15th and 16th June

 15th June

This summer's incursion of Balearic Shearwaters into local waters gathered momentum: 19 thru off the Bill today; plenty of Manx still offshore + the Sooty mentioned earlier, 2 Arctic Skuas and 10 Sandwich Terns. Grey Plover still at Ferrybridge.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 15, 2024 at 22:39

16th June

Far fewer Manx offshore today and just 2 Balearics through off the Bill A Short-eared Owl a surprise on East Cliffs at the Bill. Family party of Lesser Whitethroats in the hut fields - only the second breeding record south of Southwell. Norfolk Hawker at Suckthumb.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 16, 2024 at 22:34

Hundreds of Pyramidal Orchid along the East Weares on Portland today including just one example of this white form starting to flower.

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— Paul Harris (@paulupwey.bsky.social) Jun 16, 2024 at 16:26

14th June

 

Very quiet at the Bill bar the continuing presence of plenty of Manx Shearwaters offshore. Ferrybridge: 33 Dunlin, singles of Grey Plover, Knot, Sanderling and Turnstone.

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 14, 2024 at 23:04

13th June

Overnight, 12 Storm Petrels sound-lured and trapped at the Bill tip. During the day, in increasingly wet and windy conditions, the only reports were of lots of shearwaters off the Bill: 2 Balearics passed by but Manx monopolised the numbers, with hundreds feeding offshore + up to 900/hour passing

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 13, 2024 at 23:25

 A few photos and some thermal imager video from last night's petrel session © Martin Cade:





Although a good many of the petrels we ring are encountered again during subsequent weeks/years on Burhou, Channel Isles (the nearest breeding site to Portland), we're not sure that until last night we'd ever actually caught one wearing a Channel Isles ring

9th-12th June

9th June


16 Swifts and a single Yellow Wagtail in/off the only migrant arrivals at the Bill today. c300 Manx Shearwaters offshore and a single Arctic Skua through. First Delicate of the year from the Obs moth-traps; local specials new over the last couple of nights incl Bartsia Straw and Chalk Hill Tortrix

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 9, 2024 at 23:11

10th June

Bill migrants: new singles of Blackcap and Reed W dropped by a couple of brief early showers; also a Grey Heron thru overhead and a steady inbound movement of weather-displaced Swifts Sea: c600 Manx, a RtDiver and an Arctic Skua Ferrybridge: 34 Dunlin, 11 Sanderlings, a Knot and a Med Gull

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 10, 2024 at 22:54

11th June

Flurry of 8 new singing Reed Warblers was unexpected at the Bill today; singles of Blackcap, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat also new in there.

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 11, 2024 at 22:50

12th June 

Not much migrant activity at the Bill but an unseasonable Lesser Redpoll was a surprise, a single Spot Fly passed over and a Little Egret was new. An Arctic Skua the best from the sea. Ferrybridge: 25 Dunlin, 12 Sanderling, singles of Barwit, Knot and Turnstone.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 12, 2024 at 22:22

Butterfly numbers in general seem to be woefully for us so far this summer so nice to see the first Marbled White of the season on the wing this morning beside the Obs garden

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 12, 2024 at 9:07

6th-8th June

6th June

Still adrift in the migration doldrums: 2 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Wheatears, a Reed Warbler and a Whitethroat the only new arrivals on the land at the Bill.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 6, 2024 at 22:27

Portland Bill Yesterday's Puffin 2 off the Bill and near the colony late morning. Also Manx Shearwater 3, Common Scoter 10: Crown Estate Fields opposite the Bird Observatory Wheatear 2 @portlandbirdobs.bsky.social @kojak020.bsky.social #birds #birdwatching #seawatching

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— Dorset Bird Tours (@dorsetbirdtours.bsky.social) Jun 7, 2024 at 9:16

7th June

Bird-wise, still slow at the Bill. Today's new migrant arrivals: 3 Wheatears, 2 Reed Warblers and 2 Chiffchaffs. An unseasonable 5 Eiders through on the sea. Moths busier this week incl a few more local specials getting on the wing:

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 7, 2024 at 22:59

8th June

Lodmoor RSPB This mornings 0930hrs adult Yellow-legged Gull on west scrape whose mantle looked a similar shade to the Herrings in certain light. Seen at Ferrybridge by other observers pm also a Knot, Sanderling 3, Ringed Plover 5, and Dunlin 27 @portlandbirdobs.bsky.social

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— Dorset Bird Tours (@dorsetbirdtours.bsky.social) Jun 8, 2024 at 18:55

5th June

Remained pretty hopeless for migrants at the Bill with 2 Wheatears and a Bcap the only grounded arrivals; 2 Yellow Wagtails and a handful of Swifts and Swallows through overhead; 1300 Manx, 26 commic terns, 3 Balearics and a RtDiver through on the sea.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 5, 2024 at 22:02

4th June

Despite cloudier skies there were poor rewards on the migrant front today, with just singles of Bcap, Spot Fly and WW grounded at the Bill; a few Swifts and hirundines were still arriving and 3 Sanderling headed north. Singles of Balearic Shearwater and Arctic Skua thru offshore during the mrng...

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 4, 2024 at 23:00

...with a freshening westerly pushing through a movement of c2000 Manx Shearwaters during the evening (the highest total so far this yr). The single presumably summering GNDiver was still in Portland Hbr.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 4, 2024 at 23:02

2nd and 3rd June

2nd June

Despite the sunny sky and rising temperature new arrivals continued to drop in at the Bill today incl 5 Reed W, 3 each of Wheatear and Whitethroat, 2 each of Chiffchaff and Spot Fly, and singles of Yellow Wagtail and Garden W; photos still to check of a candidate Marsh Warbler in Top Fields

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 2, 2024 at 23:29


3rd June

New arrivals continued to trickle through at the Bill: 14 Swifts and 6 Swallows in/off; 2 each of Bcap, CC and Spot Fly, and singles of Wheatear and Wthroat grounded; 7 Sandwich Terns, 5 Arctic Skuas, 2 RtDivers and singles of GNDiver, Sanderling and Common Gull thru on the sea.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 3, 2024 at 23:06

Spotted Flycatcher at Portland Castle this morning also a dolphin close in by one of the boats. Ferrybridge: Bar-tailed Godwit in breeding plumage with Sanderling 18, Dunlin 12, Ringed Plover 12, Turnstone 3, Little Tern 30+ @portlandbirdobs.bsky.social @kojak020.bsky.social

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— Dorset Bird Tours (@dorsetbirdtours.bsky.social) Jun 3, 2024 at 21:52

Moth numbers and variety continuing to improve. A Bordered Straw at the Obs last night the best of a very thin selection of migrants just lately; Four Spotted the latest of the local specials to appear on the wing

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 3, 2024 at 23:15


1st June

Another trickle of new arrivals at the Bill today: Swift, Swallow and House Martin all into double figures in/off overhead; 6 Spot Flys, 3 each of Reed W and Wthroat, and singles of Bcap and Garden W on the ground. 200 Manx offshore, with 3 Arctic Skuas also thru on the sea.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) Jun 1, 2024 at 23:29
Bird of the day was this exhausted Honey Buzzard that first made landfall near the Ferrybridge car park before settling for a while on Chesil Beach © Freddy Alway:



30th-31st May

30th May

Unlike some UK bird observatories we're currently grateful for very small mercies so a little arrival of new common migrants has been welcome this mrng: 3 each of Reed W and Spot Fly, 2 Wthroats and a Bcap new around the Obs so far; singles of RtDiver and GNDiver thru on the sea.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 30, 2024 at 11:42

31st May

Migrants going both ways at the Bill this mrng: first presumably departing Cuckoo has just shown up at the Obs, whilst a brisk headwind has dropped a steady little arrival of late arrivers incl double figures of Reed Ws and several Spot Flys.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 31, 2024 at 12:10

29th May

This spring's nadir? A new Spotted Flycatcher at the Obs was literally the only bird worth a mention today!

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 29, 2024 at 22:12

First Lulworth Skippers of the year on the wing north of Church Ope Cove today - thanks to Roy Norris for the photo

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 29, 2024 at 23:57

25th-28th May

 25th May

The sea saved the day with 78 commic terns, 13 Little Terns, 3 Arctic Skuas & 2 GNDivers thru off the Bill in the light southeastery. Singles of Whimbrel, Reed W and Spot Fly on the land there + another Spot Fly at Avalanche.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 25, 2024 at 21:38

26th May

Another sea day in a brisker southwesterly: 217 commic terns and singles of GNDiver and Arctic Skua thru off the Bill in the mrng, 300+ Manx and 3 Arctic Skuas thru there in the evening. Grounded migrants incl Spot Flys at the Bill and East Wearem + 14 Sanderling, Knot and Grey Plover at Ferrybridge

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 26, 2024 at 22:46

27th May 

Late passerine passage still pretty dreadful - just 2 Spot Flys of note at the Bill today. Waders a little better with increase to 24 Sanderlings - together with 2 Knot, 2 Barwits and a Whimbrel over - at Ferrybridge. 2 GNDivers and 2 Arctic Skuas thru off the Bill.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 27, 2024 at 22:56

Alexanders Straw Aethes deaurana a first for the Obs garden from last night's moth-traps; long expected/quite overdue since breeding was first confirmed elsewhere on the island - even before adults had been recorded - in 2022

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 27, 2024 at 11:55

The Quarries around Wakeham, Portland 27 May: on the few pools plenty of Broad-bodied chasers - males protecting laying females - & surely it's toad spawn in the water. Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies, a couple of Emperors. Lesser Whitethroat singing, Bloody-nosed beetles and Small Blues

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— Steve M (@steveweynature.bsky.social) May 28, 2024 at 21:12

28th May

Another shocker, with heavy rain at dawn, reduced visibility all day and a freshening wind through the afternoon. 2 Spot Flys, a Reed W and a Bcap new in at the Obs; 2 Balearic Shearwaters and an Arctic Skua thru off the Bill along with 200+ Manx Shearwaters. 21 Sanderling the best at Ferrybridge.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 28, 2024 at 21:46

24th May

Nothing startling from today's legwork but a good cloud cover at dawn dropped the best flurry of late migrants of the week incl Reed W and Spot Fly both making double figures at the Bill; Swallows - along with a handful of House Martins - still arriving in/off in decent nos through the morning.

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 24, 2024 at 15:42

23rd May

Lovely fine weather but pretty hopeless birding again today. 250 Swallows, 36 House Martins & 15 Sanderling thru overhead were the bulk of the nos at the Bill where 2 Spot Flys, a Common Sand & a Yellow Wagtail the best on the ground; 3 Arctic Skuas & 33 Com Scoter lingering offshore with a GND thru

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 23, 2024 at 22:25

22nd May

A wet start today but improved later. Bill area: strong passage of Swallows + c50 House Martins; Red Kite over Top Fields mid-morning; new grounded migrants: 3 Wheatears, singles Whinchat, Reed W & Spot Fly; sea: 4 Arctic Skuas; Ferrybridge: a new Knot but only poor nos of other waders

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 22, 2024 at 22:48

Moths much improved today. Migrants nos were still low but a Pale-shouldered Tortrix Capula vulgana at the Obs was new for the island - evidently a pretty scarce moth anywhere in south Dorset; Thyme Pug also at the Obs was one of the first of the local specials to be on the wing

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 22, 2024 at 22:58

Portland Bill 19 May 2024: Sanderling at Pulpit Rock. Painted Lady on the same Pinks as the SIlver Y a week earlier. Swollen-thigh beetle without swollen thighs - so female. Click Beetle sp - Agrypnus Murinus ? Also 4 Black Swans with the Domestic Geese in Southwell.

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— Steve M (@steveweynature.bsky.social) May 22, 2024 at 20:42

21st May


No more than just ticking over this mrng: odd few tardy migrants incl 2 Reed Warblers & a Blackcap turning up in the mist-nets; Pom Skua and 60 commic terns thru off the Bill. Moths incl the year's first - and earliest ever - Beautiful Marbled from John Lucas' garden at Southwell

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 21, 2024 at 10:32

A few odds and ends to add to our earlier news: 2 RtDivers, 2 Pintail and a GNDiver thru off the Bill; GNDiver still in Portland Hbr; steady evening movement of Manx Shearwaters incl 250 thru off Chesil in 30mins.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 21, 2024 at 22:23

20th May

 

Very limited selection of new arrivals at the Bill so far this mrng but another new Lesser Whitethroat trapped - it's been the best spring for them since 2012

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 20, 2024 at 9:53

Even an initially brisk northeasterly couldn't drop much out of today's cloudless sky: Swallows continued to arrive in quantity but the grounded tally at the Bill was a lowly 2 each of Reed W, CC and Spot Fly + a single LWT; Sanderling & RP thru overhead. 64 commic terns & a GNDiver thru on the sea.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 20, 2024 at 21:58

Nice to see the Scarce Blue-tailed Damselflies have persisted for another year on the pond in the Crown Estate Field - many on the wing there this afternoon along with plenty of Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies...

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 20, 2024 at 14:33

...lots of Broad-bodied Chasers around the pond as well - from one viewpoint we could see 41 exuviae on the yellow flag irises! Not bad for a little 'home made' pool lined with the cheapest liner we could find

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 20, 2024 at 14:45

19th May

 

Steady day-long trickle of arriving hirundines + a few Swifts today but quiet for passerines: 3 Spot Flys, 2 Yellow Wags and a few other singles at the Bill. Sanderlings still moving: 12 at the Bill & 22 at Ferrybridge; also 3 Knot at Fb. GNDiver still in Portland Hbr & 2 GCGrebes off Chesil.

— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 19, 2024 at 22:30

18th May

 

The threat - and eventual arrival - of rain dropped a few new migrants today incl 3 Spot Flys, Grey Heron, Hobby, Redstart, Whinchat, Reed W, Sedge W & Blue-headed Wagtail at the Bill and Siskin at Sweethill; also better for waders incl 6 species at the Bill and Sanderling up to 19 at Ferrybridge

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 18, 2024 at 23:39

youtu.be/T6W7zpwj7xo?...

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 18, 2024 at 23:42

17th May

 

Probably time to wind down the daily blog updates - it really has been that quiet this week - and start daily summaries on here on the slow days. Today's migrants incl 6 Wheatears, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Chiffchaffs & a Siskin. First Portland Ribbon Wave of the yr among continuing low moth nos

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— Portland Bird Observatory (@portlandbirdobs.bsky.social) May 17, 2024 at 23:41

16th May

An incremental improvement - albeit only a very small one - today saw a handful more migrants in evidence around the Bill, where 2 each of Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler and Chiffchaff, and singles of Wheatear, Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler were knocking about on the ground. Swallow passage picked up, including a low hundreds total from the Bill where 3 Yellow Wagtails were amongst the other overhead arrivals. The second Balearic Shearwater of the week passed by off the Bill amongst the c200 total of Manx Shearwaters; 2 Arctic Skuas and a Red-throated Diver were also logged on the sea there.

15th May

Not much sign of a migrant improvement today - in fact there was another 11 hour blank from the Obs mist-nets so it really was quiet! The few odds and ends uncovered by the fieldworkers included 2 Reed Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers, a Sedge Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat at the Bill and a Spotted Flycatcher at Reap Lane; even waders failed to save the day with just 3 Sanderling, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Whimbrel of note at Ferrybridge. The sea fared only slightly better, with 2 Arctic Skuas, a Great Skua and a Pomarine Skua amongst what little else was on the move off the Bill.

14th May

There's still plenty of time for spring to come good on the rarity front but it's fair to say that the twelve hours of working the Obs garden mist-nets for a nil return today tells us all we need to know about the common migrant situation - passage is all over bar the shouting. Three Reed Warbler were literally the only grounded arrivals logged in the whole Bill area, where a few Swallows were arriving overhead but even they didn't look to have been tempted into the air by the return of sunny skies. There are surely more hirundines and Swifts to come - perhaps along with one of our Spotted Flycatcher surges - but if they're largely over as well then we'd think there must have been some sort of House Martin catastrophe since our totals of them this spring have been absolutely pitiful. The day's fresh onshore breeze looked to offer promise from the sea but a tally that included the summer's first Balearic Shearwater off Chesil and combined Bill/Chesil totals of 460 Kittiwakes, 390 Gannets, 5 Arctic Skuas, 3 Great Northern Divers, 3 Great Skuas and an Arctic Tern lacked the quality expected.

13th May

We shouldn't have complained about too much samey weather just lately as today we were on the receiving end of the pay-back - 12 hour and counting of heavy rain! What birding was possible for a few hours from dawn revealed an island all but bereft of grounded arrivals, with no more than 2 Wheatears and singles of Reed Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher at the Bill and 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Grey Plover and a Knot at Ferrybridge; of local interest, the Alexandrine Parakeet was in gardens at Southwell during the morning - having obviously returned from its jaunt way out to sea last evening. A Hobby, as well as a few Swifts and hirundines, made it through overhead before the rain put the block on further diurnal passage. Two Red-throated Divers and singles of Pomarine and Arctic Skua also passed by Chesil and the Bill ahead of the rain.

A slowed-up Arctic Skua fly-by from the Bill this morning © Martin Cade:


Moth interest has been uniformly terrible for some weeks, with poor numbers and even poorer variety from the Obs moth-traps. Finally, this past weekend did bring a significant increase in Silver Ys, with a strong diurnal northbound passage evident throughout the island © Steve Mansfield:


In tandem with the Silver Ys one or two strays have begun to show up in the moth-traps, the best of which in a local context was this Pine Beauty at the Obs - they're a less than annual visitor to the island © Martin Cade:

12th May

After the relative wealth of oddities over the last couple of days today was quieter, with a fly-through Turtle Dove at the Bill the best on offer. In the continuing warmth and sunshine not much was expected in the common migrant line and 12 Wheatears, 7 Yellow Wagtails, 5 Willow Warblers, 2 each of Redstart and Whinchat, and singles of Sedge Warbler and Garden Warbler constituted the suitably lean return from the Bill. The sea provided more in the way of numbers, with 500 Manx Shearwaters, 153 commic terns and singles of Pomarine and Arctic Skuas through off the Bill.

For entertainment value and dazzling colour the bird of the day was this Alexandrine Parakeet that pitched up during the morning in the Obs garden having earlier been spotted flying towards the island from Wyke Regis; later it returned to the mainland where it was seen over RSPB Radipole. Having been assumed on the initial flying views to be a Ring-necked Parakeet, the bird's correct identity was realised once it landed; in fact, if we didn't positively avoid the Home Counties we might have remembered from frequent familiarity that even on a brief flight view a Ring-necked Parakeet would look a whole lot smaller than this bird...



...the characteristic little maroon shoulder patch was mostly hidden when the bird was settled but shows up quite clearly on the flight photographs.


And as a bizarre postscript, in the middle of our evening seawatch at the Bill - ten hours or more after the earlier sighting - the bird suddenly appeared again right overhead at the Trinity House obelisk; from there it carried on purposefully straight out to sea and was eventually lost to view way, way out to the southwest - extraordinary! © Martin Cade:

11th May

A second successive day when it was possible to spend all day in the field and get almost no return for your time investment despite there being several decent birds on offer: a Hoopoe - presumably yesterday's bird that had moved up the island - was photographed at the north of the island, a Nightjar was serendipitously flushed up at Ferrybridge and, after earlier uneventful seawatching at the Bill, Chesil came good with a fly-by Bonaparte's Gull and at least 2 Nightjars lingering offshore. In the continuing fair and increasingly warm weather the common migrant tally improved a little and included 25 Willow Warblers, 15 Wheatears, 5 Whinchats, 4 Spotted Flycatchers and singles of Cuckoo, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Garden Warbler grounded at the Bill and a Tree Pipit at Tout Quarry amongst the thinner selection elsewhere; overhead, hirundines and Swifts were again arriving in fair numbers everywhere. The sea was never busy but, the rarity aside, morning totals at the Bill included 177 commic terns, 49 Common Scoter and singles of Red-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver, with a selection of Black-headed Gulls and waders through off Chesil during the evening.

Spot the Bonaparte's Gull...


We'd always imagined that one day someone would get lucky with a Bonaparte's Gull passing Chesil amongst a flock of Black-headed Gulls and this evening that's just what happened when a flock appeared out of the sun (...Chesil seawatching on a cloudless spring evening is really hard work since half of the field of view is completely out of action in the setting sun and the birds are already going away from you when they get out into useable light) and just as we were lifting the camera to photograph them Brett exclaimed that there a Bonaparte's amongst them. Torn between the camera and the scope we decided to blast off a few photographs whilst they were still close enough and then switch to scoping it - fortunately the flock opened up enough that the Bonaparte's is reasonably visible in several of the frames...




...and here's the upperwing with the 'extra' marks on the primary-coverts and the narrower and more well-defined dark trailing edge to the wing visible © Martin Cade:


One tale from Portland folklore - now nearly lost in the mists of time - is the story of the so-called 'Caprimulgus petrels': the sequence of events surrounding the original discovery in the late 1980s/early 1990s of Nightjars lingering off Chesil on spring evenings and how they were at first believed to be some sort of rare petrel - the views are often at enormous range and, if you've never witnessed it before, it's the sort of sighting that permits the imagination to run riot. Quite why Nightjars sometimes linger off there in broad daylight has never been entirely explained but is assumed to be in some way related to migrating birds being afraid to come ashore until darkness falls. Whatever the reason, it's a really peculiar and exciting sight to see Nightjars lingering for ages over the sea and this evening - after a long and typically distant preamble - we were eventually treated to views close enough to allow a few record-shots to be taken, perhaps for the first time ever © Martin Cade:







10th May

It hasn't taken long to get into the rut of migrants getting the hang of samey conditions and steering clear of dropping out at as sub-optimal a spot as Portland. The redeeming feature of increased chances of scarcities might have been the silver lining but for the fact that today's arrivals in that department eluded nearly everyone: a seemingly active-migrant Hoopoe shot straight through beside the Obs without stopping, a Hawfinch made the briefest of visits to a garden at Blacknor and, potentially best of all, a very likely Short-toed Lark passed overhead so quickly near the Bill tip that it couldn't even be clinched for certain. Swallows were again moving through steadily if unspectacularly but it was dismal on the ground with barely more than ones and twos of even the most routine arrivals. After yesterday's tern-fest there were hopes for the sea but these quickly fizzled out and the morning's tally at the Bill consisted of just 52 Common Scoter, 33 commic terns, 31 Sandwich Terns, 8 Black Terns and singles of Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver and Arctic Skua. Ferrybridge waders included 9 Sanderling and a Knot.

Some of this morning's Black Terns - always an exciting sight off the Bill and, for obvious reasons, nearly always really difficult to get a meaningful record photograph of © Martin Cade:



A nice little event over the Obs in the small hours of the morning was the logging by the nocmig recorder of a species almost no living birder has actually seen in the flesh at the Bill - a Little Grebe; of course, Little Grebe's a perfectly see-able bird - albeit these days much declined - at Ferrybridge/Portland Harbour during the winter months but although the nocmig archive shows they're very occasional overhead at the Bill during the hours of darkness they're fabulously rare there by day:


9th May

A very pleasant sunny and warm day with no more than a waft of an easterly breeze - very nice for getting out birding but, some sea passage aside, not much cop migrant-wise. The sea came up with the bulk of the numbers, particularly involving terns of which 976 commics - sadly, way too far out to have even the faintest idea whether Commons or Arctics predominated - passed through off the Bill in the first few hours of the morning; 136 Common Scoter, 3 Arctic Skuas, 3 Black Terns, 2 Great Northern Divers, 2 Red-throated Divers and a Great Crested Grebe were amongst the other movers there. Hirundines - mainly Swallows but also a few late-ish Sand Martins - along with a season peak to date of 27 Swifts and singles of Red Kite, Hobby and Redpoll, were arriving overhead in a steady procession but grounded arrivals were the poor relation, with the main interest concerning some other rather tardy newcomers including singles of Merlin and Goldcrest at the Bill. Waders included 24 Dunlin, 6 Grey Plovers, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Knot at Ferrybridge, whilst nearby there were still 5 Great Northern Divers in Portland Harbour.

8th May

What a difference a day makes: in broadly similar conditions to yesterday - the light breeze a tad more easterly than northerly but the sky just as clear at dawn - today's rewards were scant indeed. A Nightingale in song at the Obs may or may not have been yesterday's individual and the species mix was still pretty good but today's numbers - aside from the 200 or so arriving Swallows - were reduced to barely more than ones and twos rather than the tens and dozens of yesterday; a Marsh Harrier in off the sea at the Bill and a passing Bullfinch at the Obs were the day's only other oddities. It might have been thought that conditions favoured the sea, but 80 commic terns, 66 Common Scoter, 14 Black-headed Gulls, 9 Shelducks, 3 Great Northern Divers and singles of Black-throated Diver and Little Gull wasn't the best of returns from a good deal of effort at the Bill. 

Today was a day of sounds rather than sights. The nocmig recorder revealed that the Obs garden Nightingale begun singing at 04.25 - a good 15 minutes before the dawn chorus begun in earnest; whether it was yesterday's individual was never established because it was never actually seen or retrapped but it does seem slightly odd that if it was the same bird it didn't sing yesterday evening:


The nocmig recorder also picked up an overflying Coot before midnight; in our early nocmig days it was a revelation that Coots were so relatively frequent overhead during the hours of darkness but that situation has changed and we drew a blank last year and last night's bird was the first logged this year:


Bullfinch is never a frequent migrant at the Bill and - as with the Hawfinch a few days ago - we wonder why one would pitch up in early May; this morning's bird was calling constantly in the few minutes it was present: