27th October

Overcast conditions overnight had seen plenty more migrants audible over the Bill but by dawn the sky had cleared and numbers were well down on yesterday. That said, there was still plenty about both overhead and on the ground, with single Yellow-browed Warblers at Sweethill and Bumpers Lane, 2 Lapland Buntings over the Bill, a Siberian Chiffchaff still around at the Obs and a Hawfinch over Verne Common providing the best of the interest, whilst less frequent migrants at the Bill included 14 Long-tailed Tits, 10 Firecrests, 6 Ring Ouzels, 6 Bearded Tits, 4 Black Redstarts and singles of Dartford Warbler, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting. Visible passage over the Bill included another 1200 Wood Pigeons, 35 Redpolls, 15 Bramblings and the first 2 Fieldfares of the autumn amongst the usual late October suspects, whilst on the ground there a decent little arrival included the likes of 30 each of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, and 25 Blackcaps.

A female Vagrant Emperor showed up several times during the afternoon in the Bumpers Lane area.

The overnight immigrant moth list at the Obs included 36 Rusty-dot Pearl, 27 Silver Y, 5 Delicate, 3 each of Dark Sword Grass and Radford's Flame Shoulder, 2 each of Spanish Dot, Rush Veneer, Olive-tree Pearl, Pearly Underwing and White-speck, and singles of Diamond-back Moth, Vestal and Red Admiral butterfly.

An event that ended up taking up rather more time and attention today than it perhaps deserved was the eventual identification of this Reed Warbler at Culverwell  © Ted Pressey:

When first discovered it was thought possibly to be a Marsh Warbler but by the time we arrived to have a look the gathering crowd had Blyth's Reed in mind: tacking calls were believed to have been heard, tail cocking had apparently been frequently observed and the ID was most of the way there. We can't say we were overly impressed with the plumage as there looked to be obvious Blyth's Reed anomalies such as the warmth of the flanks and the lack of rusty edges to the primaries; however, with nets to keep an eye on elsewhere we weren't able to give the bird much time and were confident that before long it would be netted anyway (there'd been a ringing session going on at Culverwell throughout the unfolding event but somehow the bird had thus far managed to avoid being caught). Considering that the ID was far from certain we certainly weren't going to put any news out about the bird and so were very surprised when - long after the nets had been closed with the bird still untrapped - the news services begun to report it as a probable Blyth's Reed. Another trapping tactic was clearly necessary to resolve the issue and this time it didn't take too long before it was in the hand where it was immediately apparent that it was a pretty ordinary-looking Reed Warbler © Martin Cade::

We're guessing the sequence of events here mirrored those that occurred recently on the Isles of Scilly with a Reed/Blyth's Reed: once a seed has been sown it's very easy to get carried along and see what you want to see rather than what's actually in front of your eyes.