December 2002

December 31st A damp, chilly and uneventful end to the year. Eight Short-eared Owls, 8 Purple Sandpipers and a Turnstone were at the Bill along with the 30 Common Scoter that remained offshore. Elsewhere, thrush numbers increased at Avalanche Road, with counts of 12 Redwings and 8 Song Thrushes there today, 2 Goldcrests were at Fancy Beach and 5 Yellowhammers at St Georges Church. Portland Harbour produced the usual scatter of divers and grebes, 3 Eider, 2 Common Scoter and a Sandwich Tern. December 30th Not a bad mid-winter list today in much fairer weather. At least 8 Short-eared Owls continued to show well at the Bill where there was also a Fieldfare. Elsewhere on the land there was a Firecrest, a Goldcrest and a Buzzard in the Grove area, a Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest at Pennsylvania Castle, another Chiffchaff at Weston, 3 Redwings at Avalanche Road and a Black Redstart at Reap Lane. The 30 Common Scoter remained off the Bill, but most of the interest off the shore was in Portland Harbour where there were 100+ Red-breasted Mergansers, 7 Mute Swans (an exceptional count for the island), 5 Great Crested, 1 Red-necked and 1 Black-necked Grebe, 4 Great Northern and 3 Black-throated Divers, 2 Eider, 2 Common Scoter, a Grey Heron and a Little Egret. December 29th Unpleasantly damp and murky weather made birding very difficult, and the only news was of 9 Short-eared Owls and a Snipe at the Bill, a Goldcrest at Southwell and a Black Redstart at Reap Lane.

 

      

     Great Northern Diver - Portland Harbour, December 28th 2002 © Martin Cade

  December 28th Most of the news today came from Portland Harbour where a Black Guillemot was a notable new arrival; also there were 9 Black-necked, 7 Slavonian and 2 Red-necked Grebes, 4 Great Northern and 4 Black-throated Divers, 2 Eider, 2 Common Scoter and a Sandwich Tern. Seven Short-eared Owls were still at the Bill, a Siskin appeared there briefly, 25 Common Scoter and an Eider remained settled offshore, and 4 Brent Geese and 2 Red-throated Divers flew past. December 27th Up to 7 Short-eared Owls were still at the Bill, along with 11 Oystercatchers, 5 Purple Sandpipers and a Turnstone. The wintering Common Scoters and an Eider remained offshore and a lone Red-throated Diver flew past there. Elsewhere the only news was of 3 Black-necked and 3 Slavonian Grebes, 2 Common Scoter, a Great Northern Diver and an Eider in Portland Harbour.

 

          

     Purple Sandpiper - Portland Bill, December 26th 2002 © Martin Cade

  December 26th The combination of poor weather and an excess of seasonal spirits meant there was little incentive to get out birding, and the only news was of a couple of Short-eared Owls at the Bill, 25 Common Scoter offshore there and 2 Common Scoter and a Great Northern Diver in Portland Harbour. After dark, 2 Purple Sandpipers were trapped and ringed at the Bill. December 25th The only news today was of several Short-eared Owls around the Bill area, 25 Common Scoter still offshore there and a single Red-necked Grebe flying past. December 24th Spring-like weather prompted a few more birders into the field but the only noteworthy new discovery was a lone Firecrest at Culverwell. At least 8 Short-eared Owls and a Black Redstart were still at the Bill, 30 Common Scoter remained offshore and 3 Eider flew past. Portland Harbour was conspicuously unproductive, with 3 Eider and 2 Common Scoter the only worthwhile sightings. December 23rd Not much change today, with 9 Short-eared Owls, 2 Black Redstarts and a Redwing around the Bill area, 30 Common Scoter still offshore there and another Black Redstart at Ferrybridge.  December 22nd Still very mild and overcast, but without the fog of the last couple of days. Eleven Short-eared Owls were counted at the Bill and there were still 2 Black Redstarts there. Off the Bill, an Eider continued to consort with the 40 wintering Common Scoter, and 4 Red-throated and a Black-throated Diver passed through. The only other news came from Portland Harbour, where there were 8 Black-necked Grebes, 3 Black-throated and a single Great Northern Diver, an Eider and a Common Scoter. December 21st Another mild but very damp and foggy day. At least 8 Short-eared Owls were spotted in the gloom at the Bill, an Eider remained offshore there, a Sanderling was at Ferrybridge and a Great Northern Diver was the only noteworthy bird to emerge from the fog at Portland Harbour. December 20th Unfortunately the very mild air that arrived overnight was accompanied by low cloud and heavy rain, and birding was restricted to a short dry slot early in the morning. A very mobile Snow Bunting again appeared overhead several times at the Bill but it couldn't be found on the ground. Also there were 26 Song Thrushes, 8 Short-eared Owls, 3 Redwings and a Water Rail. A Firecrest and several Goldcrests were seen at Easton and a lone Black Redstart was again at Reap Lane. December 19th The only news today came from the Bill, where there were 8 Short-eared Owls, 7 Lapwings and 3 Black Redstarts around the area, 30 Common Scoter still lingering offshore and a lone Teal flying past.

 

     

   Little Egret - Southwell, December 18th 2002 © Pete & Debby Saunders

  December 18th A bitter east wind kept most birds hidden and most birders indoors. A Little Egret was an unusual but brief visitor to a garden pond at Southwell, whilst a Water Rail in the Obs garden - presumably a different individual to the bird already wintering at Culverwell - was another unexpected new arrival. Otherwise there were still at least 5 Short-eared Owls, a Purple Sandpiper and a Turnstone at the Bill, and 38 Common Scoter and an Eider remained offshore there. Three Red-throated Divers and a Brent Goose flew past off the Bill and a single Common Scoter was in Portland Harbour. December 17th An uneventful day. The only reports were of 5 Short-eared Owls, 2 Redwings and 2 Fieldfares in the Bill area, and 26 Common Scoter and 2 Red-throated Divers off the Bill itself. December 16th A flighty Snow Bunting overhead a couple of times at the Bill during the morning was a new arrival today. There was otherwise little change anywhere, with 8 Short-eared Owls, 3 Redwings, 2 Black Redstarts and a Lapwing at the Bill, and 4 Long-tailed Tits at Southwell, 2 Black Redstarts at Weston and a Coal Tit at Pennsylvania Castle as the pick of the bunch elsewhere. Off the Bill, the 25 Common Scoter and an Eider remained in residence, and a Red-throated Diver and a Velvet Scoter flew past. December 15th Not a lot to report today, with a chilly wind and persistent light rain making birding less than entertaining. Seven Short-eared Owls remained at the Bill, together with 3 Lapwings, 2 Redwings, 2 Fieldfares and a Water Rail. Seawatching there produced just the 25 lingering Common Scoter and a fly-by Red-throated Diver. Elsewhere there were 3 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Black-throated and a Great Northern Diver, an Eider and a Goldeneye in Portland Harbour, and a single Black Redstart at Reap Lane. December 14th Most of the interest today was on the sea, where a strengthening south-east wind got plenty of auks moving off the Bill: around 1000/hour were passing east throughout the morning. Also off there was a good-sized feeding flock containing 300 Herring Gulls, 200 Kittiwakes and 100 Gannets; the regular party of Common Scoter - with a lone Eider still in occasional attendance - also remained offshore. Nine Short-eared Owls were still at the Bill, along with 6 Fieldfares, 3 Redwings, a Lapwing, a Snipe and a Black Redstart. Three Little Egrets were at Ferrybridge. December 13th Calm conditions permitted the first good look at Portland Harbour for several days which produced totals of 9 Great Crested, 4 Black-necked, 3 Red-necked and 2 Slavonian Grebes, 4 Great Northern and a Black-throated Diver, 3 Eider, a Goldeneye and a Kingfisher. At the Bill, 70 Starlings arrived in off the sea, and there were also 30 Song Thrushes, 9 Short-eared Owls, 2 Lapwings, 2 Redwings, a Water Rail, a Black Redstart and a Siskin around the area; additional single Black Redstarts were at Reap Lane and Weston. Off the Bill itself, 4 Eiders were again with the wintering Common Scoters and a lone Red-throated Diver flew past. 

 

          

     Fieldfare - Southwell, December 12th 2002 © Pete & Debby Saunders

  December 12th Quieter, milder weather arrived overnight, although the first couple of hours of the morning were spoilt by some passing heavy showers. An obvious legacy of the cold snap were the total of nearly 70 Song Thrushes scattered around the Bill area, with other left-overs there including 25 Lapwings, 14 Redwings, 2 Golden Plovers, 2 Snipe, a Jack Snipe and a Fieldfare; at least 8 Short-eared Owls were also still in the area. The Common Scoter flock off the Bill continued to attract a few passers-by, with 3 Eider and a Goldeneye settled with them during the morning; a Red-throated Diver and a Grey Plover also flew past there. December 11th It remained heavily overcast and very windy but the temperature had distinctly crept up a few degrees and the short cold spell looked to be on the way out. The Bill area produced more than 30 Song Thrushes, 10 Redwings, 9 Lapwings, 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Fieldfares and a Snipe, and there was a single Black Redstart at Reap Lane. The Common Scoter flock off the Bill attracted 3 Velvet Scoters and 3 Eider, but the only birds of note passing through on the sea were a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Red-throated Diver. December 10th Despite it remaining very cold and windy there were fewer birds about today. The Bill area still held plenty of Song Thrushes, 19 Lapwings, 10 Redwings and 3 Fieldfares, as well as the 9 Short-eared Owls and a Black Redstart. A Curlew was grounded at Reap Lane and there was another Black Redstart there. At sea, 4 Eider joined the lingering Common Scoter flock off the Bill, and 50 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 25 Black-headed Gulls, a Red-throated Diver, a Wigeon, a Gadwall and a Tufted Duck passed through there.

 

                

     Ring Ouzel - Southwell, December 9th 2002 © Pete & Debby Saunders

  December 9th With the weather remaining pretty bitter - and made worse today by a strong easterly wind - there were the first signs of cold-weather movement. A surprise new arrival was a Hawfinch seen briefly early in the morning at Southwell; the Ring Ouzel also reappeared in a private garden there. Song Thrushes numbered up to 50 around the southern half of the island, and 30 Lapwings, 25 Redwings, 4 Snipe, 3 Fieldfares, 2 Golden Plovers and a Woodcock were new arrivals at the Bill; a Chiffchaff was also freshly arrived at Avalanche Road. At least 9 Short-eared Owls, 8 Purple Sandpipers and a Black Redstart remained at the Bill. Off the Bill itself, more than 500 Lesser Black-backed Gulls passed through, along with 50 Black-headed Gulls, 12 Teal, 9 Brent Geese, 2 Curlews, a Yellow-legged Gull and a Little Gull; a Slavonian Grebe also lingered offshore there. December 8th With each day getting colder and more miserably grey and damp there are few incentives to spend long in the field. The majority of reports came from the Bill where a Little Auk and a Red-throated Diver passed through on the sea, and the land produced 7 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Redwings, a Snipe, a Black Redstart and a Fieldfare. Elsewhere, there were 2 Chiffchaffs at Weston and 2 Mediterranean Gulls and a Black-throated Diver at Ferrybridge. December 7th A very gloomy, cold day with the only noteworthy new arrivals being 4 Lapwings and a Mistle Thrush at the Bill; long-stayers there included at least 4 Short-eared Owls, 2 Purple Sandpipers and 2 Black Redstarts, as well as the flock of 30 Common Scoter offshore. The only other reports were of a Woodcock and a Firecrest at Verne Common, and a Black-throated Diver and a Sandwich Tern still at Ferrybridge.

 

        

     Short-eared Owl - Portland Bill, December 6th 2002 © Martin Cade

 

December 6th Highlight today was a Ring Ouzel - thought to be the same bird that was seen last week - that spent much of the day in a private garden in Southwell. Under heavily overcast skies there was another flurry of late migrants at the Bill, where 40 Blackbirds, 30 Redwings, 12 Fieldfares and 2 Lapwings passed through; at least 6 Short-eared Owls were also still there. Elsewhere, a Black Redstart was again at Reap Lane. Offshore, more than 500 auks flew east past the Bill.
December 5th The arrival of a much chillier northerly airflow was the cue for some more late passage today. Typically, thrushes and finches dominated, with 40 Redwings and 20 Fieldfares over Weston, and 50 Chaffinches, 25 Redwings, 7 Siskins, 4 Bullfinches, 3 Fieldfares and 2 Bramblings at the Bill; rather more unexpected was a late pulse of Swallows, with 3 at the Bill and 2 at Ferrybridge. Six Short-eared Owls were still at the Bill, where 3 Red-throated Divers and a Little Gull also passed through on the sea.
December 4th A Marsh Harrier passing through at the Bill was bird of the day, although it was otherwise a bit of a struggle with just a late Swallow, 4 Short-eared Owls and 2 Fieldfares at the Bill, and 2 Black Redstarts and a Goldcrest at Church Ope Cove. Seawatching produced the lingering flock of Common Scoter off the Bill and 3 Red-throated Divers flying west past there.
December 3rd The arrival of quieter weather produced a minor flurry of sightings. Three Siskins, a Goldcrest and a Bullfinch were new arrivals at the Bill, where there were still at least 2 Short-eared Owls and a Water Rail about the area; 40 Common Scoter remained offshore there, and 2 Red-throated and Great Northern Diver passed by. Two Black-throated and 2 Great Northern Divers were in Portland Harbour along with a Mute Swan and a Common Scoter, and 7 Little Egrets were at Ferrybridge.
December 2nd A blast of strong north-westerly winds kept most birders indoors today, and the only news was of 5 Short-eared Owls patrolling the Bill area late in the afternoon and at least 25 Common Scoter still offshore there, 2 Black Redstarts at Reap Lane and 2 Slavonian Grebes in Portland Harbour.
December 1st A very slow start to the new month. The only reports were of a lone Black Redstart at Weston, and 7 Wigeon and 4 Red-throated Divers passing through off the Bill. 
November 30th Meagre reward today in damp, dreary weather. Odds and sods at the Bill included 50 Starlings, 20 Goldfinches, 15 Siskins and 10 Chaffinches passing through, and 12 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Short-eared Owls, a Redwing, a Black Redstart and a Bullfinch around the area. Two Red-throated Divers passed by offshore and 2 Black-throated Divers were in Portland Harbour.
November 29th  A mild, sunny day that produced another small flurry of late migrants. A Serin over the Obs was the highlight, but there were also another 50 Goldfinches, 25 Chaffinches, 2 Siskins and a Redpoll on the move to the south over the Bill. On the ground there were 2 Short-eared Owls, a Water Rail, a Blackcap and a Bullfinch at the Bill, 3 Black Redstarts at Reap Lane and another 2 at Church Ope Cove, and the Coal Tit still at Wakeham. A Red-throated Diver passed through off the Bill, a Black-throated Diver was at Ferrybridge and a Sandwich Tern again commuted between Ferrybridge and Portland Harbour.
November 28th A tardy Swallow battled south through the wind and rain at the Bill today, but the land otherwise produced just 3 Short-eared Owls and 3 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill, 2 Black Redstarts at Reap Lane and a Merlin over Southwell. The Common Scoter flock off the Bill increased to 80 and another Great Skua lingered off there.
November 27th The return of wind and rain saw all vestiges of late movement on the land grind to a halt, with the only birds of any note being a couple of grounded Redwings and a Short-eared Owl at the Bill, 3 Goldcrests and 2 Siskins at Wakeham and a Black Redstart at Reap Lane. A disappointingly quiet seawatch at the Bill produced just a single Great Skua and the 70 resident Common Scoter
November 26th After the flurry of interest yesterday, today was a good deal quieter but still produced more than would be expected in late November. At least 100 Goldfinches, along with a few Chaffinches, 3 Reed Buntings and a Siskin, left to the south from the Bill, but the only birds of note on the land there were a Purple Sandpiper, a Turnstone, a Black Redstart and a Chiffchaff. Elsewhere round the island, there were 7 Redwings and 2 Fieldfares at Avalanche Road, 2 Water Rails at Verne Common, 2 Black Redstarts at Reap Lane, single Chiffchaffs at the Grove and Avalanche Road, and a Blackcap at Pennsylvania Castle. Fifty Common Scoter remained off the Bill, 9 Red-throated Divers passed by there and a single Great Northern Diver was at Portland Harbour. 

 

      

     Ring Ouzel and Blackcap - Southwell and Portland Bill, November 25th 2002 © Martin Cade

 

November 25th A much calmer day that produced an unexpected highlight in the form of a very late Ring Ouzel at Avalanche Road, Southwell. Nearby, a Treecreeper visited a private garden at Bown Hill, Southwell, and 2 Swallows were also over the village. New arrivals at the Bill included 8 Siskins, 3 Redwings, 3 Blackcaps, a Fieldfare, a Chiffchaff and a Reed Bunting, whilst 2 of the long-staying Short-eared Owls were also still there. Two Black Redstarts were at Blacknor, and another at Church Ope Cove, a Coal Tit and a Firecrest were at Wakeham, a Blackcap and a Bullfinch were seen at Easton Fire Station and 3 Goldcrests and a Blackcap were at Pennsylvania Castle. Seawatching at the Bill produced just 4 Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver.
November 24th With the day being punctuated by fewer heavy showers than most recent day, there was just the hint of a few late migrants getting on the move again. At the Bill, 350 Goldfinches, 50 Chaffinches, 40 Starlings and 2 Siskins passed through, and 3 Short-eared Owls, 3 Redwings and 3 Black Redstarts were present around the area. Elsewhere, 2 more Black Redstarts were at Reap Lane and the Coal Tit was still present at Wakeham. Off the Bill, 50 Common Scoter were still present and 4 Red-throated Divers, 2 Brent Geese and a Red-breasted Merganser passed by.
November 23rd Stragglers at the Bill included a dozen Redwings, a Black Redstart and a Chiffchaff, with 100 Goldfinches also leaving to the south from there; elsewhere, there was a Blackcap at Avalanche Road and a few Goldcrests at Pennsylvania Castle. Two Black-throated and a Red-throated Diver, as well as 2 Velvet Scoter, passed through off the Bill where the flock of 70 Common Scoter remained offshore. Two Great Northern Divers and 2 Common Scoter were in Portland Harbour and a Sandwich Tern was at Ferrybridge.
November 22nd Another day of heavy showers blown in on a stiff south-westerly wind. Odds and sods on the land included 10 Purple Sandpipers, a Water Rail, a Short-eared Owl and a Chiffchaff at the Bill, and a Merlin and a Black Redstart at Reap Lane. Kittiwakes were still passing the Bill in good numbers, but there was otherwise just a single unidentified Diver and the resident flock of Common Scoter off there. A single Sandwich Tern was again in Portland Harbour.
November 21st In between heavy, blustery showers there were still a few birds to be seen on the land, with 15 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Redwings, 3 Black Redstarts and a Chiffchaff at the Bill, and 2 Blackcaps, a Goldcrest and a Brambling at Southwell. The rarest migrant was a Moorhen that unfortunately killed itself after flying into a window in the Portland Port complex. Seawatching at the Bill produced more than 1000 Kittiwakes, 6 Black-headed Gulls, a Great Skua, a Mediterranean Gull and Little Gull, whilst there was a Bar-tailed Godwit at Ferrybridge and a Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour,
November 20th Given suitable weather conditions late migrants continue to trickle through, with today proving no exception. Despite limited coverage the Bill area produced 26 Redwings, 20 Blackbirds, 10 Song Thrushes, 3 Black Redstarts, 2 Fieldfares, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap. The Common Scoter flock offshore again numbered more than 70, with 6 Wigeon, 2 Red-throated Divers and a Black-throated Diver passing by there.

 

      

     Mediterranean Gull and Little Auk - Ferrybridge, November 19th 2002 © Martin Cade

 

November 19th A freshening south-east wind put paid to any meaningful birding on the land, where the only reports were of a couple of Redwings and a Chiffchaff at the Bill and a few Goldcrests at Pennsylvania Castle. Seawatching at the Bill produced just 5 Little Gulls, a Curlew and the resident flock of Common Scoter. A 'wrecked' Little Auk showed well at Ferrybridge, where there were also 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Sandwich Terns and a Little Egret. Click here for news of another exciting new arrival today! 
November 18th The Red-breasted Flycatcher remained at Pennsylvania Castle but new arrivals were thin on the ground. The Bill area produced small numbers of thrushes and finches, 5 Black Redstarts, 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Reed Buntings, a Woodcock and a Firecrest, whilst elsewhere there were 5 Black Redstarts at Weston, single Firecrests at Pennsylvania Castle and Penn's Weare, and a Coal Tit at Wakeham. The settled flock of 70 Common Scoter remained off the Bill and 5 Red-throated Divers, 4 Sanderling and a Little Gull passed by there. Three Black-necked and a Red-necked Grebe, along with single Red-throated and Black-throated Divers were in Portland Harbour.

 

      

     Red-breasted Flycatcher - Pennsylvania Castle, November 17th 2002 © Martin Cade

 

November 17th A male Red-breasted Flycatcher that showed well at Pennsylvania Castle was the surprise highlight today. Late common migrants continued to show up, with plenty more thrushes and finches passing through at the Bill, where there were also 6 Black Redstarts, 3 Blackcaps, a Short-eared Owl, a Chiffchaff  and a Goldcrest; elsewhere, there were 2 Coal Tits at Pennsylvania Castle. Off the Bill, 19 Red-throated Divers and 9 Velvet Scoters passed through, whilst at least 2 Little Auks lingered close inshore at times during the morning. Five of the Velvet Scoters seen off the Bill were later in Portland Harbour, where there also single Black-throated and Great Northern Divers and a Sandwich Tern.
November 16th A hint of east in the wind certainly perked things up today, with a good flurry of common migrants at the Bill and one or two oddities elsewhere on the island. A Serin was heard but no seen at Weston early in the morning, and later in the day a Hen Harrier flew over there; elsewhere, a Dartford Warbler was at Suckthumb Quarry and a Coal Tit was again at Wakeham. There was a good northward movement of thrushes at the Bill, with counts of 100 Blackbirds, 90 Redwings, 60 Song Thrushes and 10 Fieldfares, also on the move there were 130 Starlings, 50 Chaffinches, 10 Redpolls, 6 Reed Buntings, 5 Siskins, 2 House Martins, a Lapwing, a Swallow and a Brambling, whilst 7 Black Redstarts, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Goldcrests, a Snipe and a Short-eared Owl were also in the area. At least 50 Common Scoter remained offshore and were joined by 5 Eider for part of the day.

 

       

     Starling - Portland Bill, November 15th 2002 © Martin Cade

 

November 15th Despite an improvement in the weather there was nothing other than a very routine selection of late migrants on the island. Overhead passage at the Bill included 275 Goldfinches leaving to the south and 400 Starlings arriving from the east, whilst the only grounded migrants of note there were 3 Short-eared Owls, 2 Black Redstarts and 2 Redwings. Elsewhere, there was another Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove, a Sandwich Tern at Ferrybridge and 3 Great Northern Divers and a Red-necked Grebe in Portland Harbour.
November 14th A poor day all round, with little seen on the land or sea. Ten Little Gulls and and single Arctic  and Great Skuas lingered in Chesil Cove, and up to 70 Common Scoter lingered off the Bill. In very windy conditions the land produced nothing more than 2 Black Redstarts at both Weston and Reap Lane, and 3 Siskins, 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Redwings and a Bullfinch at the Bill.
November 13th With the daylight hours providing a window of fair weather between spells of heavy rain before dawn and after dark, there was some hope of a few birds being found. In the event little of note was found on the land and there was only a rather limited passage of late migrants overhead. Counts of visible passage at the Bill included 300 Goldfinches, 175 Linnets, 100 Greenfinches, 50 Chaffinches, 8 Siskins, 7 Stock Doves, 3 Swallows and 3 Redpolls, whilst the only grounded migrants of note there were 4 Redwings, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Black Redstart. Off the Bill, there was large feeding flock of Gannets and Kittiwakes, but the only birds on the move were a Red-throated Diver and a Brent Goose. Elsewhere, the only reports were of 2 Little Gulls and a Little Auk in Chesil Cove.
November 12th A morning of wind and rain saw a few more birds moving on the sea, with 1000 Kittiwakes, 29 Common Scoter (in addition to the 70 settled birds already present), 4 Great and an Arctic Skua, a Red-throated Diver, a Tufted Duck and a Little Gull passing the Bill. Despite the grim conditions more than 1000 Starlings arrived in off the sea, but the only sightings of note on the land were of 2 Redwings and a Woodcock at the Bill and 2 Black Redstarts at Reap Lane.
November 11th Bright and breezy westerly weather got a few migrants on the move overhead but there was still little around on the land. Counts of visible passage at the Bill included 725 Starlings, 700 Goldfinches, 170 Chaffinches, 140 Linnets, 75 Greenfinches, 55 Stock Doves, 17 Skylarks and 7 Swallows, but the only new arrivals of note on the ground there were a couple of Goldcrests that joined the lingering Firecrest in the Obs garden. Elsewhere there were 3 Black Redstarts at Church Ope Cove, a Black Redstart and a Merlin at Reap Lane and a Blackcap at Wakeham. The highlight on the sea was a Little Auk in Chesil Cove during the afternoon, with the Bill producing nothing better than 18 Brent Geese and the settled flock of 55 Common Scoter. Two Black-throated Divers were in Portland Harbour and a lone Wigeon was at Ferrybridge.
November 10th After a night of continuous heavy rain there were precious few new arrivals on the land but quite a bit of interest on the sea. More than 1500 Kittiwakes passed west off the Bill, with other day-totals there of 67 Little Gulls, 50 Common Scoter, 10 Brent Geese, 7 Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Fulmars, 4 Dunlin, 4 Turnstones, 2 Arctic and 2 Great Skuas, 1 Black-throated Diver, 1 Sooty Shearwater, 1 Wigeon, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Greenshank and 1 Little Auk. In comparison the land was very quiet, with just 30 Redwings, 20 Swallows, 7 Fieldfares, 2 Black Redstarts, a Blackcap, a Goldcrest and a Firecrest at the Bill, and a brief appearance by a Serin - probably the bird seen earlier in the week at the Bill - at Southwell.
November 9th The calmest day for a while produced a good variety of migrants although numbers remained on the low side. Among the sprinkle of commoner thrushes and finches at the Bill there were also 26 Swallows, 9 Long-tailed Tits, 6 Purple Sandpipers, 6 Bullfinches, 3 Short-eared Owls, 3 Black Redstarts, a Grey Heron and a Firecrest; similar variety elsewhere included another 8 Black Redstarts around the centre of the island and a very late Willow Warbler at Southwell.. Despite the lack of wind there was a steady passage of Kittiwakes past the Bill, along with 13 Little Gulls, 2 Great Northern and a Red-throated Diver, 2 Arctic Skuas, a Balearic Shearwater, a Brent Goose and a Red-breasted Merganser. Portland Harbour is beginning to produce some typical winter fare, with totals there today of 12 Razorbills, 4 Great Northern and 2 Black-throated Divers, 2 Great Crested, 1 Red-necked and 1 Black-necked Grebe, a Mute Swan and another late Sandwich Tern.
November 8th Heavy rain and strong winds put the block on any serious birding, and the only new arrival of any note was a lone Pale-bellied Brent Goose amongst the Brent Geese at Ferrybridge. The Yellow-browed Warbler was seen briefly early in the morning at Southwell but there was no sign of the Bluethroat at Church Ope Cove. Odds and sods that did manage to surface around the island included 3 Black Redstarts at both Church Ope Cove and Reap Lane, and 2 Redwings, 2 Firecrests, a Swallow, a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff at the Bill. The sea produced nothing more than the 50 lingering Common Scoter off the Bill.

