Portland Bird Observatory
and Field Centre
Latest news - December 2013
Goldeneye - Ferrybridge, 6th December 2013 © Pete Saunders
A lovely bright sunny day with no more than a breeze to contend with - sadly the birds didn't respond in any worthwhile fashion: singles of Red-throated Diver and Red-breasted Merganser passed through off the Bill, 16 Black-necked Grebes and a Red-necked Grebe were in Portland Harbour and a Goldeneye was at Ferrybridge.
Bar-tailed Godwits and Black Brant - Ferrybridge, 5th December 2013 © Pete Saunders
A windy day came as a shock to the system and discouraged serious fieldwork. Two Balearic Shearwaters, along with a Red-throated Diver, through off the Bill weren't too much of a surprise these days; also there, singles of Little Egret and Firecrest were of note and it was good to see some southbound passage still in progress, with 180 Goldfinches and a Merlin heading through during the morning. Elsewhere there were 11 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Black Brant at Ferrybridge.
Yesterday's relative excesses weren't maintained, with an altogether more paltry tally to show for today's efforts. All the report's came from the Bill where 75 Goldfinches and a Brambling were on the move overhead, a few new Blackbirds were in evidence on the ground, 1 of the wintering Purple Sandpipers showed up and 5 Velvet Scoters, a Red-throated Diver and a Black-throated Diver passed through on the sea.
Black-necked Grebes and Yellow-browed Warbler - Portland Harbour and Avalanche Road, 3rd December 2013 © Will Bown (Black-necked Grebes) and Martin Cade (Yellow-browed Warbler)
...the relatively benign conditions just lately have seen to it that many of the sheltered spots around the centre of the island are still quite leafy - we haven't given up on there being something better to be found than Goldcrests:
Despite precious little change in the weather there was quite an upturn in the quality of the birding, with much more making the list than would usually be the case in early December. A Yellow-browed Warbler was an unexpected arrival at Avalanche Road, whilst 150 Starlings, 9 Redwings, 9 Fieldfares, 5 Lapwings, a Grey Wagtail and a Blackcap were all new at the Bill; a Firecrest there was the established winterer as doubtless were some of the scatter of Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests around the centre of the island. Seawatching at the Bill came up with 6 Shoveler, 3 Red-throated Divers, 2 Balearic Shearwaters, a Gadwall and a Great Skua, whilst 9 Black-necked Grebes and a Red-necked Grebe were in Portland Harbour.
Still just about enough at the Bill to keep interest going. Four Fieldfares, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Lapwing and a Snipe were new on the land, whilst 16 Common Scoter, 6 Red-throated Divers, 2 Wigeon and singles of Velvet Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser and Great Skua passed through on the sea.
Barn Owl - Portland Bill, 30th November 2013 © Martin Cade
The arrival of the new month saw a little bit more on offer, with overcast skies dropping a trickle of new thrushes in particular. A Mistle Thrush at Blacknor was of note amongst the handful of new Blackbirds, Redwings and Fieldfares; other newcomers at the Bill included 250 Starlings arriving in off the sea and a grounded Chiffchaff, whilst a lone Black Redstart was still about there. Seawatching at the Bill produced 9 Brent Geese, 3 Red-throated Divers and singles of Pintail and Great Skua.