23rd June

With Portland just to the west of some very active storms that moved across the Channel both overnight and again during the afternoon the island remained dry and, whenever the sun broke through, pretty hot. Migrant interest has gradually taken on an autumnal feel in recent days and today continued in that vein, with 4 Curlews and a Whimbrel at the Bill and a Common Sandpiper at West Weare. Seawatching came up with 32 Common Scoter, 30 Manx Shearwaters, 3 Arctic Skuas and 2 Sandwich Terns through off the Bill and at least 20 commic terns - presumably Lodmoor Common Terns - feeding distantly offshore there.

Immigrant moth numbers/variety increased conspicuously, with totals of 42 Rusty-dot Pearl, 40 Diamond-back Moth, 4 Silver Y, 3 Rush Veneer, 2 Hummingbird Hawk-moth and 2 Small Mottled Willow caught overnight in the Obs traps; other sites recorded lower numbers of a similar variety of mainly routine fare, including another Small Mottled Willow at the Grove where 2 Dark Sword Grass and 2 Pearly Underwing were additions to the species list. By day, single Hummingbird Hawk-moths were at several sites and there was a noticeable increase in Diamond-back Moth numbers everywhere.

Shags - West Cliffs, 23rd June 2016 © Martin Cade

It's been a few years since we've actually seen breeding Shags at the Bill rather than having to rely on the circumstantial evidence of eg seeing adults carrying nest-material: there was a time when the QinetiQ fence was damaged and it was possible to sneak through/take your life in your hands to access a much better viewpoint from where one or two active nests were visible. However, whilst having a look at the baby auks leaving the cliffs yesterday evening we discovered that by going down the slope off the top of the cliffs it was possible to get fairly long-range views of two active nests in a 'new' area of the seabird colony (below the end of the fence in the view below):

...one of these nests is much more advanced than the other, with the young already active on the ledges; the much more downy youngster at the other site was still on its nest yesterday but had begun to get a bit more adventurous this evening.