4th June

In a small way today exceeded expectations, with the miscellany accrued by the end of the day confounding what had looked to be an utter lack of promise in the first hours of the morning. Migrant-wise, the Bill turned up 7 Black-tailed Godwits through overhead and singles of Turtle Dove and Lesser Whitethroat on the ground, with a Reed Warbler at Nicodemus Knob an addition to the tally from elsewhere. The sea get a fair bit of attention and although passage was limited to low double-figure totals of Common Scoter through off Chesil and the Bill there were a few lingerers of note: the first 2 Balearic Shearwaters of the summer were off the Bill where 3 Arctic Skuas were harassing the flocks of large gulls feeding offshore; a flurry of smaller gulls included an unseasonable Common Gull off the Bill and a few presumably returning Mediterranean Gulls off there and Chesil.

How do you identify a Siberian Lesser Whitethroat in the spring/summer? We'd been immediately struck in the field by how brown-backed today's new arrival at the Obs had looked and made a bit of effort to cajole it into a net to get a better understanding of its features © Nick Hopper...

...it did indeed turn out to be appreciably sandy-brown on the upperparts and had what seemed to be a rather poorly defined mask. The tail possessed a peculiar mixture of old and new feathers that could be taken to suggest that the bird was a first-summer although we weren't actually convinced that the old feathers were actually juvenile © Martin Cade:

In the past when they were more numerous migrants Turtle Doves were to be expected in early June so this evening's fleeting visitor wasn't too out of season © Nick Hopper:

One of this evening's Arctic Skuas lingered distantly for the duration of our watch and caused pandemonium amongst the hundreds of large gulls feeding offshore every time it tried its luck at getting its evening meal © Martin Cade:

The oddest bird of the watch was this Common Tern that for the most part was feeding distantly amongst the gulls. At very long range we kept getting tantalising glimpses of features that hinted at it not being an adult even though it looked to have a full hood but it wasn't until it eventually came closer (...and, most unusually, even landed for a while) that the signs of immaturity - scruffy plumage, two generations of outer primaries, partial secondary bar and the like - were revealed. It also became clear that the bird's bill was deformed but if this was related in any way to the non-adult plumage features - maybe it can't preen properly? - remained uncertain © Martin Cade: