12th November

Even though we knew it was far too early to write off a Portland autumn there's been plenty of temptation in recent days to see all the signs of the season winding down - indeed, today's largely birdless dawn merely reinforced these feelings. However, in a dramatic rabbit out of the hat moment everything changed when a frosty-white redpoll swept into view over the Obs patio; quickly lured back to the garden, its identity could then be confirmed as the island's first Arctic Redpoll - always mobile and with 2 Lesser Redpolls in attendance, it remained about until mid-afternoon. The redpolls aside, two flocks of passing Wood Pigeons totalling 500 and a handful of lingering Black Redstarts and Goldcrests were all that could be mustered by way of migrant activity on/over the land and 4 lingering Eider were the best on offer offshore. Elsewhere on the island the Rosy Starling remained at Easton.

By common consensus the Arctic Redpoll was adjudged to be an exilipes, Coues's Arctic Redpoll. However, we wonder how plausible that really is: there's been a huge movement of redpolls on the East Coast this autumn but we don't recollect hearing of a single Coues's being reported amongst them - is it really very likely that there should have been at least one and probably two Coues's in Cornwall and now another in Dorset in recent days and yet there have been none in, for example, Norfolk or Yorkshire? Would it not be just as likely that these birds may have originated from Iceland where, seemingly, the pale 'Arctic Redpolls' look a lot like today's bird? © Nick Hopper (top still), Joe Stockwell (lower two stills) and Martin Cade (video):