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: