November 2011

30th November

A quiet end to the month with the only reports being of 2 Great Northern Divers and a Red-throated Diver through off the Bill and a wintering Chiffchaff still present there.

29th November

Weather-wise the recent unsettled theme continued, with frequent showers or longer spells of rain blowing through on a gale force south-westerly. The seawatchers were well rewarded, with 5 Great Skuas and singles of Red-throated Diver, Manx Shearwater and Sooty Shearwater through off the Bill, 5 Little Gulls and singles of Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Great Skua and Pomarine Skua through at Chesil Cove and 6 Little Gulls through at Ferrybridge.

Despite the strong wind a lone Pearly Underwing made it into the Obs garden moth-traps.

28th November

On a day of showers and a light southerly the only reports from the Bill were of 100 Mediterranean Gulls, 5 Common Scoter and 2 Red-throated Divers on the sea. At Ferrybridge 9 Pale-bellied Brents and a Black Brant were amongst the 1500 strong flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese.

Two Satellite and singles of Chestnut, Angle Shades and Turnip made up the overnight moth catch at the Obs.

27th November

Brisk and occasionally wet today. At the Bill 6 Common Scoter and a Great Skua passed by on the sea and singles of Black Redstart and Chiffchaff were still about on the land, whilst elsewhere 300 Mediterranean Gulls and singles of Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Wigeon and Redshank were at Ferrybridge.

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

26th November

Another fair day with the brisk south-westerly keeping it feeling quite mild. Singles of Merlin, Chiffchaff and Firecrest were at the Bill, where 5 Common Scoter and singles of Balearic Shearwater and Little Gull passed through on the sea.

Singles of Rusty-dot Pearl and Turnip were attracted overnight to the Obs garden moth-traps.

25th November

An overcast but again mild today produced a few morsels of interest at the Bill, notably the Hen Harrier lingering on, a late Swallow through and an Arctic Skua on the sea.

The odd immigrants are still showing up in the Obs garden moth-traps, with last night's tally consisting of singles of Diamond-back Moth and Rusty-dot Pearl.

24th November

The Hen Harrier remained for a third day at the Bill where a Fieldfare was the only new arrival of note; singles of Red-throated and Black-throated Diver also passed through on the sea there. A Short-eared Owl was at Ferrybridge, where more routine fare included 2240 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 7 Pale-bellied Brents and a Knot.

Singles of Diamond-back Moth, Gem and Silver Y made up the overnight immigrant tally in the Obs garden moth-traps.




     Red-headed Chestnut and Shelduck- Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, 23rd November 2011 © Martin Cade (Red-headed Chestnut) and Pete Saunders (Shelduck)

...and another photo from Pete Saunders of one of the Black Redstarts at the Bill earlier in the week:


  23rd November

Another pleasant day after a distinctly chillier night than we've been used to lately. The Hen Harrier remained at the Bill - at least during the morning - but the only other particularly noteworthy migrant there was a late Swallow; further odds and ends making the list there included 2 Redwings and singles of Merlin, Lapwing, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Siskin, Redpoll and Reed Bunting on the land and a Red-throated Diver through on the sea. Ferrybridge was busy with mainly routine fare that included 12 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, a Black Brant, a Shelduck and a good total of 62 Turnstones, along with 350 Wood Pigeons heading south overhead, whilst nearby the first 5 Black-necked Grebes of the winter were in Portland Harbour.

The third Red-headed Chestnut of the autumn was the pick of the overnight moth catch at the Obs, where immigrant numbers otherwise dwindled to just 5 each of Rusty-dot Pearl and Silver Y, and a single Pearly Underwing.

Also, as a taster of an off-island page that we haven't had enough time to construct just yet, click here to listen to a little recording of today's yellow-browed warbler beside the Fleet that, as suspected by our informant, turned out to be a Hume's Warbler; we weren't able to spend very long there and only managed subliminal views of it (and didn't get any meaningful photos) but it was nice to get a reasonable recording.

Finally, please note that it's likely there won't be any further updates of this latest news page until next Friday, 2nd December.




  Speckled Wood and Hen Harrier - Portland Bill, 22nd November 2011 © Martin Cade

...we were pleased to see one Speckled Wood but the next time we looked there were two (males?) engaged in a territorial scrap:


...the Hen Harrier spent a good part of the afternoon quartering the fields at the Bill and occasionally gave pretty decent views:



  22nd November

After a fair bit of overnight rain the day itself was beautifully still and mild.  A Hen Harrier was the pick of the day's sightings at the Bill, where the back up list included 8 Redwings, 4 Black Redstarts, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, and singles of Golden Plover, Snipe, Short-eared Owl, Fieldfare, Goldcrest, Siskin and Reed Bunting on the land and 25 Common Scoter and a Great Northern Diver through on the sea.

Two Speckled Wood butterflies were on the wing in the Obs garden and Red Admiral and Peacock were both seen elsewhere at the Bill.

Immigrant moths remained remarkably numerous for the time of year, with the Obs traps returning overnight totals of 38 Rusty-dot Pearl, 7 Silver Y and singles of Diamond-back Moth, Rush Veneer, Palpita vitrealis, Gem and Dark Sword Grass; late Large Yellow Underwings are still being caught nearly every night, but the only other macros in the traps this morning were Feathered Thorn, Satellite and Angle Shades.



  Gem - Portland Bill, 21st November 2011 © Martin Cade

  21st November

Mild, dreary and occasionally damp today. New arrivals at the Bill included singles of Grey Heron, Snipe, Wheatear, RobinRedwing and Blackcap; 2 Black Redstarts, a Merlin, a Chiffchaff and a Bullfinch were also lingering on there and a lone Great Skua passed through on the sea.

There was just a suggestion of a few new immigrant moths having arrived overnight, with 9 Rusty-dot Pearl, a Rush Veneer and a Gem caught in the Obs garden traps.

20th November

Very little change today, with the tally from the Bill area consisting of just 4 Redwings, 2 Purple Sandpipers and singles of Merlin, Woodcock, Short-eared Owl, Black Redstart, Fieldfare, Firecrest and Bullfinch on the land and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Great Skua through on the sea.

Not much change on the moth front either, with 3 Silver Y, a Diamond-back Moth and a Rush Veneer making up the immigrant tally in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.

19th November

More fine weather and another very light sprinkle of late migrants. All the day's reports came from the Bill area, where 4 Black Redstarts, 2 Merlins, 2 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Chiffchaffs and singles of Little Egret, Wheatear and Siskin were on/overhead on the land and a single Red-throated Diver passed through on the sea.

Three Silver Y and singles of Diamond-back Moth and Rusty-dot Pearl made up the immigrant tally in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.




   Mousepee Pinkgill Fungus Entoloma incanum - Tout Quarry, 18th November 2011 © Ken Dolbear

...this first for Portland was found and identified this morning by Bryan Edwards; evidently there are only three previous records for Dorset.

  18th November

Still amazingly mild for the time of year but hopeless on the bird front, with hardly any new arrivals. The day's list from the Bill consisted of just 5 Purple Sandpipers and singles of Merlin, Fieldfare, Chiffchaff, Firecrest and Bullfinch; elsewhere there were 2 Redwings at Southwell and 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Ferrybridge.

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

17th November

A shift in wind direction into the west cleared the air and today was a lovely sunny, mild day. The day's migrant list from the Bill area (new arrivals and lingerers) included 5 Chiffchaffs, 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Wheatears, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Firecrests, 2 Redpolls and singles of Merlin, Lapwing, Woodlark, Black Redstart, Redwing, Goldcrest, Bullfinch, Siskin and Reed Bunting; elsewhere there were 2 more Short-eared Owls at Penn's Weare.

Red Admirals were still on the wing at several sites, as was a Painted Lady at Church Ope Cove.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 6 Silver Y and 2 Rusty-dot Pearl.




   Purple Sandpiper and Bullfinch - Portland Bill, 16th November 2011 © Paul Baker The Bagsy Blog (Purple Sandpiper) and Martin Cade (Bullfinch)

  16th November

Precious little change in the weather save for there being a bit of damp in the air towards the end of the day. The day's tally of new migrants at the Bill included 41 Fieldfares, 14 Redwings, 5 Lapwings, 2 Wheatears and singles of Woodcock, Black Redstart, Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest, Brambling, Crossbill and Bullfinch; 3 Short-eared Owls, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Firecrest and another Bullfinch were also still lingering on from previous days and 3 wintering Purple Sandpipers are now present there. Seawatching at the Bill produced 3 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Velvet Scoter. The only report from elsewhere was of a Grey Heron over the Grove.

Two Silver Y and a Rusty-dot Pearl were the only immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.



   Chaffinch - Easton, 15th November 2011 © Ken Dolbear

  15th November

Slightly brighter but just as windy today. A bit more passage overhead included 3600 Wood Pigeons and 66 Lapwings over Ferrybridge, 300 Wood Pigeons over Wakeham and a Hen Harrier, a Snipe and small numbers of routine thrushes and finches over the Bill. Two late Wheatears (at the Bill and at Reap Lane) were noteworthy on the land, with 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Water Rail, a Blackcap and a Firecrest also logged at the Bill and a Black Brant again at Ferrybridge.

Singles of Rusty-dot Pearl and Gem made up the overnight immigrant tally in the Obs garden moth-traps.




Greylag Geese and Great Northern Diver - Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, 14th November 2011 © Martin Cade (Greylags) and Pete Saunders (GNDiver)

...and another photo from yesterday of the Pale-belllied Brents dropping in at Ferrybridge (© Pete Saunders):


  14th November

The stiff easterly remained firmly established and today's comprehensive cloud cover dropped a few more late migrants. The day's two highlights actually came from the sea, with 4 more Greylag Geese and a party of c40 Avocets heading up-Channel off the Bill; 2 Teal also passed through there and a Great Northern Diver passed over at Ferrybridge. The new arrivals on/overhead on the land were pretty routine for this time of year, with 27 Redwings, 5 Fieldfares, 3 Bramblings, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Woodcock and a Redpoll at the Bill; 2 Short-eared Owls and a Firecrest were also still present there.

The only immigrant moth news was of 3 Silver Y caught overnight in the Obs garden traps.






  A few more photos from the weekend: Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Pintail and Peregrine - Easton, Ferrybridge and Portland Bill, 12th/13th November 2011 © Ken Dolbear (the finches), Pete Saunders (Pintail) and Nick Hopper (Peregrine)

  13th November

There was certainly some movement afoot today although a stiff south-easterly made for difficult birding on the land and horrible milky light spoilt what looked to be some promising seawatching. Overhead passage was very conspicuous at Ferrybridge for a while early in the morning when 2900 Wood Pigeons, 235 Goldfinches, 137 Linnets, 130 Starlings, 10 Skylarks and small numbers of other common finches headed south, but it looked to be much quieter on the ground, with little more than a handful of thrushes and a new Bullfinch to provide interest at the Bill; elsewhere a family party of 6 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were new in at Ferrybridge. The sea was busy at the Bill, where a large fishing flock of Gannets and gulls attracted 2 Arctic Skuas, a Great Skua and a Pomarine Skua, and 40 Common Scoter, 8 Teal, 4 Brent Geese, a Great Northern Diver and a Red-breasted Merganser also passed through.

The moth traps were again all but empty, with no immigrants (and only 2 species of residents) caught overnight at the Obs.



  Golden Plover - Ferrybridge, 12th November 2011 © Debby Saunders

  12th November

An at times lovely warm, sunny day produced a decent list of fairly standard late autumn fare. New arrivals at the Bill included singles of Golden Plover, Woodcock, Swallow, Wheatear and Corn Bunting, along with 200 departing Starlings and a light scatter of thrushes and finches; long-stayers still around there included the likes of 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Firecrests, a Water Rail and a Short-eared Owl. Ferrybridge was busy on the falling tide, when 19 Pintail, 11 Wigeon, 7 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, a Teal, a Golden Plover and a Kittiwake were present along with 1560 Dark-bellied Brents. The only worthwhile sea reports were of singles of Little Egret and Great Skua through off the Bill.

A late Large White butterfly was on the wing at the Bill.

The Obs garden moth-traps were as quiet as they've been since the early spring, with 3 Silver Y and 2 Rusty-dot Pearl the only immigrants caught; a Gem at Southwell was the pick of the catches in the various garden traps elsewhere around the island.

Also click here for the story and some photographs of our ultimately rather sad encounter with a Pallid Swift today.



  Palpita vitrealis - Southwell, 11th November 2011 © Martin Cade

  11th November

Fair conditions, albeit pretty breezy, through the morning gave way to increasing cloud and eventually light rain during the afternoon. The day's likely highlights got away: a swift sp watched briefly as it arrived in off the sea at the Bill was thought by the observer to have a narrow white rump patch, whilst later the pager reported a Common/Pallid Swift over Ferrybridge. The southerly airflow that brought the swifts hasn't really been producing much in the way of numbers of more routine fare: there was a light overhead passage of finches everywhere, another 100 Starlings passed over the Bill and a handful of new thrushes were evident, but otherwise the day's list from the Bill, that included 2 Merlins, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Firecrests, a Swallow and a Bullfinch, was much as in recent days. Seawatching at the Bill produced 4 Eider and a Pomarine Skua, whilst elsewhere a Great Northern Diver flew over Ferrybridge.

Both Red Admiral and Speckled Wood butterflies were still on the wing at the Bill today.

Hopeless overnight mothing at the Obs, with just 5 Silver Y and a Rusty-dot Pearl making up the immigrant tally, but elsewhere a Palpita vitrealis was caught at Reap Lane, Southwell.

10th November

A freshening south-easterly but the day's promised heavy rain looked to have passed through during the hours of darkness. At the Bill 500 Starlings arrived from the south and there was a sprinkle of new thrushes and finches, but the tally on the ground was a rather samey 5 Short-eared Owls, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Merlins, 2 Firecrests and singles of Little Egret, Brent Goose, Wheatear, Goldcrest and Bullfinch. Another 4 Greylag Geese passed up-Channel off the Bill, but otherwise the sea there produced just 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and a single Great Skua; elsewhere a Great Northern Diver flew over Southwell.

Overnight wind and rain spoilt the moth catch, with the immigrant tally in the Obs traps restricted to 11 Rusty-dot Pearl, 3 Silver Y, 2 Pearly Underwing, a Diamond-back Moth and a Gem.



  Greylag Geese - Portland Bill, 9th November 2011 © Martin Cade

  9th November

In a brisk southerly and, at least during the afternoon, a fair bit of rain it was much quieter for migrants, with only routine fare like Blackbirds at all conspicuous; 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Reed Buntings and singles of Merlin, Woodcock, Black Redstart, Blackcap and Firecrest at the Bill and another Merlin at Cheyne provided some interest on the land, whilst 2 Great Skuas and an Arctic Skua passed through off the Bill and 6 Greylag Geese passed up-Channel off both Chesil Cove and the Bill.

There was another unexpectedly good overnight catch of immigrant moths at the Obs: 27 Rusty-dot Pearl, 7 Silver Y, 7 Diamond-back Moth, 4 Rush Veneer, 2 Pearly Underwing and singles of Gem, Dark Sword Grass, Delicate and Red Sword-grass.


A note from the bookshop: Moult & Ageing of European Passerines by Jenni & Winkler is being re-issued by Poyser on 21 November. Normal retail price will be £120. If you would like to reserve a copy at the special price of £85 for Obs members (£100 for non-members) please contact Nick Wright on 01305 459268 or


Also a message from Don Moxom, the Chesil and Fleet Nature Reserve warden, regarding the the Chesil Beach Centre development project at Ferrybridge which will be getting underway this week:

The builders will erect a fenced boundary around the site and this will extend some way back in the Chesil Beach Car Park. I think temporarily this will cause some disturbance to the birds, particularly the Brent who loaf around on the shoreline. In a short amount of time however I am sure they will get used to the change. The contractors are aware of the environmental sensitivities and will be doing their best to mimimise activities likely to be disruptive. The situation will be monitored. I think the main inconvenience will be to birders who possibly won't be able to get such good viewing access. Apologies are offered.
The operation of the Centre is now being handed over to the Dorset Wildlife Trust. During the construction of the extension, the operation will switch to a portacabin which has now been placed in the car park. It is intended that the portacabin will be open daily (1100-1500) but not immediately. The telephone and e mail will continue on the same no. and address but again not immediately as the physical links are not yet in place. Emily Brown is the DWT Chesil development officer. Emily will be on site most Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Angela Thomas and myself will also be around. We would all be pleased to answer any enquiries.




   Red Sword-grass and Red-green Carpet - Portland Bill, 6th November 2011 © Martin Cade

...having fewer good birds today allowed us catch up with some moths we didn't get round to featuring at the weekend. These two species are certainly on the up at Portland: having not been recorded since the 19th century Red Sword-grass has now occurred four times since 2006, whilst Red-green Carpet has gone from being a less than annual visitor (the first record was only in 1990) to being a familiar late autumn sight (17 have been recorded at the Obs alone so far this autumn).

  8th November

Much more drizzly conditions than we'd anticipated served to reduce overhead passage although there were still a fair few new arrivals trickling in: thrushes, particularly Blackbirds, dominated but there was also a surprising number of new Robins, Wrens, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests turning up in the Obs garden mist-nets; 25 Lapwings, 4 Curlew, 3 Woodcock, 2 Wheatears, 2 Firecrests, a Merlin and a Black Redstart on the land and singles of Balearic Shearwater, Great Skua and Pomarine Skua through on the sea were the pick of the more uncommon migrants at the Bill.

There was another reasonable little overnight catch of immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps: 9 Rusty-dot Pearl,  5 Silver Y, 3 Pearly Underwing, 2 Scarce Bordered Straw and singles of Dark Sword Grass and Delicate.




Dusky Warbler - Portland Bill, 7th November 2011 © Martin Cade

...and click here to listen to a short recording of it calling after it was released.

Also thanks to Pete Saunders for passing us a photo of yesterday's second Hen Harrier (the photos we posted yesterday were of the bird at the Bill; Pete's photo - which clearly shows that different individuals were involved - is of the bird seen later in the day over Southwell):


...and Kevin Lane kindly sent us a shot of today's harrier (the fifth in three days):


  7th November

On a morning of overcast skies and a brisk north-easterly there was a nice early highlight when a Dusky Warbler was trapped and ringed at the Obs; it remained in the area until at least mid-afternoon but was very elusive throughout. Thrushes and finches were again arriving in off the sea in fair numbers, with 9 Lapwings, 3 Short-eared Owls, 2 Merlins, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Firecrests, 2 Bullfinches, a Hen Harrier, a Woodcock and a Snipe providing further variety at the Bill.

Despite rather unsuitable trapping conditions there were still a few immigrant moths on the wing, with 6 Silver Y, 3 Rusty-dot Pearl and singles of Vestal, Pearly Underwing and Delicate caught overnight at the Obs.




 Redwing, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon and Merlin - Portland Bill, 6th November 2011 © Martin Cade

...perhaps surprisingly the Merlin was the first to be trapped and ringed at PBO. Also trapped today was this 'eastern' Chiffchaff: doubt the boys who see tristis everywhere would have had this as another one on the basis of its call alone - click here to have a listen - but we'd rather just leave it as another undefined eastern bird.

Our Hen Harrier record shots didn't get much better today:


And three more photos from the day kindly sent through by Nick Hopper. Short-eared Owl, Snipe and pigeons:

  6th November

Another day of lots of movement, this time taking place under a cloudless sky. The surprise of the day was a Black Kite reported over Verne Common, with a list of lesser oddities that included the 2 Black Brants at Ferrybridge, a Hen Harrier over Southwell and another Hen Harrier, an 'eastern' Chiffchaff and a Snow Bunting at the Bill. Passage overhead was dominated by pigeons, Redwings and Chaffinches, but the back-up cast at the Bill included 12 Lapwings, 8 Short-eared Owls, 7 Snipe, 2 Golden Plover, 2 Merlins, 2 Bullfinches, a Curlew, a Woodlark and Mistle Thrush, whilst on the ground there 4 Black Redstarts, 2 Wheatears and 2 Firecrests were of note. Seawatching there came up with 38 Brent Geese, 7 Pintail, 4 Wigeon and a Brent Goose.

There was a noticeable movement of many dozens of Red Admiral butterflies taking place into the wind (north-eastwards) throughout the island.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps: 2 Rusty-dot Pearl, 5 Silver Y, 2 Dark Sword Grass, a Rush Veneer and a Red Sword-grass.




 Red-headed Chestnut and Ring Ouzel - Portland Bill, 5th November 2011 © Martin Cade

...dawn was sufficiently dull as ditchwater that the Great Bustard and the first Hen Harrier went by without us even raising the camera, whilst our shots of the second harrier had absolutely no merit whatsoever beyond showing that it wasn't a Pallid:



  5th November

It's been a long, long time coming but the second half of the autumn finally got going today: numbers weren't spectacular but the species list was particularly varied and included plenty of birds on the move. Most attention was given to the Bill area where a Great Bustard (presumably a released bird although the views were such that that fact couldn't be ascertained for sure) left high to the south soon after dawn, 2 Hen Harriers also left to the south early in the morning, a fleeting Red-breasted Flycatcher was reported during the afternoon and a Black Guillemot was seen equally briefly on the sea. The fresh northerly wind and heavy cloud cover saw commoner migrants arriving in off the sea all day, with totals of the likes of Chaffinch and Goldfinch well into the hundreds and the routine thrushes (including for the first time a fair few Redwings and Fieldfares) all getting well into the several dozens; a few parties of Wood Pigeons and Starlings were also moving in various directions overhead, a small arrival of new Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests was evident and 50 Siskins, 25 Redpolls, 15 Reed Buntings, 10 Swallows, 10 Bramblings, 7 Black Redstarts, 5 Wheatears, 3 Short-eared Owls, 3 Firecrests, 2 Ring Ouzels and singles of Merlin, Woodcock and Yellowhammer also made the list. Rather oddly, other island areas seemed much quieter and it looked like many of the new arrivals were moving straight through without lingering further up the island. Seawatching at the Bill came up with 4 Red-throated Divers, 2 Wigeon, a Brent Gose and a Mallard.

A Red-headed Chestnut was the pick of the overnight moth catch at the Obs, where other immigrants included 6 Rusty-dot Pearl, 6 Silver Y, 2 Dark Sword Grass and singles of White-speck and Scarce Bordered Straw.

4th November

Lots more really heavy showers rolling in off the Channel made for another day of damp forays into the field. Apart from a single Firecrest at Pennsylvania Castle the day's reports all came from the Bill, where 2 Swallows were tagged on to a fair bit of overhead passage of Skylarks, Starlings and finches, 2 Wheatears and singles of Grey Heron, Black Redstart, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Firecrest and Reed Bunting were on the land and an Arctic Skua passed by on the sea.

On what looked to be a really promising moth night there was certainly an increase in immigrant numbers although the killer rarity that maybe seemed on the cards was sadly absent; the Obs garden traps returned totals of 8 Rusty-dot Pearl, 7 Silver Y, 2 Dark Sword Grass and singles of Hummingbird hawk-moth, Pearly Underwing, Red Sword-grass and Scarce Bordered Straw.

3rd November

In slightly better conditions than we'd been led to believe most of the day's coverage was of the Bill area, where there were at least 6 Short-eared Owls, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Reed Buntings and singles of Merlin, Black Redstart, Wheatear, Goldcrest and Firecrest, along with smallish numbers of routines finches and the like; elsewhere there was a single Firecrest at Pennsylvania Castle. The only noteworthy seawatch reports were of singles of Red-throated Diver, Manx Shearwater and Great Skua through off the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps: 3 Rusty-dot Pearl, 3 Silver Y, 2 Dark Sword Grass and a Pearly Underwing.



   Turtle Dove - Easton, 2nd November 2011 © Mark Hill

  2nd November

Increasingly windy and ultimately wet conditions spoilt most attempts at serious fieldwork today. A late Turtle Dove at Easton was noteworthy, but otherwise the best of the day's sightings were of 5 Swallows, 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Redpolls, a Merlin and a Firecrest at the Bill, a Wheatear at Reap Lane, another Firecrest at Easton and a single Balearic Shearwater through on the sea at the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps: 15 Silver Y, 4 Rusty-dot Pearl, a Rush Veneer and a Dark Sword Grass; also a bit of late moth news for yesterday when singles of Vestal, Red-headed Chestnut, Flame Brocade and Scarce Bordered Straw were caught by a visiting moth-trapper at Grove Point.




 Ortolan Bunting and Yellow-browed Warbler - Portland Bill and Easton, 1st November 2011 © Martin Cade

...the Yellow-browed Warbler was really vocal; click here to listen to a short recording of it calling almost constantly. The Ortolan was initially spotted in the Crown Estate field but after being lost for a while turned up out of the blue in a net in the Obs garden:




additional photos © Martin Cade

  1st November

An good start to November saw a new Yellow-browed Warbler show up at Easton and Portland's latest ever Ortolan Bunting appear at the Bill; the Pallas's Warbler was also still roaming about the Pennsylvania Castle/Mermaid House area. A bit of overnight rain and a series of heavy, post-dawn showers dropped a fair few new arrivals amongst the commoner migrants, with Chiffchaffs in particular reported in good numbers around the centre of the island; 2 Firecrests at Easton, a Firecrest at Pennsylvania Castle and 6 Short-eared Owls, a late Wheatear and a Firecrest at the Bill provided further interest on the ground. The usual finches were on the move overhead in fair numbers, with 20 Swallows, a Grey Heron, a House Martin and a Lapland Bunting also passing over at the Bill.

The moth-traps were quieter overnight, with the immigrant tally at the Obs consisting of 25 Silver Y, 4 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Rush Veneer and a Dark Sword Grass.