October 2004



  Yellow-browed Warbler (....elusive!) - Wakeham, October 31st 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 31st Heavily overcast skies and a light easterly breeze delivered a whopping arrival of thrushes today. Birds were on the move until late in the afternoon and with few birds lingering and movement taking place on a broad front it was difficult to estimate numbers beyond a conservative estimate of 3000 Redwings, 2000 Blackbirds, 1000 Song Thrushes, 200 Fieldfares, 15 Mistle Thrushes and 4 Ring Ouzels passing through the southern half of the island; grounded migrants in the same area included 100 Robins, 100 Blackcaps, 100 Goldcrests, 60 Chiffchaffs, 20 Black Redstarts, 20 Firecrests, 10 Woodcock, 4 Dartford Warblers and 2 Short-eared Owls. The north of the island provided at least another 10 Black Redstarts and 5 Ring Ouzels. Rarity-wise there was surprisingly little on offer although a Yellow-browed Warbler was found near the Mermaid pub at Wakeham, a Snow Bunting was settled at Shepherds Dinner and a Lapland Bunting flew over at Reforne. There was also an interesting array of late migrants including a Sandwich Tern in Portland Harbour and a Whinchat, a Redstart (seemingly showing some characteristics of the eastern form samamisicus), a Reed Warbler and a Garden Warbler at the Bill. Once again very little attention was paid to the sea although at least 1 Velvet Scoter was still lingering off the Bill.



  Woodcock - Portland Bill, October 30th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 30th In view of recent events nationally a Pallid Swift had seemed on the cards for some while but that didn't detract from the excitement of news being received of one being seen flying north at Reap Lane soon after dawn; within an hour the same or perhaps even more likely another individual that looked as though it had just arrived in off the sea was watched flying north up the Slopes at the Bill whilst later in the morning there was a third sighting of a bird leaving to the south from Cheyne Weare. With the wind and rain of recent days having finally given way to clear skies and warm sunshine there was plenty of movement overhead throughout the day. Pick of the fly-overs around the southern half of the island included at least 7 Woodlarks (with another individual settled for a while at Wakeham), 5 Mistle Thrushes, 4 presumed Pink-footed Geese, a Richard's Pipit, a Snow Bunting and a Lapland Bunting. On the ground only Goldcrests and thrushes were present in any real numbers but quality included around 30 Black Redstarts, 10 Firecrests, 4 Woodcocks, 3 Merlins, 2 Short-eared and a Long-eared Owl. With so much interest in the sky and on the ground precious little attention was given to the sea, where the only noteworthy report was of 2 Velvet Scoter lingering off the Bill.



  Pallas's Warbler - Pennsylvania Castle, October 29th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 29th A surprise flurry of Pallas's Warblers provided today's highlight and came despite continuing inclement weather conditions: a rather mobile and elusive individual frequented the Pennsylvania Castle area during the afternoon whilst late in the day two birds were found at Delhi Lane, Easton. Elsewhere the 'eastern' Lesser Whitethroat remained at Barleycrates Lane, a Woodcock, a Redstart and a Pied Flycatcher were at Old Hill, a Merlin and a Short-eared Owl were at the Bill and a few Black Redstarts and Firecrests were scattered around the island. As many as 50 Little Gulls lingered or passed through at Chesil Cove and several Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns remained at Portland Harbour/Ferrybridge. Aside from the storm-driven birds there was precious little movement at sea, with the Bill producing just 40 Common and 3 Velvet Scoter, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Arctic Skuas, a Black-throated Diver, a Fulmar and a Teal.





  Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Little Gull, Common Tern and Arctic Skua - Ferrybridge and Portland Harbour, October 28th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 28th Whilst the weather remained extremely unsettled the wind dropped away noticeably for much of the morning and allowed most of the island to be covered quite well. The legacy of yesterday's stormy conditions included a good scatter of lingering Little Gulls, particularly at Chesil Cove, as well as 3 Common Terns, 3 Arctic Terns and an Arctic Skua lingering in Portland Harbour, 40 Pintail and a Little Auk past Chesil Cove and a Black-throated Diver, a Teal and a Great Skua past the Bill. On the land there were reasonable numbers of new thrushes and Robins everywhere, a small arrival of Black Redstarts included 3 at Chesil Cove and at least 6 Firecrests were scattered around the sheltered spots in the south of the island; a Reed Warbler was a good late record at the Bill whilst a Lesser Whitethroat at Barleycrates Lane was another individual of this species showing characteristics of one of the eastern forms. Elsewhere a Pale-bellied Brent Goose joined the Dark-bellied Brents at Ferrybridge. October 27th Yesterday's interlude of fairer weather proved to be short-lived, with a howling easterly gale having set in overnight and heavy rain reaching the island by midday. The land was all but unbirdable, with the only reports being of 4 Firecrests, a Short-eared Owl and a Black Redstart at the Bill and 2 more Firecrests at Portland Castle; the trickle of overhead passage included 100 Starlings, a few thrushes and 2 Lapwings at the Bill. Seawatching produced just 25 Common Scoter, 6 Grey Plover, 2 Brent Geese, a Fulmar, a Red-breasted Merganser and an Arctic Skua passing the Bill and a Little Gull lingering in Chesil Cove.




  Pallas's Warbler and 'eastern' Lesser Whitethroat (including wing-tip and tail detail) - Portland Bill, October 26th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 26th The return of fair weather gave plenty of opportunity for birders to scour the island and there was a long and varied list to show for all the effort. Highlights included a Pallas's Warbler at Culverwell during the afternoon, fly-over Richard's Pipit, Woodlark and Lapland Bunting at the Bill, a Grey Phalarope settled in Chesil Cove early in the morning, a Kingfisher briefly at the Obs and a Lesser Whitethroat showing characteristics of one of the eastern forms trapped and ringed there and in the evening a Barn Owl seen near the windmills at Easton. Grounded migrants were not plentiful but did include several Black Redstarts and Firecrests at the Bill. Overhead passage was much more conspicuous and included plenty of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, and finches still on the move over the Bill along with 250 Wood Pigeons, 80 Jackdaws and 25 Reed Buntings also passing over there. Sea passage largely petered out, although up to 7 Little Gulls were still lingering in Chesil Cove and a Mediterranean Gull passed through off the Bill.



  Arctic Tern - Portland Harbour, October 25th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 25th A peculiar selection of sightings today including some good island rarities. A Marsh Tit reported briefly at Culverwell was the highlight (there are only two previous Portland records) but a Little Auk at Chesil Cove and a Moorhen at Avalanche Road were also both quality local records. With grounded migrants still at a premium it was left to overhead passage and seawatching to provide interest. Finches were on the move most of the day, with sample counts of 735 Linnets and 353 Goldfinches flying south at the Bill in 90 minutes during the morning. There was precious little moving on the sea, with just 12 Little Gulls, a Great Skua, an Arctic Skua and an Arctic Tern passing the Bill, but storm-driven Little Gulls were again a feature, with up to 24 lingering in Chesil Cove; another Little Gull and several Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns were also lingering in Portland Harbour. The pick of the birds on the land were 5 Firecrests in the Obs garden and several sightings of Merlins at Chesil Cove and the Bill. October 24th What gradual improvement in the weather there was seemed to have come too late in the night to allow many migrants to get moving, and other than fair numbers of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests in the sheltered spots around the centre of the island there was not too much to see in the way of grounded birds; 7 Firecrests, a couple of Black Redstarts and a Merlin were the only scarcer species reported although a late Willow Warbler at Pennsylvania Castle was also noteworthy. With the wind having eased down most of yesterday's Little Gulls had made their way back out to sea with just 15 remaining in Portland Harbour/Chesil Cove early in the morning; 3 Sandwich Terns and a Mediterranean Gull also remained at Ferrybridge. Sea passage off the Bill was restricted to 10 Common Scoter, 4 Little Gulls, 2 Storm Petrels, a Manx Shearwater, a Little Egret and a Great Skua passing during the first couple of hours of the day. October 23rd Another very stormy and wet day. Most of what little movement there was on the sea occurred off the Bill where 6 Great and 2 Arctic Skuas, 4 Storm Petrels, 2 Sooty Shearwaters and 2 Little Gulls passed through and 15 Common Scoter and a Great Northern Diver were settled offshore. Elsewhere there were counts of 45 and 21 storm-driven Little Gulls lingering in Portland Harbour and Chesil Cove respectively, whilst there were also several Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns lingering in Portland Harbour. The only birds of note on the land were a fly-over Lapland Bunting at Avalanche Road and 2 Firecrests, a Merlin, a Short-eared Owl and a Black Redstart at the Bill.



  Little Gull - Ferrybridge, October 22nd 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 22nd Seawatching was just about the only worthwhile birding on the island in continuing very windy weather. Watches from the Bill produced 18 Great, 8 Arctic and a Long-tailed Skua, 15 Little Gulls, 2 Manx Shearwaters and a Great Northern Diver; a brief look at Chesil Cove early in the morning provided another 4 Little Gulls and a Red-throated Diver. Elsewhere, 4 Common Terns, a Little Gull and a Mediterranean Gull were at Ferrybridge, 3 Firecrests, a Merlin and a Black Redstart remained at the Bill and 2 Firecrests were at Tilleycombe. October 21st A blasting westerly wind dominated proceedings today, making birding on the land very difficult but at the same time producing some interest on the sea. A few flocks of Linnets were still on the move overhead but on the ground it was very much quieter than during the last couple of days. The Pallas's Warbler was still at Avalanche Road early in the morning although it later flew off over some nearby houses and couldn't be relocated; a handful of Firecrests were also still around in the few sheltered spots in the south of the island. Wakeham provided the only quality new arrivals, with a Yellow-browed Warbler in trees opposite the Mermaid pub and a fly-over Woodlark at the same spot. Seawatching at the Bill produced 27 Little Gulls, 3 Great, 2 Arctic and a Long-tailed Skua, a Red-throated Diver, a Sooty Shearwater and a Red-breasted Merganser, whilst Chesil Cove provided 25 Little Gulls, an Arctic Tern and a Sandwich Tern.



  Spotted Flycatcher - Portland Bill, October 20th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 20th Higher temperatures, overcast skies and another pulse of pre-dawn rain produced bags more common migrants but unfortunately the rarity that had looked so on the cards at dawn failed to materialize. Yesterday's Pallas's Warbler remained at Avalanche Road but nothing better than a couple of Dartford Warblers and a scatter of Black Redstarts, Ring Ouzels and Firecrests could be found amongst the new arrivals. Robins and thrushes dominated the tally of common migrants, with more than 150 Robins grounded at the Bill and overflying Redwings, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds each numbering in the hundreds. Among the variety of other common migrants there was again a good selection of late records, with 5 Whinchats, 4 Redstarts, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Whitethroats, 2 Reed Warblers and a Spotted Flycatcher dotted around the south of the island. The sea again provided some interest, with 31 Little Gulls, 4 Great Skuas, 2 Teal and a Black-throated Diver passing through off the Bill. 




  Pallas's Warbler - Avalanche Road, October 19th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 19th Promising-looking weather conditions, with heavy rain having arrived from the south late in the night, dropped a good selection of common migrants around the Bill area in particular, whilst late in the afternoon the first Pallas's Warbler of the autumn was found at the island hot-spot for the species at Avalanche Road, Southwell. Scarcer migrants were not numerous but did include 6 Firecrests at the Bill and another 2 or 3 at other sites, a Merlin, a Short-eared Owl, a Black Redstart and an overflying Snow Bunting at the Bill and a Ring Ouzel and a Mistle Thrush at Weston. Robins were particularly conspicuous everywhere and numbered at least 75 at the Bill, whilst the good scatter of other common migrants included late records of 2 Garden Warbler and a Willow Warbler at the Bill and a Yellow Wagtail and a Lesser Whitethroat at Weston. Once the rain had cleared through there was a good movement of birds on the sea, with 19 Little Gulls, 10 Great and 3 Arctic Skuas, a Red-throated Diver, a Manx Shearwater and a late Fulmar passing through off the Bill. Elsewhere the wintering flock of Brent Geese at Ferrybridge increased to 480.  October 18th What breeze there was remained in the north-west and it was more of the same on the bird front. The best on offer at the Bill were 3 Ring Ouzels, 2 Firecrests, a Merlin, a late Whimbrel, a Black Redstart and a fly-over Lapland Bunting, whilst commoner migrants there included just small numbers of Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests as well as an influx of new Blue and Great Tits. Elsewhere a Hobby was a good late record at Penn's Weare. Most of the routine passage was of migrants passing overhead, with a sample one hour count at the Bill producing totals of 419 Linnets, 86 Goldfinches, 85 Meadow Pipits, 77 alba wagtails, 48 Skylarks, 22 Chaffinches, 19 Swallows, 3 Reed Buntings, 2 Siskins and a Redpoll. October 17th With there having been hardly any change in the weather there were no high expectations for the birding today. A Wryneck that showed up for a short while around the beach hut fields beside the Obs during the morning was the bird of the day and may have been the individual seen equally briefly there a couple of days ago. Otherwise the best of the scarcer migrants were a Ring Ouzel and a Brambling at Verne Common, 2 Black Redstarts, a Mistle Thrush and a Brambling at Weston, a late Lesser Whitethroat at Reap Lane and 3 Firecrests, a Short-eared Owl, a Black Redstart and a Brambling at the Bill. Common migrants included small numbers of grounded Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests everywhere and a fair movement of a variety of wagtails, pipits and finches overhead. Three Brent Geese passing the Bill were the only worthwhile sightings on the sea.



  Reed Bunting - Portland Bill, October 16th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 16th With one notable exception it was just typical October fare again today, with 5 Firecrests, a Short-eared Owl, a Black Redstart and a Ring Ouzel the only particularly noteworthy grounded scarcer migrants at the Bill; the one unexpected highlight was a Surf Scoter that passed through off the Bill with a small flock of Common Scoter during the evening. Although it was pretty quiet on the ground there were still fair numbers of birds on the move overhead, with 445 Linnets, 157 alba wagtails, 143 Meadow Pipits, 70 Goldfinches, 54 Chaffinches, 31 Skylarks and 15 Reed Buntings over the Bill during a 75 minute sample count in the morning. October 15th The quietest day of the week so far in terms of both numbers and variety, with the stiff north-westerly wind living up to its reputation for being the least productive wind direction at Portland. Ring Ouzels were reduced to just 3 at East Weare and 1 at Avalanche Church, whilst Firecrests numbered 6 between Southwell and the Bill; 2 Black Redstarts were at Reap Lane and 2 Black-tailed Godwits at Ferrybridge, but the only other unusual sighting was of a Pheasant at Culverwell (news was also received of another individual seen earlier in the week at Easton). Fair numbers of birds were on the move overhead, with a sample hour-long count at the Bill providing totals including 305 Linnets, 120 Meadow Pipits, 113 Goldfinches, 99 alba wagtails and 59 Chaffinches, but on the ground there were only smallish numbers of thrushes, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests scattered around. Late common migrants included 2 Whinchats at Barleycrates Lane and a Willow Warbler at Pennsylvania Castle. The only noteworthy sea passage was of 15 Wigeon, a Great Northern Diver and a Brent Goose off the Bill.



  Wryneck - Portland Bill, October 14th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 14th Breezy north-westerly conditions didn't look too promising at the start of the day but there were reasonable numbers of typical October common migrants on show and a few scarcities were found as the day went on. A late Wryneck was a surprise new arrival around the edges of the Obs garden at midday, although it seemed quite restless and wasn't thought to have lingered; at least 9 Ring Ouzels, 6 Firecrests and 3 Dartford Warblers were also still scattered around the island. The Pennsylvania Castle area was particularly busy with Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests, as well as attracting 11 Siskins, whilst there were smaller numbers of the same species elsewhere. Meadow Pipits, alba wagtails, thrushes and finches trickled overhead all morning, with 12 Reed Buntings also passing through at the Bill.



  Yellow-browed Warbler - Tilleycombe, October 13th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 13th A big clear-out of yesterday's birds unfortunately made for disappointing visits for the day-trippers who arrived hoping to dip in on some of the action. There had been some early promise in the form of a good arrival of new Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests around the south of the island at dawn but these largely filtered away during an otherwise very wet morning and the best that was left for much of the afternoon were 9 or more Ring Ouzels and half a dozen Firecrests dotted about the island, a couple of Merlins, a Short-eared Owl, a Black Redstart and a Mistle Thrush at the Bill and another Black Redstart at Reap Lane. The highlight of the day wasn't found until the end of the afternoon when the first Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn showed up at Tilleycombe. The sea had also shown a little early promise in strong southerlies at dawn, with 6 Great Skuas, an Arctic Skua and a Balearic Shearwater passing through off the Bill but interest ground to a halt as the wind abated and veered into the north-west during the afternoon.




  Snow Bunting, Bluethroat and Short-eared Owl - Portland Bill, October 12th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 12th Plenty to see today in drab, drizzly and unpleasantly cold northerlies that dropped a reasonable arrival of common migrants and a few scarcer highlights. The best of the scarcities were a Stone Curlew seen in flight a couple of times at the Bill and then later at Weston, a Snow Bunting that showed well near the Bill lighthouse, a very confiding Bluethroat found in the afternoon in the Bill Quarry, a brief reappearance of the Weston Rose-coloured Starling, perhaps as many as 6 Short-eared Owls at the Bill, a dozen or more Ring Ouzels scattered around the island, 3 Dartford Warblers at the Bill, regular sightings of single Merlins at the Bill and a scatter of Firecrests everywhere. Thrushes were again on the move in fair numbers and all the sheltered spots held good quantities of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests; late common migrants included several Redstarts and Whinchats, a Turtle Dove, a Reed Warbler, a Garden Warbler and a Willow Warbler scattered around the south of the island. October 11th Another day of promising-looking strong easterlies that for the umpteenth day failed to produce the expected rarity. There was again plenty of movement overhead, with Skylarks, alba wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Starlings and a variety of thrushes and finches dominating at the Bill. The best of the grounded birds were a total of 10 Ring Ouzels of which 8 were in the Priory Corner/Tout Quarry area, 5 Firecrests, 2 Dartford Warblers and a Short-eared Owl at the Bill and a Hobby and the first Black Redstart of the autumn at Weston. The sea continued to produced some limited wildfowl movement including 20 Wigeon and a Pintail passing the Bill, where 2 Storm Petrels and a Mediterranean Gull also passed by. Finally, some late news for yesterday from the Grove where a Rose-coloured Starling was seen amongst a pre-roost gathering of Starlings in the evening.



  Arctic Skua - Portland Bill, October 10th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 10th The blasting east wind had hardly eased at all which again made for really difficult birding on the land. However the sea produced plenty of interest and the species list for the day as a whole was long and varied. In drizzly weather overnight thrushes had been on the move overhead in quantity and daybreak saw quite a few still passing through; 600 Starlings and 23 Lapwings were the pick of the other overhead passage at the Bill. Grounded migrants included small numbers of expected October common migrants, along with 4 Firecrests around Southwell, single Ring Ouzels at the Bill, Southwell Farm and Suckthumb Quarry and a Turtle Dove at the Bill. Seawatching at the Bill produced 91 Common Scoter, 34 Dunlin, 13 Brent Geese, 12 Arctic and 4 Great Skuas (including an Arctic Skua that settled for a while on the Bill Common and the Slopes), a Little Gull and a good variety of other wildfowl and waders. A flock of 15 Mute Swans was a good record at Chesil Cove, whilst Ferrybridge provided plenty of birds including a fly-over Osprey and a Little Stint. October 9th A strengthening east wind made the land all but unbirdable for much of the day and most attention was paid to the wealth of passage overhead and the trickle of birds passing on the sea. A two hour sample count on the West Cliffs early in the morning produced totals of 1620 House Martins, 560 Meadow Pipits, 453 Swallows, 230 alba wagtails, 125 Linnets, 33 Skylarks, 10 Song Thrushes, 6 Redwings, 5 Wheatears, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Merlin, 1 Hobby, 1 Lapwing and 1 Mistle Thrush flying north, with more of the same on the move everywhere for much of the day; additional species overhead elsewhere included 75 Starlings, 50 Chaffinches and 2 Snipe at the Bill and single Fieldfares at the Bill and Tout Quarry. The only noteworthy sightings on the land were of a Ring Ouzel at Church Ope Cove and a Firecrest at Culverwell. The few birds passing through on the sea at the Bill included 38 Common Scoter, 13 Brent Geese, a Wigeon and single Arctic and Great Skuas. A single Little Stint was reported at Ferrybridge, where the long-staying Knot was still present.



  Dartford Warbler - Portland Bill, October 8th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 8th Still no sign of a good autumn rarity but otherwise a pretty typical early October day. Oddities included 3 Dartford Warblers and a Woodcock at the Bill, single Ring Ouzels at the Bill, Southwell and Suckthumb Quarry and a Hobby at Southwell. Small numbers of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were present in all the suitable sites, although Meadow Pipit was by far the most conspicuous common migrant, with many hundreds grounded throughout the island. Other migrants included 16 Wheatears and a Tree Pipit at the Bill, 4 Redwings and 2 Whinchats at Barleycrates Lane and 3 Yellow Wagtails still at Weston. Overhead there were plenty of birds on the move all morning, with a two hour sample count at the Bill providing totals of 560 Meadow Pipits, 259 alba wagtails, 177 Linnets, 87 Chaffinches, 42 Greenfinches, 32 Swallows, 27 Skylarks, a Golden Plover, a Grey Wagtail and a Siskin.



  Common Buzzard - Southwell, October 7th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 7th Good birds remained at a premium despite much improved weather conditions. A Dartford Warbler was certainly a new arrival at Cheyne Weare, two Common Buzzards over the Bill and Southwell appeared to be different individuals to those that had been present around the island earlier in the year and 10 Long-tailed Tits at Southwell had wandered well away from their usual haunts; however, many of the other grounded migrants - including a Ring Ouzel at Avalanche Road and a Firecrest at the Obs - seemed to be lingering on from previous days. The clear skies encouraged plenty of birds to get moving overhead, with a 75 minute count at the Bill early in the morning producing totals of 380 Linnets, 356 Meadow Pipits, 139 alba wagtails, 127 Goldfinches, 62 Chaffinches, 43 Swallows, 41 Skylarks, 12 Greenfinches, 2 Reed Buntings and a Grey Wagtail flying south; 4 Siskins, 2 Grey Herons, a Merlin and a Snipe also passed overhead there at other times. October 6th With an unpleasantly strong westerly wind making birding very difficult on the land overhead passage received plenty of attention during the morning. The highlight was a Lapland Bunting passing through at Cheyne Weare, whilst 90 minute sample counts of commoner migrants included 618 Linnets, 520 Meadow Pipits, 309 alba wagtails, 147 Goldfinches, 66 Swallows, 44 Skylarks, 11 Greenfinches, 7 Chaffinches, 6 Golden Plover and 2 Siskins south at the Bill, and 298 Meadow Pipits, 285 alba wagtails, 261 Linnets, 51 Goldfinches, 51 Swallows, 12 House Martins, a Golden Plover and a Grey Wagtail south at Cheyne Weare. Grounded Pied Wagtails remained very conspicuous and included a total of 270 on the school playing field beside Weston Road, but the only other noteworthy sightings on the land were of 3 Yellow Wagtails at Weston and a Merlin and a Firecrest at the Bill.



  Rose-coloured Starling and Yellow Wagtail - Weston, October 5th 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 5th New arrivals were distinctly thin on the ground today, with grounded Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits the only migrants that were at all conspicuous. The Rose-coloured Starling at Weston was still present but only gave itself up twice - and then only briefly each time - all day, whilst late-ish common migrants included 5 Yellow Wagtails at Weston, a Tree Pipit at Suckthumb Quarry, a Willow Warbler at Perryfields, a Spotted Flycatcher at Fortuneswell and a Turtle Dove at the Bill. The sea couldn't chip in with anything better than 2 Common Scoter, a Balearic Shearwater and an Arctic Skua off the Bill.



  Knot - Ferrybridge, October 4th 2004 © Vaughan Ashby Birdfinders

  October 4th The stormy and wet weather of the night continued for the first part of the morning when 14 Common Scoter, 7 Great and 2 Arctic Skuas, a Red-throated Diver and an Arctic Tern passed through off the Bill and 4 Great and an Arctic Skua passed Chesil Cove. However, the sea saved the best until later when, just as the weather improved late in the morning, a Slender-billed Gull appeared off the Bill and after several apparent attempts to fly west eventually settled and drifted away to the east; later searches for it drew a blank. Last week's Rose-coloured Starling was found again at Weston but it remained frustratingly elusive, and otherwise the best on offer on the land were small numbers of Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests everywhere and 2 Yellow Wagtails, a Whinchat, a Garden Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher at Weston. Waders at Ferrybridge included the long-staying Knot. October 3rd With the promised wind and rain holding off until the afternoon there was plenty of time to discover that it was disappointingly quiet on the migrant front. Overhead there were again fair numbers of birds on the move, with a sample one hour count at the Bill providing totals of 435 Linnets, 290 Meadow Pipits, 82 alba wagtails and 65 Swallows leaving to the south early in the morning, but on the ground there was nothing better among the small numbers of expected migrants than a Redwing and a Firecrest at the Bill. The best the sea could offer was 26 Common Scoter, 7 Arctic and 1 Great Skua and a single Wigeon passing the Bill. Ferrybridge produced 135 Ringed Plover, 90 Dunlin, 2 Common Terns, a Merlin and a Knot.




  Pin-tailed Whydah and Sabine's Gull - Southwell and Chesil Cove, October 2nd 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 2nd A wet and windy start to the day looked likely to provide some interest on the sea, but in the event the only birds of note passing through off the Bill were 15 Common Scoter, 2 Arctic Skuas and a Great Skua. Fortunately Chesil Cove again saved the day with a Sabine's Gull that appeared close inshore several times before flying off high to the east over Fortuneswell. The weather spoilt any serious attempts at birding on the land, although oddities found included a Hobby, a Knot and a Short-eared Owl at the Bill and a Pin-tailed Whydah visiting a garden bird-feeder at Southwell



  Pied Wagtail - Southwell, October 1st 2004 © Martin Cade

  October 1st Plenty of typical early October birds today, with a reasonable scatter of grounded migrants and lots of visible passage. At the Bill the highlights were 2 Short-eared Owls, the first Redwing of the autumn and a Grasshopper Warbler, whilst elsewhere a Ring Ouzel was at Avalanche Road. Grounded Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails were conspicuous everywhere, with suitable cover holding plenty of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests; there were also signs of the first decent numbers of migrant Stonechats, thrushes and Reed Buntings putting in an appearance. Very good numbers of birds were on the move overhead, with a 75 minute sample count at the Bill in the morning producing totals including 370 Meadow Pipits, 360 Linnets and 215 alba wagtails. Seawatching at the Bill produced 104 Common Scoter, 2 Arctic and a Great Skua, and single Wigeon and Teal.