5th October

The most trying of days, with a blasting easterly making birding out in the open hard work and blowing out nearly all the areas of cover, quite apart from ensuring that the decent birds that did appear were devilishly difficult to get to grips with. There was certainly some quality out there, with a Subalpine Warbler and a Little Bunting making brief stops high on the West Cliffs at the Bill and single Yellow-browed Warblers dropping in at West Weare and the Obs. Visible passage was heavy but poorly covered, with hirundines in particular very well represented; 2 Hobbys and a Golden Plover were among the less regulars over the Bill. In contrast - although conditions were far from ideal for searching - it looked as though grounded arrivals weren't at all numerous; a Yellow-legged Gull at the Bill and a Ring Ouzel at Suckthumb Quarry were among the oddities on the ground. The sea came up with 2 Teal and singles of Great Northern Diver, Brent Goose and Pintail through off the Bill.

Despite the atrocious conditions there was a conspicuous increase in immigrant moth numbers, with 36 Rush Veneers, 9 Rusty-dot Pearl, 5 Diamond-back Moth, 4 Silver Y, 2 Delicates and a single Convolvulus Hawk-moth trapped overnight at the Obs.

The Subalpine Warbler was a great find in a pretty unlikely place and under the most testing of conditions © Joe Stockwell:

Although there's a hint of some discontinuity in the greater coverts we can't see any other evidence to suggest this bird is anything other than an adult male: quite apart from the fact that most first-autumn males don't look that different to females, the richly-coloured iris and orbital ring, and the broad dark-centred/pale-edged alula feathers amongst other features pretty well preclude it being anything other than an adult. With the various races now treated as separate species Subalpine Warbler ID has got a whole lot trickier and we wouldn't like to hazard a guess at what it is beyond being pretty obviously either Western or Moltonii's; it looks to be far too extensively coloured on the underparts (as well as not really being brick-red) to be an Eastern bird - our last autumn adult male Subalpine was the well-watched bird at the time of the Northern Waterthrush in October 1996 and this, even allowing for our dodgy scanning of ancient prints, was a striking Eastern bird that was very different to today's individual © Max Seaford (in hand) and photographer unknown (in field):

Since no call was heard today and Joe's two photographs impart rather different colour tones to the underparts we'll have to hope that the bird turns up again for the ID to be taken any further.