14th October

Another day when the weather really didn't know what it was doing: the dreariest of starts with a noticeable breeze blowing eventually gave way to a millpond calm and positively hot late afternoon and evening before the breeze freshened again and swirling fog clamped down after dark. After what looked to be a relatively unpromising start there begun to be signs of a few migrants dropping in amongst which was a very welcome surprise in the form of a Rustic Bunting attracted by a sound-lure and trapped in the Crown Estate Field; sadly, it proved to be tricky to get grips with after release and was seen for certain just once more before it was watched departing towards Top Fields (where it was likely heard and seen in flight later in the day). The autumn's Hawfinch total got a boost with at least another five - 1 over the Obs, 3 at Culverwell and 1 at Blacknor - although none lingered, whilst single Yellow-browed Warblers at the Obs and Avalanche Road were nice bonuses. Common migrants - with the exception of grounded and passing Linnets (including another 1000 or more leaving to the south at the Bill) - weren't particularly plentiful on the ground or overhead, but amongst the sprinkle of regulars 3 Firecrests and a Merlin at the Bill and a Pied Flycatcher at Avalanche Road attracted attention. After yesterday's flourish sea interest dwindled right away, with a lone Great Skua off the Bill the day's only worthwhile sighting.

The night's moth interest was negligible with barely a hint of an upsurge in immigrant numbers: 7 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Rush Veneer and 2 Delicate made up the totals at the Obs.

We're always surprised at the negativity issuing from the birding/listing community concerning the issue of trapped rarities, with today's Rustic Bunting a case in point; we get the feel that somehow it was accorded a lower status through turning up in a net (...the truth, as we'll see later, was that it was likely seen beforehand but it's identity couldn't be clinched) than it might have done had it been found by dint of conscientious fieldwork. Maybe operating mist-nets doesn't count as conscientious fieldwork - although we're not sure our legs would agree with that - but it's always struck us that anyone who doesn't operate mist-nets on a coastal headland must be completely bonkers because they're going to miss perhaps a third to a half of the passerine rarities that turn up there. The lesson of history here is that, quite apart from generating all the information we glean about common migrants, the nets consistently turn up rarities that just aren't getting found during the often saturation coverage of the headland by field birders. Of course, the other thing about these serendipitous captures is that you get such crippling views of the bird and arguments about, for example, whether such and such a feather was emarginatated immediately evaporate. Getting back to the Rustic Bunting, we did make sure that we briefly grossed out on all the features of what's a new handled species for PBO. We were surprised at how noticeably slighter it was than the Reed Buntings we've got used to handling in recent days; age-wise, on the basis of the pointed tail feathers and the noticeable discontinuity in the greater coverts it ought to be a pretty certain bird of the year, but as to its sex we're open to guidance © Martin Cade: 

...and a couple of quiet calls when it was released:

As we mentioned earlier, what was quite likely the Rustic Bunting had been seen flying into the Crown Estate Field a while before it was trapped © Joe Stockwell:

Another fly-by Hawfinch - this one over the Obs early in the morning © Joe Stockwell: