13th October

Whilst rarely quite as grim as the forecast had indicated conditions were something of a trial today, with more of less constant drizzly rain seeing to it that birding wasn't a doddle; if that was the downside then there was more than adequate compensation in there being a good scatter of new arrivals to get amongst. Whilst the first small drop of Redwings - including 13 at the Bill - was a welcome and very overdue sign of things to come, the main feature of the day - an arrival of at least 150 Wheatears at the Bill - was something of a blast from the past and very unexpected at this stage of the autumn. Few other newcomers were plentiful but the feel for there being a steady throughput of Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and the like always lent an air of expectation to proceedings at the Bill, where oddities included a Dartford Warbler (we think the first for getting on for three years), 5 Kestrels and a Marsh Harrier arriving in off the sea and singles of Lapwing, Snipe and Redshank. Seawatching there came up with 44 Common Scoter, 13 Brent Geese and 2 Arctic Skuas. List padders elsewhere included the Rose-coloured Starling still at Reap Lane and singles of Merlin and Yellow-legged Gull at Ferrybridge.

Not surprisingly, the quality of the overnight moth catch declined conspicuously, with 7 Rusty-dot Pearl and a Rush Veneer the only immigrants at the Obs.

Dartford Warbler, Stonechat and Yellow-legged Gull - Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, 13th October 2014 © Martin Cade (Dartford W and Stonechat), Pete Saunders (YLGull settled) and Debby Saunders (YLGull flying)
The conditions certainly caught out a few migrants, with the fall of Wheatears being particularly unexpected; when we had a walk along East Cliffs at midday quite a few were still arriving in off the sea and pitching straight onto the clifftop looking pretty bedraggled:

...the high proportion of adult males was a sure sign of how tough the going was:

Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were still passing through well into the afternoon (additional photos all © Martin Cade):