September 2007



  Great Spotted Woodpecker - Southwell, 30th September 2007 © Pete Saunders

  September 30th

The sea came up with most of today's interest with 33 Common Scoter, 7 Little Gulls, 4 Brent Geese, 3 each of Grey Plover and Arctic Tern, 2 each of Balearic Shearwater, Arctic Skua and Great Skua and singles of Sooty Shearwater and Teal passing through off the Bill. Fair numbers of hirundines and Meadow Pipits were on the move over the Bill but grounded migrants were much more thinly spread than in recent days and the only scarcer species logged were 4 Firecrests, 2 Ring Ouzels, a Hobby and a Merlin at the Bill, a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Southwell and a Merlin at Verne Common.

The overnight immigrant tally in the Obs garden moth traps consisted of 7 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Delicate and a single Dark Sword Grass.




  Yellow-browed Warbler and Ring Ouzel - Southwell and Portland Bill, 29th September 2007 © Joe Cockram (Yellow-browed Warbler) and Martin Cade (Ring Ouzel)

  September 29th

Yesterday's 3 Yellow-browed Warblers were all still present and a Red-breasted Flycatcher was a new arrival at Southwell School. Commoner migrants were a little less plentiful than yesterday but still included 100 Blackcaps and 60 Chiffchaffs at the Bill, whilst scarcer migrants included 11 Ring Ouzels, 3 Firecrests, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Hobby, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Black Redstart and a Mistle Thrush scattered around the Bill/Southwell area.












  yesterday's Avocet, one of today's Yellow-browed Warblers and some Robin bits - Ferrybridge and Portland Bill, 28th September 2007 © Pete Saunders (Avocet) and Martin Cade (all other photos)

....Robins can be surprisingly tricky to age in the field once they've lost the last vestiges of spotty juvenile plumage. Confusingly, adults frequently exhibit quite conspicuous pale tips to the greater-coverts - a feature usually associated with first year plumage in some of the other chats; however, if present, these tips take the form of narrow rufous wedges rather than the broad buffish spots found in first years. Tail feather shape (broad and rounded in adults, narrow and pointed in first years) provides a relatively safe separation of the age classes, as does leg colour (pale in adults, darker in first years); whilst at a more esoteric level ringers can try their hand at examining the colour of the inside of the upper mandible (blackish in adults, yellowish in first years).

  September 28th

With the north-easterly wind remaining in place there were lots more common migrants along with some quality in the form of 3 Yellow-browed Warblers (2 at Culverwell and another at Southwell) and a Red Kite leaving to the south over the Bill. On the ground Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs dominated with around 100 of each in the Bill area, whilst overhead thrushes were conspicuous for the first time with 60 Song Thrushes and 30 Redwings passing through at the Bill. The first Bramblings of the autumn included 8 through at the Bill and another over Barelycrates Lane and other less common migrants included 44 Siskins, 2 Golden Plover, a Merlin, a Yellow-legged Gull, a Short-eared Owl, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Firecrest at the Bill.

Overnight moth-trapping at the Bill produced just 4 immigrants: 3 Silver Y and a lone Dark Sword Grass.






  Full moon & bird, Golden Plover and Redwing - Portland Bill, 27th September 2007 © Martin Cade

  September 27th

Another nice day with plenty to see without there being any particular highlight. Most of the centre and south of the island was well covered and returned totals of, for example, 150 Chiffchaffs, 80 Blackcaps, 65 Stonechats, 50+ Robins and 30 Goldcrests along with smaller numbers of most of the other expected late September migrants including 4 Firecrests, the first 3 Redwings of the autumn, a Merlin and a Ring Ouzel. Visible passage was noticeably lighter than yesterday although there were still plenty of birds on the move including 50 more Siskins over the Bill. An Avocet was the pick of the waders at Ferrybridge and 25 Wigeon and 7 Teal passing the Bill constituted the best of the morning's seawatch reports.




  Knot and Comma - Ferrybridge and Portland Bill, 26th September 2007 © Pete Saunders (Knot) and Max Seaford (Comma)

  September 26th

Quite a bit more on the move today with plenty overhead and a marked improvement in numbers of grounded migrants. At the Bill the first few hours of the morning produced totals of visible migrants that included 2000 Meadow Pipits, 300 Linnets, 150 alba wagtails, 20 Siskins, 14 Golden Plover, 11 Lapwings, 11 Grey Wagtails, 10 Yellow Wagtails, 7 Tree Pipits and singles of Snipe, Short-eared Owl, Redpoll, Lapland Bunting and Reed Bunting. Grounded migrants there included 60 each of Wheatear and Chiffchaff, 50 Robins, 35 Stonechats, 25 Blackcaps, 5 Goldcrests, 2 each of Whinchat, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler and Firecrest and singles of Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatcher, whilst 12 Siskins and a Firecrest at Barleycrates Lane/Reap Lane and 15 Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Mediterranean Gull were the best of the sightings elsewhere.

Four Silver Y were the only immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.

September 25th

Quality remains hard to come by at the moment and there certainly wasn't much to get excited about today. With clear skies and a stiff north-westerly wind most of what was logged was passing overhead: hirundines and Meadow Pipits were plentiful everywhere and the first decent numbers of Siskins included 50 over the Bill, 12 over Weston, 4 over Sweethill and another 11 settled at Wakeham. In was much quieter on the ground where the pick of the reports were of a Golden Plover and a Pied Flycatcher at the Bill, 2 Firecrests at Sweethill and singles of Redstart and Firecrest at Wakeham. A lone Balearic Shearwater off the Bill was the only sighting of note on the sea.






  Blackcap bits and Little Stint - Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, 24th September 2007 © Martin Cade (Blackcaps) and Pete Saunders (Little Stint)

...fault bars are one of those features that are much more easily observed in the hand than in the field (and the occasional field views of well-marked examples can be mistaken for, for example, wing-bars or dark tail tips). Conventional wisdom has it that they are formed when feather growth is interrupted by a period of nutritional stress and they are often quoted as being a useful clue to ageing: well aligned fault bars as in the Blackcap's tail and wing in the top two pictures are likely to be formed when juvenile feathers are grown simultaneously in the nest, whereas poorly aligned bars restricted just to certain feather tracts are more likely to be formed during a sequential moult and are thus more typical of adults (...we won't dwell on the many possible exceptions to these scenarios save to say that caution should be exercised and fault bars are perhaps best used as a 'back-up' ageing feature!). Having mentioned Blackcap it's worth drawing attention to the differences in tail feather shape between first-years and adults: the tails shown above are both first-year tails with some next generation feathers growing after accidental feather loss.

  September 24th

The windiest day of the autumn so far but much less productive on the sea that of late with nothing of better quality than a couple of Arctic Terns passing the Bill during the morning. The only noteworthy reports from the land were of a Merlin and a Golden Plover at the Bill, a Pied Flycatcher and a Firecrest at Southwell and 7 Mallard, 2 Knot and singles of Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Bar-tailed Godwit at Ferrybridge.

September 23rd

With the wind having picked up again the sea received quite a bit of attention and the onset of drizzly showers and reduced visibility from midday onwards produced a fair list of sightings including 30 Great Skuas, 20 Sooty Shearwaters, 9 Manx Shearwaters, 4 Balearic Shearwater, 4 Arctic Terns, 2 Arctic Skuas and singles of Shelduck, Teal, Wigeon and Pomarine Skua the best off the Bill. A surprise on the land was another Corncrake flushed up by chance near the Obs but otherwise the pick of the sightings at the Bill were of 4 Grey Wagtails, 4 Tree Pipits, 2 Sedge Warblers and singles of Golden Plover, Redstart, Grasshopper Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and Reed Bunting, whilst Ferrybridge chipped in with 2 Mediterranean Gulls, a Knot and an Arctic Tern. Despite the threatening-looking skies there was some passage overhead, including 750 Swallows and 350 Meadow Pipits over Ferrybridge in an hour early in the morning.

The immigrant tally in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning didn't get beyond 2 Rusty-dot Pearl and a lone Diamond-back Moth.

September 22nd

The first relatively still day since last weekend produced quite a bit of visible passage but, Wheatears and Chiffchaffs aside, not too much on the deck; sea passage dried-up completely. Overhead passage included 5000 Swallows and 1000 Meadow Pipits over Ferrybridge in an hour early in the morning and 3000 Meadow Pipits, 29 Grey Wagtails, 12 Tree Pipits, 10 Skylarks, 6 Chaffinches, 4 Reed Buntings, 3 Siskins, 2 Golden Plovers and 2 Redpolls over the Bill in the first four hours of the day. Grounded migrants included 90 Wheatears, 50 Chiffchaffs, 2 Redstarts, a Merlin, a White Wagtail and a Grasshopper Warbler at the Bill and an Arctic Tern at Ferrybridge, whilst the only sighting of note on the sea was of a Balearic Shearwater passing the Bill. 

A lone Delicate was the only immigrant in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.




  Sooty Shearwater - Portland Bill, 21st September 2007 © Colin McEntee 

  September 21st

Early afternoon update. 

More of the same today with the sea providing nearly all the day's sightings. Watches at the Bill through the morning produced 31 Kittiwakes, 26 Sooty Shearwaters, 21 Razorbills, 14 Common Scoter, 13 Fulmars, 9 Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Guillemots and singles of Manx Shearwater, Great Skua, Arctic Skua and Arctic Tern. The only noteworthy sightings on the land were of a Yellow-legged Gull and a Firecrest at the Bill.




  Balearic Shearwaters - Portland Bill, 20th September 2007 © Martin Cade 

...many of the day's Balearics were passing extremely close; for example, five of this party of six were close enough to have disappeared from view beneath the cliff-top as they rounded the Bill. 

  September 20th

A stiff westerly wind dominated proceedings again and the majority of reports were from the sea where the most noteworthy feature was the best movement of Balearic Shearwaters since the summer. The day's seawatch totals at the Bill included 74 Balearics, 47 Kittiwakes, 28 Common Scoter, 27 Sooty Shearwaters, 27 Razorbills, 3 Arctic Skuas, 3 Guillemots and a Great Skua. The land was very much the poor relation and the only notable reports were of a Golden Plover, a Redstart and a Firecrest at the Bill and singles of Sanderling and Knot at Ferrybridge.

September 19th

The promised change in the weather duly arrived as strong west/south-westerlies set in overnight and pretty much all the interest was on the sea. After a slow start passage picked up through the morning and by tea-time totals of 250 Kittiwakes, 27 Arctic Skuas, 25 Sooty Shearwaters, 16 Common Scoter, 11 Manx Shearwaters, 5 Balearic Shearwaters, 5 Arctic Terns and 4 Great Skuas had been logged at the Bill. Precious little attention was paid to the land but odds and ends reported from the Bill included 2 Blackcaps, a Redstart and a Goldcrest.

Singles of Delicate and Silver Y were the only immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.

September 18th

In clear and sunny conditions the day soon warmed up after a chilly start. Conditions were quite favourable for overflying migrants and there were counts of, for example, 175 Meadow Pipits over Ferrybridge and 600 Meadow Pipits, 12 Tree Pipits, 4 Sparrowhawks, a Lapland Bunting and good numbers of hirundines over the Bill in the first couple of hours of the morning before passage petered out. The pick of a pretty thin selection on the ground were 3 Redstarts, Whimbrel, a Yellow-legged Gull and a Firecrest at the Bill and 2 Mediterranean Gulls, a Sanderling, a Curlew Sandpiper and a Common Gull at Ferrybridge.

September 17th

A rather cooler and fresher day than of late but despite the change there wasn't much improvement in migrant numbers. The Bill area produced a thin spread of most of the expected mid-September species but the only double-figure counts of grounded migrants were of 35 Chiffchaffs, 25 Yellow Wagtails and 10 Willow Warblers and the only very minor highlights were 3 White Wagtails, a Golden Plover and a Grasshopper Warbler. Two each of Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper and Mediterranean Gull were the best on offer at Ferrybridge.




  Whimbrel and White Wagtail - Portland Bill, 16th September 2007 © Joe Cockram

  September 16th

An improvement in the quality of the day's bird-list saw the sea provide most of the highlights for the first time in many weeks. The action on the sea developed late in the afternoon as a fresh south-westerly wind set in and the Bill produced totals of 27 Common Scoter, 9 Balearic and 3 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Great Skuas, a Mediterranean Gull and singles of Arctic, Great and Long-tailed Skua; an additional Arctic Skua passed overhead at Ferrybridge. Interest on the land was restricted to 5 White Wagtails, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, a Whimbrel, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Ring Ouzel, a Redstart, a Pied Flycatcher and small numbers of commoner migrants at the Bill and 2 Curlew Sandpipers, 2 Sanderling, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, a Merlin and a Little Stint at Ferrybridge. Migrants were much more plentiful overhead with totals of 1300 Meadow Pipits, 35 Yellow Wagtails, 30 Grey Wagtails and 11 Tree Pipits passing through at the Bill in the first few hours of the morning.

A single Delicate was the only immigrant of the night in the Obs garden moth-traps.

September 15th

Not much change today in yet more extremely fair conditions. One or two Ortolan Buntings were seen at the Bill early in the morning but as in previous days there were no later sightings of a settled individual; the pick of the rest of the sightings were of the autumn's first Brent Goose and Ring Ouzel (at Ferrybridge and Broadcroft Quarry respectively). Migrant totals at the Bill included 250 Meadow Pipits, 50 Yellow Wagtails, 25 Wheatears, 15 each of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, 11 Grey Wagtails, 7 Tree Pipits, 6 Spotted Flycatchers, 4 Blackcaps, 3 Whitethroats, 2 Golden Plovers and singles of Whinchat, Redstart, Grasshopper Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Goldcrest, whilst elsewhere there were 3 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Sanderling, a Merlin and a Little Stint at Ferrybridge. The only reports from the sea were of 5 Sandwich Terns and an Arctic Skua passing through off the Bill.

A single Rusty-dot Pearl was the night's only immigrant in the Obs garden moth-traps.




  Chiffchaff - Portland Bill, 14th September 2007 © Martin Cade

...our little series of ageing features that we started back in late August has been hampered in the last couple of weeks not only by the lack of birds but also by the lack of adult migrants (adults are usually much too worldly-wise and wouldn't entertain stopping at a god-forsaken migration watchpoint like Portland unless it was absolutely necessary) so we've decided to highlight a few individual cases as and when they crop up . Today's Chiffchaff is a nice example of a first-year with a well-marked moult limit in the greater coverts that would be just as visible in the field as it was in the hand. Not all first-year Chiffchaffs are as obvious as this and in many the moult limit is tricky to detect in the hand, let alone the field. This moult limit is absent in adults as they undertake a complete post-breeding moult before autumn migration.

  September 14th

A repeat of yesterday without most of the scarcities - in other words rubbish! The one morsel of quality was provided by a crack of dawn Ortolan Bunting over the Obs garden; 4 White Wagtails, 2 Golden Plover and a Merlin at the Bill, another Merlin at Priory Corner and 4 Mediterranean Gulls and a Curlew Sandpiper at Ferrybridge provided the only other faint hints of quality. Common migrant numbers were still dreadful, with just five migrants trapped and ringed at the Obs (where the month's ringing total stands at a paltry 80 birds) and, hirundines and Meadow Pipits aside, just Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Wheatear and Chiffchaff reaching double figure totals at the Bill.

Overnight mothing at the Obs has been so poor in recent days that we've got out of the habit of mentioning the daily immigrant totals; today provided just 2 Silver Y and 1 Rusty-dot Pearl.



  Little Owl - Portland Bill, 13th September 2007 © Colin McEntee

  September 13th

Hirundines aside, there was still no upturn in common migrant numbers and it was left to a small selection of scarcer species to provide the interest today. The Bill produced most of the highlights with a Pomarine Skua and a Little Gull past on the sea, a Hobby and a Spotted Redshank passing overhead and singles of Merlin, Turtle Dove, White Wagtail, Grasshopper Warbler and Firecrest scattered around on the land; elsewhere another Hobby passed over at the Grove and 2 Knot, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Curlew Sandpiper were at Ferrybridge. Hirundines were very plentiful but otherwise the selection of commoner migrants logged barely merits a mention beyond reporting that numbers were much lower than might be expected in mid-September. 



  Whinchat - Southwell, 12th September 2007 © Pete Saunders

  September 12th

In yet more fair weather grounded migrants remained as thinly spread as in recent days (there were for example just a dozen Wheatears at the Bill and only three new migrants were trapped and ringed in the Obs garden) but there was a fair bit of passage overhead, with 700 Meadow Pipits, 70 Yellow Wagtails, 16 Grey Wagtails, 8 Snipe, 6 Tree Pipits, 4 White Wagtails, a Little Egret, a Green Sandpiper and a Dunlin passing over at the Bill during the first few hours of the morning. The best of the grounded migrants were 2 Ortolan Buntings that dropped in at Watery Lane during the morning; the Bill couldn't muster anything of better quality than 4 Grasshopper Warblers. Seawatching at the Bill produced 2 Arctic Skuas and a Balearic Shearwater, whilst 2 Sanderling and a Mediterranean Gull the the best on offer at Ferrybridge.

September 11th

A shift in the wind direction back to north-easterly was welcome but grounded migrants were still in short supply after a very clear night. The only oddities reported were an Osprey that flew south along the West Cliffs early in the afternoon and a Ruff that flew past the Bill. At the Bill most of what movement there was involved fly-overs and even many of the warblers and flycatchers were not stopping as they passed through the Obs garden; totals for the morning there included 250 Meadow Pipits, 40 each of Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear, 20 each of Grey Wagtail and Chiffchaff, 15 Willow Warblers, 10 each of Tree Pipit and White Wagtail, 8 Spotted Flycatchers and smaller numbers of a fair range of other expected species along with a single early-ish Reed Bunting. A trickle of passage off the Bill included 6 Arctic Skuas passing through. The only other reports were from Ferrybridge where there were 3 Sanderling and 2 Knot amongst the commoner waders.

September 10th

A brisker wind from the dreaded north-west today and the migrant tally was particularly grim. In what has become an almost daily ritual an Ortolan Bunting put in a subliminal appearance (today's individual was settled briefly at Culverwell before flying off north) but the only other oddities reported were a couple of single Little Egrets that flew over the Bill and a Yellow-legged Gull that was settled on East Cliffs. For the first time this autumn Chiffchaffs outnumbered Willow Warblers (although with the former numbering just 15 at the Bill phylloscs were hardly conspicuous); the only other species to reach double figure totals at the Bill were Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear. Seawatching at the Bill produced 3 Bar-tailed Godwits and singles of Balearic Shearwater and Arctic Skua.

A Delicate and the year's first Old Lady were minor highlights in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning; 4 Rusty-dot Pearl and 4 Silver Y were the only other immigrants in the traps.



   Brimstone - Portland Bill, 9th September 2007 © Martin Cade

  September 9th

A cloudier start to the morning promised a few more grounded migrants but in the event failed to deliver. The one notable highlight of the day was a Corncrake that was flushed by chance near the Obs but promptly dived for cover and was never seen again; one or more Ortolan Buntings were also seen again at the Bill although as in recent days none of the sightings were of an 'easy' settled individual. The common migrant tally was not dissimilar to yesterday's, with 40 Yellow Wagtails, 40 Willow Warblers, 14 Tree Pipits, 20 Wheatears,15 Chiffchaffs and 10 Whitethroats making up the bulk of the numbers at the Bill; odds and ends of better quality there included 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Yellow-legged Gull and a White Wagtail. The list from Ferrybridge included 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Sanderling, 2 Knot and a Curlew Sandpiper.

We've been lazy in recent days and hardly mentioned butterflies and day-flying moths. A Brimstone was a minor highlight today in the Obs garden (this species is always scarce on the island and there are very few records for the autumn 'pre-hibernation' flight period). Two 'near-misses' in recent weeks have been a presumed Long-tailed Blue seen very briefly at the Bill during the August Bank Holiday weekend and what could only have been a Swallowtail/Scarce Swallowtail seen equally briefly by a day-visitor to the Bill last week. Among the more routine immigrants Red Admirals have been fairly plentiful, Painted Ladys have begun to appear in some numbers only in the last ten days or so and Hummingbird Hawk-moths have been extremely few and far between. 

September 8th

Not even a hint of a change in the weather but - perhaps as we are now entering the New Moon period? - slightly more in the way of grounded migrants today. The list from the Bill area included a fly-over Ortolan Bunting as the highlight, along with 60 Yellow Wagtails, 50 Willow Warblers, 14 Tree Pipits, 10 each of Wheatear and Spotted Flycatcher, 8 Grey Wagtails, 7 each of White Wagtail and Blackcap, 6 Whitethroats, 5 each of Whinchat and Lesser Whitethroat, 4 each of Sedge Warbler and Pied Flycatcher and ones or twos of Redshank, Snipe, Swift, Redstart, Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler, Goldcrest and Siskin; Meadow Pipits were also beginning to get moving overhead and as expected there were plenty of hirundines on the move. The only other reports came from Ferrybridge where 196 Dunlin, 38 Oystercatchers, 7 Curlew, 4 Mute Swans, 3 Curlew Sandpipers, 3 Sanderling, 3 Mediterranean Gulls and a Snipe were the pick of the early morning sightings.

Four Rusty-dot Pearl, 3 Silver Y and an Evergestis extimalis were the only immigrants/wanderers in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.




   Curlew Sandpiper and Purple Sandpiper - Ferrybridge, 7th September 2007 © Pete Saunders

  September 7th

Does prolonged fine weather as early in the autumn as early September qualify as an Indian summer? Either way the current warmth and sunshine look set to remain and aren't doing the birders any favours as grounded migrants are far from plentiful. Today's haul at the Bill included 70 Yellow Wagtail, 25 Wheatear, 16 Tree Pipit and 10 Willow Warbler; among the smaller numbers of other species there were 3 White Wagtails, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a Merlin, a Redstart and a Lesser Whitethroat on the land and the first Diver sp of the autumn passing through on the sea. Ferrybridge continues to be well worth a look, with a Purple Sandpiper providing the highlight there today; 7 Sanderling, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Mediterranean Gull and a Kingfisher were the pick of the rest of the sightings there.

Six Rusty-dot Pearl, 4 Silver Y, a Rush Veneer and an Oak Hook-tip were the only immigrants/wanderers in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.




   Curlew Sandpipers and Mediterranean Gull - Ferrybridge, 6th September 2007 © Pete Saunders

  September 6th

Clear blue skies and hot sunshine today - ideal conditions for migrants to pass straight overhead without stopping. The Wryneck showed briefly again at the Privet Hedge and a Great Spotted Woodpecker put in an appearance at Barleycrates Lane but in the common migrant line only passing hirundines were well represented. Yellow Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Wheatear and Willow Warbler all just managed double figures at the Bill where the only slightly scarcer species logged were 4 White Wagtails, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Grey Herons, a Snipe and a Whimbrel. Ferrybridge fared a little better with 4 Sanderling, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, a Knot, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Mediterranean Gull the best on offer.

There was precious little change in the Obs garden moth-traps with singles of Rush Veneer, Rusty-dot Pearl, Nephopterix angustella, Convolvulus Hawk-moth and Silver Y the only immigrants/wanderers recorded.



   Redstart - Portland Bill, 5th September 2007 © Paul Baker

  September 5th

Unfortunately it was back to square one today with passage reduced to a mere trickle again. An Ortolan Bunting flew over Top Fields in the morning and a Wryneck showed briefly at the Privet Hedge but among the commoner migrants at the Bill the only double figure counts were of 50 Yellow Wagtails, 23 Tree Pipits and 16 Grey Wagtails; less regular species there included singles of Snipe, Golden Plover and Kingfisher. Seawatching at the Bill produced singles of Balearic Shearwater and Arctic Skua.

Immigrants/wanderers in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning included 4 Silver Y, 3 Convolvulus Hawk-moth, 2 Rusty-dot Pearl and a Dark Spectacle.




  Grey Heron and Knot - Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, 4th September 2007 © Martin Cade (Heron) and Pete Saunders (Knot)

  September 4th

A distinct improvement today with quite a few common migrants on the move and some quality in the form of at least 2 Ortolan Buntings (2 together over the Obs, a couple of fly-over singles over Top Fields and 1 settled near the Windmills at Easton) and a Wryneck (in Top Fields so maybe different to yesterday's individual). The migrant tally for the Bill area included 75 Yellow Wagtails, 65 Wheatears, 25 Tree Pipits, 25 Willow Warblers, 20 Whinchats, 13 Grey Wagtails, 10 Whitethroats, 5 Goldcrests, 4 White Wagtails and ones or twos of Grey Heron, Ringed Plover, Turtle Dove, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff and Spotted Flycatcher, whilst elsewhere there were 25 Wheatears and 20 Whinchats scattered around the centre of the island and 120 Ringed Plover, 50 Dunlin, 18 Knot, 3 Sanderling and a Shelduck at Ferrybridge.

Still not much to report from the Obs garden moth-traps that attracted by way of immigrants just 6 Silver Y, 3 Rusty-dot Pearl and a Southern Wainscot

September 3rd

The one high point today was the (re-)discovery at the Privet Hedge of what was presumably Saturday's Wryneck that had escaped notice yesterday. On the common migrant front it was a case of hoping that the day represented the low point of autumn as numbers couldn't really get any worse (in ideal mist-netting conditions not a single bird was ringed in the the Obs garden all morning). The pick of what was around included 50 Yellow Wagtails, 15 Wheatears, 10 Willow Warblers, 8 Turnstones, 7 Grey Wagtails, 5 Whinchats, a Grey Heron, a Little Egret, a Ringed Plover, a Yellow-legged Gull and a Pied Flycatcher at the Bill and singles of Merlin, Knot and Sanderling at Ferrybridge.

Singles of Rusty-dot Pearl, Convolvulus Hawk-moth, Dark Spectacle, Silver Y and Red Admiral butterfly provided the only immigrant/wanderer interest in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.

September 2nd

It didn't get any better today with migrant numbers dropping back to a very low level for this stage of the autumn. All that was on offer at the Bill were 40 Yellow Wagtails, 9 Wheatears, 7 Grey Wagtails, 5 White Wagtails, 5 Willow Warblers, 4 Tree Pipits, 4 Whinchats, 3 Whitethroats, a Whimbrel, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Chiffchaff, whilst elsewhere the best were singles of Merlin and Siskin at Barelycrates Lane and 200 Ringed Plover, 40 Dunlin, a Merlin and a Sanderling at Ferrybridge. With the wind still well round in the north-west sea interest was limited to 18 Common Scoter, a Balearic Shearwater and a Razorbill passing through off the Bill.

Two Rusty-dot Pearl, a Convolvulus Hawk-moth and a Southern Wainscot were the only immigrants/wanderers attracted to the Obs garden moth-traps overnight.



   Wryneck - Portland Bill, 1st September 2007 © John Pitman

  September 1st

A Wryneck that showed up above Culverwell during the afternoon provided a welcome minor highlight after a relatively barren few days. Common migrant numbers improved a little at the Bill where there were 60 Yellow Wagtails, 20 Wheatears, 20 Willow Warblers, 10 Whinchats, 8 Tree Pipits, 6 Lesser Whitethroats, 4 White Wagtails, 3 Grey Wagtails, 3 Blackcaps and odd ones and twos of several of the other expected early September species; singles of Hobby and Yellow-legged Gull provided the only other scarcity interest there.

The Obs garden moth-traps remained very quiet, with 3 Rusty-dot Pearl, a Convolvulus Hawk-moth and a Vapourer the only immigrants/wanderers recorded.