26th October

Although the island list didn't advance today, many of the regular Portland birders did manage a second island lifer in two days when a Pine Bunting showed up in the Crown Estate Field; found trapped in a mist-net after it had been attracted to a 'rare bunting' sound lure, the bird sadly didn't oblige with subsequent field views. The arrival of a Dusky Warbler that lurked in the bowels of a private garden at Southwell maybe wasn't quite so unexpected but provided a nice back-up for the bunting; both the Hen Harrier at the Bill and the Turtle Dove at Reap Lane remained for another day, with the latter site also luring in a Lapland Bunting, 4 Bearded Tits headed north over Blacknor and single Yellow-browed Warblers were at Avalanche Hump and Victoria Place. Commoner migrants weren't such a feature of the day but amongst the relatively thin spread of standard fare there were a scatter of at least 12 Black Redstarts and 4 Firecrests.

Overnight mothing came up with a notable prize in the form of Portland's third Scar Bank Gem at the Obs; although immigrant numbers increased variety was otherwise rather limited, with 130 Rush Veneer, 83 Rusty-dot Pearl, 8 Diamond-back Moth, 2 White-speck and a single Gem constituting the remainder of the tally at the Obs.

Two birds from well east of the Urals and a moth from the Afrotropics (...OK, perhaps at this time of year the latter is maybe just from southern Iberia but that doesn't sound nearly so exciting) - Pine Bunting, Dusky Warbler and Scar Bank Gem © Martin Cade (Pine Bunting and Scar Bank Gem) and Debby Saunders (Dusky Warbler):

These days, there's always a strong demand for photo opportunities © Martin King

As far as we can see the bunting showed all the features you'd expect to be able to confidently age/sex it as a first-winter female:

Having heard mention that some calls of Pine Bunting might sound a little different to those of Yellowhammer we were keen to attempt to sound record the bird on release; in the event it didn't really perform and now that Yellowhammer is approaching semi-rarity status on Portland we just don't know their calls intimately enough to know whether there's anything in this tiny snippet that might be useful - basically, it sounded a lot like a Yellowhammer to our ears!

When we downloaded the Pine Bunting photos from our phone we realised that we'd taken some decent shots of yesterday's Bluetail that we'd quite forgotten about; the intensity of the blue on this bird varied ever such a lot with the viewing angle, the light and even how close you were to the bird; to our eyes these phone shots correspond closely to how it looked in the field - it really was a pretty crippling-looking bird:

And to end on something completely different, many thanks to Martin King for some photos from yesterday - West Cliffs and Southwell Business Park at last light and the Obs after dark: