28th August

Ferrybridge has been consistently well-watched and busy so far this autumn and it again provided some of the best birding on a bright and breezy day, with the first 2 Little Stints of the season and an out-of-habitat Purple Sandpiper being particularly noteworthy; 2 Kittiwakes and a Common Sandpiper were also of interest amongst the wide variety of other waterbirds dropping in there. At the Bill it was again the fields rather than the bushes that came up with the numbers, with the likes of Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear, that returned totals of 40 and 120 respectively, being considerably more conspicuous than any of the warblers (just 3 new birds were trapped and ringed at the Obs all morning); the supporting cast there included 9 Grey Herons, 7 Whinchats, 5 late Swifts and 2 Lesser Whitethroats overhead/on the land and 4 Balearic Shearwaters, a Great Skua and an Arctic Tern through on the sea.

Immigrant moth numbers remained at a low ebb although a Scarce Oak Knot-horn Acrobasis tumidana was a decent overnight capture in the Obs moth-traps.

Little Stint, Purple Sandpiper and Scarce Oak Knot-horn - Ferrybridge and Portland Bill, 28th August 2014 © Pete Saunders (Little Stint and Purple Sandpier) and Martin Cade (Scarce Oak Knot-horn)

And having resumed dabbling with ageing and sexing features it occurred to us that we've probably never touched on using eye-colour to help with ageing. It's often the case that there's a subtle difference between the iris colour of youngsters and adults: typically in the small passerines we handle most frequently the dark iris of juveniles gradually lightens or becomes more richly coloured with age. This difference can be surprisingly obvious and at times, given decent views in good light, even visible in the field. As an example here are two of our local Whitethroats photographed in recent days (© Martin Cade):