 

       

    Bluethroat - Church Ope Cove, November 7th 2002 © Martin Cade

 

November 7th Interest was maintained today with the discovery of a Bluethroat on the beach at Church Ope Cove; the Yellow-browed Warbler was also still present in private gardens at Southwell. The majority of new arrivals were otherwise overflying migrants, with counts at the Bill including 380 Wood Pigeons, 200 Stock Doves, 150 Goldfinches, 100 Chaffinches, 13 Swallows, 10 Siskins, a Golden Plover, a Dunlin, a Snipe and a Bearded Tit. New arrivals were sparser on the ground, although there were still 4 Black Redstarts, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Firecrests, a Short-eared Owl and a Chiffchaff at the Bill, a Coal Tit at Wakeham and a sprinkle of Black Redstarts, Chiffchaffs and crests dotted around the centre of the island. Small numbers of Common Gulls and a single Little Gull trickled west past the Bill and there were 3 Sandwich Terns in Portland Harbour.

 

       

    Yellow-browed Warbler - Southwell, November 6th 2002 © Pete and Debby Saunders

 

November 6th A Yellow-browed Warbler in a private garden at Southwell was an unexpected new arrival today, but it otherwise remained rather quiet everywhere. The Bill area produced 60 Redwings, 8 Swallows, 4 Siskins, 2 Fieldfares, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Firecrests and a Short-eared Owl, whilst a similar range of species elsewhere also included the late Willow Warbler still present at Pennsylvania Castle.
November 5th Just a light sprinkle of common migrants today. Among the small numbers of thrushes and finches at the Bill, there were also 6 Purple Sandpipers, 5 Chiffchaffs, 4 Black Redstarts, 4 Goldcrests, 2 Lapwings, 2 Swallows, 2 Blackcaps and 2 Firecrests; overhead passage consisted of little more than 84 Stock Doves moving south. Elsewhere there were 4 Black Redstarts at Reap Lane and a Coal Tit at Wakeham. Seawatching at the Bill produced just a Black-throated Diver and 50 settled Common Scoter.

 

           

      Long-tailed Tit - Portland Bill, November 4th 2002 © Martin Cade

 

November 4th In much improved weather conditions there were a few more birds to see, although grounded migrants remained pretty sparse. The majority of movement at the Bill was of southerly passage overhead, with counts including 250 Goldfinches, 200 Linnets, 50 Skylarks, 24 Siskins, 19 Swallows, 10 Reed Buntings, 6 House Martins and 4 Bullfinches. On the ground there, 15 Long-tailed Tits were new arrivals, at least 6 Short-eared Owls and 3 Firecrests  were still present and the Serin appeared once during the afternoon. Elsewhere, there were 18 Black Redstarts scattered around the centre of the island, 2 Sandwich Terns at Ferrybridge, a Mistle Thrush and a Coal Tit at Wakeham and several Firecrests at Southwell and Wakeham.
November 3rd The wind remained strong all day although any rain was restricted to occasional heavy showers. New grounded migrants were thin on the ground, but Goldfinches in particular were on the move overhead in good numbers, with more than 1000 leaving to the south from the Bill. Sheltered places still held a few Chiffchaffs and crests, the Willow Warbler remained at Pennsylvania Castle, a Serin, presumably the bird seen twice in recent days, appeared again briefly at the Bill and 3 Short-eared Owls were still there. Late migrants included 12 Swallows and 3 House Martins at the Bill and a Sandwich Tern at Ferrybridge. Two Black-throated Divers and a Red-necked Grebe were again in Portland Harbour.

 

               

      Short-eared Owl - Portland Bill, November 2nd 2002 © James Lees

 

November 2nd Another day of dismal wet and windy weather. A few new thrushes and finches were in evidence at the Bill, where there were also 11 Short-eared Owls (one of which was trapped and ringed), 3 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Black Redstarts and a Firecrest. Elsewhere there were 5 Black Redstarts at Reap Lane, 2 Firecrests at Avalanche Road and 10 Goldcrests, 4 Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackcaps and the lingering late Willow Warbler at Pennsylvania Castle.
November 1st A pretty miserable start to the new month, with strong wind and heavy rain spoiling any birding on the land. A few thrushes and finches trickled through, a late Wheatear was at Ferrybridge and a flurry of new Goldcrests joined the few left-over Firecrests remaining in sheltered spots at the Bill and Southwell; a brief Serin at the Bill in the morning was the only noteworthy rarity on the land. In between the showers, seawatching at the Bill produced 42 Common Scoter, 3 Little Gulls, 2 Brent Geese, 2 Pomarine, an Arctic and a Great Skua, a Sooty and a Manx Shearwater, a Wigeon and a Tufted Duck.
October 31st Another very gloomy, damp day that saw thrushes and finches trickling through all the time. At the Bill, 250 Chaffinches, 150 Goldfinches, 75 Redwings, 75 Song Thrushes, 60 Blackbirds and 60 Fieldfares passed through during the day; also there were 5 Short-eared Owls, 5 Chiffchaffs, 4 Lapwings, 3 Firecrests, 2 Black Redstarts, a Golden Plover, a Snipe and a Curlew, as well as small numbers of other finches. At least 6 more Black Redstarts and 3 more Firecrests were seen around the centre of the island. Poor visibility hampered seawatching, but a Black-throated Diver and a Red-necked Grebe passed by off the Bill.
October 30th After a damp, misty night with thrushes overhead in good numbers, the day itself was disappointingly quiet. A handful of Song Thrushes and Blackbirds were in evidence, but otherwise the only new arrivals among the commoner migrants were a few Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and finches. There were still 4 Firecrests at the Obs, with another 6 scattered around the centre of the island; 5 Black Redstarts were at the Bill and Southwell, Short-eared Owls increased to 4 at the Bill and the late Willow Warbler and a Treecreeper were at Pennsylvania Castle. The only rarity seen was a Serin that settled briefly in the Obs garden before flying off north early in the morning. Seawatching at the Bill produced a Great Northern Diver and a Little Gull, as well as 33 settled Common Scoter.

 

               

      'eastern' Chiffchaff - Portland Bill, October 29th 2002 © Martin Cade

 

October 29th There was a small arrival of new migrants today, including an 'eastern' Chiffchaff and 7 Firecrests trapped and ringed at the Obs. The Bill area also produced a few thrushes, a Black Redstart, a late Whinchat and a little overhead passage including 300 Linnets and 200 Goldfinches leaving to the south. It was surprisingly quiet elsewhere, with just 6 Firecrests dotted around the centre of the island. Off the Bill, there was a steady westward passage of more than 500 Kittiwakes, as well as 35 Common Scoter, 3 Little Gulls, 2 Arctic Skuas, a Great Northern Diver and a Sooty Shearwater. Two Black-throated Divers remained in Portland Harbour, where there was also a single Red-necked Grebe.

 

               

      Short-eared Owl - Portland Bill, October 28th 2002 © Martin Cade

 

October 28th In quieter weather there were a few birds about on the land and some steady passage overhead. At the Bill, there were counts of 1000 Linnets, 300 Goldfinches, 150 Greenfinches, 100 Chaffinches, 70 Wood Pigeons and 50 Siskins leaving to the south; a lone Woodlark also passed through along with small numbers of Skylarks. On the ground, the Pennsylvania Castle/East Weares area produced small numbers of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and crests, together with a Coal Tit and a late Willow Warbler, but the only noteworthy birds elsewhere were 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Black Redstarts, a Merlin and a Firecrest at the Bill and a Mistle Thrush at Avalanche Road. Two Sandwich Terns passed the Bill and 2 Black-throated Divers were in Portland Harbour.
October 27th The stormy weather intensified and seawatching was the only the only birding possible today. Chesil Cove produced most of the birds, with small numbers of Storm Petrels and Little Gulls noted throughout the day, a couple of Grey Phalaropes passing through and a Mediterranean Gull lingering. Elsewhere the only reports were of a single Storm Petrel past the Bill and an Arctic Tern in Portland Harbour.
October 26th After another very stormy night there were few new grounded migrants in evidence anywhere, with sheltered spots around the island holding just a handful of Chiffchaffs and crests; a lone Merlin was still at the Bill, a Black Redstart was at Southwell and the late Lesser Whitethroat was still at Wakeham. Despite the strong winds, finches were again on the move overhead, with counts of 600 Goldfinches and 300 Linnets leaving to the south at the Bill; an unidentified harrier also left to the south from there. The only bird of interest on the sea was a single Little Gull lingering in Chesil Cove.

 

        

      Corncrake - Portland Bill, October 25th 2002 © Martin Cade

 

October 25th Most unexpectedly the Corncrake seen briefly in a private garden at Southwell yesterday was rediscovered, seemingly trapped inside a high-walled neighbouring garden, during the morning; it was caught and successfully released at the Bill. In very strong south-westerly winds no common migrants of note were seen on the land and overhead passage had reduced to a trickle. At the Bill, seawatching produced 4 Little Gulls, 3 Sooty Shearwaters, a Great Skua and a Sandwich Tern, whilst another Little Gull lingered in Chesil Cove.

 

                     

               

      Hen Harrier - Portland Bill, October 24th 2002 © Martin Cade

 

October 24th The Snow Bunting was still at the Bill early in the morning and was later refound on the West Cliffs at Southwell in the evening. A Hen Harrier lingered for much of the morning at the Bill and a Corncrake was seen in a private garden at Southwell. In improved weather conditions commoner migrants were well represented everywhere, with plenty of visible passage overhead and better numbers of grounded migrants than in recent days; scarcer species included 10 Bramblings, 8 Redpolls, 3 Firecrests, 2 Short-eared Owls, a Merlin and a Black Redstart at the Bill, 3 Ring Ouzels at Verne Common, 3 Black Redstarts at Southwell, 2 Firecrests at Weston and a Woodlark overhead at Easton.

 

        

      Snow Bunting - Portland Bill, October 23rd 2002 © Martin Cade

 

October 23rd A Snow Bunting found at the Bill in the evening was the best of the few new arrivals today. Other newcomers included 3 Firecrests at Pennsylvania Castle and another lone bird at the Obs, 2 Ring Ouzels at both Avalanche Road and Penn's Weare, 2 Coal Tits at Pennsylvania Castle and a Dartford Warbler at Avalanche Road. In very windy weather the only commoner grounded migrants of note were a few Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests in sheltered areas around Easton and Wakeham. Visible passage was very conspicuous with alba wagtails, Linnets, Goldfinches and Chaffinches leaving from the Bill in numbers all morning; also overhead were the first few passage Wood Pigeons of the autumn. Seawatching at the Bill produced a Balearic Shearwater and a Little Gull.
October 22nd The pitiful total of just 3 new birds trapped and ringed at the Obs was a sad but accurate reflection of the dismal numbers of common migrants everywhere today. A few thrushes struggled through the poor weather to make landfall, but otherwise there were just ones and twos of the other common migrants. Scarcer species included a couple of Merlins, a Hobby, a Black Redstart and a Yellowhammer at the Bill, and single Firecrests at Pennsylvania Castle and the Grove. Seawatching at the Bill produced just a Red-throated Diver, a Manx Shearwater and a Mediterranean Gull, whilst 7 Little Gulls and a Mediterranean Gull lingered in Chesil Cove through the morning.
October 21st Something of nothing today, with promising-looking conditions on the land and sea but, in the event, little to show for plenty of effort. Thrushes were fairly conspicuous everywhere, and included more than 100 Blackbirds scattered around the southern half of the island and 3 Ring Ouzels at Suckthumb Quarry. Grounded migrants were otherwise thin on the ground, with warblers and crests particularly scarce; the only oddities were 2 Black Redstarts at the Bill and another at Reap Lane, a Woodcock at Avalanche Road and a Coal Tit at Wakeham. The wintering flock of Brent Geese at Ferrybridge increased to 200, and there was also a Mediterranean Gull and the first 5 settled Red-breasted Mergansers of the autumn there. Seawatching at the Bill produced just 30 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Great Skua and a Little Gull
October 20th A complete change today to very strong south-easterlies and occasional showers. The sea provided most of the interest, with Little Gulls conspicuous off the Bill all day; it was thought that more than 50 passed through, although counting was made tricky by the presence of many lingering individuals. Eight Wigeon, 3 Tufted Ducks, a Sooty Shearwater, a Teal and a Sandwich Tern also passed through there. Observations on the land were hampered by the weather, although a few thrushes and finches were still on the move overhead, and a Merlin and a Firecrest were at the Bill.
October 19th Another crisp, moonlit night saw to it that common migrants remained sparsely spread and even overhead passage was disappointingly quieter than expected. Among the few grounded migrants at the Bill there were 5 Short-eared Owls, a Woodcock and a Bullfinch, whilst elsewhere there were 2 Ring Ouzels at both Priory Corner and Tout Quarry, a Black Redstart at Reap Lane and a Coal Tit at Reforne. The best of the fly-overs was a lone Woodlark at the Bill. Four Little Gulls lingered offshore at the Bill, where seawatching also produced 45 Common Scoter, 5 Brent Geese, a Red-throated Diver and a Red-necked Grebe. A Little Gull and a Mediterranean Gull were settled at Ferrybridge in the morning.
October 18th After a clear, cold night migrants were pretty thin on the ground. There was a scatter of thrushes, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests everywhere, whilst oddities included 8 Ring Ouzels at Suckthumb Quarry and another 3 elsewhere, 3 Short-eared Owls at the Bill and a Firecrest at the Obs. Good numbers of hirundines and finches, including a late Sand Martin at Weston and a few Bramblings and Siskins at the Bill, were on the move overhead, but seawatching at the Bill produced just 2 Little Gulls and a Teal.

 

         

      Firecrest - Southwell, October 17th 2002 © Pete and Debby Saunders

 

October 17th A new arrival today was a Yellow-browed Warbler seen briefly at the Obs early in the morning; what was perhaps the same individual was then refound behind the Mermaid Inn at Wakeham later in the morning. Common migrants were again present in good numbers at the Bill, where counts included 100 Song Thrushes, 50 Redwings, 50 Blackbirds, 30 Blackcaps, 30 Chiffchaffs, 16 Golden Plovers, 15 Wheatears and 10 Goldcrests, as well as scarcer species such as 8 Bramblings, 4 Ring Ouzels, 3 Short-eared Owls, a Merlin and a Firecrest. Elsewhere, there were another 10 Ring Ouzels dotted around the island, 9 Long-tailed Tits and a Firecrest at Southwell, a Buzzard at Reap Lane, a Mistle Thrush at Delhi Lane and a late Spotted Flycatcher at Penn's Weare. 
October 16th The wind and rain of yesterday was replaced by the first really chilly easterly blast of the autumn. Thrushes and finches trickled in off the sea all day, with counts at the Bill of 1000 Linnets, 500 Chaffinches, 75 Song Thrushes, 45 Redwings, 30 Siskins and 6 Ring Ouzels. Grounded migrants were only sparsely spread, with the best being a couple of Firecrests, a Short-eared Owl and a Merlin at the Bill, 2 more Firecrests at Wakeham, 3 Ring Ouzels at Barleycrates Lane and another at Suckthumb Quarry and a Black Redstart at Reap Lane. There was little in the way of seabirds passing the Bill, although Black-headed Gulls (as well as 3 Little Gulls and a lone Mediterranean Gull) trickled east all day and 3 Red-necked Grebes passed west.
October 15th After a days respite, wind and rain swept back in overnight and, for the most part, seawatching was the only birding possible. Off the Bill, there was a pulse of action for an hour before midday as the heaviest rain cleared though, when 14 Great Skuas, 24 Little Gulls, 3 Sooty Shearwaters, a Manx Shearwater and an Arctic Skua passed by, however there was little else seen during the rest of the day. The only storm-driven birds elsewhere were 25 Little Gulls and an Arctic Tern at Ferrybridge. Little birding was possible on the land, although 3 Ring Ouzels, 2 Redwings, 2 Firecrests and a Snipe were found in sheltered spots at the Bill.

 

       

      Wryneck - Southwell, October 14th 2002 © Pete and Debby Saunders

 

October 14th In quieter weather, the best of the new arrivals today were a Wryneck at Southwell and a Coal Tit at Wakeham. There were still 5 Ring Ouzels around the southern half of the island and 3 Firecrests at the Obs, whilst the 2 long-staying Short-eared Owls around the Bill were joined by 2 new individuals in the evening. Commoner migrants were only present in relatively small numbers everywhere, with the most interesting being a late Whitethroat at Reap Lane and a late Spotted Flycatcher at Wakeham. Seawatching at the Bill produced just a lone Arctic Skua.
October 13th An almost unbirdable day of gale-force south-easterlies and dawn till dusk rain. A couple of Firecrests were still at the Obs, 2 Ring Ouzels were at Avalanche Road and a Merlin and a Black Redstart were seen at the Bill.

 

        

      Siskin - Portland Bill, October 12th 2002 © Martin Cade

 

October 12th A night of heavy rain that heralded a change to clear, blustery north-westerly weather put paid to any hope of another sizeable flurry of migrants. However, there were still birds to see, with the Yellow-browed Warbler remaining at Reap Lane, at least 15 Ring Ouzels still scattered around the sheltered east side of the island, at least 5 Firecrests still at the Obs and 3 Short-eared Owls at the Bill. New arrivals included a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Wakeham, a Black Redstart at Southwell and fair numbers of finches passing through everywhere. Waders at Ferrybridge included 134 Ringed Plovers, 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Grey Plover and a Redshank.
October 11th Lots more movement through and a few more birds grounded today. The Yellow-browed Warbler remained at Reap Lane and a new arrival was a Stone Curlew that was heard calling over Southwell before dawn and subsequently showed several times around Top Fields early in the morning. Thrushes were still on the move in good numbers, and included around 20 Ring Ouzels scattered about the area, whilst Firecrests were also conspicuous, with at least 6 at the Obs alone. The 2 long-staying Short-eared Owls were again at the Bill in the evening.
October 10th The first Grey Phalarope and Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn - off the Bill and at Reap Lane respectively - were the highlights today, and there were plenty more commoner migrants about everywhere. Thrushes were particularly well represented, with a scattering of 35 or more Ring Ouzels including 14 at Nichodemus Knob and 12 at Priory Corner, and lots of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes passing through (550 of the latter flew north at Avalanche Road in half-an-hour soon after dawn). Other visible migrants included a fairly heavy passage of hirundines and finches, and single Woodlarks passing over at the Bill and Avalanche Road. Grounded migrants were not so numerous but did include up to 10 Firecrests and 4 Black Redstarts, whilst other oddities included 2 Short-eared Owls and a Little Egret at the Bill.
October 9th Any last vestiges of the recent Indian Summer were well and truly swept away by a blasting easterly wind that also saw to it that the few birds around the island remained very well hidden. At least 7 Firecrests were dotted around the Bill area where they outnumbered both Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs. Also there were a Merlin and a Redwing, whilst elsewhere a Ring Ouzel was at Weston. A Lapland Bunting passed over at the Bill, where the bulk of visible passage otherwise consisted of Linnets and alba wagtails. Seawatching at the Bill produced 18 Common Scoter, 6 Wigeon, 3 Brent Geese and a Little Gull, and there were 100 Brent Geese and 2 Mediterranean Gulls settled at Ferrybridge.
October 8th Much quieter today, with a strong south-easterly wind making birding on the land pretty difficult. There was little on the move overhead, and grounded migrants were reduced to a sprinkle of the commonest species along with 4 Firecrests and a Short-eared Owl at the Bill and a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Avalanche Road. The sea was surprisingly quiet, with just 46 Common Scoter, a Brent Goose, an Arctic Skua, a Great Skua and a Mediterranean Gull off the Bill.
October 7th A heavy rain shower at dawn and a generally overcast day prompted common migrants to drop in in fair numbers but rarities remained conspicuously absent. Counts at the Bill included 70 Goldcrests, 50 Wrens, 30 Song Thrushes, 30 Chiffchaffs, 25 Stonechats, 20 Blackcaps, 7 Redwings and the first 2 Fieldfares of the autumn; oddities there included 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Firecrests and a Ring Ouzel. Despite the seemingly unfavourable conditions there was also a lot of overhead passage that included 700 Linnets and 300 Goldfinches leaving to the south at the Bill. After an autumn of unprecedentedly abysmal seawatching there was a hint of interest picking up offshore, with 71 Common Scoter, 51 Brent Geese, 24 Great Skuas, 7 Arctic Skuas and a Sooty Shearwater passing the Bill.
October 6th Very little change today, with a another light scatter of common migrants everywhere. Oddities included a Lapland Bunting early in the morning at Barleycrates Lane, a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Avalanche Road, and 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Firecrests, a Ring Ouzel and a Cetti's Warbler at the Bill.

 

        

     Jack Snipe - Portland Bill, October 5th 2002 © Martin Cade

 

October 5th Grounded migrants, with the conspicuous exception of Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches, were again at a premium, although visible passage overhead was still very strong. Along with small numbers of Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests there were a few Yellow Wagtails, Wheatears and Blackcaps, a couple of Lesser Whitethroats, and single Merlin, Redstart, Reed Warbler and Firecrest at the Bill. Rarities were limited to another fly-over Lapland Bunting at Barleycrates Lane and a Jack Snipe trapped and ringed at the Obs. Among the heavy overhead passage, oddities included a few Siskins and Reed Buntings, 3 Golden Plovers, 2 Bramblings and 2 Redpolls at the Bill. The highlight on the sea was a single Great Skua passing the Bill.
October 4th A clear night and a summer-like day seemed unlikely to produce large numbers of grounded migrants, and in the event there was a lot less about than yesterday. Meadow Pipits, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests still dominated but variety was otherwise rather poor; the only scarcer species logged were 3 Short-eared Owls, 2 Firecrests and a Dartford Warbler at the Bill. Plenty of birds were on the move overhead, with 20 Siskins, 3 Grey Herons, a Woodlark and a late Swift amongst the large numbers of hirundines, alba wagtails and commoner finches passing over at the Bill.
October 3rd Better numbers of the commonest migrants today, with an arrival of 150 Chiffchaffs, 25 Goldcrests, 20 Stonechats and 20 Wheatears at the Bill. Also there were 600 Meadow Pipits and 200 alba wagtails, a sprinkle of other scarcer migrants including another fly-over Lapland Bunting, 4 Turtle Doves, 3 Short-eared Owls, a Hobby, a Merlin, a Dartford Warbler and a Firecrest, and some good overhead passage. The sea remained extremely unproductive, with just 38 Black-headed Gulls, 20 Brent Geese and a Great Skua off the Bill.

 

        

     Short-eared Owl - Portland Bill, October 2nd 2002 © Andrew Slade

 

October 2nd Grounded migrants included plenty more Meadow Pipits, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests everywhere, but variety was otherwise quite limited with just ones and twos of a few other expected species. Oddities included several Firecrests dotted around the island, 3 Short-eared Owls still at the Bill (with one trapped and ringed at the Obs), an Osprey over the Bill in the afternoon and a Dartford Warbler lingering on at the Bill.

 

      

     Leucistic Whinchat - Portland Bill, October 1st 2002 © Martin Cade

 

October 1st Heavy cloud overhead during the morning seemed to have dropped a few more migrants, but ultimately the day was spoilt when rain set in at midday and prevented any serious birding afterwards. Grounded Meadow Pipits, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were fairly numerous, and scarcer migrants included 3 Short-eared Owls, 2 Firecrests, a Merlin and a Dartford Warbler at the Bill, a Ring Ouzel at Suckthumb Quarry, and 2 Curlew Sandpipers and a Merlin at Ferrybridge. An almost completely white Whinchat - first seen two days ago - was also still at the Bill. Seawatching at the Bill produced a Red-necked Grebe, a Great Skua and an Arctic Skua.

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2016-18 PBO Report

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