20th November

Rain lingering along the coast at dawn coupled with a sharp drop in the temperature as the wind swung into the north worked wonders for the quality of the birding, with a day of cracking visible passage over the Bill. Goldfinches and Chaffinches arriving from the north and heading away to the south-west made up the quantity, with 1700 of the former and 870 of the latter through by early afternoon and a few more uncounted flocks of each still on the move until nearly dusk; Wood Pigeons had perhaps been put off by the early rain since a few flocks intent on leaving - totalling 750 birds - passed over either side of midday. If the finches provided the spectacle it was some Barnacle Geese that were the quality: a flock of 27 arrived from the north and disappeared from sight still heading away to the south during the afternoon, whilst a singleton dropped in briefly late in the day amongst the gulls settled below Culverwell. Variety amongst the overhead passage included more than 200 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 110 Linnets, 50 very late Meadow Pipits, 27 Redwings, 10 Song Thrushes, 7 Skylarks, 7 Bramblings and a Mistle Thrush. Although a fair few flocks of Chaffinches pitched briefly into the tree tops there was precious little else on the ground, with a lone Blackcap the only obvious new arrival at the Obs; a scatter of Black Redstarts, Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs in the usual spots were all likely winterers, as was the Firecrest at Pennsylvania Castle. The sea wasn't completely outdone, with a Long-tailed Duck at Chesil Cove and 11 Common Scoter, 5 Brent Geese, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and singles of Great Northern Diver and Great Skua through off the Bill.

The handful of immigrant moths still on the wing included 2 each of Rusty-dot Pearl and Silver Y caught overnight at the Obs.

Barnacle Geese and Goldcrest - Portland Bill and Pennsylvania Castle, 20th November 2015 © Martin Cade

...we also had the novelty experience of hearing a flock of wild geese over the Bill; in fact it is was all the more a novelty for the fact that we could hear them before we could see them - being hardly attuned to such things we didn't have a clue which species they were going to be until they came into view!: