22nd August

With some pretty interesting-looking weather in the offing and the staple Melodious Warbler already under the belt this week it was probably fair to say there some expectations for this weekend, with the first reward - a Western Bonelli's Warbler - being discovered very promptly in the Obs garden; it remained there all day although became increasingly elusive as the conditions deteriorated through the afternoon. With common migrants still being pretty thinly spread, for a while it had looked like an early morning Little Stint at Ferrybridge would provide the best of the back-ups but during the afternoon a Wryneck popped up briefly at Southwell to round off the action very nicely. Routine fare at the Bill included 15 Yellow Wagtails, 6 Grey Wagtails, 3 Tree Pipits, 2 each of Whinchat, Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler, and singles of Whimbrel and Spotted Flycatcher but no more than 20 Willow Warblers and just a single Sedge Warbler (...they certainly haven't been coming our way so far this autumn); 2 Pied Flycatchers at Southwell and a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Portland Castle were the best of the rest elsewhere. Odds and ends on the sea included 9 Balearic Shearwaters and 3 Shoveler through off the Bill.

Mothing was again rather disappointing, with a lone Olive-tree Pearl at the Obs just about the best of a limited selection of immigrants from overnight trapping.


Western Bonelli's Warbler, Wryneck, Yellow Wagtail and Little Stint - Portland Bill, Southwell and Ferrybridge, 22nd August 2015 © Martin Cade (Bonelli's and watchers) and Pete Saunders (all others)
The specific ID of the Bonelli's Warbler as a Western as opposed to an Eastern was very quickly established since immediately after its discovery it called quite frequently; however, it very soon became much quieter and, being rather anal about securing 'tangible' documentation of such things, after several hours of trailing around after it we were getting more than a little frustrated with not having recorded any of the very occasional calls that it uttered. It seemed by then that the best bet might just be to pick a spot and leave the recorder running unattended so we could get on with some other jobs. Nick Hopper had recently shown us how much easier it was to visually go through a sonogram of long recordings rather than actually listen right through them, and this evening we had a rather wonderful eureka moment when working through our resulting two hour long sonogram to suddenly see, an hour and 20 minutes in, a series of 'inverted Vs' that we recognised from the voice section in BWP:

And here's the little burst of four Bonelli's calls, onto to which we've tagged a variety of other phyllosc calls that cropped up elsewhere in the recording:

 ...and as a reminder of just how radically different Eastern Bonelli's sounds, here's the recording of the Eastern at Avalanche Road in May 2009:

 Finally, Peter Moore petermooreblog has very kindly just sent us through a few of his photos of today's bird that add nicely to giving a feel of how it looked on the usually brief moments when it popped into view: