21st November

Some days just don't pan out how you think they're going to, and today was one such. With all the right ingredients in the mix - a stiff easterly, lots of birds on the move overhead overnight and the island on the cusp of a weather front arriving from the west - you couldn't have asked for more; sadly, the birds cocked a snook and carried on without giving a second thought to dropping in on Portland. New arrivals at the Bill consisted of little more than a handful of thrushes, 8 Lapwings and singles of Swallow, Blackcap and Goldcrest, with precious little beyond a few more thrushes elsewhere; 5 Purple Sandpipers and 4 Black Redstarts at the Bill and another Black Redstart at Blacknor were presumed winterers/lingerers. The only other news concerned 4 Brent Geese, a Great Northern Diver, a Sandwich Tern and a reported Sabine's Gull through off the Bill and 2 Knot and singles of Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Grey Plover and Redshank at Ferrybridge.

The overnight immigrant moth catch at the Obs consisted of 2 Diamond-back Moth and singles of Rusty-dot Pearl, Dark Sword Grass and Pearly Underwing.

We usually think of Black Redstarts as being pretty silent at this time of year so were surprised when a rather arresting and persistent caller this morning (...since it was hidden in a tree it didn't dawn on us what it was until it moved into view) turned out to be a quite agitated-looking female/immature Black Red:

Grahame Walbridge - who recognised the call immediately from our recording - tells us that he hears this call rather frequently in the Blacknor area, where several individuals are usually present throughout the winter, and suggests that in those circumstances it might be used to advertise/delineate winter feeding 'territories'.
And on the subject of vocalisations, we were fortunate to have Nick Hopper staying with us a couple of nights ago to undertake some more nocturnal sound recording. As we've already mentioned, that night was at times fantastically busy and it'll no doubt take Nick ages to fully analyse his recordings. In the meanwhile he's sent us through a couple of quick samples of some of the action; Redwings and Blackbirds were the night's most numerous migrants (here with a couple of calls from a Golden Plover as well):

Golden Plovers featured frequently over several hours either side of midnight when there was a feeling that a lot of the calling might have emanated from just one party of them that had got stuck overhead having been unable to escape the disorientating influence of the lighthouse beams and regular drizzle showers (more Redwings and a Song Thrush also feature here):