14th April

South Portland fared pretty well today out of conditions that are more often a write-off than a bonanza: reduced visibility had been a feature all day yesterday but overnight the mistiness thickened into full-blown fog that blanketed most of the island for the duration. A Hoopoe on West Cliffs at the Bill set the ball rolling soon after dawn and it wasn't long before a second individual popped up at Southwell; the latter escaped further attention but the Bill bird - although always rather mobile to the extent that it was considered that there might be two individuals involved - remained for the day. Scarcities were otherwise not a feature but a good spread of grounded common migrants at the Bill - many of which seemed to be dropping out of the fog as the morning wore on - included around 100 each of Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, 60 Wheatears, 15 Redstarts, 4 Tree Pipits, 3 each of White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail and Siskin, 2 each of Whimbrel, Ring Ouzel, Goldcrest, Firecrest and Pied Flycatcher and singles of Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Whinchat and Lesser Whitethroat; finches were on the move overhead at the Bill, with a short sample count coming up with 250 Linnets, 80 Goldfinches and a Redpoll. Elsewhere, the 'Eastern' Lesser Whitethroat remained in a private garden at Southwell. Seawatching was always hampered by the poor visibility, but 7 Red-throated Divers passed through off the Bill and 52 Common Scoter, 4 Velvet Scoter, 2 Arctic Skuas and a Shoveler passed Chesil.

The Bill Hoopoe on a closer than usual fly past near the Higher Light © James Phillips:

It's not unusual to encounter Pied and White Wagtails with wacky head patterns and this White was one such that got a second glance at the Bill © James Phillips:

It's ages since we did a little photo feature on ageing Redstarts but the simultaneous capture this morning of an adult male and a first-summer male (...or second year as we've captioned it here) prompted us to have another go at it:

The differences don't really need explaining but it's worth noting that in our experience confusion can sometimes arise in two ways: novice ringers are often fooled by the presence of brown tips to the greater coverts of adults - that are often a good deal more striking than on our adult here - into mis-ageing them as first-summers (it's the colour of the edges of these feathers that's the thing to look at), whilst on field views the flight feathers of adults are often browner than expected (they'd have been be glossier and darker when freshly moulted in autumn but that's before they've had to spend a winter in the African sun) and thus not that unlike those on a first-summer © Martin Cade: