October 2010





    Pallas's Warblers (top photo at PBO, bottom photo at Wakeham) and Flame Brocade - Portland Bill and Wakeham, 31st October 2010 © Martin Cade (PBO Pallas's and Flame Brocade) and Nick Hopper (Wakeham Pallas's)

  31st October

A fresh south-easterly and frequent light showers today. Two Pallas's Warblers - one trapped and ringed at the Obs and the other at Wakeham - provided the day's quality, with further interest coming in the form of 3 Black Brants at Ferrybridge and reports of singles of Long-eared Owl and Yellow-browed Warbler from the centre of the island. Among the commoner migrants there was a marked increase in Goldcrest numbers (including 24 new birds trapped and ringed at the Obs - the highest day total there so far this autumn), together with a reasonable scatter of new thrushes and finches on the ground and a fair bit of overhead passage that included 80 Skylarks south over Ferrybridge; scarcer migrants included 2 Firecrests, a Black Redstart and a Mistle Thrush at the Bill, 4 more Firecrests around the centre of the island and 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Ferrybridge. At least 1 Pomarine Skua was lingering off the Bill for a good part of the day.

The second Flame Brocade of the autumn was the best of the overnight moth catch at the Obs, where 4 Silver Y and a White-speck provided further immigrant interest.




Carrion Crow - Portland Bill, 30th October 2010 © Martin Cade

...Carrion Crows showing varying degrees of freaky plumage have been a feature around the island for many years; this particularly striking individual resides around Southwell during the breeding season, but in recent weeks has joined the mixed corvid flock at the Bill.

  30th October

A mixed bag of reports of oddities from around the island included one of the Black Brants at Ferrybridge, a swift sp at Portland Heights, 7 Firecrests and a Yellow-browed Warbler scattered around the centre of the island and 2 Black Redstarts and singles of Merlin, Barn Owl, Dartford Warbler and Ring Ouzel at the Bill. Routine migrants were only very thinly spread with, for example, just 100 Chaffinches, 6 Blackcaps, 5 Reed Buntings, 3 Goldcrests, 2 Swallows, 2 Song Thrushes, a Redwing and a Brambling logged around the Bill area. A lone Great Skua passing the Bill was the only worthwhile sighting on the sea.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 2 Rusty-dot Pearl and singles of Diamond-back Moth, Dark Sword Grass, Delicate and Silver Y.





    Blast from the past: Rustic Bunting - Southwell, 21st October 1987 © Martin Cade

...we happened across these record shots of the second of Portland's four records of Rustic Bunting whilst looking for something else and for no reason other than nostalgia (and maybe the fact that by the next time we found them the photos would probably have degraded to the point of being unpublishable) thought they deserved an airing. By a coincidence the first record for the island occurred 34 years ago today on 29th October 1976.

  29th October

The continuing strong wind - which had backed into the south today - saw to it that nearly all the attention was given to the sea. Singles of Leach's Petrel and Little Auk that passed through off the Bill and Chesil Cove respectively were the day's highlights; 4 Pale-bellied Brent Geese also flew past both sites, whilst more routine fare included 5 Great Skuas and 2 Arctic Skuas off the Bill.

Unfortunately the strength of the wind again spoilt overnight mothing, with singles of Rusty-dot Pearl and Silver Y the only immigrants caught in the Obs garden traps.

28th October

A dead loss today in blusterly south-westerlies. All the reports were from the Bill: a Black Redstart was the only oddity amongst the handful of grounded migrants, a steady passage of finches leaving to the south included more than 200 Goldfinches and 2 Red-throated Divers passed through on the sea.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 2 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Silver Y and a Dark Sword Grass.






    Pallas's Warbler - Portland Bill, 27th October 2010 © Martin Cade

...rather unexpectedly the bird was breaking into quiet, half-hearted subsong/plastic song on occasions: click here to have a listen to a recording of a call note followed by a few phrases of song, and here for a recording of a couple of different call notes.

Also, something of a novelty first for the website - thanks to Barbara Browning for sending through this photo of the Grey Phalarope in Freshwater Bay which is our first posting of a photo taken from a kayak!:


  27th October

The recent run of a few nice highlights continued with the discovery of a Pallas's Warbler in the Obs garden; after being found towards midday the bird was eventually trapped and ringed later in the afternoon. With overnight rain lasting until after dawn there hadn't been any great expectations on the common migrant front and the only minor interest was provided by 2 Little Egrets, 2 Black Redstart, 2 Siskins and at least 1 Ring Ouzel at the Bill, 30 Siskins at Pennsylvania Castle and a Firecrest at Foundry Close. With the wind still quite fresh through the morning the sea came up with 2 Arctic Skuas and 2 Little Gulls through at Chesil Cove, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Pomarine Skuas, 2 Arctic Skuas, a Balearic Shearwater and a Little Gull through off the Bill and a Grey Phalarope settled in Freshwater Bay.

A single Silver Y was the only immigrant in the Obs garden moth-traps.

26th October

A complete change in the weather saw the dry and windy conditions of dawn give way to almost constant rain. Although it was apparent that there were a few new arrivals at the Obs, including a fair number of Goldcrests, 2 Bramblings and a Siskin, the grim conditions prevented any serious coverage of the land, with the only other report being of a Black Brant again at Ferrybridge. Seawatching was often spoilt by the rain and poor visibility but did come up with 10 Little Gulls, 2 Grey Phalaropes and a Sooty Shearwater through or lingering at Chesil Cove and 3 Arctic Skuas and a Pomarine Skua through at the Bill.

Four Rusty-dot Pearl were the only immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.





Grey Phalarope, Brambling and Dartford Warbler- Portland Bill, 25th October 2010 © Martin Cade

  25th October

In more gloriously fine weather the East Cliffs at the Bill struck for the second successive day with an unexpected highlight - this time a Grey Phalarope that was bobbing around just offshore from mid-afternoon; other interest through the day was provided by the likes of 3 Dartford Warblers, a Merlin and a late Tree Pipit at the Bill, the first Water Rail of the autumn at Reap Lane, a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Avalanche Road and a Ring Ouzel at the Grove. There was little change on the commoner migrant front, with a trickle of thrushes and finches overhead - including 150 Chaffinches, 20 Redwings and 20 Bramblings over the Bill - and a very light scatter of grounded migrants everywhere. Seawatching at the Bill produced 19 Common Scoter and singles of Arctic Skua and Great Skua.

A single Silver Y was the only immigrant in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.



Shore Lark - Portland Bill, 24th October 2010 © David Penton

...an excellent find by a group of visitors from the Market Bosworth Natural History Society. The visiting ringers working Culverwell this morning also had a good capture in the form of this Mistle Thrush (photo © Dawn Davies):


  24th October

A day of clear, sunny skies that looked to have passed fairly uneventfully was suddenly enlivened during the afternoon by the discovery of a Shore Lark on East Cliffs at the Bill; unfortunately the bird didn't linger long before flying off (although there was a report of it/another briefly with Skylarks elsewhere at the Bill in the evening). Routine passage followed the pattern of recent days, with just a handful of grounded migrants and little more than a trickle of passage overhead; the best of the reports from the Bill were of 15 Reed Buntings, 10 Bramblings, 10 Siskins, 4 Mistle Thrushes, 3 Dartford Warblers, 3 Redpolls and a Merlin, whilst elsewhere a Short-eared Owl, together with the regular Black Brant and 2 Pale-bellied Brents, was at Ferrybridge and a late Turtle Dove was reported from Southwell.

Despite the less than promising conditions a few immigrant moths of interest continue to show up in the Obs garden traps, with 2 Silver Y, a Cosmopolitan and a White-speck being the best of last night's catch. 





Whooper Swans - Portland Bill, 23rd October 2010 © Martin Cade

  23rd October

The highlight on a day of blustery north-westerlies and occasional heavy showers was a family party of 4 Whooper Swans that arrived from the south at the Bill during the morning, did a circuit over Top Fields and then left high to the north. Migrant numbers dwindled still further, with 2 Merlins, a Brambling and a Siskin providing the only other interest on the land/overhead at the Bill; elsewhere 2 Black Brants were at Ferrybridge, along with 1000 Dark-bellied Brents, 3 Sanderling, 2 Pale-bellied Brents and a Knot. Seawatching at the Bill produced 4 Arctic Skuas and a Brent Goose.

A single Rusty-dot Pearl was the only immigrant caught overnight in the Obs garden moth-traps.



    Flame Brocade - Portland Bill, 22nd October 2010 © Martin Cade

  22nd October

The beginnings of a change in the weather saw the arrival of a good deal more cloud together with a freshening westerly wind. The day's migrant tally certainly didn't get beyond the modest: there was a little more on the move overhead than has been the case in the last few days but new arrivals on the ground were few and far between. A short sample count of visible passage at the Bill returned totals that included 120 Goldfinches and 70 Linnets leaving to the south, whilst morsels of quality on the land included singles of Merlin, Dartford Warbler and Firecrest at the Bill. Seawatching at the Bill produced singles of Red-throated Diver, Arctic Skua and Great Skua.

A Flame Brocade was a surprise overnight capture in the Obs garden moth-traps; a single Silver Y was the only other immigrant caught there.


On a different matter, we've recently become aware that a large number of e-mails destined for the Obs are not getting through; whilst we try to get to the bottom of this problem it might be better to try phoning if you haven't had a quick reply when, for example, you've tried to make a booking / tell us where you've just found a Red-flanked Bluetail on Portland etc etc.



Finally, a reminder that the next In Focus field event at the Obs will place between 10am and 4pm this Saturday, 23rd October. 



21st October

What a difference a week makes: last week the island was very busy with common migrants and there was a good selection of uncommon species around, but this week migrant numbers have taken a real tumble and there's been a conspicuous lack of quality. Minor highlights today included 2 Tree Sparrows, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Dartford Warbler, a Firecrest and a Bullfinch at the Bill; commoner migrants - both grounded and overhead - were sufficiently few as to not really be worth enumerating.

20th October

Anything in the way of quantity on the ground looked unlikely given the cloudless skies and light northerly breeze but the lack of movement overhead was disappointing today. The one surprise of the day was a Grey Phalarope that was bobbing around close inshore at Chesil Cove at dawn; the best of the rest was the Black Brant that was again at Ferrybridge. At the Bill a small arrival of new thrushes included 25 Blackbirds, whilst 2 Dartford Warblers and singles of Little Egret, Merlin and Garden Warbler (yesterday's late bird again) provided a little interest amongst the thin scatter of other common migrants on the ground. Among the equally light overhead passage of the likes of Chaffinches (which were to trickling over throughout the day) there were 12 Siskins, 7 Bramblings, a Golden Plover and a Woodlark. A single Red-throated Diver passed through on the sea at the Bill.



    Short-eared Owl from last week - Portland Bill, October 2010 © Jimmy Main

  19th October

Still very uneventful in a fresh north-westerly. With no increase in common migrant numbers it was left to a few long-stayers/scarcer migrants to provide what interest there was: the Black Brant was again at Ferrybridge, 2 Slavonian Grebes were settled off the Bill and a Great Northern Diver passed by there and 7 Siskins, 6 Bramblings, 6 Reed Buntings, a Little Egret, a Fieldfare, a Mistle Thrush, a late Garden Warbler and a Firecrest were among the odds and ends grounded or passing overhead on the land at the Bill.

Singles of Diamond-back Moth, Rush Veneer, Pine Carpet, Red-green Carpet and Silver Y were the only immigrants/wanderers in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.



    Sparrowhawk - Portland Bill, October 2010 © Martin Cade

  18th October

Slow again today with nothing in quantity on the ground and just a light trickle of standard fare overhead. The only minor quality making the list at the Bill were singles of Merlin, Short-eared Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Firecrest; elsewhere another Great Spotted Woodpecker remained at Portland Castle and the Black Brant was also still at Ferrybridge. The continuing offshore breeze again put paid to seawatching, with 2 passing Gadwall the only noteworthy report from the Bill.

17th October

The quietest day for a while: the fine, sunny conditions were great for getting plenty of observers into the field but rewards were few and far between. Another 4 Bearded Tits passed through very quickly at the Bill, where 3 Short-eared Owls, 2 Little Egrets, 2 Merlins, a Hen Harrier and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were also almost all just brief visitors; elsewhere 1 of the wintering Black Brants from further up the Fleet showed up for the first time at Ferrybridge, another Great Spotted Woodpecker was at Avalanche Road and a Firecrest was at Portland Castle. There was a small increase in grounded Goldcrests which, for example, reached 25 at the Bill, but most other common migrants were reduced to low totals on the ground and overhead. Six Teal passing the Bill were the best of the reports from the sea.



    Linnet - Portland Bill, 16th October 2010 © Martin Cade

...record numbers of Linnets have been trapped and ringed at the Bill this year, with the majority being netted in the Crown Estate Field where the crops planted by the Obs have sustained large numbers of semi-resident and passage birds throughout the autumn. Today's Dartford Warbler was also trapped in the crops:


...whilst another of the day's oddities were these 4 Bearded Tits that flew over at the Bill during the morning. With reports of irruptive parties of Bearded Tits from a lot of Dorset wetlands in recent weeks we had been expecting some and today's clear blue skies provided ideal conditions for a group  to make it as far as the Bill:



additional photos © Martin Cade

  16th October

The return of clear, sunny skies, together with a brisk northerly breeze, saw to it there was quite a bit of overhead movement but not over much grounded. The bird of the day was a Buff-breasted Sandpiper that dropped in very briefly at Ferrybridge before heading off westwards; the Yellow-browed Warbler also continued to be reported from Avalanche Road, whilst among the scarcer migrants there were 4 Bearded Tits, at least 2 Dartford Warblers, a Merlin, a Short-eared Owl and a Black Redstart at the Bill, a Ring Ouzel at Suckthumb Quarry and a Little Stint at Ferrybridge. A steady movement of standard seasonal fare heading north over the Bill throughout the morning included over 200 each of Meadow Pipit and Chaffinch, nearly 100 Song Thrushes, more than 50 each of Redwing and Siskin, and nearly 20 each of Fieldfare and Brambling. Amongst the light scatter of grounded migrants late lingerers included 6 Yellow Wagtails at Barleycrates Lane and 2 Redstarts, a Willow Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher at the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 4 each of Pearly Underwing and Silver Y, 3 Rusty-dot Pearl, a Rush Veneer and a Delicate..




    Grey Plover and Redshank - Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, 15th October 2010 © John Lucas (Grey Plover) and Paul Baker (Redshank)

  15th October

Another heavily overcast day but - a few reports of oddities aside - much quieter for migrants than in recent days. The miscellany of rarity reports included a Red-throated Pipit flying over Easton, a Corncrake seem in flight in Top Fields and the Yellow-browed Warbler again at Avalanche Road, whilst scarcer migrants included 6 Short-eared Owls, 2 Ring Ouzels, 2 Dartford Warblers, a Little Egret, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Black Redstart at the Bill, additional Ring Ouzels at Suckthumb Quarry (3) and Tout Quarry (2) and an additional Great Spotted Woodpecker again at Portland Castle. Common migrant numbers dropped to such an extent that the Chiffchaff tally at the Bill reached only 25; amongst the smaller numbers of routine fare on the ground or overhead at the Bill there were also 4 Bramblings, a Golden Plover, a Grey Plover and lateish singles of Tree Pipit, Redstart and Reed Warbler. Elsewhere there was a lone Redshank at Ferrybridge.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 3 each of Delicate and Silver Y, 2 Rusty-dot Pearl and a Dark Sword Grass.



    Jack Snipe - Portland Bill, 14th October 2010 © Martin Cade

...only the third Jack Snipe to be ringed at the Bill. Just one ropey record shot of a fly-by oddity today, which was the Tree Sparrow over the Bill © Martin Cade:


  14th October

More - or in many cases less - of the same today under a heavier cloud cover than in recent days. The day's list of scarce migrants/oddities included 7 Ring Ouzels, 2 Short-eared Owls, a Merlin, a Jack Snipe, a Woodcock, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Tree Sparrow at the Bill and additional (or the same wandering?) Great Spotted Woodpeckers at Reap Lane and Portland Castle. Amongst the commoner migrants Chiffchaffs remained numerous everywhere, including 150 at the Bill, and most other species that would be expected at the moment were present in smaller numbers either grounded or overhead. The only news from the sea concerned 12 Teal and 5 Brent Geese passing the Bill.



    Reed Bunting - Portland Bill, 13th October 2010 © Martin Cade

...we were much too busy with ringing to be able to dwell for long on taking photographs today but the we did manage a selection of record shots of some of the day's oddities, that included the Snow Bunting at the Bill:



...the Dartford Warbler in the Crown Estate Field:


...and one of the group of three fly-by Tree Sparrows at the Bill:

photos © Martin Cade

  13th October

A very busy day, with the cloud cover that came and went throughout the day appearing to drop an almost constant succession of common migrants at the Bill, where a total of 261 birds were trapped and ringed at the Obs/Crown Estate Field. Although it wasn't really a rarity sort of day the selection of oddities/scarcer migrants that showed up included the Yellow-browed Warbler at Perryfields (and the same or another reported at Avalanche Road), a Snow Bunting briefly at the Bill tip, at least 11 Ring Ouzels scattered around the island and 3 Tree Sparrows, 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 2 Mistle Thrushes, a Hen Harrier, a Woodcock, a Woodlark, a Black Redstart, a Dartford Warbler, a Firecrest and a Bullfinch at various times at the Bill. Chiffchaffs were again conspicuous everywhere, with at least 250 at the Bill, whilst other migrant totals from the Bill area included 50 Blackcaps, 30 each of Wheatear and Robin, and 20 each of Stonechat and Reed Bunting. Overhead there was a constant light passage of particularly Skylarks, hirundines, thrushes and finches. The only noteworthy seawatch report was of a Great Skua passing the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 3 Rusty-dot Pearl, a Pearly Underwing and a Silver Y.






    Hen Harrier, Yellow-browed Warbler and dead Badger - Portland Bill, Perryfields and Southwell, 12th October 2010 © Martin Cade (Hen Harrier and Yellow-browed Warbler) and Duncan Walbridge (Badger)

...also, the oddest bird of the day was this leucistic Chiffchaff at Perryfields (photos © Martin Cade:




  12th October

In rather more pleasant conditions than we thought had been forecast it was a case of more of the same on the bird front today. The pick of the oddities were a Yellow-browed Warbler at Perryfields, a Tree Sparrow at Portland Castle and a Hen Harrier flying north over the Bill, whilst scarce migrants included totals of at least 13 Ring Ouzels and 5 Black Redstarts scattered around, at least 5 Short-eared Owls at the Bill, a Merlin over the north of the island and the Little Stint still at Ferrybridge. Chiffchaffs still dominated on the ground, with 100 at the Bill and plenty more in sheltered spots throughout the island, with most of the rest of the expected common migrants being represented in smaller numbers. Overhead there was also lots of expected fare, although nothing in unexpected numbers.

A Badger was found dead on the roadside at Southwell (reports of Badgers from anywhere on Portland have been very infrequent in recent years).

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




    Ring Ouzel and Little Stint - Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, 11th October 2010 © Martin Cade (Ring Ouzel) and Paul Baker (Little Stint)

  11th October

Unbroken sunshine today although the blasting north-easterly remained as more than an inconvenience. On the ground there were changes in the species composition with Chiffchaffs (including 150 at the Bill) much more conspicuous than yesterday; Ring Ouzels were still about in numbers that included 9 at Priory Corner, 5 at the Bill and 1 at Penn's Weare, whilst other noteworthy sightings included 5 Short-eared Owls, 2 Merlins, a Black Redstart and a Firecrest at the Bill and a Little Stint at Ferrybridge. Overhead there were still lots of movement that included singles of Marsh Harrier and Hen Harrier over the Bill.

Immigrants/strays in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 2 each of Rusty-dot Pearl and Silver Y, and singles of White-speck, Delicate, Pink-barred Sallow and Scarce Bordered Straw



    Yellow-browed Warbler - Portland Bill, 10th October 2010 © Martin Cade

  10th October

A repeat of yesterday's weather saw early gloom replaced by clear skies and warm sunshine by late morning with a stiff north-easterly wind a constant feature. The only slightly out of the ordinary report was of a Yellow-browed Warbler trapped and ringed at the Obs at midday but the the morning in particular - when there was lots to see everywhere - was very busy for common migrants. On the ground Robins featured conspicuously at the Bill (the total of 30 trapped and ringed at the Obs made up half of the morning's ringing tally there), where there were also 100 Wheatears, 40 Song Thrushes, 30 Chiffchaffs, 25 Stonechats, 25 Goldcrests, 10 Redwings and 7 Ring Ouzels, with singles of Merlin, Hobby, Black Redstart and Firecrest amongst the wide variety of other species in smaller numbers. Visible passage at the Bill was dominated by Linnets and Starlings, which numbered in the region of 1000 and 400 respectively. Reports from elsewhere included further Ring Ouzels at Priory Corner (6) and Reap Lane (2).

Immigrants/strays in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 11 Silver Y, 3 Rusty-dot Pearl, 1 Brindled Green and 1 Scarce Bordered Straw

9th October

Raging easterlies might be welcome in many places but there's no doubt that they often result in difficult and at times frustrating birding at Portland when it seems that as much might be being missed as gets seen. With precious little shelter anywhere today it was tricky pinning down grounded migrants, whilst overhead birds were moving on such a broad front that any sort of systematic count was out of the question. At the Bill the likes of Robins, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were well spread in fair numbers, thrushes included 4 Ring Ouzels, a Mistle Thrush and a few Redwings (with many more of the latter calling overhead after dark), late migrants still about included Yellow Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Redstart and Whitethroat and other noteworthy species making the list included singles of Merlin, Short-eared Owl and Firecrest. Elsewhere there were at least 2 more Ring Ouzels and another Firecrest around the centre of the island, and 3 Knot and a Little Gull were at Ferrybridge. The only noteworthy seawatch report was of an Arctic Skua passing through off the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 11 Silver Y, 4 Scarce Bordered Straw and 3 Rusty-dot Pearl.

8th October

Despite the conditions being talked-up for both birds and moths there was precious little reward for plenty of effort today, with the strength of the wind again making birding quite difficult. At the Bill there was plenty of movement overhead, with 10 Golden Plover, 5 Lapwings, 4 Grey Herons, a Whimbrel and a Mistle Thrush providing some interest amongst the more routine fare, but grounded migrants were not that plentiful and included nothing much better than a Firecrest.

It was rather too windy to have expected much in the way of success with overnight mothing and 2 Scarce Bordered Straw, a Rush Veneer and a Silver Y were the only immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.




Mediterranean Gull and Razorbill - Ferrybridge and Chesil Cove, 7th October 2010 © Paul Baker (Med Gull) and Ken Dolbear (Razorbill)

  7th October

An ever-strengthening easterly spoilt proceedings today, to the extent that most of the 'sheltered' spots around the south of the island had become all but unbirdable by early afternoon. In slightly less windy conditions through the morning there was plenty on the move overhead but new arrivals were none too conspicuous on the ground. Visible passage was again difficult to sample with most movement taking place well out to sea off the East Cliffs, but a short half-hour count at Shepherd's Dinner that produced 632 Linnets, 145 Meadow Pipits, 38 Goldfinches and 45 alba wagtails indicated how much was on the move; elsewhere the first concerted movement of Skylarks of the autumn included 50 over the Bill and 32 over Ferrybridge, and a lone Lapland Bunting passed over near Southwell Business Park. Grounded migrants included a Turtle Dove at Shepherd's Dinner and 2 Short-eared Owls at the Bill, along with a pretty light scatter of commoner species everywhere. Odds and ends passing on the sea at the Bill included 33 Common Scoter, 2 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Arctic Skuas and a Balearic Shearwater.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 2 Delicate and singles of  Rusty-dot Pearl and 1 Rush Veneer.

6th October

Unfortunately the pleasant sunshine of the daylight hours had been preceded by a night of cloud and rain when precious little had been on the move and next to nothing new had dropped in. With grounded migrants at a premium most of the day's interest concerned the visible passage that got going once the skies cleared. At the Bill a lot of the movement was taking place well out to sea, but a short sample count of the closer birds returned totals of 360 Linnets, 180 Meadow Pipits and 140 Goldfinches leaving to the south; 2 Merlins and a Hobby were the best of the less regular species on the move there. Seawatching produced 5 Balearic Shearwaters passing through off the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 3 Rusty-dot Pearl, 1 Rush Veneer and 1 Delicate.

5th October

Dreary conditions and, aside from the Yellow-browed Warbler that showed up again late in the day at Southwell School, little in the way of quantity or quality today. At the Bill, where the likes of Chiffchaff were reduced to just a few dozen, Meadow Pipits and alba wagtails were the only grounded migrants that were at all numerous; minor interest there was provided by singles of Merlin, Hobby, Grey Plover, Ring Ouzel and Firecrest. Seawatch reports included 16 Common Scoter, 4 Great Skuas, 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Arctic Skuas and a Sooty Shearwater passing the Bill.

On a rather windy night the only immigrants attracted to the Obs garden moth-traps were 3 each of Rush Veneer and Rusty-dot Pearl and singles of Dark Sword Grass and Delicate.






    Peregrine, Kestrel, Grey Wagtail and Wheatear - Portland, September/October 2010 © Nick Hopper (Peregrine), Ken Dolbear (Kestrel and Wheatear) and Bob Beale (Grey Wagtail)

...apologies to all those photographers who've sent us photos in recent days (the few above are just a fraction of those that we've received) but we've just been too busy with other jobs to find time to edit and post them at the time. 

  4th October

Once some early gloom and spits and spots of rain had cleared through the day was one of unbroken sunshine with it feeling positively hot by the afternoon. A rather overdue first Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn that showed up at Southwell School was the best of the day's sightings; there were also reports of a Red-footed Falcon flying north along the West Cliffs and a Red-throated Pipit flying north at the Windmills. Overhead, hirundine passage was conspicuous and relatively small numbers of finches and other expected fare were also on the move, but most attention seemed to be given to grounded migrants. The Bill area returned totals that included 350 Meadow Pipits, 150 alba wagtails, 150 Chiffchaffs, 50 Wheatears and 20 Stonechats; singles of Merlin, Snipe, Grasshopper Warbler and Firecrest were amongst the smaller numbers of other species logged there. Seawatch sightings included singles of Balearic Shearwater, Arctic Skua and Great Skua passing the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 16 Rush Veneer, 6 Rusty-dot Pearl, 3 Pearly Underwing, 2 Dark Sword Grass, 2 Silver Y and singles of Gem, Delicate and Scarce Bordered Straw.

3rd October

The weather remains all over the place at the moment, with today seeing a morning of strong southerlies and heavy rain that gave way to an afternoon of light westerlies and clear skies. Most attention was given to the sea that was rather more productive than of late, with 23 Great Skuas, 16 Arctic Skuas, 16 commic terns, 12 Grey Plovers, 9 Balearic Shearwaters, 7 Mediterranean Gulls, 6 Common Scoter, 6 Sandwich Terns, 4 Little Gulls, 4 Arctic Terns, a Great Crested Grebe, a Manx Shearwater, a Sooty Shearwater and a probable Long-tailed Skua passing the Bill and 10 Little Gulls, 8 Arctic Terns and 4 Black Terns through/lingering at Chesil Cove. Odds and ends elsewhere included 30 Brent Geese, 2 Knot, a Grey Plover and a Little Gull at Ferrybridge, a Barn Owl at the Bill and a light scatter of grounded common migrants everywhere.

2nd October

Quieter weather today saw plenty of migrants get moving overhead but there was noticeably less grounded than had been the case on the fairer days last week. The best of the scarcer migrants were 3 Tree Sparrows over Priory Corner, single Great Spotted Woodpeckers at Old Hill and Pennsylvania Castle, a Firecrest at Pennsylvania Castle and singles of Merlin and Grasshopper Warbler at the Bill. Overhead there was plenty of variety everywhere, with the bulk of the numbers in a three hour sample count in the Priory Corner area consisting of 947 Meadow Pipits, 531 Swallows, 302 alba wagtails and 231 Linnets. On the ground there was again a long species list but numbers of most of the early/mid-autumn species have tailed right off and only Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Linnets were present in quantity. The only reports from the sea were of 2 Arctic Skuas and a lone Brent Goose passing the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 4 Rush Veneer, 3 Delicate, 2 Pearly Underwing and 2 Silver Y.

1st October

A really grim day of almost constant strong wind and heavy rain. Most of the reports were from the seawatchers who had a fairly lean time of it: 11 Common Scoter, 5 Great Skuas, 5 commic terns, 4 Arctic Skuas, a Balearic Shearwater and a Sooty Shearwater through at the Bill and at least 2 Arctic Terns amongst a few Sandwich and commic Terns in Portland Harbour. The only other news was of a Common Sandpiper at Portland Harbour and a handful of bedraggled common migrants at sheltered spots elsewhere around the island.

Singles of Rush Veneer and Rusty-dot Pearl were the only immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.