16th October

A day of freakish conditions with the island experiencing not only gale force winds on the periphery of storm Ophelia but also some bizarre atmospheric effects as the storm sucked up dust and smoke laden air from Iberia and north Africa. Birding on the land was really difficult in the raging wind but Firecrest was again the headline bird, with plenty of lingerers - and new arrivals? - from yesterday's exceptional influx; 23 new birds were trapped and ringed at the Bill where there were likely more than 50 present in total, whilst dibs and drabs elsewhere totalled at least another 10. Yesterday's Red-breasted Flycatcher remained at Broadcroft Quarry but with serious census work out of the question there were no other surprises discovered lurking in what shelter there was; a further build-up in Linnet numbers saw the off-passage gatherings around the south of the island reach around 2500. The sea got a lot of attention but the rewards were pretty lean, with 5 Great Skuas, 3 Arctic Skuas and a Balearic Shearwater through off the Bill and another Great Skua and an unidentified petrel off Chesil Cove.

Although the full effects of storm Ophelia likely came a little too late in the night to be hugely influential there was nonetheless a welcome upturn in immigrant moth numbers, with a Death's-head Hawkmoth the chief prize at the Obs; the catch there also included 29 Rusty-dot Pearl, 14 Delicate, 7 Vestal, 7 Silver Y, 3 Scarce Bordered Straw, 2 Rush Veneer and singles of Four-spotted Footman and White-speck, whilst a Radford's Flame Shoulder at the Grove was the pick of the lower numbers reported from other trap sites.

Today's peculiar atmospherics were seriously freaky, with an at times intense sepia glow to the sky and the haze sufficiently opaque as to obscure the sun - quite apart from being faintly apocalyptic it brought to mind the eerie conditions immediately before and after the total eclipse of the sun way back in 1999 © Joe Stockwell (the view from the Obs patio) and Martin King (the sun):

Despite the unhelpful conditions the Red-breasted Flycatcher was quite showy at times © Mark Eggleton (front view) and Brett Spencer (back view):

And going back to yesterday, many thanks to James Lowen for sending us through another photo of the Radde's Warbler as well as a short sound recording made at the time of the bird's discovery at Culverwell (with thanks to Dave Farrow for 'cleaning up' the recording) © James Lowen: 

Also from yesterday, something that sort of passed under the radar but rather interested us: this late Willow Warbler netted in the Crown Estate Field felt big and turned out to be enormously long-winged:

...with a wing length of 73mm we would have thought it was a dead cert not to have come from anywhere near Britain (...we handle an awful lot of Willow Warblers every year and can't remember one in recent times with a 'confirmed' wing length this long - it's pretty rare to catch one of more than 71mm). In plumage it doesn't seem to particularly resemble anything that you'd imagine might have come from way east and it's certainly very different from, for example, yakutensis from way, way to the east that we have handled a few of in Kenya in winter (these two differently lit individuals were photographed there in mid-December) © Martin Cade:  

With crabby light the order of the day - and a seemingly constant gaggle of admirers wanting their bit of the action - we didn't ever get round to securing a decent photo of the Death's-head Hawk so this quick snap will have to do until we can have a bit more time with it © Martin Cade: