4th November

Today's quiet conditions -  in a gentle northerly and under a crystal clear sky it was pretty crisp at dawn but had really warmed up by the afternoon - have been a long time coming and whilst the day matched expectations it hardly exceeded them. An all-island tally of scarcities that included 3 Short-eared Owls, 3 Yellow-browed Warblers and singles of Woodlark, Siberian Lesser Whitethroat, Tree Sparrow and Snow Bunting certainly provided a modicum of quality but it was far too clear for much of an arrival of grounded migrants and the light breeze saw to it that overhead passage was for the most part light and rather random. Pigeon passage rarely features in a northerly (instead it takes place along the mainland coast) and no more than 550 Wood Pigeons were mustered over the Bill; far more of a spectacle there was an unseasonable southbound passage of 360 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, with 43 Bramblings the one stand-out total amongst generally low numbers of other passing migrants. On the ground there were a handful of new Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and 'crests but none reached double figure totals in any one area.

Two of the Yellow-browed Warblers were showing nicely at Southwell © Pete Saunders...

...with a nice Fieldfare also dropping in there © Debby Saunders:

The migrating Lesser Black-backed Gulls that trickled through all morning were a compelling little spectacle and, passing as they did many hundreds of metres overhead, could easily have been overlooked were it not for the Vs of them standing out so boldly against the deep blue sky. They were clearly going to be crossing the French coast within a couple of hours and will presumably end up in Iberia or Morocco before long but how do they fit in with the main thrust of Lesser Black-back passage way back in August and early September - do these have a completely different geographical origin to the earlier birds or is Lesser Black-back passage just one big jumble that has a long temporal span? © Joe Stockwell:

It's not unusual to find the remains of a prey item next to a raptor when we trap one of the latter in a mist-net at the Obs - open country birds such as Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Wheatear are favourites of Sparrowhawks that often carry them into the Obs garden to pluck and consume. This morning we had the surprise discovery of the remains of a Purple Sandpiper hanging in a net beside a young female Sparrowhawk - we can only hope that this bird doesn't get a taste for Purple Sands for breakfast or there won't be much of a wintering flock of them left by the end of the week © Martin Cade: