15th October

Well, there are Firecrest days and then there's the Firecrest day - the Firecrest day of all time - and today was certainly that day: the total of 68 ringed at the Bill (mostly at the Obs but with a very small contribution from Culverwell) exceeded any previous annual total there. Such was their abundance and mobility around the southern tip of the island that it was a struggle working out a complete area total but it seems unlikely that there were fewer than 150 in the Bill area as a whole; rather oddly, this remarkable event wasn't reflected elsewhere around the island: there were pockets of single figure totals around Southwell but, for instance, it was possible to give two hours of coverage to a wide area around Easton and the Grove and not log a single one. Even without the Firecrests the day had bags of action, with a Radde's Warbler trapped and ringed at the Obs after it - or another? - had earlier been heard calling at Culverwell, another arrival of Hawfinches with perhaps as many as 10 very mobile birds zooming around the Bill/Southwell area, a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Broadcroft Quarry, 5 Yellow-browed Warbler (2 at the Bill and singles at Sweethill, Avalanche Road and Penn's Weare) and a Lapland Bunting over the Bill. With several large off-passage Linnets flocks an almost constant presence overhead there was always a feeling of there being an awful lot of birds about and this was borne out on the sightings sheet that included representations from most of the expected late autumn commoner migrants; these were too numerous to list in full but included interest in the form of the likes of 40 Siskins, 4 Golden Plovers, 4 Redpolls, 2 Snipe and singles of Mistle Thrush, Black Redstart and Brambling at the Bill and 2 more Black Redstarts at Reap Lane.

Moth interest remained at a lower level than might have been hoped given the extremely mild prevailing conditions; a Vestal was seen by day at the Bill but the Obs immigrant totals consisted of just 12 Rusty-dot Pearl, 3 Silver Y, 2 Dark Sword Grass and singles of Dark Sword Grass and Delicate.

It seems almost churlish to relegate a Radde's Warbler to second place in the photo line-up but we have a feeling that in the fullness of time today will be remembered as The Firecrest Day © Debby Saunders:  

Today's Radde's Warbler was the tenth for Portland - nine of which have been trapped and ringed - we hope to have some more photos and a sound recording of this bird available for tomorrow's update © Joe Stockwell:  

We always used to think of south-easterlies in October (...a wind direction that's surprisingly infrequent at Portland) as the best conditions for producing Firecrests and Red-breasted Flycatchers - last night's little waft from the south-east certainly did the trick again © Martin Cade:  

The Red-breasted Fly was very vocal for a time although we were under-equipped and had to rely on the phone to capture a recording:

Among the day's other migrants were this Siskin at Southwell © Nick Stantiford: 

...and this new young male Sparrowhawk trapped at the Obs © Jill Rendell: