November 2000

November 30th A strengthening south-east wind stirred-up a few birds off the Bill, where there were 7 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great Skuas and a very late Manx Shearwater.  A few flocks of Goldfinches and Linnets left to the south during the morning, and the Firecrest was still in the Obs garden. November 29th The temperature remained spring-like, but the lack of birds was certainly typical of the beginning of winter. There was a lone Black Redstart at the Bill, as well as the Firecrest still at the Obs, but otherwise the only birds of note were a couple of passing Red-throated Divers offshore. November 28th Another very mild day, with the stiff southerly wind producing a little passage on the sea. Off the Bill there were 10 Little Gulls and 5 Red-throated Divers, as well as the now resident flock of 40 Common Scoter. The land was quiet, with just a few Goldcrests and a Chiffchaff at Pennsylvania Castle, and a Firecrest at the Obs. At Ferrybidge, there was a single Sandwich Tern and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose. November 27th The arrival of very mild air offered the promise of some late migrants, but it was still a surprise when a Common Swift appeared over the Windmills area at Easton - the latest Portland record by some margin. Also quite late were 2 Sandwich Terns at Ferrybridge. Persistent rain otherwise made birding difficult and the only other sightings were of a few new Song Thrushes, a Redpoll and a wintering Firecrest at the Bill, and a Black Redstart at Weston. November 26th A very quiet day. Off the Bill, seawatching produced a Great Northern Diver and a Little Gull, as well as Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks in good numbers, and a settled flock of 35 Common Scoter; another Little Gull was seen at Chesil Cove. On the land at least 1 Firecrest was at the Obs, and there was a single Blackcap at Pennsylvania Castle. November 25th Wet and windy weather was again the order of the day. At the Bill a short break in the rain during the morning produced 3 Red-throated Divers, a Sooty Shearwater and an Arctic Skua on the sea, but prolonged clearer weather in the afternoon provided little more than a steady trickle of Kittiwakes and auks November 24th The Pennsylvania Castle area again produced plenty of birds, although yesterday's rarities had both moved on. A Treecreeper (the first on the Island this autumn) was the best new arrival, and there were also several Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests, single Blackcap and Black Redstart, and a high count of 33 Long-tailed Tits. At the Bill there were a few Redwings, 2 Black Redstarts and the 2 wintering Firecrests. November 23rd A surprisingly successful day after a less than promising wet start. The sheltered wood at  Pennsylvania Castle was busy with Long-tailed Tits and late Goldcrests, and in the afternoon a Pallas's Warbler and a Siberian Chiffchaff were found and showed well there. Around the Bill, migrants were sparse but included Curlew, Snipe, 2 Black Redstarts and a few thrushes and finches. Off the Bill itself seawatching produced 2 Little Gulls, a Sooty Shearwater and an Arctic Skua, and there were 6 Purple Sandpiper on the rocks. November 22nd The return of stormy weather meant that again seawatching was the only birding possible. Off the Bill there were a steady trickle of Fulmars, together with a single Sooty Shearwater and a Red-throated Diver. At least 10 Little Gulls were in Chesil Cove in the afternoon. On the land the only birds of note were 5 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill. November 21st Late migrants continued to trickle through. At the Bill, small flocks of Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Linnets were still leaving to the south, and a few Song Thrushes and a Redwing had arrived overnight. A new Chiffchaff and a new Goldcrest joined the 2 wintering Firecrests at the Obs, and there were at least 4 Black Redstarts at Southwell. The sea produced just 2 Red-throated Divers off the Bill. November 20th A real end of autumn day, with little about on the land or sea. A trickle of Goldfinches and Linnets, together with a single Siskin and a late Swallow, passed through at the Bill, and there were still 2 Firecrests in and around the Obs garden. Offshore, there were a few Common Scoter and a single Red-throated Diver. November 19th With little change in the weather it was again the sea that provided most of the interest today.  A Grey Phalarope was found in Chesil Cove in the morning, whilst Kittiwakes and auks were still in good supply off the Bill, where there were also 3 Velvet Scoter and a Red-throated Diver. On the land the only birds of note were a fly-over Lapland Bunting and a Merlin at Barleycrates Lane.  November 18th A damp and breezy day with a few seabirds on the move in the afternoon. Off the Bill there was a steady passage of Gannets, Fulmars, Kittiwakes and auks, along with 4 Arctic and a Pomarine Skua, a Red-throated Diver and a Brent Goose. The land was very quiet, with just a single Redwing and at least 1 Firecrest at the Obs. November 17th Cold and blustery north-westerly weather brought a halt to most late passage today. Sheltered spots held a few Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs, and there were single Firecrests at both the Obs and Pennsylvania Castle, and a Black Redstart at the Bill. Seawatching at the Bill provided just single Red-throated and Black-throated Divers, and a Red-breasted Merganser.


Dusky Warbler - © Martin Cade

  November 16th The excellent week continued with the trapping and ringing of a Dusky Warbler at the Obs in the morning; it showed on-and-off until midday but couldn't be found in the afternoon. Commoner migrants were much less obvious than in recent days, but still included Merlin, Short-eared Owl, Swallow, House Martin, Wheatear and 2 Firecrests at the Bill. Seawatching at the Bill produced 7 Red-throated Divers, a Wigeon and a Pintail. November 15th Highlight today was a Siberian Chiffchaff seen at Verne Common (thought to have been present since November 10th). Common migrants were still in good supply, with thrushes and finches dominating: counts at the Bill included 50 Blackbirds, 45 Chaffinches, 25 Song Thrushes and 8 Redpolls. Freshly arrived Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were widely scattered in small numbers, and there were still 2 Firecrests at the Obs and another at Southwell. Single Little Egrets were seen at Ferrybridge, Blacknor and the Bill, a Short-eared Owl flew north over Weston, and there were 2 late House Martins at East Weares. November 14th The recent run of interest continued with a mobile Barred Warbler at Avalanche Road and Weston Street in the morning; a Dartford Warbler was also found in the same area. Commoner migrants included a flurry of late Blackcaps, fair numbers of thrushes and finches, and single Woodcock and Merlin. Two Swallows were at the Bill, and a very late Yellow Wagtail flew over at Weston.  November 13th Another day of fine weather and good late autumn fare. Bird of the day was a showy Pallas's Warbler at Avalanche Road, Southwell, in the afternoon (perhaps the same individual as a Pallas's/Yellow-browed Warbler seen briefly at Culverwell in the morning). Other oddities included a Ruff at Weston, a Grey Phalarope still at Chesil Cove, 4 Black Redstarts around Weston, a Dartford Warbler at Tout Quarry, 2 Firecrests at the Obs and a Lapland Bunting over the Bill. Tardy common migrants remained on the move, with a sprinkle of thrushes, Goldcrests and finches everywhere. November 12th A marked improvement in the weather produced a peculiar selection of birds on the Island. The highlight was undoubtedly a Waxwing at Culverwell soon after dawn; unfortunately it was settled only briefly and soon left to the north. The sea was still surprisingly productive, with 24 Little Gulls, 2 Red-throated, 2 Black-throated and a Great Northern Diver past the Bill, and 2 Grey Phalaropes lingering in Chesil Cove. New migrants at the Bill included 2 Black Redstarts and 2 Blackcaps, with 2 Firecrests and a Chiffchaff still in the Obs garden. Finally, there was a lone Purple Sandpiper at the Bill, and at least 3 Great Northern Divers in Portland Harbour. November 11th The return of wet and windy weather meant that seawatching was the only option for most of the day. At the Bill there was a steady passage of Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks, together with 34 Fulmars, 10 Common Scoter, 4 Sooty Shearwaters, 4 Little Gulls, 2 Great and 2 Pomarine Skuas, a Storm Petrel and a Little Auk. On the land the only birds of note were a couple of Firecrests still present in the Obs garden. November 10th Migrants remained in very short supply. Over the Bill there was a little visible passage of Skylarks, Starlings, finches and Reed Buntings, as well a couple of late Swallows. On the ground 2 Firecrests and a Chiffchaff remained in the Obs garden, and sheltered spots elsewhere held a scatter of Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs. A single Great Northern Diver passed the Bill in the afternoon. November 9th After a clear, moonlit night it was not altogether surprising that migrants were thin on the ground. Thrushes, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were thinly scattered everywhere, and there was still at least 1 Firecrest at the Obs. Visible passage consisted of no more than just a few Chaffinches and a Siskin over the Bill.


'eastern' Lesser Whitethroat - © Martin Cade

  November 8th Late migrants continued to pass through in fair numbers, with thrushes still dominating. Around the Bill there were more than 100 Blackbirds, 30 Redwings and 10 Fieldfares, as well as 10 Long-tailed Tits, 3 late Swallows, 2 new Chiffchaffs and a new Firecrest. The 'eastern' Lesser Whitethroat near Pennsylvania Castle was still present and was trapped and ringed in the afternoon; the measurements taken are inconclusive in placing to a subspecies, and it seems likely to be an intergrade. November 7th Thrushes were again the most conspicuous migrants at the Bill, where there were 150 Redwings, 100 Blackbirds and the first 13 Fieldfares of the autumn. Three Firecrests were still to be found in and around the Obs, but the only other new arrivals were a few Chaffinches, 7 Lapwings, 2 Short-eared Owls, a Snipe and a Blackcap. Elsewhere, the bird of the day was an 'eastern' Lesser Whitethroat that showed well in the afternoon on the roadside opposite Pennsylvania Castle. The sea remained rather unproductive, with just a few Common Scoter, 3 Brent Geese, and single Shelduck, Teal and Red-breasted Merganser off the Bill. November 6th Slightly quieter weather brought with it a flurry of migrants. Thrushes were more conspicuous than for some time, with counts of 50 Blackbirds, 30 Song Thrushes and 26 Redwings at the Bill. A late Wheatear and 3 House Martins were at the Bill, and single Firecrests were at the Obs and Pennsylvania Castle. Visible passage included a trickle of Starlings arriving from the east all day. With the wind having swung into the north the sea was quiet, with just 2 Great Skuas, a Great Northern Diver and a Little Gull off the Bill. November 5th Seawatching was productive in the morning, ahead of the arrival of a south-easterly gale and driving rain in the afternoon. At the Bill there were 53 Common Scoter, 10 Little Gulls, 4 Fulmars, 3 Great Skuas, 3 Red-throated Divers, 2 Arctic Skuas, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Sooty Shearwater, a Black-throated Diver and a Pochard. Little birding was possible on the land, but there were a couple of Redwings, a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff in the Obs garden.


Redpoll - © Martin Cade

  November 4th Migrants were in unexpectedly low numbers despite the improved weather. On the ground the best birds were 2 Woodlarks at Broadcroft Quarry, 4 Ring Ouzels at Grove Point and another at the Bill, another new Firecrest at the Obs and a Short-eared Owl again at the Bill. Visible passage overhead included a few flocks of Wood Pigeons and Stock Doves, as well as  3 Redpolls and a Brambling at the Bill. November 3rd Quieter weather, albeit with a chilly north-westerly breeze, arrived for the first time in nearly a fortnight and there was a good deal more about on the land. At the Bill new migrants included several Swallows, 6 Goldcrests, 4 Firecrests, 4 Chiffchaffs, 4 Blackcaps, a Short-eared Owl, a Wheatear and a Dartford Warbler, as well as a good selection of overflying finches and buntings. Even stronger finch passage occurred over East Weares, where the movement included single flocks of 120 Chaffinches and 50 Siskins. The sea was predictably quiet, with just 2 Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver, and a tardy Storm Petrel off the Bill. Finally, there were 2 late Sandwich Terns at Ferrybridge, and 5 Great Northern Divers, 2 Black-necked and a Red-necked Grebe in Portland Harbour.  November 2nd A subtle change in the weather, with the wind veering briefly to the south, produced a few migrants at the Bill, where there were 8 Chiffchaffs, 7 Blackcaps, 5 Goldcrests, 3 Firecrests and 2 Black Redstarts in the morning. By the afternoon the weather had worsened again so a late Red-breasted Flycatcher was an unexpected discovery in the Obs garden. The sea was quieter than of late, with just 2 Storm Petrels and a Brent Goose seen at the Bill. November 1st Storm Petrels again provided much of the interest today, with 31 passing the Bill and a few still lingering in Chesil Cove. The sea was otherwise rather quiet, with just a handful of Common Scoter and a Great Northern Diver off the Bill. Finch movement was conspicuous over the Bill, where 247 Goldfinches and 214 Linnets were logged leaving to the south, and a Serin was a brief visitor to the Obs garden. Other oddities included a Short-eared Owl at the Bill, a Firecrest at Pennsylvania Castle and a Snow Bunting over Weston.