29th August

At most sites a Melodious Warbler - today's bird popped up in Top Fields but disappeared almost as soon as it was found - would have seemed like a decent enough reward in promising-looking conditions, but this being Portland there was a feeling that perhaps there should have been something better on offer. Routine migrants weren't particularly well represented, with the only double figure totals (hirundines aside) at the Bill being 50 Yellow Wagtails, 30 Whitethroats, 20 Wheatears, 16 Grey Wagtails, 15 each of Tree Pipit and Whinchat, and 10 Willow Warblers; 3 Grasshopper Warblers, a Yellow-legged Gull and a Nightingale were the best of the rest. Balearic Shearwaters maintained their presence offshore, with at least 20 through or lingering off the Bill.

There was an encouraging hint from the Obs moth-traps of longer distance immigration underway, notably in the form of an Old World Webworm; singles of Ni Moth at the Obs and Striped Hawk-moth at St Peter's Church were perhaps more likely to have been locally bred.

Yellow-legged Gull, Old World Webworm and Nutmeg - Portland Bill, 29th August 2015 © Martin Cade
...traditionally, Portland Yellow-legged Gull records start to fizzle out towards the end of August so we were pleased to see this juvenile - now well advanced to first-winter plumage - at the Bill towards dusk this evening; we're not sure we actually have any records of confirmed first-winters during the late autumn/winter months at Portland, so what happens to all the Yellow-legged Gulls that arrive in southern England during the late summer - do they just move on into inland anonymity for the winter or do they head back south again?
Although the Old World Webworm is pretty obviously of relatively distant origin we were also intrigued to catch a peculiar sandy-coloured Nutmeg that bore a more than passing resemblance to the similarly-coloured individuals caught out of season during the winter influx of Levant Blacknecks and other rare immigrants some years ago; 2 very pale Delicates today (as yesterday's individual also was) also looked likely to have been of distant origin.