14th March

With a grounded migrant tally at the Bill of just 4 Wheatears, 4 Goldcrests and 2 Chiffchaffs the prevailing mild airstream continued to disappoint on the passerine front. However, the brisk onshore breeze looked to offer opportunities from the sea and duly delivered a surprise Surf Scoter passing through off the Bill amongst a passage of 173 Common Scoter; 15 Shoveler and 5 Red-throated Divers provided the only other interest offshore. A Black Redstart was still present at the Bill, whilst elsewhere the year's first Firecrest was at Sweethill, 3 more Chiffchaffs were at Portland Castle and 4 Great Northern Divers were still in Portland Harbour.

Common Scoters were moving through very purposefully if not in huge numbers off the Bill

If ever there's something that defies agreed quantification off the Bill it's the size of passing scoter flocks - by nature they never fly in an orderly manner and there always seems to be an observer on hand who's counting using a different appendage to everyone else and arrives at a figure one or two different to the majority. For this reason, after a quick scan of a flock for a Velvet Scoter or some other tag-along oddity, we very often photograph the larger flocks to obtain a definitive total. Such was the case today when this flock of 21 came through at a few hundred metres range...

...did you spot the Surf Scoter amongst them? - no, we didn't either until we reviewed this and the other photographs after the flock had gone on by! Here are a few more varyingly cropped enlargements where it's easier to spot © Martin Cade:

The Shoveler flock © Martin Cade:

The Sweethill Firecrest © Nick Stantiford:

One of the Portland Harbour Great Northern Divers © Pete Saunders: