13th October

Maybe not before time there was an exciting rush of both quality and quantity today. The crack of dawn highlight was an Olive-backed Pipit first heard and then tape-lured into a mist-net at Culverwell; it proved to be extremely furtive and after release at the Obs only showed again when it was retrapped later in the morning. A fine back-up cast included a Long-eared Owl well-settled and visible in the Hut Fields, a new Yellow-browed Warbler trapped and ringed at the Obs, a Corncrake flushed beside the footpath at Wallsend, singles of Woodlark, Tree Sparrow and Little Bunting flying over Culverwell, probably as many as 4 Dartford Warblers ranging about at the Bill, 2 Woodlarks over Barleycrates, a Marsh Harrier north over Top Fields, a Honey Buzzard north over Broadcroft and a Siberian Chiffchaff at Blacknor. Commoner migrant were also really well represented, with decent totals of 90 Blackcaps, 75 Chiffchaffs and 30 Goldcrests grounded at the Bill and 170 Chaffinches through overhead there; amongst the wide variety of lesser numbers there and elsewhere the likes of 7 Firecrests, 4 Short-eared Owls, 3 Bramblings, 2 each of Merlin, Ring Ouzel and Black Redstart, and a single Hobby were of note.

A party of around a dozen Bottle-nosed Dolphins were off East Cliffs at the Bill during the morning.

At least 2 Clouded Yellows were still on the wing at the Bill but the immigrant moth from traps operated at three sites didn't even reach double figures and included nothing of particular note.

Olive-backed Pipit, Long-eared Owl, Dartford Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler - Portland Bill, 13th October 2015 © Martin Cade

...and a bit more on the pipit:

We've always had a bit of a thing about distinguishing the flight call of Olive-backed Pipit from that Tree Pipit (...it stems from long ago jamming into 2 Olive-backed Pipits at the Obs which we've always remembered as being instantly identifiable on call - a judgement that our subsequent experiences abroad suggests might have had something to do with defective memory/wishful thinking) so we were really pleased that today's bird afforded the opportunity of a brief sound recording:

...and here's a Tree Pipit from the archives:

Whatever might be apparent to the ear (in these recording the Olive-backed Pipit was considerably closer than the 'high over the Obs patio' Tree Pipit) - to us the former sounds fuller with more of a rasping quality, whereas the latter is rather thinner - the more tangible evidence of the sonograms suggests that the two species can be remarkably alike:

In these cases Tree Pipit clearly leads in from a lower frequency and tails off to a lower frequency but the main body of the call looks to be at times extremely similar -  each individual's perception in the 'was that an Olive-backed Pipit that just called?' stakes will be different but it seems like it might be a brave call to make to claim one without getting a sound recording or subsequently seeing the bird on the deck.