September 2000


Honey Buzzard © Martin Cade

  September 30th Fortunately for the the many birders who arrived to see it, the Cliff Swallow was still present at the Verne. It was much more mobile than yesterday, but was seen on and off until the early afternoon when it perhaps got sucked into the heavy hirundine passage that was taking place and moved on. Honey Buzzards again passed through in dramatic numbers, with 35 or more being logged throughout the Island today. Other raptors drawn into this movement included at least 10 Buzzards, 3 Hobbies, 2 Ospreys and 2 Marsh Harriers. With so many distractions, commoner migrants hardly got a look in. However, the Wryneck was still at the Bill and there was another at the Verne, and migrants around the Bill included 30 Tree Pipits and 6 Long-tailed Tits.


Cliff  Swallow © Paul Gale

  September 29th Big news today was the discovery of a Cliff Swallow at the Verne in the afternoon; the bird was found at 2 o'clock and continued to show well from the Royal Naval Cemetery until nearly dusk. The continuing Honey Buzzard passage created what was otherwise a Falsterbo-esque atmosphere to proceedings: between 15 and 20 passed over the Island during the day. The Wryneck, Firecrest and Pied Flycatcher were all still present at the Bill, where there was also a very heavy passage of more than 10000 Swallows. Seawatching at the Bill produced a couple of Black Terns but little else. September 28th The same Wryneck, Firecrest and Pied Flycatcher were all still present in and around the Obs, but new migrants at the Bill otherwise consisted of just a few new Wheatears and Stonechats. A new Wryneck was found at Barleycrates Lane, and at least 3 (possibly as many as 6) Honey Buzzards appeared overhead at various sites during the afternoon. Seawatching produced just 2 Great and an Arctic Skua off the Bill.  September 27th A Wryneck seen briefly near the Obs was perhaps the bird that was trapped a couple of days ago. There was little change in the grounded migrant situation, with single Firecrest and Pied Flycatcher at the Obs being the highlights, but there was a lot more movement at sea as wet and windy weather arrived in the afternoon. Off the Bill, there were 49 Sooty, 4 Manx and 3 Balearic Shearwaters, together with 2 Great Skuas and a single Leach's Petrel. September 26th Grounded migrants were again limited in number and variety, with the best being a Turtle Dove in Top Fields, and single Firecrest and Pied Flycatcher at the Obs. A strengthening south-west wind got a few more things moving off the Bill, where there were 1500 Gannets, and 3 Arctic and 3 Great Skuas. Late records for today received on 27/9: seawatching at Chesil Cove in the afternoon produced 5 Arctic, 4 Roseate and 2 Black Terns, 4 Great and 2 Arctic Skuas, and a single Little Gull. September 25th With much of the day having been washed-out by the heavy rain that set in from mid-morning, it was fortunate that there had been a good deal around in the first few hours of the day to keep birders entertained. A Moorhen in the Obs garden at dawn was the unlikely bird of the day that, at least in terms of local rarity value, could not be eclipsed by species such as Little Egret, Wryneck and Honey Buzzard that were seen later. The Little Egret was an early morning fly-over, the Wryneck was trapped and ringed at the Obs, and the Honey Buzzard flew west over there just as the rain was setting-in. Commoner migrants included at least 2 Firecrests at the Obs and another in Top Fields, and a Pied Flycatcher at the Obs. Seawatching at the Bill produced just 5 Eider and 2 Great Skuas. September 24th Despite a change in the weather it was still more of the same around the Island. Heavy rain at dawn promised to have dropped a few migrants, but, although Yellow Wagtails and Meadow Pipits increased, grounded migrants remained at a premium. The best were 2 Firecrests at the Obs, single Turtle Doves at West Cliffs and Southwell, and a Blue-headed Wagtail in Top Fields. Hirundines continued to pass through in good supply all morning. Off the Bill, there were 7 Great and a Pomarine Skua, and 2 Balearic Shearwaters. September 23rd Visible passage was very conspicuous, especially in the morning, but it was otherwise a rather slow day for the time of year. House Martins were outstanding numerous with perhaps as many as 10000 passing over the Bill, where there were also lesser numbers of other hirundines, wagtails and pipits. An Ortolan Bunting settled briefly at the Bill, but it seemed to be sucked into the general movement taking place and soon disappeared. Seawatching at the Bill produced 3 Balearic Shearwaters, and 3 Arctic and 2 Great Skuas. Late record for today received on 24/9: a Honey Buzzard over Tout Quarry at midday. September 22nd A rather quiet day, with the Buff-breasted Sandpiper having moved on, and numbers of common migrants distinctly on the low side. An Osprey that passed south down the West Cliffs at midday, and 3 Buzzards that soared over the middle of the Island in the afternoon were the best birds seen. Visible passage, particularly of hirundines, was occasionally conspicuous, but the best of the grounded migrants were just 3 Spotted Flycatchers at the Eight Kings Quarry and a Pied Flycatcher at the Obs. Seawatching produced 2 Great Skuas at the Bill. September 21st Once again the Buff-breasted Sandpiper was very much highlight of the day. It showed well all day at Blacknor, where there was also a very brief Lapland Bunting early in the morning. New migrants were at a premium, with the best being single Pied Flycatchers at the Obs and Pennsylvania Castle, and a Merlin around the Bill. Wet and windy weather in the morning produced nothing better on the sea than 2 Great Skuas and a Balearic Shearwater from the Bill, with the same weather no doubt accounting for the appearance of  2 late Little Terns at Ferrybridge.


Buff-breasted Sandpiper  © Peter Coe

  September 20th The Buff-breasted Sandpiper continued to show well all day near Blacknor. The days common migrants seemed largely to be left-overs from yesterday: single Wood Warbler and Firecrest were again at the Bill, but numbers of most species dropped markedly. A Nightingale was a new discovery at Easton, and the first 4 Brent Geese of the autumn passed the Bill. Copies of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper photograph reproduced above are available at the Obs (£1.80) or by post from Peter Coe (£2; phone 01305-823664). September 19th The Buff-breasted Sandpiper was finally pinned down today: it showed briefly at Barleycrates Lane in the morning, and was then discovered settled on some waste ground near Blacknor in the afternoon. Common migrants were in better numbers everywhere, with Meadow Pipits particularly numerous. At the Bill, where an Osprey flew over at midday, totals included 50 Wheatears, 40 Chiffchaffs, 25 Willow Warblers, 10 Blackcaps, 8 Whitethroats, 5 Goldcrests, 2 Pied Flycatchers, and single Hobby, Lesser Whitethroat, Wood Warbler and Firecrest. Seawatching was uneventful, with a single Balearic Shearwater off the Bill the highlight. September 18th There was a miserable wet and windy start to the day, but during a brief easing of the rain in mid-morning a Buff-breasted Sandpiper flew in off the sea past the Obs. After considerable searching the bird was found settled on the cliff-top at Barleycrates Lane where it showed for half-an-hour before leaving to the north. A Short-eared Owl was again present in Top Fields, but land migrants were otherwise thin on the ground or keeping their heads down. Off the Bill, seawatching produced 12 Arctic and 2 Great Skuas, and 2 Manx and a Balearic Shearwater. Late record for today received on 20/9: a Sabine's Gull off the Bill in the morning. September 17th Bird of the day was a new Wryneck discovered beside the Cheyne car park in the late morning. Visible passage was again very conspicuous; counts at the Bill in the first couple of hours of the day included 500 Swallows, 500 Meadow Pipits, 150 House Martins, 50 Yellow Wagtails, 20 Tree Pipits and 15 Grey Wagtails. Migrants were in reasonable variety and number on the ground as well, with the best being the first Short-eared Owl of the autumn at the Bill. The sea perked up a little with counts from the Bill including 51 Common Scoter, 7 Sandwich Terns, 4 Arctic and a Great Skua, and 2 Balearic Shearwaters. September 16th A stiff north-westerly wind and clear skies ensured that it was quiet all round today. There was a fair passage of hirundines, pipits and wagtails overhead, but otherwise the best birds on the land were single Hobby, Merlin, Redstart and Pied Flycatcher at the Bill. The offshore wind saw to it that next to nothing was seen on the sea. September 15th The morning was a washout, but a few birds surfaced in better weather in the afternoon. The 'original' Wryneck (first seen on 8th) was rediscovered in the Hut Fields, although it remained rather elusive. Migrants at the Bill included 7 Blackcaps, 2 Redstarts, 2 Pied Flycatchers and a Hobby. Sea watching was uneventful until 3 Great and a Pomarine Skua passed the Bill in the evening. September 14th After a clear moonlit night migrants were distinctly thin on the ground, with the best being a few Grey Wagtails and 3 Redstarts. The sea remained pretty quiet despite a strengthening wind: off the Bill there were just 8 Arctic Skuas and 2 Balearic Shearwaters.


Wryneck  © Martin Cade

  September 13th The Wryneck first found yesterday evening was retrapped at the Obs in the morning, and a new individual was seen at the Verne in the afternoon. Two Ortolan Buntings showed briefly at Barleycrates Lane in the morning, but neither could be found later. It was a better day all round for common migrants, with counts at the Bill including 60 Wheatears, 50 Willow Warblers, 30 Chiffchaffs, 20 Grey Wagtails, 20 Tree Pipits and 5 Redstarts. A little sea movement off the Bill included single Balearic Shearwater, and Arctic and Great Skua. September 12th The Wryneck was again present in the Hut Fields at the Bill, and in the early evening a second individual was trapped and ringed at the Obs. Migrants were in rather short supply everywhere, with totals at the Bill including 30 Wheatears, 18 Grey Wagtails, 15 Chiffchaffs, 15 Willow Warblers, 10 Whinchats, 3 Tree Pipits, 2 Redstarts, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and single Reed and Sedge Warblers. September 11th The Wryneck remained at the Bill all day, and there were also sightings of two Common Rosefinches elsewhere on the Island. One was at Barleycrates Lane early in the morning, and another showed at Lancridge a couple of hours later; unfortunately, neither remained for long. Visible passage was very conspicuous everywhere in the morning: hirundine counts included 6500 Swallows and 1000 House Martins passing south along the West Cliffs, and there fair numbers of Grey Wagtails and Tree Pipits, as well as a couple of Hobbies. The best of the grounded migrants was a Firecrest at Easton. September 10th A brief Ortolan Bunting, seen around the Bill early in the morning, was very much the bird of a day. The Wryneck present for the last few days also remained near the Obs but was ususally rather elusive. Most common migrants were in rather low numbers, but a few, particularly the fly-overs, were conspicuous: both Grey Wagtail and Tree Pipit totalled more than 25 at the Bill. Still and often foggy conditions saw to it that seabirds were hardly noticed; the best were 2 Balearic Shearwaters off the Bill. September 9th The Wryneck and the Melodious Warbler were both still present today, although both were tricky to get to grips with.  The Wryneck was only seen twice all day (first when it was trapped at the Obs in the morning, and later when it was found on the East Cliffs in the evening), whilst the Melodious Warbler was discovered for the first time in nearly 36 hours when it turned-up in a mist-net at the Obs at the end of the day. Common migrants were in much better numbers and variety than of late all across the Island, with Blackcaps being particularly conspicuous for the first time this autumn. At the Bill, seawatching produced 2 Balearic Shearwaters, and single Great and Arctic Skuas.


Melodious Warbler  - the 5th ringed this autumn © Martin Cade

  September 8th A day of overcast skies and frequent fog, which produced a couple of good scarce migrants. The fifth Melodious Warbler of the autumn was trapped and ringed at the Obs in the morning, and soon afterwards an elusive Wryneck showed-up on the edge of the Obs garden. Common migrants were surprisingly few and far between everywhere. Seawatching from the Bill produced 3 Sooty and a Manx Shearwater, and 2 Great and an Arctic Skua. September 7th Rather quiet all round today; the blustery conditions made searching for migrants difficult, but it wasn't really windy enough to stir things up on the sea. Off the Bill there were just 4 Balearic, a Sooty and a Manx Shearwater, and 3 Arctic Skuas. Common migrants seemed pretty sparse at the Bill, with the best being single Merlin, Redstart, and Pied and Spotted Flycatcher September 6th Another blustery autumnal day, with seabirds providing most of the interest. Off the Bill there were 5 Sooty Shearwaters, and single Arctic and Great Skuas. On the land there were just a scatter of migrants, including single Redstart and Pied Flycatcher at the Obs. September 5th A strengthening wind and some drizzly rain saw to it that seawatching occupied most birders today. Passage was rather better than of late, with totals at the Bill of 17 Arctic, a Pomarine and a Great Skua; 5 Sooty, 3 Balearic and a Manx Shearwater; as well as 28 commic Terns and 20 Common Scoter. Land migrants were very thin on the ground, with the best being 2 Golden Plover, and single Redstart and Pied Flycatcher September 4th Not before time, today saw the arrival of a Common Rosefinch at Southwell - the first passerine rarity for nearly three weeks. Unfortunately it wasn't a good performer, and left many would-be observers frustrated after it's half-hour appearance. Common migrants were in similar numbers and variety to yesterday, with oddities again including Merlin. Offshore, there was a Balearic Shearwater and a Great Skua, as well as a small passage of Common Scoter and commic Terns. September 3rd A good variety of common migrants were present around the Island, although numbers were again on the low side for the time of year. Counts at the Bill included 80 Wheatears, 60 Yellow Wagtails, 45 Robins, 25 Willow Warblers, 10 Tree Pipits, 8 Grey Wagtails, 7 Sedge Warblers, 4 Redstarts and 3 Spotted Flycatchers, as well as singles of oddities such as Merlin and Hobby. The sea again came up with some surprises, including reports of a large shearwater and a Long-tailed Skua, as well as a more routine 27 Common Scoter and 5 Arctic Skuas. September 2nd An improvement in the weather saw migrants appear in quite good numbers. Around the Bill counts included 70 Wheatears, 60 Yellow Wagtails, 40 Willow Warblers, 10 Sedge Warblers, 8 Grey Wagtails, 6 Tree Pipits, 5 Whinchats, 3 Redstarts, 3 Pied Flycatchers, and the first 2 Goldcrests of the autumn. In an increasingly light and offshore wind, little was evident on the sea until a remarkable spell in the late morning when between 2 and 4 Cory's Shearwaters were reported by watchers at the Bill. Later watching provided just a couple of Balearic Shearwaters and an Arctic Skua. September 1st The first really autumnal day, with a strengthening westerly wind and frequent squally showers. The wind direction was not altogether favourable for seawatching, and the only birds seen from the Bill were 3 Balearic and a Manx Shearwater, and 3 Little Gulls. The best of the few land migrants seen were 3 Pied Flycatchers in and around the Obs. garden.