25th April

It only took a subtle change in the weather to give an altogether more positive feel to today's proceedings, with a brisk northwesterly at dawn dropping a good 400 or more Willow Warblers at the Bill. Although most patches of cover were hopping with Willow Warblers (they totalled 178 of the 199 birds ringed at the Obs and Culverwell) it was a peculiar feature of the day that variety was otherwise quite limited, with the thin spread of Wheatears, Whitethroats, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs at the Bill having just 5 Whinchats, 2 Cuckoos and singles of Redstart, Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Warbler and Garden Warbler in their midst. Overhead passage was fitful, with Swallows arriving in small pulses rather than a concerted rush, and 3 Yellow Wagtails and 2 Tree Pipits the best of the other diurnal movers. The sea continued to be the poor relation, with a late afternoon freshening and backing of the wind producing little more than 50 Manx Shearwaters passing the Bill; morning watches there had come up with 34 Sandwich Terns, 8 Whimbrel, 7 Red-throated Divers, 4 Eider and singles of Great Northern Diver and Great Skua.

Having daily, multiple Cuckoos about the island just lately has been quite a novelty...

...as has having them audible - this male burst into song just outside the Obs garden this morning:

Talking of novelty sounds, we lead a very sheltered life these days and at migration times rarely leave the Portland/Weymouth area so some sounds that are routine for the travelling year-lister are all but unknown to us. We can't even remember the last time we heard a Tree Pipit sing and, if it weren't for the fact that one today called just as it dropped into a tree in the Obs garden, we probably wouldn't have had the faintest idea what it was when it then proceeded to burst into song. Has a Tree Pipit ever sung on migration at Portland before this? - we can't recollect ever having heard one: