31st May

This has been a week that keeps giving, and it carried on in fine style today with first a Bee-eater and then shortly afterwards a Goshawk both north over East Weare, these being followed in quick time by the appearance/reappearance for 15 minutes of 4 Bee-eaters at the Obs; the back-up cast was also a good deal more varied and numerous that might be expected at the end of May. Common migrant-wise, the Bill area came up with 15 Reed Warblers, 10 new Whitethroats, 5 each of Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler, and 3 each of Chiffchaff and Spotted Flycatcher, whilst Bee-eater seekers reported several more Reed Warblers and Spotted Flycatchers in particular elsewhere around the centre of the island; a Little Ringed Plover was also new overhead at Ferrybridge. Even the sea chipped in with more than it should have done on a calm day, with 150 Common Scoter, 23 commic terns, 10 Shelduck, 2 Great Northern Divers, 2 Great Skuas and an Arctic Skua through off the Bill.

This morning's immigrant/dispersing moths from the Obs traps: 13 Diamond-back Moth, 3 Silver Y, 2 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Rush Veneer and singles of Maiden's Blush and Green Silver-lines.

Goshawk and Bee-eaters - East Weare and Portland Bill © Keith Pritchard gullsandterns.blogspot (Goshawk) and Martin Cade (Bee-eaters)

...as something of a local quirk, Goshawk is a much, much higher value rarity at Portland than Bee-eater, with today's bird being only the second of the few records to be photo-documented; quite why the last three records should have all occurred in the month of May seems particularly baffling - what's all that about?

We didn't get time yesterday to mention that whilst wandering about the middle of the island looking for migrants we stumbled upon our 'mixed-singing' chiffchaff still seemingly holding territory in some trees behind the fire station at Easton that we hadn't visited since we last saw it there a fortnight ago. It appears now to have an even more arrestingly weird repertoire than it had before; have a listen to this compilation of song phrases that we recorded over the half-hour or so that we were with it:

In appearance it looks likes a bright but scruffy Chiffchaff, with certain aspects of its plumage and structure bearing some resemblance to Iberian Chiffchaff; at close range it even looks to have a moult limit in the primaries, although the seemingly older outer feathers vs newer inner ones is the opposite to what is now known to be a feature of some spring Iberians:

We again had a go at playing various recording to it and it still gives an at times very strong reaction to Iberian Chiffchaff song, whereupon it comes shooting out of the trees almost as soon as the recording's played: