July 2001

July 31st The Melodious Warbler remained at the Bill today, although it only showed well on a few occasions at the Obs Quarry and the Obs garden. Common migrants also continued to trickle through, but only Willow Warblers were in any numbers, with the highest count being 50 at the Bill. The sea continued to produce Balearic and Manx Shearwaters but most are now being seen flying past rather than lingering offshore; today there were 16 Balearic and 9 Manx off the Bill.  


Melodious Warbler - Portland Bill, July 30th 2001 © Mick Rogers

  July 30th New in today was the first Melodious Warbler of the autumn; it was found in the Hut Fields early in the morning, but then settled in the Obs Quarry where it showed sporadically throughout the rest of the day. Migrants were a lot more numerous on the land, with counts at the Bill of 75 Willow Warblers, 8 Sedge Warblers, 2 Reed Warblers, a Grasshopper Warbler, a Dartford Warbler, a Garden Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Pied Flycatcher; a single Little Egret also flew over the Bill. Balearic Shearwaters were much scarcer than in recent days, with no more than 8 reported off the Bill at any one time; the sea also produced 68 Common Scoter, 25 Manx Shearwaters, 4 Teal, 2 Little Terns and a Great Skua. Waders at Ferrybridge included 8 Sanderling July 29th Four Storm Petrels were trapped and ringed at the Bill in the early hours of the morning, but the daytime highlight was the continuing presence of up to 50 Balearic Shearwaters offshore. The land again produced a few birds, with 12 Willow Warblers, a Grey Wagtail,  a Grasshopper Warbler, a Sedge Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher around the Bill area. July 28th Balearic Shearwaters continue to linger off the Bill in numbers, with more than 50 seen throughout the morning; also off there were 20 Manx Shearwaters, 4 Common Scoter, 3 Storm Petrels and 2 Great Skuas. Passage picked up on the land, with 8 Willow Warblers and 2 Garden Warblers around the Obs garden. July 27th Autumn passerine passage continued to verge on the non-existent, but there was still plenty of interest today. Balearic Shearwater numbers remained around 30 all day, although in the very calm weather most birds were distant and  flight views were rather infrequent; up to 10 Manx Shearwaters were also present offshore throughout the day, a Great Skua flew past in the morning, and an entirely bizarre record was of a summer plumaged Black-throated Diver drifting west past the Bill in the afternoon. Migrants at the Bill included 50 Sand Martins, 6 Sanderling, 4 Whimbrel, 3 Grey Herons, a Hobby, a Marsh Harrier and a Grasshopper Warbler.  Waders at Ferrybridge included 250 Dunlin and 4 Sanderling.


Balearic Shearwaters - Portland Bill, July 26th 2001 © Martin Cade

  July 26th Balearic Shearwater numbers increased dramatically at the Bill in the morning when a new flock of more than 60 joined the 20-30 already lingering offshore; numbers had dwindled by midday, and during the afternoon and evening  there were no reports of more than 20 birds. A few Manx Shearwaters were present throughout the day, and 40 Common Scoter passed through. Passerine migrants were again absent, although new waders included 2 Curlew Sandpipers at Ferrybridge and a Wood Sandpiper over the Bill. July 25th The supply of new birds on the land unexpectedly ground to a halt. Offshore, Balearic Shearwaters remained conspicuous, with more than 20 lingering off the Bill all morning; also there were 50 Common Scoter, 30 Manx Shearwaters and a fly-by Little Egret. July 24th A few migrants were again in evidence, with the Bill area producing 75 Sand Martins and 15 Willow Warblers. Rather more unexpected was the lone Great Spotted Woodpecker that roamed the south of the island during the morning. Balearic Shearwaters scarcely figured until the evening when at least 18 were seen off the Bill; also there were 113 Common Scoter and a few Manx Shearwaters.


Sedge Warbler - Portland Bill, July 23rd 2001 © Martin Cade

  July 23rd Balmy summer weather returned today, and there were the first real signs of autumn passerine passage. The Bill area produced 50 Sand Martins, 2 Sedge Warblers, 2 Willow Warblers and a Garden Warbler, and there were also single Grasshopper Warbler and Garden Warbler at Barleycrates Lane. A family party of Bullfinches at the Bill had presumably dispersed from a breeding site on the north of the island. The sea was less productive than in recent days, although in the evening a party of 8 Balearic Shearwaters again appeared off the Bill. July 22nd With no evidence of passage on the land, today was another seawatching day. Balearic Shearwaters outnumbered Manx Shearwaters off the Bill, with as many as 25 of the former lingering offshore and just a dozen of the latter passing through in the morning; also there were 10 Common Scoter, 7 Arctic Skuas, 2 Black-headed Gulls and a couple of late Puffins July 21st Seawatching again occupied most birders today, with the Bill producing more than 100 Manx and at least 10 Balearic Shearwaters, as well as 65 Common Scoter, and 5 Arctic and a Great Skua. On the land, the male Serin was seen briefly near the Bill Road dung heap during the morning, and there were also single Whimbrel, Yellow Wagtail and Lesser Whitethroat around the Bill area. July 20th Seabirds was few and far between in the morning, but a freshening south-west wind and rain prompted some movement late in the day, when there were 300 Manx and 4 Balearic Shearwaters, and 2 Arctic and a Pomarine Skua off the Bill. The land provided just 6 Sand Martins and a Lesser Whitethroat in the Bill area. July 19th Despite a stiff offshore wind it was the sea that provided most of the interest today. Several hundred Manx Shearwaters lingered off the Bill all day, and there were also 60 Common Scoter, 8 Balearic Shearwaters, a Pomarine Skua and a Mediterranean Gull. Waders there included 3 Turnstones, a Ringed Plover, a Dunlin and a Whimbrel, but the land was otherwise very quiet, with the best birds being a Grey Heron, 2 Blackcaps and a Lesser Whitethroat. A single Knot was among the commoner waders at Ferrybridge. July 18th The calm after the storm saw fair numbers of birds trickling back down the Channel, with the Bill producing 100 Manx and 15 Balearic Shearwaters, 28 Common Scoter, and 3 Arctic, 1 Pomarine and 1 Great Skua. Migrants on the land remained thin on the ground, with just 4 Sand Martins, 2 Blackcaps, a Whimbrel and a Redshank at the Bill. July 17th A day of near gale force south-easterly winds and heavy rain, with seawatching from the Bill producing 50 Manx, 9 Balearic and a Sooty Shearwater, 39 Common Scoter,  and 4 Arctic and 2 Great Skuas. During the evening a lone Roseate Tern was seen in Freshwater Bay at Southwell. July 16th Another surprisingly good day. The male Serin again showed up twice at the Obs during the morning, and new arrivals at the Bill included 70 Sand Martins, 5 Grey Herons, 2 Curlew, a Little Egret, a Ringed Plover and a Lesser Whitethroat. Elsewhere on the island, a Dartford Warbler was an unexpected find at Barleycrates Lane. Seawatching at the Bill produced 134 Common Scoter, but only 2 Manx and a Balearic Shearwater


Blackcap - Portland Bill, July 15th 2001 © Martin Cade

  July 15th An unexpectedly productive day, with the highlight a Bee-eater that flew south over the Obs at 10:00am. The male Serin made another couple of brief visits to the Obs garden during the morning, and new arrivals included a few Swifts and Sand Martins passing through, and a Blackcap at the Obs. Off the Bill, there were plenty of Manx Shearwaters about, and the total of 10 sightings of Balearic Shearwaters involved several different individuals; 36 Common Scoter also passed the Bill during the day.  July 14th The return of some decent warm and sunny weather saw the reappearance of the male Serin, which visited the Obs garden pond twice during the morning. The Bill area also produced a few Sand Martins and 2 Chiffchaffs, and there were 15 Common Scoter, 4 Manx and a Balearic Shearwater on the sea there. Wader numbers increased again at Ferrybridge, where there were 86 Dunlin and 4 Sanderling. July 13th The sea continued to provide most of the interest, although there were fewer birds than in recent days. Manx Shearwaters numbered less than 100, and there were also 4 Common Scoter, 2 Sandwich Terns, a Balearic Shearwater and an Arctic Skua off the Bill; the breeding auks have now left their colony at the Bill, although a few Guillemots and the occasional Puffin continue to be seen offshore. A single Chiffchaff at the Obs was again the only noteworthy bird on the land. July 12th Although the wind had abated there was still some movement off the Bill, with day totals of 500 Manx and 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 15 Common Scoter and 2 Arctic Skuas. The only bird of note on the land was a lone Chiffchaff at the Obs. July 11th With the wind having picked up overnight, seawatching was again the order of the day, and the Bill produced 450 Gannets, 200 Manx Shearwaters, 7 Common Scoter,  7 Arctic, a Great and a Pomarine Skua, and a Storm Petrel. Elsewhere there were 66 Dunlin and 2 Sanderling at Ferrybridge. July 10th A blustery and at times wet day, with seawatching at the Bill producing 73 Common Scoter, 40 Manx Shearwaters, and 5 Arctic, 2 Pomarine and a Great Skua. The only birds of note on the land were 3 Sand Martins at the Bill. Dunlin increased to 70 at Ferrybridge, where they were joined by a single Sanderling. July 9th A Serin flew over the Obs garden early in the morning, but most of the other interest was off the Bill, where a Balearic Shearwater lingered for a while later in the morning, and there were also more than 50 Manx Shearwaters, 42 Common Scoter, 3 Shelduck and 2 Pomarine Skuas; 3 Grey Herons also arrived from the south during the course of the day. Waders are starting to build up at Ferrybridge, where there were 45 Dunlin during the evening. July 8th Not too much to report again today. The Bill area produced just a Sand Martin and a Chiffchaff, and seawatching there saw totals of 34 Manx and a Balearic Shearwater, 27 Common Scoter and 3 Arctic Skua logged. July 7th Three Crossbills in flight over Easton were an interesting find in the morning, but the only other new migrants on the land were 4 Sand Martins and a Chiffchaff at the Bill, and an unseasonable Purple Sandpiper on the rocks near the Bill lighthouse. Manx Shearwaters remained conspicuous off the Bill, with more than 300 counted in an hour in the late morning; also there were 9 Common Scoter, 8 Black-headed Gulls and a Sandwich Tern. July 6th The sea again produced most of the birds today, with 180 Manx Shearwaters, 12 Common Scoter, 8 Sandwich Terns and 5 Mallard off the Bill. The male Serin flew over the Obs garden once during the afternoon, and others odds and sods on the land at the Bill included 3 Lapwings, 2 Sand Martins, a Heron, a Redshank and a Curlew. July 5th There was no change in the misty, humid weather, but there were plenty more birds about the island. Seawatching at the Bill produced more than 200 Manx Shearwaters, 56 Black-headed Gulls, 54 Common Scoter, a Yellow-legged Herring Gull, a Mediterranean Gull and a Sandwich Tern. On the land, the Serin reappeared at the Bill, being seen flying over the Obs garden twice during the morning, and there were also 3 Curlews, a Hobby, a Lapwing, a Common Sandpiper and a Whimbrel at the Bill. Last night, 5 Storm Petrels were trapped during a tape-luring session at the Bill. July 4th After a night of violent electric storms, the island was shrouded in fog for much of the day, and the only migrant reported was a Curlew at the Bill.


Storm Petrel - Portland Bill, July 3rd 2001 © Martin Cade

  July 3rd There was no sight or sound of the Greenish Warbler at Weston today, and the Serin at the Bill was seen just a couple of times during the morning. Seven Storm Petrels were trapped at the Bill last night during a tape-luring session between midnight and 03:30, and the only other news is of a few Manx Shearwaters, 30 Common Scoter and an Arctic Skua off the Bill today.


Great Spotted Woodpecker - Wakeham, July 2nd 2001 © Martin Cade

  July 2nd The Greenish Warbler was still present at Weston, although it remained rather elusive for much of the day. The male Serin was also still around, but it too made only brief and erratic visits to the Obs garden in the morning. There was no sign of the Kentish Plover at Ferrybridge, but an unexpected new arrival was a Great Spotted Woodpecker that visited a nut feeder in a garden at Wakeham in the afternoon. July 1st July started in exciting fashion for the second successive year. Bird of the day was a singing male Greenish Warbler that was found early in the morning alongside Weston Road; it proved to be rather mobile and frequently elusive, but showed on and off until the early evening. The male Serin made a couple of appearances beside the Obs early in the day, and late in the evening a female/immature Kentish Plover showed well at Ferrybridge. Elsewhere there was a Curlew at the Bill, and seawatching there produced a few Manx Shearwaters, 15 Common Scoter and an Arctic Skua