11th April

In a day long peasouper, for a few hours we were able to kid ourselves that there were migrants out but we just couldn't see them; however, by the afternoon, the reality had dawned that it really was still just as rubbish as it had been all the rest of the week. A lone Redstart did give a glimmer of hope at the Bill, but otherwise it was down to the thinnest spread of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers on the ground and the odd flash of a Swallow disappearing into the fog to provide interest. The sea wasn't visible in any meaningful way for the whole day!

10th April

Another day that offered what looked to be some hope of a fall out of migrants on the land and a bit of a seawatching, both of which almost completely failed to materialise. It wasn't utterly dead but numbers were far, far below Portland's usual spring standard, with barely double figures of even the commonest passerines on the ground, no visible passage overhead and just 3 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill. Ferrybridge chipped in with 27 Sandwich Terns, 5 Great Northern Divers, 4 Shelduck and 3 Canada Geese over.

It wasn't just us getting wet in the recurring drizzy, mizzly or worse outbreaks - this male Wheatear in song at the Bill was looking far below its usually dapper best © Matt Ames:

Sandwich Tern and the Canada Geese overhead at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders:

9th April

 A 60mph westerly gale really isn't what's needed in mid-April and for the most part Storm Pierrick was an ill wind bird-wise. A Hooded Crow at Reforne was a surprise new arrival but interest otherwise consisted of just a Merlin and a handful of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs on the ground at the Bill, an Arctic Skua through on the sea there and 170 Mediterranean Gulls, 81 Sandwich Terns, a Common Tern and a Little Tern through at Portland Harbour/Ferrybridge.

Amazingly, the Hooded Crow that pitched up in private gardens at Reforne is now the third scarcity this year that's only been witnessed by interested members of the public who've taken some mobile phone record-shots © Lisa Cousins (top two photos) and Jill Bramley (bottom photo):

Portland's first Little Tern of the spring © Pete Saunders:

The year's first Vestal - which is also the island's earliest-ever record - was secured in peculiar circumstances: with a raging gale blowing overnight next to nothing was trapped in the couple of moth-traps left on at the Obs; however, later in the day the Vestal was discovered floating (still alive) in a pond close to one of the traps - presumably it had ditched in the pond after being attracted to the light and then couldn't escape © Martin Cade:

8th April

Popular opinion ventured that there was a more than evens chance of a decent drop of birds today - but what do we know about it? In the event the happenings didn't get beyond the very mundane at the Bill: only Wheatear and Chiffchaff managed double figure totals on the ground, singles of Redstart and Bullfinch provided minor interest and almost nothing was on the move overhead; 34 Common Scoter, 28 Mediterranean Gulls, 10 Red-throated Divers and 5 Eider represented a less than impressive return from the sea. Elsewhere, Portland Castle hosted the year's first Brambling and second Pied Flycatcher.

7th April

A less than compelling day: batteringly strong winds overnight saw passerine migration remain on hold and did far less for the sea than might have been hoped. What numbers and variety there were were all on the sea, with 24 Sandwich Terns, 2 Great Skuas and an Arctic Skua from the Bill, 6 Red-throated Divers, an Arctic Skua and a Little Gull from Chesil and 61 Sandwich Terns, 5 Common Terns, 2 Great Northern Divers and a Little Gull through over Ferrybridge. A pitiful selection from the land included nothing of significance beyond a Merlin at the Bill.

This is a photo that slightly disproves something we'd always taken as read, which is that moulting Great Northern Divers are temporarily rendered flightless by simultaneously shedding all their flight feathers (that is the case - we've just looked it up to check!). Many years ago - when we birded Weymouth - we got quite into watching at this time of year an annual moult gathering of Great Northern Divers in Weymouth Bay; several times we saw birds flap their wings and reveal just 'stumps' without any flight feathers. Today's bird is clearly making a fair bit of moult progress, with its bill already colouring up and new plumage visible on the head, shoulders and wing bases but it's also patently completely fully-winged. Thus far, we've only been able to find one relevant notebook from the old days but this does record on 20th April of that year an individual off Lodmoor in 'mostly' summer plumage but with no flight feathers visible when it flapped, so we're guessing the flight feather shedding usually occurs after head and body moult has progressed a bit further than it has on today's individual, rather than as soon as moult begins? © Pete Saunders:

6th April

A bit of a curate's egg of a day - something that perhaps might have been expected given the peculiar conditions that saw the likes of a mountainous sea arrive in tandem with enough warmth for it to be the first shirtsleeves day of the year. The island's earliest-ever Black Tern was a nice highlight from the sea, whilst a grounded Avocet was the pick of the spring's first real push of migrant waders; as for action on the land, the mentioning of Hoopoe and Yellowhammer in the same breath might seem strange but reflects the fact that there have already been more of the former this year than the latter. The sea certainly came up with the best of the day's numbers and variety, with 45 Bar-tailed Godwits, 30 Whimbrel, 10 Common Terns, 2 Arctic Skuas, a Little Gull and the Black Tern off Chesil and 59 Common Scoter, 42 Whimbrel, 20 Bar-tailed Godwits, 6 Red-throated Divers, 4 Arctic Skuas, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and singles of Grey Plover and Great Skua from the Bill; the passing Avocet didn't quite make the seawatching viewpoints but skipped over Chesil and dropped in at Ferrybridge. Sadly, the Hoopoe escaped the gaze of birders who had pretty scant rewards from the land: the Yellowhammer and a Ring Ouzel were new in at the Bill and Southwell respectively, but otherwise it was slim pickings with 2 White Wagtails the best of the rest around the south of the island.

5th April

Yesterday's hint of things getting going again did indeed prove to be the precursor to migration gaining substantially more momentum, with a far more typical Portland spring fall in evidence right across the island today. Coverage was far from adequate away from the hotspots but the Bill area's totals of 100 Blackcaps, 90 Willow Warblers, 60 Chiffchaffs, 30 Wheatears, 3 Redstarts, 2 Siskins, a Merlin and a Redwing were reflected at several other spots that were scrutinised, where additional finds included a Pied Flycatcher at Sweethill and a Yellowhammer at the Grove - both first records for the year; also noted again was the presumed Siberian Lesser Whitethroat that was still hanging on in a garden at Southwell. The sea always looked as though it ought to be producing but the returns from the Bill at least were no more than 55 Sandwich Terns, 4 Red-throated Divers, 6 Common Scoter, 2 Shelducks and a Great Skua.

Pied Flycatcher and Willow Warbler at Sweethill today © Pete Saunders:

4th April

These things are relative because the recent bar has fallen to ever such a low level but there was just the tiniest hint of there being more about on the ground today, with Wheatear and Blackcap both managing to scrape into double figures at the Bill. In truth, beyond the occasional Swallow passing by, there was few other signs of migration picking up and by way of interest things not no better than a lingering White Wagtail at Sweethill. In the continuing turbulent conditions the sea was surprisingly quiet, with little more than 4 Red-throated Divers of note off the Bill.

3rd April

Weather-wise, our tale of woe continued, with the strength of the wind being today's blight. An unseen Serin in song in a birder's garden at Southwell frustrated subsequent searchers by turning as inaudible as it had been invisible. The day's other new arrivals on the land were exceedingly few and included by way of interest just 2 White Wagtails at Sweethill and singles of Ring Ouzel at the Obs and Fieldfare at Fancy's Farm. The sea provided some early interest, with 34 Sandwich Terns, 10 Red-throated Divers and singles of Great Skua and Arctic Skua through off the Bill.

2nd April

Another day with no more than single figure totals of grounded migrants at the Bill, amongst which 2 White Wagtails and a lone Redwing provided the only glimmer on interest; elsewhere, lingering singles of Black Redstart at Reap Lane and Redwing at Blacknor attracted admirers in the absence of anything else. Despite the southerly breeze freshening quickly ahead of the arrival of yet more during the afternoon sea passage was rather pedestrian, with 17 Red-throated Divers, 4 Dunlin, 4 Sandwich Terns and an Arctic Skua the best from the Bill.

1st April

A pre-dawn deluge might have been hoped to be the shot in the arm that our needy cause required but in the event fell well short of expectations. Whilst quantity might have been deficient quality wasn't, with 2 Cirl Buntings at Barleycrates Lane and a Serin at the Obs delivering on that front; 2 more coburni Icelandic Redwings trapped at the Obs continued the run of records of this local scarcity, whilst 4 Greylag Geese overhead at the Bill come at a time of year that has a historic peak of occurrences here that the optimistic attribute to the occasional passage of birds of non-local origin. The drop of common migrants wasn't a spectacle to behold: 2 Redstarts, a White Wagtail and a Black Redstart dotted around in mid-island were welcome but they were accompanied by, for example, barely more than single figure totals of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler at the Bill, whilst Wheatears remained crazily few and far between everywhere. The day's clear sky remained all but bereft of diurnal migrants. The sea ticked over in a more productive manner than passage on other fronts, with morning totals from the Bill that included 310 Gannets, 75 Mediterranean Gulls, 66 Common Scoter, 46 Common Gulls, 21 Sandwich Terns, 16 Eider, 11 Red-throated Divers, 6 Arctic Skuas and 3 Little Gulls. Winter fare still about included a Slavonian Grebe in Portland Harbour.

We strongly suspect the recent Serin sightings all involve the same individual, although quite where it goes between its infrequent appearances at the Obs remains to be established © Martin Cade:

Despite being no more than a long range spectacle from the Obs, the flock of Eider were of interest since they were tracked moving along the best part of the length of the Dorset coastline: they took about 30 minutes to cover the 15 or so miles from West Bexington at c30mph; the timings of their next 23 miles until they passed Peveril Point at Swanage were more precisely established and showed they speeded up and covered this leg of their up-Channel passage in 32 minutes at a speed of 43mph (thanks to Mike Morse for the initial heads-up and to James Leaver and Steve Smith for the Peveril details) © Martin Cade:

Another day and two more Icelandic Redwings: quite apart from looking the part these birds were whoppers, with wing lengths of 130mm and 128 mm respectively © Martin Cade:

31st March

March has been very much a month of fits and starts, with the overall feeling of spring action getting going really promptly being spoilt by spells when inclement weather has seen things grind to a halt. Fortunately, the month ended on a high with numbers on all fronts and a nice scarcity showing up in the form of a Hoopoe that dropped in briefly at Blacknor. The highest numbers were overhead, with quite a floodgate opening on West Cliffs where 1293 Meadow Pipits and 352 Linnets made up the bulk of the north-bound movement during a six hour watch; although the stiff easterly funneled a lot of passage up the cliffs it was also apparent from other viewpoints that plenty of birds - hirundines in particular - were arriving elsewhere over the Bill so better coverage would undoubtedly have resulted in considerably higher day-totals of these diurnal movers. The strength of the wind wasn't doing favours on the ground, but 100 Chiffchaffs and 60 Willow Warblers - along with a Ring Ouzel at the Bill and a Firecrest at Portland Castle amongst the also-rans - were a fair return at the Bill; there were further patches of conspicuous phyllosc abundance up-island and the feeling was always that some good totals might have been racked up there given more eyes out looking. The sea got plenty of attention, with combined totals from the the Bill and Chesil that included 362 Common Scoter, 77 Sandwich Terns, 35 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 35 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Red-throated Divers, 2 Arctic Skuas and singles of Velvet Scoter, Grey Plover, Whimbrel, Yellow-legged Gull and Common Tern.

The Hoopoe showed so well during its brief visit to a back-garden lawn that the event was captured perfectly well with a mobile phone © Si Gallali:

Whimbrel and Great Northern Diver from Ferrybridge this morning © Pete Saunders:

30th March

Much improved conditions were welcomed for permitting comfortable fieldwork but were maybe a little too improved to deliver on the migrant front, with the starlit night sky giving delayed movers plenty of opportunity to make unhindered progress. What small flurry of arrivals there was was most evident at dawn when the mainly phylloscs involved moved through very quickly, and later as a trickle of routine diurnal migrants got moving; further later arrivals included the spring's first Redstart at Southwell, an Osprey heading through over the Grove and a likely Icelandic Redwing trapped at the Obs. The sea was disappointing, with the increasingly brisk onshore breeze delivering little more at the Bill than 100 Common Scoter and the first commic tern of the season.

We wouldn't have thought there's too much doubt that today's Redwing was Iceland-bound even it wasn't quite such a compellingly-marked individual as, for example, this fabulously swarthy specimen handled yesterday on Skokholm. Our take is that coburni Icelandic Redwings are genuinely rare visitors to Portland: we've handled or photographed a few here over the years and there are biometrics recorded in the Obs archives that suggest the occasional specimen was trapped before our time but there's no doubt that the overwhelming majority of Redwings recorded here originate from Scandinavia or points further east © Martin Cade:

29th March

Yesterday's weather excesses may have passed but the overnight and daytime conditions remained far too turbulent for passerines to get moving in any numbers and the bank holiday rewards were scant on the ground and overhead. The odd singles of the most routine fare were uncovered but certainly nothing worth a mention beyond the year's first Grey Plover at Portland Harbour and a Reed Bunting at the Bill; also of interest, the presumed Siberian Lesser Whitethroat was still in a private garden at Southwell. The sea was a little more interesting, with 86 Sandwich Terns through at Ferrybridge and a steady trickle of Manx Shearwaters through off the Bill; 3 Red-throated Divers and a Whimbrel also passed the Bill, where 2 Garganey were also reported.

The Ferrybridge Sandwich Terns were all moving west after presumably having been driven into the sheltered waters of the harbour and Weymouth Bay by yesterday's storm © Pete Saunders:

The presumed Siberian Lesser Whitethroat hadn't been looked for for a number of days but was still in a private garden at Southwell - judging by it's shoddy appearance it's undergoing its pre-breeding body moult so will likely be present for a while longer yet © Alan Mayell:

28th March

What an extremely wild day: we haven't seen official figures for the afternoon wind strength but it seemed like it might have been gusting up well past 60mph in some violent squalls that followed torrential rain through the morning - all in all, really grim. Seawatching at the Bill from dawn before the heaviest rain set in did produce the spring's first Whimbrel, along with 5 Red-throated Divers and singles of Great Northern Diver and Arctic Skua, but the less said about the rest of the day the better.

Whimbrel, Arctic Skua and Kittiwake from the dawn seawatching session © Pete Saunders:

27th March

One day it's going to settle down and dry up but today most definitely wasn't that day...and by the sound of things nor is tomorrow! Grounded arrivals looked to be completely absent, with the only migrant interest on the land being a lone Merlin and a handful of Meadow Pipits and Swallows through overhead. The sea fared little better with 13 passing Red-throated Divers the only birds of particular note off the Bill.

As is often the case in late March, Red-throated Divers provided the bulk of the day's sea interest © Pete Saunders...

...and with the likes of wildfowl and skuas conspicuous absentees it was left to Gannets and the occasional Mediterranean Gull to keep us occupied in the pretty unpleasant conditions © Martin Cade

26th March

Spring passage seems to be taking a while to get back on track after it was derailed at the weekend, with today's pleasantly birdable almost windless and lightly overcast conditions coming up with relatively poor returns on the passerine front. Chiffchaff struggled up to 30 or so at the Bill/Southwell but Wheatear and Blackcap were the only other common migrants managing double figures on the ground; a brief Ring Ouzel was a first for the spring there and 2 lingering Firecrests came out of the woodwork. Overhead passage was equally underwhelming, with the lightest of passages of Meadow Pipits making up the bulk of the numbers. The sea was busier and also came up with bird of the day in the form of an unseasonable Sooty Shearwater through off the Bill; 32 Red-throated Divers, 98 Common Scoter, 6 Sandwich Terns, 2 Arctic Skuas and a Great Northern Diver also through there represented a fair return for late March.

Hobbies like birdwatching are full of esoteric 'little things please little minds' diversions to keep autistic participants out of mischief and something that's occupied this little mind just lately has been the ageing of Wrens. Ever since Rachel Taylor elucidated a novel method for tackling this hitherto troublesome conundrum more than a decade ago we've always taken Wren ageing to be pretty straightforward. However, quite by chance we discovered that Rachel's flight feather pattern feature we'd been relying on wasn't at all well covered in the standard published and online literature: among the ringers' guides, the Identification Atlas of the Continental Birds of Southwestern Europe and Jenni & Winkler do it fullest justice; despite dwelling at length on much trickier criteria Svensson mentions it just briefly without providing a helpful illustration and neither Demongin or the Ottenby Ringers' Digiguide mention it at all. Since it's perfectly visible in a good in-field photo you'd expect it to be mentioned in the field guides but only Britain's Birds gives it proper coverage, with neither the Collins Bird Guide nor the Advanced Bird ID Guide referring to it at all. We're guessing the humble Wren just isn't trendy enough in the way that, for example, Caspian Gulls or American Black Terns are! Anyway, a few photos from our handlings of Wrens in the last month illustrate the salient features (these are all retraps from the Obs garden breeding population so we're 100% certain that their ages are correct!). Basically, young Wrens (born last year) have a nice clean, parallel lining up of the dark bars across the flight feathers...

...whereas in adults (born before last year) these black bars are altogether more higgledy-piggledy - at first glance you might be fooled into thinking they look pretty parallel but closer inspection always  reveals much more unevenness:

Although we'd generally look for ageing clues on an open wing, this is the sort of feature that's actually often easier to gauge when the wing's closed or at most half-open:

This youngster has much reduced black barring but the characteristic pattern is still quite easily discernible © Martin Cade:

25th March

Accommodation update: we've been receiving a rash of calls and messages in recent days from folk requesting accommodation over Easter so it might be timely to give an update: as it stands at the moment we're already completely full for every weekend between now and 14th/15th June; additionally, even every mid-week night between Fri 19th April and Wed 15th May is already full. There are still a few mid-week nights during early April and late May with a room or two available but the whole spring migration period is extremely busy. This is fairly typical spring occupancy here so in future prospective visitors would be well advised not to leave things to the last minute!

A Hoopoe looked to have been in the offing for most of last week so for one to show up today at Penn's Weare was very welcome albeit not a huge surprise. It certainly cornered the migrant market today, with precious little uncovered beyond a Merlin at Sweethill and a handful of Wheatears, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers here and there; the lingering Firecrest was also still at the Obs. The brisk onshore breeze looked to offer some promise for the sea but it seemed a huge wodge of stationary rain not far to the west had other ideas and blocked off all but some early movement at the Bill: 324 Gannets, 85 Kittiwakes, 20 Common Scoter, 15 Red-throated Divers, 7 Sandwich Terns, 3 Manx Shearwaters and an Arctic Skua passed through in quick time before passage ground to a halt.

The Hoopoe showed extremely well © Martin Adlam Port and Wey:

Despite the unfavourably windy conditions the Obs moth-traps attracted a local scarcity in the form of a Blossom Underwing - a far less than annual visitor to the island... 

...moth interest has otherwise been pretty minimal just lately with the exception of a Brindled Beauty from John Lucas' garden at Southwell a few nights ago - another far less than annual stray here © Martin Cade:

24th March

Despite improved conditions the stiff breeze remained firmly in the northwest and again looked to have put a stop to most routine migration. Another fly-by Serin at the Obs was the day's highlight, with the reappearance of a lingering Firecrest there providing the only other real interest. Wheatears just scraped into double figures at the Bill, where Blackcap and Chiffchaff only made the day-list by virtue of singletons.

23rd March

In the face of a blasting, chilly northwesterly and frequent squally showers it was hardly surprising that migration momentum took a further hit today. Low single figure totals of even routine fare were the rule, with singles of Merlin and Curlew on the land and reports of the first Puffin of the year on the sea the only sightings of note from the Bill.

Freddy Alway did well in the sense-numbing cold and buffeting wind this afternoon to notice this week's second colour-ringed Wheatear that was lurking unobtrusively in the lee of East Cliffs; like the individual a few days ago, this one's from Lundy where it was first marked as a breeding female on 2nd June 2022 © Jodie Henderson:

22nd March

The forecast change from milder to cooler air duly arrived and could of gone either way; sadly, our thoughts of it doing us a favour proved well wide of the mark and migrant numbers dropped away. That's not to say it was entirely dead, but 25 Wheatears and lowish single figure totals of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were certainly a less than impressive return from the ground at the Bill. Singles of Redwing and Firecrest were of interest there, a surprise spread of Siskins included as many as 3 visiting feeders at Easton, and a Redshank was new at Ferrybridge. Hirundines continued to battle through in small numbers but visible passage was otherwise very limited. Odds and ends of note amongst the lingering winterers included 5 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill and 3 Black-throated Divers still in Portland Harbour.

Although big things like Brent Geese are well known for wintering together as family parties and conversely - as far as we're aware at least - passerines don't typically migrate or winter in family groups, we've often pondered on whether, for example, things like the Purple Sandpipers that winter at the Bill are mostly close relatives. Receiving these photographs today of an adult (top photo) and a youngster (bottom photo) in close proximity reminded us that several times this winter we've seen two adults and several youngsters more or less together - are they a family group or is this just a random winter mixing event that we're tempted to read too much into? © David Lopez-Idiaquez:

21st March

Migrants remained on the move although in the murky conditions that rolled in after dawn and persisted for several hours there was a feeling that plenty - particularly those overhead - were being missed. The totals of new arrivals on the ground at the Bill/Southwell certainly weren't to be sniffed at this early in the season and included 40 Chiffchaffs, 30 Wheatears, 15 Willow Warblers, 12 Blackcaps, 2 Mallards and singles of Short-eared Owl, Black RedstartGoldcrest and Firecrest (with another lingering Firecrest also still present). Once the murk lifted a little it was apparent that all three common hirundines were featuring amongst the more routine alba wagtails and Meadow Pipits on the move overhead; single Siskins at the Bill and Southwell were also of note. The reduced visibility restricted seawatching opportunities and 4 passing Red-throated Divers were just about all that could be managed at the Bill. Other news from the day included a good count of 56 Turnstones at Hamm Beach.

Today's new Firecrest at Sweethill © Pete Saunders:

20th March

Well, what a scorching day for mid-March. With hardly a breath of breeze to take the edge off the increasingly pleasant sunshine conditions were perfect for birding and the migrants more than obliged with a decent little arrival of the regulars on the ground and overhead, some interesting sea passage and a selection of oddities that was topped off in fine fashion with an Alpine Swift that zoomed around over Southwell during the evening. Dawn saw immediate promise on the migrant front when the first 2 Willow Warblers of the season showed up in the Obs mist-nets; the other expected arrivals weren't hugely numerous on the ground there but Wheatear, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest all managed double figure totals and a lingering Firecrest provided further interest; amongst a similar spread of birds elsewhere, another Firecrest was at Southwell and the likely Siberian Lesser Whitethroat remained there. Overhead, alba wagtailMeadow Pipits and Sand Martins were arriving steadily, the first House Martin of the year passed through at Southwell, 2 Red Kites arrived from the north over Portland Harbour and singles of Marsh Harrier and Merlin passed over at the Bill. A small movement of 21 Pale-bellied Brent Geese in three flocks off the Bill was unexpected, with 18 Red-throated Divers, 12 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Sandwich Terns also through there and an impressive gathering of 3000 Herring Gulls lingering offshore.

Migrant moth interest perked up a little, with 6 Dark Sword Grass, 3 Turnip, 2 Rusty-dot Pearl and a Diamond-back trapped overnight at the Obs and a Silver Y attracted to the Obs porch light around midnight.

Pete and Debby Saunders' scarcity hotspot garden at Southwell has, by their own admission, been off the boil during the last two or three years so this evening's Alpine Swift right overhead there represented a welcome return to form - lots more of the same please © Pete Saunders:

You don't usually get to see Black-necked and Slavonian Grebes right next to each other in Portland Harbour © Pete Saunders:

Amongst this morning's arrival of Wheatears at the Bill this colour-ringed bird was of particular interest. The guys at Lundy Bird Observatory tell us that it was first ringed there as an adult male on 28th May 2022 and was back on the island during the 2023 breeding season; really oddly, after both breeding seasons it's left Lundy and moved to Skokholm to undertake its post-breeding moult during July/August - it might be that this isn't freaky behaviour at all but it's the sort of thing that you'd never realise was happening were it not for it bearing colour-rings © Simon Johnson

The Southwell Lesser Whitethroat today afforded some views of its tail, with the seemingly whopping amount of white in the outer feathers strongly supporting the suggestion that it belongs to one or other of the eastern forms © Alan Mayell

The Marsh Harrier motoring south so high over the Bill that it was only just discernable to the naked eye as a tiny speck was one of those things that was only spotted by virtue of looking for something else - in this case the Red Kites that we'd had a call about; it doesn't pay to dwell too long on all those things we must be missing that slip by like this! © Martin Cade:

19th March

A shocker of a day with drizzly rain setting in soon after dawn and thereafter coming and going until well after dark. Despite good soakings for the diehards making an effort they did achieve some modicum of success with a Serin dropping in briefly at the Obs and at least 1 new Firecrest at the Bill but common migrants were very poorly represented, with just odd singles of Wheatear and Chiffchaff here and there. Late in the day a Lesser Whitethroat was a surprise discovery in a private garden at Southwell.

Only seen briefly in the most challenging of conditions the Lesser Whitethroat at Southwell was surely not a newly arrived, ridiculously early migrant. There's nothing particularly helpful visible in the fortuitous few photographs obtained but you'd think that a hitherto unseen overwintering blythi Siberian Lesser Whitethroat would be the most likely explanation © Alan Mayell