8th September

Weather-wise, comprehensively the poorest day for months with a constant blasting westerly and the afternoon emphatically rained off. Migrant-hunting on the land was pretty much of a write-off; the sea was always worth attention and did eventually come up with the first Grey Phalarope of the year.

Portland Bill
Migrants Yellow Wagtail 5, Spotted Flycatcher 1.
Sea passage Balearic Shearwater 60w 3e, Kittiwake 31w, Common Scoter 8e 3w, Sooty Shearwater 3w, Arctic Skua 1w.

Chesil Cove
Grey Phalarope 1, Arctic Skua 1, Little Gull 1.

Knot 5, Curlew Sandpiper 3, Bar-tailed Godwit 3, Merlin 1, Little Stint 1.

Selected immigrants Obs: Rusty-dot Pearl 29, Rush Veneer 13, Delicate 3, Turnip 2, Silver Y 2.

The first Merlin of the autumn at Ferrybridge this evening © Nic Jones:

Moth interest has progressively dwindled away this week in the face of increasingly hostile trapping conditions and, at least last night, a seemingly immigrant-unfriendly weather situation. A national talking point in the last few weeks has been an increasingly widespread influx of the Beet Moth Scobipalpa ocellatella - hitherto a coastal specialist that seems to have gone a bit mad and turned up pretty well everywhere in sometimes extraordinary numbers. It's a moth that's long been known at Portland where its usual foodplant - Sea Beet - is well established; we've always caught a fair few at the Obs and in places like Ferrybridge it can be really quite abundant. Because it's a routine resident it isn't a moth we've ever bothered to count but we've hardly detected any signs of increased numbers just lately - and certainly nothing like the huge catches made even as close as Weymouth - which really adds a bit of mystery to the situation! © Martin Cade:

Finally, a really grim sight during our evening seawatch at Chesil Cove were all the sickly-looking Gannets just off the beach - presumably avian flu victims - seemingly lining up to die; this individual did die literally right in front of our eyes - that's not a thing you see very often during the course of your routine birding:

We're a wee bit surprised the authorities aren't taking this issue more seriously: with Chesil already littered with dead Gannets being picked over by gulls and crows you don't have to stretch imagination far to see these same gulls and crows soon afterwards scavenging for scraps around a local picnic bench beside which Little Johnny picks up and eats his chip that's just fallen in their c**p. The origins of the next pandemic anyone?