September 2001

September 30th Strong winds and frequent rain made birding difficult throughout the day, and ultimately hampered satisfactory viewing of a new bird for the island, when a first-winter Caspian Gull that had earlier been identified in Weymouth showed up briefly at Ferrybridge in the evening. Seawatching from the Bill was disappointingly unproductive, with totals of just 22 Common Scoter, 5 Balearic, a Sooty and a Manx Shearwater, and 3 Arctic and a Great Skua. On the land, the Wryneck was again at the Bill, where the only other noteworthy sightings were of 2 Pied and a Spotted Flycatcher, and 2 Firecrests still at the Obs.



Wryneck - Portland Bill, September 29th 2001 © Martin Cade

  September 29th The Wryneck was again at the Bill, where it was trapped and ringed at the Obs during the afternoon. Visible passage of hirundines, wagtails, pipits and Siskins was very conspicuous throughout the morning, but the pick of a poor selection of grounded migrants were 2 Firecrests in the Obs garden. Seawatching produced 3 Balearic Shearwaters and a Great Skua off the Bill, and waders at Ferrybridge included 6 Little Stints and a Curlew Sandpiper September 28th A Wryneck was a new arrival at the Bill today, but it was not accompanied by any increase in numbers of commoner migrants, all of which remained very thin on the ground everywhere. The selection of less common species around the Bill area included a Buzzard, a Hobby, a Mistle Thrush, a Firecrest and a Treecreeper, whilst the sea came up with nothing better than 4 Balearic Shearwaters lingering offshore in the morning, and 2 Arctic and a Great Skua.



Richard's Pipit - Portland Bill, September 27th 2001 © Martin Cade

  September 27th Common migrants were in very short supply everywhere today, with nothing better around the Bill than a single Turtle Dove and a Firecrest. However, there was some compensation as the day went on with the discovery of a Richard's Pipit in fields beside the West Cliffs to the south of the Southwell Business Park. Seawatching from the Bill produced only 19 Common Scoter and a Balearic Shearwater.



Cetti's Warbler - Portland Bill, September 26th 2001 © Martin Cade

  September 26th The arrival of heavily overcast skies, and later the first significant rainfall for many weeks, promised much but failed to deliver. Common migrants were much less numerous than in recent days, and the only rarity discovered was a Cetti's Warbler at the Obs. Seawatching was also very unproductive, with nothing better off the Bill than 40 Common Scoter, the first 5 Brent Geese of the autumn, and a lone Wigeon. Waders were numerous at Ferrybridge, and included 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Golden Plover and a Little Stint. September 25th Yesterday's rarities had all moved on, and the only noteworthy bird to arrive in their place was a Barred Warbler that was discovered in the evening in the Obs Quarry. The Bill area was still very lively with common migrants; hirundines and Meadow Pipits were present in particularly large numbers, whilst oddities included another 36 Siskins passing through, and a Short-eared Owl  around Top Fields. Elsewhere there was a Ring Ouzel at the Grove, and the Rose-coloured Starling was seen there again in the morning.



Ortolan Bunting and Radde's Warbler - Portland Bill, September 24th 2001 © Martin Cade

  September 24th After a week of promising weather and plenty of common migrants, today saw the arrival of several rarities. A Wryneck and a rather mobile Ortolan Bunting were seen at the Bill in the morning, and in the afternoon a Radde's Warbler was trapped and ringed at the Obs. Common migrants were not plentiful but there was lots of variety, including 3 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Ring Ouzels, the first 2 Redwings of the autumn, a Short-eared Owl, a Turtle Dove and a Grasshopper Warbler. September 23rd After a very clear night, grounded migrants were a lot less conspicuous everywhere today, with nothing more interesting than several Turtle Doves and a Merlin seen. Hirundines were still passing through in large numbers, and other visible migrants included an Osprey leaving to the south over the Bill,  and 2 Little Egrets and a Hobby flying north there. The Rose-coloured Starling was seen at the Grove again in the evening.



Ring Ouzel - Portland Bill, September 22nd 2001 © Martin Cade

  September 22nd Common migrants continued to pass through in quantity, with counts of most species exceeding those of recent days. Oddities included 24 Siskins, 2 Ring Ouzels, a Merlin and a Woodlark at the Bill, another Ring Ouzel at Barleycrates Lane, and 2 Firecrest at the Verne. In the evening the Rose-coloured Starling also showed up again at the Grove, where it joined Starlings on rooftops in Augusta Close. With so much about on the land it was a surprise that the sea produced the bird of the day in the form of a juvenile Sabine's Gull that lingered off the East Cliffs at the Bill for nearly an hour in the morning; the only other sightings off the Bill were of 63 Common Scoter, 2 Great Crested Grebes and a Great Skua. September 21st Grounded and visible migrants were again numerous. Counts from around the Bill area included 750 Meadow Pipits, 40 Wheatears, 35 Chiffchaffs, 30 Robins, 12 Blackcaps, 6 Redstarts, 5 Spotted and a Pied Flycatcher, 4 Goldcrests and the first Firecrest of the autumn, 2 Sedge Warblers, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, a Hobby and a Turtle Dove; the only really unexpected bird was a lone Jack Snipe that was flushed several times on the Slopes. Seawatching produced 100 Common Scoter and 2 Great Skuas. September 20th Lots more typical mid-autumn fare today. Wheatears, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were again present in fair numbers, whilst species such as Wren, Dunnock, Stonechat and Robin are becoming increasingly conspicuous everywhere. The first signs of thrush passage were also noted today, with 2 Ring Ouzels in Top Fields and several migrant Blackbirds and Song Thrushes logged. Three Crossbills were seen briefly near the Windmills at Easton, and other less common migrants reported included 2 Lesser Whitethroats at the Bill, and single Merlin and Turtle Dove at Easton.



Osprey - Portland Bill, September 19th 2001 © Martin Cade

  September 19th Heavily overcast skies saw to it that there was less movement today. Chiffchaffs still numbered up to 60 at the Bill, and Blackcaps increased to 30 there, but most other species were only sparsely scattered. Despite the unsuitable conditions, hirundines continued to pass through in good numbers all day, and late in the afternoon an Osprey arrived in off the sea at the Bill and settled for a few minutes on the East Cliffs before continuing northwards. After going missing for a day the Rose-coloured Starling showed up again at the Grove in the afternoon.  September 18th More of the same today, despite the northeast wind having increased to nearly gale force overnight. The days ringing total at the Obs exceeded 50 for only the third time this autumn, and overall totals for the Bill area included 100 Chiffchaffs, 50 Wheatears, 20 Goldcrests, 15 Siskins, 10 Yellow Wagtails, 10 Whitethroats, 10 Blackcaps and 10 Spotted Flycatchers, as well as lower numbers of a good variety of other common migrants. Visible passage was a little lighter, but there were still plenty of hirundines and pipits on the move. Seawatching revealed nothing more than 25 Common Scoter, a Great Skua and an Arctic Tern



Manx Shearwater - Portland Bill, September 17th 2001 © Martin Cade

  September 17th After a lull of three weeks, autumn passage is really getting going again. Clear skies and a brisk northeast wind were perfect for visible passage, and totals at the Bill included 5000 Swallows, 1500 House Martins, 1000 Meadow Pipits and 80 Siskins. Grounded migrants, especially Chiffchaffs, were a lot more numerous than of late, and most were also very much on the move and had filtered away northwards by the afternoon. In contrast the sea remained very quiet, with the Bill producing just 34 Common Scoter, 5 Sandwich Terns and 2 Arctic Skuas. The Rose-coloured Starling remained in the Grove area, but the most unexpected bird of the day was a Manx Shearwater that was brought into the Obs after being found grounded near the Bill lighthouse; it was released successfully later in the day. September 16th There was plenty of passage again today, although, like yesterday, most of it involved visible movement of hirundines, pipits, wagtails and Siskins, whilst grounded migrants were not at all numerous. Seawatching at the Bill produced 11 Sandwich Terns, 7 Great Skuas  and 4 Common Scoter. As in recent days, the Rose-coloured Starling at the Grove was absent until the evening when it showed well with Starlings before leaving - presumably to roost - towards the YOI. September 15th Grounded migrants were hardly conspicuous today, although there was plenty of visible passage during the morning. Hirundines, pipits and wagtails left the Bill in large numbers, and another 35 Siskins were logged. The sea came up with nothing better than 24 Common Scoter, a Balearic Shearwater and single Arctic and Great Skuas, and among the waders at Ferrybridge the only oddities were 2 Knot and a Curlew Sandpiper. The Rose-coloured Starling was again seen at the Grove in the evening.



Wryneck and Rose-coloured Starling,  September 14th 2001 © Martin Cade and Mary Snell

  September 14th The arrival of more settled weather brought with it a small flurry of new migrants. The highlight was a Wryneck at the Bill that showed occasionally around the Hut Fields and was later trapped and ringed in the Obs garden. Among the commoner migrants the most noteworthy movement was of 40 Siskins passing overhead at the Bill during the morning. The Rose-coloured Starling was still present in the Grove area but remained generally rather elusive. With the breeze still in the northwest, seawatching at the Bill produced just a lone Balearic Shearwater September 13th The windy weather continued all day but there was little reward for plenty of seawatching, with the Bill producing just 20 Common Scoter, 13 Great and 3 Arctic Skuas, 7 Balearic Shearwaters and 2 commic Terns. The only bird of note on the land was again the Rose-coloured Starling that showed on several occasions at the Grove. September 12th The first stormy day of the autumn proved rather an anticlimax as the wind failed to back much further than due west. Seawatching at the Bill produced 21 Common Scoter, 7 Balearic, 4 Sooty and a Manx Shearwater, and 6 Arctic and 6 Great Skuas. Despite the weather, there was a little visible passage of pipits, wagtails and hirundines leaving the Bill, but the land itself was otherwise very quiet. The Rose-coloured Starling could not be found for most of the day, but in the early evening it was seen again on rooftops in Victoria Road at the Grove. September 11th Not too much change today, with the Rose-coloured Starling in the Grove area again the highlight. Migrants were rather thinly scattered everywhere, with the only oddities being a Merlin, 2 Grey Plovers and 2 Grasshopper Warblers at the Bill. Despite the wind remaining an unfavourable northwesterly, there was more on the sea, with a total of 21 Common Scoter, 14 Arctic and a Great Skua, and 4 Balearic Shearwaters off the Bill. Waders were again quite numerous at Ferrybridge, and  included 3 Curlew Sandpipers, 2 Sanderling and 2 Knot.



Great Spotted Woodpecker - Portland Bill, September 10th 2001 © Martin Cade

  September 10th The Rose-coloured Starling continued to be seen in the Grove area throughout the day. After a very clear night, grounded migrants were not particularly numerous anywhere, although there was a good deal of visible passage of pipits and wagtails early in the day, and hirundines later on, as well as the first 8 Siskins of the autumn. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was an unusual visitor to the Obs garden, and a Honey Buzzard was reported flying over the Bill area in the early afternoon. Waders at Ferrybridge included 2 Knot and a Curlew Sandpiper. September 9th The Grove area again played host to the Rose-coloured Starling, although it remained frustratingly elusive and mobile for much of the day. Migrants were a good deal more numerous everywhere, with the Bill area producing counts including 90 Yellow Wagtails, 35 Wheatears, 20 Grey Wagtails, 20 Willow Warblers, 20 Chiffchaffs and 10 Tree Pipits. Meadow Pipits were also on the move for the first time this autumn, with more than 100 passing north up the West Cliffs during the morning. The northwest wind continued to spoil seawatching, with the Bill producing just 2 Balearic Shearwaters, and 2 Arctic and a Great Skua. September 8th The Rose-coloured Starling eventually showed up in the evening when it was found with Starlings on rooftops near the YOI at the Grove. With the wind still in the northwest, passage of common migrants remained pretty much at a standstill, with, for example, not a single bird trapped at the Obs all morning. seawatching was hardly any better, with just 7 Balearic Shearwaters and 2 Arctic Skuas off the Bill.



Rose-coloured Starling - Portland Heights, September 7th 2001 © Martin Cade

  September 7th The rarity-free start to the month ended today when a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling was found with Starlings at Portland Heights during the early afternoon; it showed well there for a short while before flying off towards the Grove, where it was seen once more later in the day. Unfortunately common migrant numbers scarcely improved at all, with the Bill area producing just 14 Wheatears, 10 Chiffchaffs, 4 Willow Warblers, 4 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Whinchat, 1 Garden Warbler and 1 Spotted Flycatcher. Seawatching was no better in the stiff northwest wind, with only 6 Balearic Shearwaters and an Arctic Skua off the Bill. September 6th Yesterday's hint of an upturn in passage was not sustained, and there was very little to show for efforts today. The Bill area mustered just a handful of common migrants, with only Wheatear reaching double figures. The sea was scarcely better, with totals of only 17 Common Scoter, 10 commic Terns and a Great Skua off the Bill. September 5th Passage on the land and sea picked up a little today, although there was still a lot less around than there ought to be in early September. The Bill area produced small numbers of most of the expected migrants, including a lone Turtle Dove; 4 Redshanks were the only slightly unusual visitors. The sea produced 52 Common Scoter, 7 Manx and a Sooty Shearwater, and 7 Arctic and 3 Great Skuas. September 4th With clear skies at dawn there was a some visible passage of Ringed Plovers, Tree Pipits and Grey Wagtails over the Bill, but migrants on the ground remained pretty sparse, with the only oddity being a lone Golden Plover. Late in the afternoon a surprise flurry of new arrivals saw a few Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher and, most unexpectedly, a Barred Warbler arrive in the Obs garden. Seawatching provided just 2 Great Skuas and a Little Gull off the Bill, and waders at Ferrybridge included a single Knot. September 3rd Little change to report today. Migrants remain only very sparsely scattered, with no noteworthy counts anywhere; a lone Reed Warbler was the only migrant trapped at the Obs. With the wind stuck firmly in the northwest the sea was also quiet, with the Bill producing just single Manx and Balearic Shearwaters, and a Great Skua. September 2nd Despite promising weather conditions today was especially dismal. There was just the thinnest scatter of birds across the island, and not a single migrant was trapped and ringed at the Obs; the only oddity reported was a Great Spotted Woodpecker at the Bill. The sea produced a little more, with single Sooty and Balearic Shearwaters, and 3 Arctic Skuas past the Bill. September 1st The Melodious Warbler at Barleycrates Lane was again the highlight, although there was a slight improvement in common migrant numbers. The Bill area produced a fair sprinkle of birds, including 2 Grasshopper Warblers, a Merlin and a Cuckoo, and there were 10 Sanderling and 2 Knot among plenty of commoner waders at Ferrybridge.