrike apparently concerned one shot in 1928 but in the modern era of more enlightened ornithological exploration there have been 67 more records between 1952 and today's individual showing up - so they're running at a pretty respectable average of just shy of one a year which isn't too bad considering there have been several hiatus periods, for example, even quite recently there were none between 2012 and 2018 © Martin Cade:

15th May

After a night of light rain and with a decent headwind blowing at dawn a tad more was expected of today than actually materialised; that said, any day with a Hawfinch as the highlight is a pretty decent day. The Hawfinch made an utterly unexpected appearance in the Obs garden long after the apparently promising conditions had evaporated; earlier, a steady passage of 17 Spotted Flycatchers - most moving straight through - had provided the bulk of the numbers among a thinnish selection of other routine arrivals at the Bill that also included 2 Yellow-legged Gulls and 2 Hobbys. Another passing Great Northern Diver was the pick of what little was on the move offshore.

History's shown us so often that you just never know what'll pop up out of the blue on a migration headland like Portland and today it was this Hawfinch found right at the end of the afternoon in the bottom panel of a mist-net that was about to be closed after having been open for nearly 11 hours; with not a hint of untoward happenings afoot and in utterly benign conditions you have to wonder what on earth this bird was up to - where had it come from, where was it heading and, being an adult male, why wasn't it ensconced breeding somewhere © Martin Cade:

14th May

A day serious blighted by the comings and goings of thick fog that was always lapping around the shores of the island - the Bill area was particularly affected but nowhere escaped spells when meaningful fieldwork was almost impossible. Plenty of effort was put in and a respectable round-island tally of new arrivals that included 7 Spotted Flycatchers, 6 Reed Warblers, 4 Wheatears, 3 each of Sedge Warbler and Chiffchaff, 2 each of Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat and Willow Warbler, and singles of Cuckoo, Tree Pipit, Firecrest and Corn Bunting (the long-staying Corn Bunting was also still present) suggested that with more helpful conditions there might have been something of higher quality to be uncovered.

Two photographs taken at more or less the same time this morning: Fortuneswell bathed in sunshine but looking as though it was about to be swallowed up by fog © Nick Hopper and the Obs barely visible at 100 metres © Martin Cade:

13th May

We're pretty sure we've been spiteful about World Migratory Bird Day in the past but inevitably it proved to be the death knell for almost all migration at Portland - not that there had been much going on anyway since the month of May seems to have become almost a rarity-only period these days. With dawn far clearer than had been anticipated grounded arrivals really weren't expected in any quantity and proved in fact to be almost absent, with a Yellow-legged Gull at the Bill and 2 Whinchats and a Redstart either side of Southwell as good as it got. Hirundine passage might have been expected given the lovely windless conditions and clear, sunny sky but even they were inexplicably sparse and it was left to the likes of the odd few overflying Swifts, Tree Pipits, Yellow Wagtails and Spotted Flycatchers, along with a single Hobby, to provide interest overhead. Offshore, 3 Arctic Skuas and 2 Great Northern Divers passed through off the Bill.

It's a bad job when you're reduced to looking at seagulls in mid-May - this Yellow-legged Gull was just about bird of the day at the Bill © Martin Cade:

We don't know what's happened to wader passage this year - presumably the Dunlins and Sanderlings just haven't got going yet for on four evening visits to Ferrybridge in the last week we literally haven't seen a single small wader on the sandflats. The conditions were so glorious on this evening's abject visit that we decided to abort and head over to Lodmoor to see if the Purple Heron that had been seen there earlier in the day might put in a reappearance. As luck would have it our timing was perfect but our ineptitude was such that we managed to mess up what could have been a great view of it: shortly after arriving our desire for a call of nature was sufficiently great that we had to pop behind some strategic bushes and it was at just this moment that an odd-sounding heron started calling and on looking up we realised the Purple Heron had emerged from a nearby reedbed - with hands momentarily otherwise engaged there was no chance of a photograph until the bird was considerably further away and before long was in fact disappearing high out to sea across Weymouth Bay, never to be seen again! © Martin Cade: