1st October

Yesterday's excesses quickly faded from memory as a blustery westerly pushed through a series of early squally showers that reduced visible passage to a minor trickle of Swallows and Meadow Pipits amongst which at least 2 Merlins tagged along; an Osprey also snuck through overhead at Ferrybridge. It was barely busier on the ground where 3 Firecrests were the best on offer at the Bill. What was poor for passerines was a better for seabirds, with 41 Balearic Shearwaters, 12 Arctic Skuas, 6 Sandwich Terns, 4 Sooty Shearwaters, 4 Great Skuas, 2 Manx Shearwaters and a Grey Plover through off the Bill.

A Grass Webworm Herpetogramma licarsisalis - the first Portland record - first trapped but not secured at the Obs overnight Sunday/Monday was re-caught soon after dusk last night.

The Grass Webworm saga was a memorably stressful little event that could easily have ended in tears. When we got around to doing the Obs moth-traps yesterday morning we'd just been inspired by a Twitter message reporting that a Grass Webworm had been trapped overnight on Scilly. We had what turned out to be an entirely erroneous mental image of the species as being something as big as a Mother of Pearl so when we saw this spread-winged shape amongst all the slightly smaller Rusty-dot Pearls on the underside of the Perspex lid of one of the traps we weren't sure what it was but didn't immediately think of Grass Webworm:

What followed was a comedy of errors when the moth twice dropped into the bowels of the trap only to suddenly whizz straight out when we risked removing the cone; after briefly settling in full view it then shot off again and disappeared deep into an ivy clump next to the trap. We still weren't certain what it was that we'd seen and were further confused on checking the UK Moths website to find a photo of an individual with a resting posture more like that of a Rusty-dot Pearl. As the day went on it became clear from images of, for example, another one trapped overnight in Dorset that we really had seen a Grass Webworm but that, without a specimen, it certainly wasn't claimable. Fortunately, all's well that ends well and soon after dusk last night what was most likely the same individual was re-caught in the same trap:

Our specimen was alarmingly skittish but we did eventually get a photo of it close to a Rusty-dot Pearl to give an idea of their relative sizes © Martin Cade: