19th October

A reminder that there's an In Focus field event at the Obs between 10am and 4pm this Saturday, 21st October.

A fantastic migration day that was only slightly spoilt by the necessity to have access to several changes of clothes: such was the frequency of the rain bands that precipitated repeated arrivals of migrants through the day that drenchings were an inevitable inconvenience for those that were sticking it out for their rewards in the field. The main feature of the day was a strong passage of thrushes and finches that were arriving in off the sea and tailing away to north over the Bill; Chaffinches were dominant, with the total of c1000 logged on the day sheet considered a huge underestimate with many flocks passing during spells of heavy rain and others so high overhead that they were only audible rather than visible. Oddities tagging along with the movement included at least 13 Hawfinches at the Bill and another 2 at Blacknor, as well as singles of Ring Ouzel, Mistle Thrush and Yellowhammer over the Bill and another 2 Ring Ouzels further up the island. Another nice fall-out on the ground included 150 Chiffchaffs, 100 Goldcrests and 40 Firecrests at the Bill, where a new Red-breasted Flycatcher zipping around the Obs/hut fields area during the afternoon was the best of the scarcities that also included 6 Black Redstarts there and another 2 at Reap Lane and a Yellow-browed Warbler at Southwell.

A new incursion of moth immigrants was most unexpected, coming as it did in the wake of a few seemingly much more promising nights that - with a couple of notable exceptions - had been low on both numbers and quality. Overnight totals from the Obs traps included 139 Rusty-dot Pearl, 23 Vestal, 10 Delicate, 8 Rush Veneer, 5 Silver Y, 4 Dark Sword Grass and singles of Olive-tree Pearl, Radford's Flame Shoulder, Scarce Bordered Straw, Small Marbled and Small Mottled Willow, with lower totals of a similar variety from the other trap sites. Local scarcities included singles of Merveille du Jour at the Obs and Autumnal Rustic at the Grove, whilst unseasonable singles of Yellow Belle at the Obs and Galium Carpet at Duncecroft Quarry were of interest.

Despite the rain and freshening wind this afternoon's Red-breasted Flycatcher put on a reasonable show © Martin King (top), Tony Hovell (middle) and Martin Cade (bottom):

Yellow-browed Warblers are finally beginning to show up in what in the past has been one of their more favoured haunts in the gardens on the south side of Southwell © Pete Saunders: 

Even after all these years we still succumb to child-like enthusiasm when it comes to spells of moth immigration and, on getting back to the Obs to churn through some more admin yesterday evening and discovering that the traps were festooned with Vestals and Rusty-dot Pearls decided to fuel up a generator and head off to Duncecroft Quarry for a few hours. Sadly, it seems as though Portland was well to the east of the main thrust of longer-range vagrancy and, rarity-wise, the island garnered only the sweepings from the Cornish table, with a Small Marbled at the Obs about as good as it got © Martin Cade:

A fringe benefit of being out for a few hours during the night was that we were able to tap into plenty of overhead audible passage; thrushes in particular were prominent and there was the usual miscellany of waders that included this flock of Greenshanks that headed north over the Obs when we popped back there to check the traps