July 2002



Melodious Warbler - Portland Bill, July 31st 2002 © Martin Cade

  July 31st Bird of the day was the first Melodious Warbler of the autumn that was trapped and ringed in the morning at the Obs; subsequent searches for it drew a blank. A Quail flushed on the East Cliffs at the Bill was just as unusual, whilst common migrants in the area included 20 Willow Warblers, 4 Wheatears, 3 Sedge Warblers, a Cuckoo and a Yellow Wagtail. Interest also picked up on the sea, with 100 Manx and 7 Balearic Shearwaters, 18 Common Scoter and an Arctic Skua passing the Bill. July 30th Not a lot to report, with just 15 Willow Warblers, 2 Grey Herons, 2 Whimbrel, a Green Sandpiper, a Wheatear and a Sedge Warbler at the Bill, and 5 Sanderling and a Redshank among the commoner waders at Ferrybridge. July 29th Passage picked up a little today, although numbers remain rather lower than usual for late July. The Bill area produced 100 Swifts, 30 Sand Martins, 25 Willow Warblers, 6 Garden Warblers, 5 Sedge Warblers, 2 Wheatears, 1 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Grasshopper Warbler; elsewhere 100 Sand Martins passed through at Weston. On the sea, 8 Common Scoter, 4 commic and 2 Sandwich Terns and 3 Balearic Shearwaters passed the Bill, whilst waders at Ferrybridge included 100 Dunlin and 75 Ringed Plovers. July 28th Fairly quiet today, with just 70 Sand Martins, 4 Wheatears, 2 Willow Warblers and a Lesser Whitethroat around the Bill area, and 16 Common Scoter, 3 Curlews and a Great Skua passing through offshore there.  July 27th Another small flurry of migrants at the Bill produced totals of 50 Swifts, 29 Sand Martins, 5 Willow Warblers, a Whimbrel, a Wheatear, a Grasshopper Warbler, a Sedge Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat. The first couple of Balearic Shearwaters for some while were the highlight off the Bill, where there were also 162 Common Scoter and a lone Manx Shearwater. July 26th  Willow Warblers remain the only early migrants that are at all conspicuous, with another 15 being logged at the Bill today; also there were 2 Wheatears and a Lesser Whitethroat. Off the Bill itself, an unexpected movement of Manx Shearwaters produced counts including 250 in two hours around midday, and 62 Common Scoter also passed through. July 25th There were precious few signs of autumn passage gaining momentum, with just 8 Willow Warblers and a Whimbrel seen on the land at the Bill, and 12 Common Scoter, 2 Sandwich Terns and a Great Skua passing through on the sea. July 24th A Green Woodpecker at the Obs was the rarity of the day, whilst common migrants around the Bill area included 6 Willow Warblers, 2 Dunlin, 2 Wheatears, a Whimbrel, a Common Sandpiper, a Sand Martin and a Lesser Whitethroat. July 23rd The quietest day for a while, with just 2 Wheatears, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Willow Warbler at the Bill, and 8 Common Scoter and 2 Manx Shearwaters passing on the sea there. July 22nd More of the same today, with 4 Willow Warblers, a Common Sandpiper, a Yellow Wagtail, a Wheatear, a Sedge Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat on the land at the Bill, and 42 Common Scoter and 5 Manx Shearwaters passing through on the sea. July 21st An early returning Purple Sandpiper at the Bill was the highlight among the the small arrival of new birds that also included 3 Wheatears, 2 Willow Warblers and a Sedge Warbler there. Two Great Crested Grebes passed the Bill, but otherwise seawatching there produced just 31 Common Scoter and 3 Manx Shearwaters. July 20th A Wood Warbler at Culverwell was the pick of the sprinkle of new arrivals that also included 3 Wheatears, a Grey Wagtail and a few more Sand Martins and Swifts at the Bill; the Treecreeper was also still present there. The sea produced just 13 Manx Shearwaters and a Common Scoter, whilst waders at Ferrybridge included 140 Dunlin and 7 Sanderling. July 19th The Treecreeper was still at the Obs, but the only new arrivals were 3 Wheatears at the Bill and a trickle of Swifts and Sand Martins overhead. Seawatching at the Bill produced nothing more than 13 Common Scoter and a single Common Gull. July 18th A Treecreeper trapped and ringed at the Obs was the bird of the day, and there were also a few Swifts and Sand Martins, 2 Robins and a Sedge Warbler at the Bill. July 17th A few more signs of autumn today with 2 Willow Warblers, a Sedge Warbler and a Grey Heron all new in at the Bill. The sea there produced just 8 Manx Shearwaters and 2 commic Terns, and the only new arrival at Ferrybridge was the first returning Common Gull. July 16th Swifts and Sand Martins were again conspicuous over the Bill, and there were also 30 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Grey Heron, a Wheatear and a Lesser Whitethroat there. Seawatching produced another 56 Common Scoter off the Bill, whilst the only new wader at Ferrybridge was a lone Curlew.



Little Tern and Ringed Plover - Ferrybridge, July 15th 2002 © Martin Cade

  July 15th Another 80 Sand Martins and 60 Swifts passed through at the Bill, but the only other new arrivals were a Curlew and a Redshank there, a Green Sandpiper passing over at Ferrybridge and a Wheatear on Chesil Beach. Grounded waders at Ferrybridge included 40 Dunlin and 3 Sanderling. The majority of Little Terns have now left Ferrybridge where the breeding colony had another dismal season: apparently no young have fledged from around 70 pairs present. July 14th A dead Barn Owl on the Beach Road at Ferrybridge was a surprise discovery in the morning, but otherwise it was more of the same today, with 48 Swifts, 33 Sand Martins, 4 Common Sandpipers, a Greenshank, a Grey Wagtail and a Wheatear at the Bill, and 111 Common Scoter passing through offshore there. Waders at Ferrybridge included 56 Dunlin, 6 Sanderling and a Whimbrel.


Sanderling - Ferrybridge, July 13th 2002 © Chris Courtaux

  July 13th Early autumn migrants continued to trickle through. At the Bill there were 58 Sand Martins, 38 Swifts, 2 Curlews, a Wheatear, a Whinchat and a Chiffchaff, whilst Ferrybridge produced 30 Dunlin, 3 Sanderlings and a Mediterranean Gull. Common Scoter were still much in evidence off the Bill, where another 130 passed west, but the only other birds of note offshore were 3 Manx Shearwaters.


Kittiwake - Portland Bill, July 12th 2002 © Martin Cade

  July 12th Wader numbers increased sharply at Ferrybridge, where counts included 190 Dunlin, but new migrants were otherwise restricted to a couple of Grey Herons and a Curlew passing over at the Bill. Seawatcing at the Bill produced 8 Common Scoter, 7 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Dunlin and an Arctic Skua. July 11th Migrants at the Bill today included 6 Swifts, 4 Sand Martins and a Spotted Flycatcher, with seawatching there producing just 35 Common Scoter. At Ferrybridge there were 31 Dunlin, a Sanderling, a Knot and a Common Tern.


Fulmar - Portland Bill, July 10th 2002 © Martin Cade

  July 10th Bird of the day today was a fly-by Roseate Tern off the Bill, but seawatching there otherwise produced just 23 Common Scoter. An unseasonable Lesser Redpoll was the best bird on the land at the Bill, with the only other migrants reported being 27 Swifts and 4 Sand Martins there. July 9th The sea continued to provide most of what little interest there was, with a few Manx Shearwaters, 7 Common Scoter and 2 Arctic Skuas passing the Bill; several Puffins were also showing well (as they have been for several days) at the auk colony there. The only other birds of note were 37 Swifts over the Bill and a Ringed Plover over Suckthumb Quarry.  July 8th Common Scoter passage remained conspicuous, with another 121 passing the Bill, but otherwise seawatching there produced just 17 Manx Shearwaters, 1 Great Skua and 1 Sandwich Tern. The only other news was from Ferrybridge, where there were 20 Dunlin, 8 Common and 2 Sandwich Terns, a Golden Plover and a Redshank. July 7th A singing Reed Warbler at the Obs was presumably a late spring arrival, but the 75 Common Scoter flying west past the Bill were very much part of the autumn passage of this species that has become conspicuous in the last couple of weeks.


Little Owl - Portland Bill, July 6th 2002 © Martin Cade

  July 6th Once again the only news came from the Bill, where there were 2 Chiffchaffs, a Grey Heron and a Sand Martin on the land, and 11 Common Scoter and 2 Great Skuas on the sea.


Guillemots - Portland Bill, July 5th 2002 © Martin Cade

  July 5th Still not a lot to report, with seawatching at the Bill producing the only noteworthy birds: 120 Gannets, 104 Common Scoter and 49 Manx Shearwaters. In calm weather at dusk, the young Guillemots in the auk colony at the Bill fledged and left the breeding ledges. July 4th The first pleasant day of the month, albeit again fairly birdless. The only news was from the Bill, where there were 5 Sand Martins and a Reed Warbler on the land, and 13 Common Scoter and a few Manx Shearwaters on the sea July 3rd Very little change today. Manx Shearwaters were off the Bill in fair numbers all day, and there were also 25 Common Scoter there. The only other birds of note were 8 Dunlin at Ferrybridge. July 2nd More cool, windy and frequently wet weather, with seawatching at the Bill producing nothing more than a few Manx Shearwaters. Elsewhere there were 5 Dunlin and 8 returning Black-headed Gulls at Ferrybridge. July 1st A cool and windy start to July with nothing of note reported on the land. On the sea there were 3 Arctic Skuas and a Storm Petrel at Chesil Cove, a Great Skua off the Bill and fair numbers of Manx Shearwaters at both sites.