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22nd May

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Portland Observatory
Portland Observatory's picture
Source: 
martin cade

With the wind having picked up substantially from the south-west overnight, coupled with a thick bank of cloud and some light drizzle, expectations for the morning were higher than in recent days. Hope was to be short-lived, however, when the first inspection of the garden nets revealed no birds whatsoever. Land-based migrants were thin on the ground with a trickle of Spotted Flycatcher passage - amounting to eight birds - being the highlight of the first half of the day. The afternoon brought a modicum of delight with a 'chipping' Tree Sparrow managing to narrowly avoid the canopy net before heading on its way. The change in wind did bring some much desired variety to the sea with combined island totals of three Puffins, two each of Bonxie and Arctic Skua, and singles of Great Northern Diver and Balearic Shearwater.

Despite seemingly propitious conditions over the last couple of days immigrant moth interest has been almost non-existent but the moth-traps have been getting a lot busier with routine fare including one or two of the local specials. Portland seems to the best site in Dorset for the usually pretty scarce White-line Grey Eudonia lineola which is - at least if you see it as often as we're fortunate to - one of the slightly more distinctive of this often tricky group of pyralids:

Also just out, slightly ahead of time by the look of our records, is Thyme Pug - this one was from John Lucas' moth-trap at Sweethill yesterday morning; in Dorset, Thyme Pug looks from the literature to be pretty well confined to Portland and the tip of the Purbecks © Martin Cade:

As a follow up to the photo we posted a week or so back of an apparent juvenile Swallow migrating along West Cliffs we were really interested to hear from Obs member, Chris Stone, who sent us through some photos of a juvenile Swallow that's been frequenting his area at Sudbrook, near the Second Severn Crossing, for the last week or so; this one has been begging from the adult Swallows in the vicinity (...we don't know if these are just random adult Swallows or whether they're actually its parents). Presumably it's way too early for this to be a British-bred bird so we're guessing it must have come from a very early spring nest in southern Europe © Chris Stone