15th September

It really is remarkable how a thin layer of cloud can alter our fortunes. Despite the general make-up of the species list remaining the same, with the majority of the birds seen being fly-overs, it was much easier to pick out the flocks of Siskins, Swallows and wagtails with the glaring grey backdrop. The cloud cover also forced the birds lower allowing for better counting and better catching. Despite the improved conditions, the best rarity we could muster was the first Turtle Dove of the autumn (and only the third of the year at the Bill). The most notable increase came from the Swallows where the mornings count of 650 was dwarfed by an evening passage along the East Cliffs well into four figures. This impressive display was narrowly followed by the arrival of Meadow Pipits that fell just short of the 1000; Yellow Wagtails also put in a more thrilling performance with the morning's flocks amounting to 80 birds. In terms of grounded migrants, the state of play remained much the same with a sprinkling of new arrivals including 3 Sedge Warblers and a single Goldcrest, along with a handful of mixed Phylloscs. The sea could not be described as busy, but 54 Balearic Shearwaters throughout the morning were joined by the first Eider of the autumn. Elsewhere on the island, a Firecrest was new at the Grove and Ferrybridge maintained its recent run of form by doubling the Little Stint count to two and adding a single Curlew Sandpiper; there was also a good hirundine passage here with 1200 Swallows and 150 House Martins through during the course of the morning.

Despite astonishing warmth - the temperature rose sharply through the evening and was still above 21ÂșC at midnight - overnight moth interest was rather lower key than might have been hoped. A redeeming feature was a continuation of the recent run of Convolvulus Hawkmoths, with another 2 trapped at the Obs. Our autumn total to date of 25 is beginning to get well above the recent average although is still well short of the record annual total of 136 in 2003 © Martin Cade: