4th September

Not for want of coverage, since the Obs is full and there are of course plenty of island residents and visitors also out in the field, for some reason we're not picking up the birds at the moment: oddities remain stubbornly absent and routine migrants were by and large more thinly spread today than they have been hitherto this week. Raptors provided the pick of the day's minor highlights, with a Marsh Harrier over the Bill early in the morning and an Osprey over Weston towards midday; the Hooded Crow also remained at the Grove and a Curlew Sandpiper was again at Ferrybridge. All the expected commoner migrants were about, with notable concentrations of 100 Yellow Wagtails and 80 Wheatears at the Bill and 80 Robins and 55 Blackcaps in the Bumpers Lane/Wakeham area indicating that there were pockets of plenty to be found with a bit of searching; however, the general picture was one of famine rather than feast, with the day's ringing total at the Obs of just 22 new birds more accurately reflecting the paucity of new arrivals in most areas. The assortment of less frequent migrants included 4 Snipe, 2 Grasshopper Warblers and a Pied Flycatcher at the Bill, where a lone Balearic Shearwater was the only worthwhile sighting on the sea.

A Delicate at Sweethill was the best of the overnight immigrant moth catch; the tally of routine species at the Obs included 43 Diamond-back Moth, 18 Rusty-dot Pearl, 3 Silver Y, 2 Rush Veneer, a Dark Sword Grass and a Pearly Underwing.

Curlew Sandpiper and House Sparrow (with Great Green Bush-cricket) - Ferrybridge and Portlnd Bill, 4th September 2014 © Debby Saunders (Curlew Sand) and Martin King (House Sparrow)
And thanks to Jake Bailey for a particularly nice in-hand Redstart at the Obs from a couple of days ago:
...readers of our little piece on Redstarts last week will immediately recognise this as an adult - no sooner did we write that adults are distinctly uncommon here then, like buses, two arrive at once!
We've been lucky enough to be able to have close looks at quite a run of Redstarts in recent days, including a fair few females. They're much less straightforward to age than males, although with careful observation in decent light it's usually possible on first years to spot the difference between the darker edged innermost greater coverts (the adult-like feathers changed in the post-juvenile moult) and the paler-edged - still juvenile - outer feathers:
Sadly, we haven't caught an adult female to be able to illustrate here, but they should have a uniform set of darker-edged greater coverts. Although the contrast in the greater coverts looks relatively easy to spot here in good, natural light we'd still advise caution - under false light in a dingy ringing shed at dawn before a third cup of coffee has got your faculties engaged it can be a stern test for even the most acute vision.