16th August

Despite the healthy looking start to the day, a quick glance at the rain alarm showed an ever growing, torrential downpour heading our way from the French coast. Two or three hours of heaving showers (and a good few cups of tea) later and the sky finally brightened. The first birds to emerge post-rain were the Willow Warblers, around thirty began snapping and feeding around the freshly wetted sycamores. Next came the highlight of the day as 2 Crossbills came in high calling and eventually landed in the trees above the drive, the one in view being a rather drab, streaky juvenile was nevertheless greatly appreciated. Amongst the other scattered migrants were another eight Sedge Warblers, six Pied Flycatchers, two Spotted Flycatchers, two Redstarts and singles of Grasshopper Warbler and Garden Warbler. With the driving rain forcing most watchers away from the patio, it was a limited sea watch but a Pomarine Skua and a probable Thresher Shark were well earned highlights.

Elsewhere on the island, the Rosy Starling continued to delight the occasional observer who struck it lucky. This shot from yesterday at Weston was the first we've actually seen of it (we haven't even managed to see it ourselves!) © Fiona Grant:

The two Crossbills were quite vocal during their brief visit to the Obs; they were evidently both juveniles and in these two short recordings they're perched at first before one flies off:

Last night's moth-trapping saw a precipitous decline in both numbers and variety after the good times of the last week. We've been having bags of fun with the trapping, with a particularly impressive feature being the amount of dispersal afoot on the hot, sultry nights. We've always been fascinated by this element of the captures and often speculate to ourselves quite what the mechanism is that prompts this behaviour from what we imagine must be a tiny proportion of the source population (to put it in human terms: what's the mindset that sees them up and leave suitable habitat and their mates and end up in a godforsaken spot like the Bill; the chances of there being any benefit for an individual moth must be extremely slim so presumably it's a selfless action designed to benefit the species as a whole in the longer term). The china-marks, with their aquatic larvae, pretty obviously aren't very well represented at Portland even if one of them - Small China-mark - has colonised ponds at the Obs and elsewhere in recent years; several other species do turn up from time to time and a couple of nights ago another strayed out here for the first time ever: Beautiful China-mark Nymphula nitidulata...

A group of sporadic visitors that we're always keen on are the mochas: most are insects of woodland or heathland and although none are resident here all do turn up in varying degrees of frequency. One of the most widespread in Britain - Birch Mocha - is actually one of the least frequent here so was a welcome capture on the same night as the Beautiful China-mark...

The Coleophora case-bearers are invariably tricky to sort out by external features but one that's do-able by eye (once the quite similar Body-marked Case-bearer C. clypeiferella has been eliminated) is the Glasswort Case-bearer Coleophora salicorniae - several strayed out as far as the Bill through the week © Martin Cade: