31st October

Despite it being considerably clearer overnight than during the previous two nights another wave of passage of thrushes in particular was audible throughout the hours of darkness (see below); at dawn it was quickly obvious that most of these migrants had moved straight through without stopping and it was left to a few diurnal movers to provide the bulk of the numbers, with the likes of 650 Skylarks, 600 Wood Pigeons and 23 Reed Buntings over the Bill and 1200 Starlings over Portland Harbour. On the ground the surprise of the day came in the form of a Pallas's Warbler that popped up during the morning in the Obs garden, although in terms of local quality 2 Bearded Tits at Wakeham ran it a close second; 5 Black Redstarts, 2 Short-eared Owls, a Merlin, a Firecrest and a Corn Bunting also made the list at the Bill, single Great Spotted Woodpeckers were at Southwell and Wakeham and the Black Guillemot was still in Portland Harbour; commoner migrants weren't at all plentiful anywhere.

Bearing in mind reports from elsewhere, Portland remained something of the poor relation when it came to immigrant moths. Another Ni Moth - this time at Weston - was the overnight highlight, but numbers and variety were otherwise rather disappointing; the Obs traps came up with 38 Rusty-dot Pearl, 4 each of Rush Veneer and Silver Y, 3 each of Olive-tree Pearl and Delicate, 2 Vestal and singles of Hummingbird Hawk-moth and Pearly Underwing.

Pallas's Warbler - Portland Bill, 31st October 2014 © Martin Cade
...as seems to be usual, this individual called only rather infrequently but after pointing a microphone at it for an awfully long time we did eventually get a short recording of a couple of quite different sounding calls:
 And as we alluded to above, last night there was another tremendous nocturnal passage of mainly thrushes underway over the Bill. Fortunately, Nick Hopper was on hand with his recording equipment and although he's only had time to analyse a small part of the sound file the early results are fascinating. As an example, between 23.00 and 01.00 the tally of call-captures included 1247 Song Thrushes, 590 Redwings, 84 Blackbirds, 9 Robins, 5 Skylarks, 4 Snipe and 2 Dunlin; clearly it's impossible to know quite how many individuals were involved but our feeling after spending some time outdoors listening was that, unlike the previous two nights when we had a sense that birds were swirling around overhead in the fog, last night's passage in far clearer conditions involved birds that were passing straight through. Among the less-familiar calls there were a series of one or more Ring Ouzels (in this example with Song Thrushes and Redwings in the background):