30th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 25
Balearic Shearwater 9w
Common Scoter 1e 13w
Mediterranean Gull 10
Sandwich Tern 1w

29th June

Portland Bill 
Manx Shearwater 1e 2w
Balearic Shearwater 2w
Cormorant 10 likely migrants
Common Scoter 15e 7w
Common Sandpiper 1
Mediterranean Gull 27
Sandwich Tern 3w
Sand Martin 4s
Chiffchaff 2

Something we'd heard about a few days ago but had then forgotten to mention was this white House Sparrow that's apparently been about in Fortuneswell just recently - as far as we can make out it really is a true albino with pinkish bare parts and a red eye. As a consequence of their duff eyesight albino as opposed to look-alike leucistic birds are seemingly really rare - or at least very few make it much beyond fledging - and we certainly don't recall ever having seen as convincing an example as this one © Joan Tolman:

28th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 1w
Curlew 1n
Whimbrel 1w
Spotted Redshank 1n
Mediterranean Gull 6etc

27th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 19
Balearic Shearwater 3w
Common Scoter 2e 9w
Arctic Skua 1e
Mediterranean Gull 13
Sandwich Tern 1w
Swift 20
Sand Martin 2s
Grey Wagtail 1
Chiffchaff 1

We're on a roll with the moth-traps, with a second first for the island in two nights. In fairness, the Druid (...what a great vernacular name and so much better than the crappy honorifics dolled out so often these days - what's so clever about setting up a moth-trap, getting a good night's sleep and then just as likely mis-identifying the unfamiliar moth that's been trapped that someone else later tells you is a first for Britain?) had been on the cards for several years: with c20 British records since the first in 2014 we'd been expecting one for quite a while and it was perhaps a surprise that it took as long as it did before ours put in an appearance last night. In repose, this is a moth that looks interesting but maybe nothing too special... 

...however, give it a little poke and the flashing bi-coloured hindwings certainly jazz up its looks...

...and here it is posed with a Four Spotted, our local speciality to which it bears a more than passing resemblance © Martin Cade:

26th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 6e 2w
Gannet 175e in 1 hour
Common Scoter 7e
Mediterranean Gull 20
Black-headed Gull 1
Sandwich Tern 11e
Swift 29
Sand Martin 1s
Chiffchaff 1

Mute Swan 2
Dunlin 2
Sanderling 3

When we noticed the Mute Swans were unringed we wondered if they were 'outsiders' rather than Abbotsbury birds but Joe Stockwell tells us that there are currently plenty of unringed birds at the Swannery as a consequence of there not having been a full-blown swan round-up there for several years; alternatively, he also mentioned that a lot of outside birds do come to the Fleet at this time of year to moult © Pete Saunders:

It's still the in-between season for waders at Ferrybridge: the breeding Oystercatchers are busy feeding their now fledged young...

...but today there was a hint of things to come with the first few returning Sanderlings and Dunlin in residence © Pete Saunders:

To borrow from birding parlance we were completely seen off last week when Geoff Lightfoot caught Dorset's first and Britain's sixth Orange-bar Grass-veneer Chrysocrambus linetella in Weymouth - records of crippling rares of this sort don't hurt when they're miles away at, say, Dungeness but they're really painful when they involve something that's patently flown right over Portland before dropping out on the mainland. Anyway, it took a remarkably short time for our pain to be assuaged when on opened one of this morning's moth-traps there was an apparent linetella in all its glory - they might not be eye candy but they don't half look rare and interesting! We say apparent linetella because we're well aware that this little group of vagrant grass-veneers are an ID minefield and confirmation that it is linetella rather than one of the other even less likely possibilities will only come after further critical examination:

That there was clearly some odd event going on in the moth migration line was evidenced by the rest of the trap contents: conventional migrants were represented but certainly not in plenty but there was a nice selection of infrequently-trapped species present - most of which no doubt originated from across the water in France. These included several Scarce Oak Knot-horn Acrobasis tumidana which is always a good indicator species that interesting happenings are afoot...

...whilst an arrival of four White-backed Marble Hedya salicella was most unexpected; we'd had very few records ever of this relatively widespread 'inland' species until Duncan Walbridge trapped one a few nights ago at Weston - five in less than a week is unprecedented at Portland © Martin Cade:

25th June


24th June

Portland Bill 
Common Scoter 7e
Little Egret 1
Yellow-legged Gull 1e
Chiffchaff 1

23rd June


22nd June

The lean times continued, with singles of Redshank and Willow Warbler new at the Bill, where odds and ends out to sea included 16 Mediterranean Gulls, 4 Manx Shearwaters, 4 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Sandwich Terns and 2 Common Scoter.

Our breeding bird monitoring is encountering all stages of activity at the moment: today there was a very late Willow Warbler singing away and trying its damnedest to find a mate at Culverwell - good luck with that...

...Skylarks were treating their young to a varied orthopteran diet...

...and every time we wander down for a look at the fledged Wheatears in the Bill Quarry there seems to be more of them: initially we thought there were just two, then a day later a third appeared and, having trapped and ringed all of them days ago, so today the male appears with three completely new unringed youngsters - where on earth did they come from? It really did look as though only the female was attending to the first three youngsters and, at least from what we could see this evening, it was only the male that was attending to the three 'new' birds (and there was actually no sign at that time of the female and the other youngsters); is this sort of staggering of the fledging usual? - we've never seen anything like it during the previous breeding attempts at the Bill © Martin Cade:

21st June

20th June


19th June

It was another perfectly pleasant day to be out looking but we've got a lot of tiresome paperwork to be getting on with this evening so won't bore you with a blog update that'll just tell you we didn't find very much.

18th June

No particularly worthwhile sightings to report today!

17th June

Portland Bill 
Manx Shearwater 25etc
Grey Heron 1s
Common Scoter 64e 20w
Mediterranean Gull 20etc
Black-headed Gull 6etc
Sandwich Tern 2etc
commic tern 5etc
Sand Martin 4s
Garden Warbler 1

A pleasing little event a couple of days ago was the successful fledging of two young Wheatears in the Bill Quarry - the first breeding success there since 2019 © Martin Cade:

16th June

Portland Bill
Common Scoter 28e
Mediterranean Gull 20etc
Black-headed Gull 5etc 1e
commic tern 16e
Sand Martin 2
Reed Warbler 1
Garden Warbler 1
Chiffchaff 1

Barleycrates Lane
Turtle Dove 1

Ringed Plover 2
Dunlin 2
Sanderling 1

Breeding birds such as the Ferrybridge Little Terns are now getting plenty of attention...

...but there are still the odd few migrants like this Sanderling passing through © Pete Saunders:

Just a few years ago a Portland record of Norfolk Hawker would have seemed like something out of Dreamland but following their extraordinarily rapid colonisation of the Weymouth wetlands an island record suddenly entered the realms of distinct possibility - today that possibility was realised when Steve Mansfield discovered this specimen at High Angle Battery © Steve Mansfield:

In fact it was a day of two additions to the island bug tally, with Portland's first Rosy Marbled gracing Debby Saunders' moth-trap at Sweethill; this is a moth with a Dorset distribution centred on the Poole Basin but evidently it does have some propensity to wander so had long been considered to be something to keep an eye out for - a nice little moth although really easy to pass off as a tortrix or some other micro ©  Debby Saunders:

15th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater c50etc
Balearic Shearwater 1etc
Grey Heron 2
Sandwich Tern 1e
Black-headed Gull 2w
Garden Warbler 1
Chiffchaff 1

Blackcap 1
Chiffchaff 1

Black Swan 3
Ringed Plover 9
Dunlin 8
Sanderling 1

14th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 120etc
Balearic Shearwater 1etc
Common Scoter 44e
Arctic Skua 3e
Mediterranean Gull 10etc
Black-headed Gull 3e 2w
Sandwich Tern 3e
Reed Warbler 1
Chiffchaff 1

Ringed Plover 7
Dunlin 3
Bar-tailed Godwit 1
Redshank 1

We tapped into an unexpected little bit of avian drama at the Bill tip during our evening seawatch when we begun hearing the unmistakable shrill peeping of a baby Guillemot approaching from behind us off East Cliffs and the lost youngster duly came into view, still calling incessantly as it paddled frantically westwards. Much further offshore it eventually made contact with a group of loafing adult Guillemots who seemed to give it as much stick as they did love and attention so we presumed its parents weren't amongst this group. Being keen to see how things played out we moved over to Pulpit Rock to get closer to the action and caught up with events just as the bird made contact with two more adults that, from the seemingly more positive mood music, we reckon were likely to have been its parents. How the hapless youngster became separated from them in the first place is a matter for conjecture but, since jumplings at the Bill very rarely leave the cliffs anytime much before the half light of dusk, we'd venture that the best bet was that it fell accidentally and got swept by the tide well off to the east before struggling back towards familiar territory at the colony © Martin Cade:

13th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 120etc
Balearic Shearwater 1etc
Little Egret 2
Common Scoter 5w
Black-headed Gull 3
Sandwich Tern 4w
Puffin 1etc
Swift 17
Swallow 1n
Chiffchaff 1
Willow Warbler 1

Black Swan 3
Dunlin 24
Sanderling 10
Bar-tailed Godwit 1
Redshank 1
Redwing 2s

The Ferrybridge Black Swans were presumably wandering down the Fleet from Abbotsbury - we're sure the guys there will correct us if this isn't right but we think these are some of the four birds that first arrived in the area last July when, rather bizarrely, they pitched up on the shore at the tip of the Bill; you'd have thought that somebody would have had an inkling about where they originated from but our enquires at the time drew a blank © Debby Saunders:

After only being seen on the wing for the first time yesterday Marbled Whites were suddenly everywhere today making the most of what, for Portland, was a really scorching 24C day © Roy Norris:

12th June

Portland Bill
Manx Shearwater 40etc
Balearic Shearwater 2etc
Common Scoter 44e 2w
Black-headed Gull 7e 5w
Mediterranean Gull 10etc
Sandwich Tern 2e
Swift 17
Reed Warbler 2
Chiffchaff 1

Serin 1 singing in a private garden

Grey Plover 1
Bar-tailed Godwit 1

Silver-studded Blue at Tout Quarry this evening © Mark Cutts

11th June

The novelty of some rainfall - admittedly not much but the first for three weeks or so - did no particular favours and, at least for passerines, it remained very quiet. Singles of Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were new at the Bill, whilst the wader tally at Ferrybridge was relatively static at 19 Dunlin, 8 Ringed Plovers and singles of Grey Plover, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit and Redshank. The sea wasn't well watched, with a lone Balearic Shearwater off the Bill the only report of note.

10th June

The promised change in the weather saw far more cloud in the sky and the threat - even if nothing ever materialised - of thundery rain rarely far away. Waders have provided a lot of the interest through the week so it shouldn't have been any surprise when Ferrybridge turned up the bird of the in the form of the island's sixth record of Red-necked Phalarope; 8 Sanderling and singles of Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit were amongst the relatively few other waders there. In the commoner migrant line the day's surprise happening was another decent passage offshore, with 290 commic terns, 112 Common Scoter, 53 Manx Shearwaters, 14 Sandwich Terns, 11 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 6 Oystercatchers, 5 Balearic Shearwaters, 5 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Gadwall, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Little Terns and singles of Arctic Skua and Black Tern through off the Bill. A small likely weather-related movement of Swifts was evident over the Bill, where a Dunlin also passed over but the only obvious new passerine on the ground was a lone Reed Warbler.

Not surprisingly, Red-necked Phalarope is a pretty high value rarity at Portland. There are only two previous records for Ferrybridge - in May 1972 and April 2002, whilst the other three records are all of October seawatch sightings: in 1960 and 1980 off the Bill and in 1963 off Chesil © Martin Cade:

9th June

The stiff northeasterly that's been blowing so relentlessly for what seems like an age has become such an inevitability that we've not even been mentioning it lately - by the sound of the forecast we might soon be losing it but it was still blowing hard this morning and make early fieldwork less than enjoyable. The only obvious new arrivals at the Bill were a Willow Warbler on the ground and a few Swifts and hirundines overhead; lingering singles of Reed Warbler and Chiffchaff were also still present there. The Ferrybridge wader tally continued to dwindle, with Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Dunlin all only just scraping into double figures. Four Balearic Shearwaters were the best of the thin selection offshore at the Bill.

Moth immigration has dropped away to almost nothing but Red Admirals have been on the move in good numbers for several days, with visible migration very conspicuous in tandem with a big increase in numbers on the ground...

...at a local level another immigrant was this Black-tailed Skimmer lingering around the pond in the Crown Estate Field © Martin Cade:

8th June

The lean times are really beginning to bite with even the hitherto reliable supply of waders dwindling as they head north. The migrant tally on the ground at the Bill consisted of just 2 Reed Warblers, although overhead 2 arriving Hobbys were a surprise amongst the handful of incoming Swifts and hirundines. Waders did fare better although only Ringed Plover managed a double-figure total at Ferrybridge where 2 Knot and a Grey Plover were the best of the rest. Two Sanderlings and Grey Plover also passed through off the Bill, along with a decent total for so late of 65 Common Scoter; 2 Arctic Skuas and a lone Balearic Shearwater also made the log and the first evening movement of Manx Shearwaters for a few days saw just shy of 100 pass in a sample hour.

7th June

With so far to go the arctic waders are always on the move that bit later than the passerine migrants and it was Ferrybridge that came up with both the variety and numbers again today. A Curlew Sandpiper was the pick of the bunch, but a nice back-up cast of 45 Sanderlings, 30 Ringed Plovers, 8 Dunlin, 6 Turnstone, 3 each of Bar-tailed Godwit and Knot, and 2 each of Grey Plover and Whimbrel - along with burgeoning numbers of Mediterranean Gulls - represented a nice early morning return from the sandflats; nearby off Chesil a late Red-throated Diver was also of note. The lingering Serin popped up twice today, first at the Obs and later at Sweethill, whilst odds and ends by way of late passerine migrants scattered between the Bill and Southwell included 2 each of Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher, and a single Yellow Wagtail. A lone passing Arctic Skua was the best from the sea at the Bill.

A few from Ferrybridge this morning; the Curlew Sandpiper © Debby Saunders (top) and Pete Saunders (bottom)...

some of the Knots © Debby Saunders (top) and Pete Saunders (bottom two)...

...and the two Whimbrel © Pete Saunders:

And the Serin when it dropped in at Sweethill © Pete Saunders:

6th June

Today's excitement was over within an hour of first light when the lingering Serin made the last of several fly-arounds of the Obs garden. Subsequently, dogged pursuit of something better drew a blank and also revealed a dearth of migrants bar a fair few waders still passing through at Ferrybridge. The waders accounted for pretty well all the day's numbers, with 37 Ringed Plovers, 23 Sanderling, 12 Turnstones, 9 Dunlin, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Knot representing a fair tally for this late in the season; passerines arrivals were very few and far between, with 3 Reed Warblers and 2 Blackcaps the only obvious newcomers on the ground at the Bill. A smattering of interest on the sea included 21 Common Scoter, 10 commic terns and 4 Sandwich Terns on the move off the Bill.

The majority of first-summer Mediterranean Gulls don't get anywhere near as hooded as this bird at Ferrybridge today...

...nicely-plumaged Turnstones also remain at daily sight there © Pete Saunders:

5th June

The gradual slip back into normal June mode continued, with three appearances by the Serin at the Obs -  where there was also an unseasonable Black Redstart - the day's highlight. The migrant tally at the Bill included a handful of arriving Swifts and hirundines, 4 Reed Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and singles of Hobby, Dunlin, Wheatear and Willow Warbler; Ferrybridge was busier, including 28 Sanderling, 11 Turnstone, 8 Dunlin, 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Grey Plovers, 2 Shoveler and 2 Knot. Three passing Arctic Skuas and the likely lingering Balearic Shearwater off the Bill were the best from the sea, with 10 Sandwich Terns, 2 Whimbrel and a Sanderling also through there and 2 Knot through off Chesil.

Arctic-bound waders continue to pass through at Ferrybridge with Sanderlings considerably better represented than Dunlins just recently...

...several Bar-tailed Godwits have also taken up temporary residence there and, since the bulk of their passage through this area took place getting on for seven weeks ago, we wouldn't be surprised if these birds are giving a breeding attempt a miss this year © Pete Saunders:

Also at Ferrybridge, pairs of Shoveler have dropped in twice just recently; given it's a peculiar time of year for them to be moving about it's tempting to wonder if it's the same pair on each occasion even though we did see a lone drake passing the Bill last week - perhaps there's just something odd going on with Shovelers right now? © Pete Saunders:

The Kittiwakes at the Bill continue to be a popular attraction - some of last year's youngsters are now beginning to look pretty threadbare © Roy Norris:

Lulworth Skippers have been on the wing for a few days now although they're not yet particularly numerous © Roy Norris female (top) and Eleanor Page male (bottom):

4th June

No doubt not for the last time a Serin saved the day today when it pitched up for a couple of minutes at the Obs. With a cloudless sky and blazing sunshine the order of the day migrant numbers continued to fall: a few waders included more than 40 Sanderling still amongst the variety at Ferrybridge and 2 Turnstones at the Bill, but the passerine tally at the latter consisted of just 4 Spotted Flycatchers, 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Whinchats and singles of Wheatear, Reed Warbler and Chiffchaff. The sea was hardly watched, with 21 Common Scoter, 3 Sandwich Terns and a Balearic Shearwater the only worthwhile sightings from the Bill.

Serins have been tricky to catch up with this spring and today's bird was no exception: it appeared unannounced, called continually for the two minutes or so that it was settled in a treetop at the Obs and then launched into the sky never to be seen again. Where do all the Serins that drop in like this at the Obs end up? Nowhere else on Portland, let alone elsewhere in Dorset, records Serins at anything remotely like the frequency with which they turn up here - surely they can't all just be crossing the Channel for fun or for something to do for a couple of hours and then immediately re-crossing it back to France © Martin Cade:

Today's Serin also reminded us of another that was one of the many things that we got late with a couple of weeks ago when the sudden surge in migrants halted any desire we might have had to spend time looking at a screen. This bird was heard on the afternoon of the big Spot Fly surge on 22nd May - it was singing strongly from a leafy tree in the Obs front garden but, since it remained completely invisible until it must have slipped away, there was reluctance on the part of the observers to fully claim it; fortunately, a phone recording of it clinches the ID beyond doubt © Jodie Henderson:

Despite a huge full moon and relatively breezy conditions moth numbers and variety seem finally to be picking up: the first 'local special' of the year - this Four Spotted - was trapped overnight at the Obs...

...where quite a few of the summer 'pretties' like this freshly emerging Scarlet Tiger are also now appearing...

...however, immigrant interest is almost non-existent with this Delicate from last night the only minor oddity in recent days © Martin Cade: