9th November

South-westerlies freshening right up towards gale force were the order of the day and looked to have put the block on most passage, with very little evidence of new arrivals on the ground: a single Goldcrest was the only newcomer ringed at the Obs, whilst oddities were limited to a Coal Tit picked up freshly dead at the Bill, a lingering Firecrest there and a scatter of 5 Black Redstarts. For a while it was a little busier overhead, with a 50 minute sample count at the Bill coming up with 380 Goldfinches, 120 Linnets and a Merlin, whilst several flocks of Wood Pigeons - totalling 230 - arrived from the north but looked to bottle out of actually leaving out to sea. Despite the promising-looking conditions the barren waters of the adjacent Channel were again all but empty of passing seabirds, with 1 Common Scoter the sum total of interest off the Bill.

Immigrant moth numbers dropped right away, with 2 each of Rusty-dot Pearl, Dark Sword Grass and Pearly Underwing, and a single Silver Y the only overnight captures in the Obs traps.

Coal Tit - Portland Bill, 9th November 2015 © Martin Cade

...Continental Coal Tit seems to be a vogue form just at the moment with all manner of online guff written about the easy ones. As a cautionary tale, our recently deceased Coal Tit from this morning was far from straightforward and showed features associated with both Contintental ater and British britannicus. It was a bird of the year and, on the basis of a wing length of only 57mm, pretty certain to be a female; the wide bib, long and wide nape patch and other features (...it even looked to have a little crest) were rather in favour of ater - the form that's overwhelmingly the most likely at Portland - but the flanks look to be too rufousy and however you looked at it the mantle could never be construed as even faintly steely-grey.