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: