27th October

There was something of an after the Lord Mayor's banquet feel about proceedings today, with nothing to match the excitement of the last couple of days. The presumably returning Black Brant (that was first reported getting on for three weeks ago further up the Fleet) paid its first visit of the winter to Ferrybridge, the Hen Harrier was again at the Bill and the Turtle Dove remained at Reap Lane but the only newcomers of any significance were a brief Yellow-browed Warbler at the Obs, a lone Bearded Tit flying north over the Bill and a Coal Tit at Wakeham; among the less common migrants there were at least 7 Black Redstarts, a Merlin and a Firecrest at the Bill. Routine passage included a fair bit of overhead movement, for example 200 Chaffinches over the Bill in quick time after dawn, but on the ground it was relatively quiet everywhere.

A party of around a dozen Bottle-nosed Dolphins lingered off the Bill all day.

The return of favourable mild air has seen immigrant moth interest perk up; a Blair's Mocha at Reap Lane was the overnight highlight, with totals of routine fare from the Obs of 96 Rusty-dot Pearl, 87 Rush Veneer, 8 Diamond-back Moth, 3 Silver Y, 2 Small Purple Flat-body Agonopterix purpurea (a rare visitor to the Bill that has only occurred during spells of immigration), 2 Dark Sword Grass, a Gem and a White-speck.

The Black Brant at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders:

Grey Plover at Ferrybridge, Black Redstart at the Bill and a colour-ringed juvenile Peregrine at the Bill © Peter Moore petermooreblog:

...we haven't got a clue where the Peregrine originates from but we're sure someone will let us know pretty soon; the characters on the ring aren't clear on this low resolution crop but Peter suggests that they're 23.

Despite being a relatively frequent immigrant Blair's Mocha seems usually to pass us by - the all-time island total is only just in double figures so last night's raggedy specimen at Reap Lane is actually quite notable:

...and whilst having the camera out to do the mocha we thought it wouldn't do any harm to get a better photo of one of several of our recent Radford's Flame Shoulders before they were released: quite apart from there being quite a demand from folk wanted to twitch them, we'd held on to a few of these apparent males on the off chance of catching a female to maybe secure a pairing:

Following our comments a couple of days ago on Red-flanked Bluetail ageing it was interesting to today receive a message on the subject from Stephen Menzie who concurs with our conclusion that the Portland bird was an adult. Stephen was fortunate enough to handle what looks to be a somewhat bluer than usual first-winter Bluetail at Falsterbo a couple of autumns ago:

This individual is straightforward enough to age on the greater coverts alone: the three new inner feathers contrast nicely with the seven retained juvenile pale-tipped outer feathers; also notice how, for instance, this individual has typically narrower and far less blue primary coverts than the Portland bird. With regard to our bird, Stephen remarked on the apparent striking contrast between the tertials and the secondaries/primaries but pointed out that on close inspection there is some blue visible on the innermost two secondaries - in his opinion a feature that a first-winter would never show. On the basis of the evidence of these two individuals we'd venture that tail feather shape is a pretty ropey ageing feature - to our eyes it looks as though it would be little more than a toss-up deciding which tail accorded closer to each age class.