4th November

The day's fieldwork was rather too frequently interrupted by rain as still very mild but much more unsettled conditions seem to getting established. On the bird front Goldcrests keep on coming: another 60 or more made up the best part of the day's new arrivals at the Bill, with plenty more in all the up-island areas that were covered. Passage at the Bill was otherwise much as might have been expected, with 220 Wood Pigeons overhead, Redwing and Blackbird both getting up towards the 50 mark and a fair spread of other routine late migrants in single figure totals. Three Firecrests, 2 Black Redstarts and singles of Yellow-legged Gull, Short-eared Owl, Dartford Warbler, Continental Coal Tit and Corn Bunting were the pick of the oddities there, with at least 2 more Black Redstarts at both Reap Lane and Blacknor.

Immigrant moths featured quite well at the Obs, where 26 Silver Y, 17 Rusty-dot Pearl, 11 Rush Veneer, 3 Gem, 2 Olive-tree Pearl and singles of Vestal, Gem, Streak, Dark Sword Grass, Cosmopolitan and Red Sword Grass were caught overnight.

leucistic Goldfinch and Yellow-legged Gull - Portland Bill, 4th November 2015 © Martin Cade

...why are sub-adult Yellow-legged Gulls so rare at Portland? Whilst juveniles and adults are relatively frequent in their appropriate seasons it's really unusual to see any of the in-between plumages like today's second-winter; do the juveniles largely disappear back down south and not return until they're grown-up?

Whilst we assume that many of the Goldcrests passing through in autumn will have come from or via Scandinavia it's exciting to just occasionally get some tangible proof of that - this Swedish-ringed bird trapped at Culverwell this morning is only the second such recovery at Portland:

...in fact just recently Culverwell has been rather kind to us on the ringing recovery front, since on our last visit last week we came across this Jersey-ringed Goldfinch:

Finally, a couple of last night's moths; after long being considered a pretty top-notch rarity here, Red Sword Grass has lately become a tolerably frequent late autumn visitor:

...in contrast, the Streak remains a high quality moth here - we haven't checked yet but seem to remember that this is only the fourth island record: