26th October

The murk and drizzle that quickly reappeared overnight resulted in some seriously strong overhead passage and at dawn it was quickly apparent that the island was awash with downed and overflying migrants. As usual, the Bill area got the most extensive coverage and returned totals that included 1300 Linnets, 300 Song Thrushes, 250 Skylarks, 200 Blackbirds, 150 each of Redwing and Chaffinch, 100 Goldcrests, 75 each of Stonechat and Siskin, 70 Chiffchaffs, 50 each of Blackcap and Redpoll, 35 Bramblings, 30 Reed Buntings, 12 Ring Ouzels, 12 Firecrests and 10 Wheatears, with 4 Siberian Chiffchaffs, 3 Woodlarks, 2 each of Merlin, Black Redstart and Mistle Thrush, and singles of Richard's Pipit, Bearded Tit, Hawfinch and Yellowhammer amongst the miscellany of lower totals. Yesterday's Radde's Warblers was still at Bumpers Lane at dawn but couldn't be found thereafter, whilst coverage of other sites around the centre of the island turned up a good selection of scarcer migrants that included 7 Yellow-browed Warblers, 4 Hawfinches, 3 Ring Ouzels, 2 more Siberian Chiffchaffs, the same or another Richard's Pipit (over Avalanche Road) and another Bearded Tit.

The immigrant moth highlight was a Crimson Speckled discovered by day on the Slopes at the Bill; overnight trapping was a tad less exciting than had been anticipated given the mild, murky conditions, with the Obs totals consisting of 18 Rusty-dot Pearl, 9 Red Admiral butterlies, 8 Silver Y, 2 Rush Veneer and singles of Diamond-back Moth, Vestal, Hummingbird Hawkmoth, Dark Sword Grass, Pearly Underwing, Delicate, Cosmopolitan and Radford's Flame Shoulder.

As already mentioned, overnight audible passage was at times prodigiously strong and we were fortunate that Joe Stockwell had recording equipment deployed all night at the Obs. Joe's totals (of calls logged) were 4600 Song Thrushes, 3342 Redwings, 370 Blackbirds, 155 Robins, 8 Ring Ouzels, 7 Meadow Pipits, 5 Dunlin, 4 Golden Plover, 2 Redshanks, 1 Woodcock, 1 Skylark and 1 Reed Bunting, with this little sample recording giving some idea of the volume of passage at its peak after midnight:

...and here's one of the Ring Ouzels calling just before midnight:

Amongst the host of birds about today only the Richard's Pipit was actually new for the year - it flew over the Bill a couple of times where it was both photographed and sound recorded and it or another later flew over at Avalanche Road © Joe Stockwell:

Yellow-browed Warblers were showing nicely at Southwell © Debby Saunders (upper photo) and Pete Saunders (lower photo):

Ring Ouzels were quite numerous for the first time this autumn - this one was in the beach hut fields at the Bill © Roger Hewitt:

Redpolls also returned their highest total of the autumn to date - this one was at Culverwell © Debby Saunders:

As a sad reflection on their demise at Portland this Yellowhammer was one of the most appreciated in-hand birds of the day © Martin Cade:

In the pretty stakes there could only be one winner - the Crimson Speckled found on the Slopes at the Bill © Martin Cade:

And finally, we don't really want to get mired in the slightly tiresome subject of what constitutes a Siberian Chiffchaff but are we right in understanding that the latest thoughts are that something that looks more or less like this 'Common' Chiffchaff from today...

...is not with certainty distinguishable from these (two of the four) 'Siberian' Chiffchaffs also from today?

We think we're reading the research rightly and it seems that either just might have a few genes from the other in its system so we might as well forget about trying to identify them for certain without recourse to taking a blood sample (feathers alone aren't good enough). We did have a little meander about in the Ural Mountains a few years ago and despite paying close attention to the vocalisations and appearance of a lot of Siberian Chiffchaffs there we didn't hear a mixed singer or see anything that looked much different to our birds today so we must have been unlucky in not tapping into the host of genetically intermediate birds there that just might be making a B line for Britain every autumn.