August 2002

August 31st The long-staying Wryneck remained at the Obs Quarry and a second individual was found at Broadcroft butterfly reserve during the afternoon. A good variety of common migrants were present around the island but numbers were still on the low side, with only Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears at all conspicuous. Scarcer species included a Merlin, a Short-eared Owl and a Grasshopper Warbler at the Bill. Three Knot and 2 Curlew Sandpipers were still at Ferrybridge.



Icterine Warbler - Portland Bill, August 30th 2002 © Martin Cade

  August 30th After a night of dense fog, new arrivals were in very short supply and it seems likely that the Icterine Warbler trapped and ringed early in the morning at the Obs was the bird seen briefly yesterday at Culverwell. The Wryneck at the Obs Quarry was also still present, although at times it could be very elusive. Commoner species around the Bill area included 25 Wheatears, 20 Yellow Wagtails and ones and twos of most of the other expected species. Seawatching promised much in blustery south-westerlies but produced nothing more than 10 Common Scoter. August 29th The Wryneck at the Obs Quarry continued to steal the show, although an Icterine Warbler seen briefly in the morning at Culverwell was the best of the new arrivals today. Among the commoner migrants there was a flurry of 10 new Pied Flycatchers at the Bill, where other counts included 80 Yellow Wagtails, 60 Wheatears, 12 Willow Warblers, 6 Spotted Flycatchers, 4 Lesser Whitethroats and 3 Purple Sandpipers. Three Balearic Shearwaters and an Arctic Skua were the only worthwhile sightings off the Bill. August 28th The Wryneck remained at the Obs Quarry all day but an Ortolan Bunting seen at Barleycrates Lane at midday proved less obliging and flew off north after the initial sighting. The first Short-eared Owl of the autumn was a new arrival at the Bill, but common migrants were still in below average numbers there. Elsewhere, 10 Crossbills flew over at Verne Common and there were 4 Knot, 3 Sanderling and 2 Curlew Sandpipers at Ferrybridge.



Ortolan Bunting - Southwell, August 27th 2002 © Pete and Debby Saunders

  August 27th New arrivals today were an Ortolan Bunting seen briefly when it visited a garden pond at Southwell in the morning, and a road-casualty Nightjar found moribund at Easton; the Wryneck remained in the Obs Quarry all day. A Tawny Owl heard calling in the early hours of the morning at Southwell was a good record for the island. The dismal total of only 6 new birds trapped and ringed at the Obs reflected the almost total lack of warblers and flycatchers anywhere on the island; fortunately Wheatears, Yellow Wagtails and Whinchats were still widely distributed in good numbers. Two Balearic Shearwaters passed the Bill, whilst waders at Ferrybridge included 5 Curlew Sandpipers, 3 Sanderling, 2 Knot, a Curlew and a Redshank.



  Ortolan Bunting - Portland Bill and Knot - Ferrybridge, August 26th 2002 © John Hurst (top), Chris Trott (above left) and Chris Courtaux (above right)

  August 26th New rarities continued to arrive but there was no great increase in common migrant numbers, with only Wheatears, Whinchats and Yellow Wagtails at all conspicuous. An Ortolan Bunting showed well at Lloyds Cottage in the late afternoon, 2 Crossbills showed up briefly at Suckthumb Quarry and the Wryneck is still at the Obs Quarry all day. An Eider lingered off the Bill, whilst seawatching there produced 2 Arctic Skuas, 2 Black Terns, a Great Skua and a Balearic Shearwater. Two Curlew Sandpipers, 2 Sanderling and a Knot were at Ferrybridge.



Wryneck - Portland Bill, August 25th 2002 © Chris Trott

  August 25th Single Wrynecks were new arrivals today at the Obs Quarry and at Weston and a Honey Buzzard flew out to the sea from the Bill at midday, but the flow of new grounded common migrants has fallen to little more than a trickle. Wheatears and Yellow Wagtails were still present in fair numbers but none of the other commoner migrants even achieved double figure counts at the Bill. August 24th Not much change today, with Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears continuing to dominate. The Bill area produced more than 80 of each, along with 10 Pied Flycatchers and smaller numbers of most of the other expected common migrants. Pied Flycatchers were numerous elsewhere, with at least another 10 around Southwell, Easton and Weston. Two Knot remained at the Bill, whilst at Ferrybridge a Mediterranean Gull was a new arrival and the 2 Curlew Sandpipers were still present. August 23rd Most of the migrant action again involved Yellow Wagtails, Wheatears, Whinchats and the like, which were conspicuous in all the open areas of the island; Swallows and Sand Martins also passed through in numbers, but warblers and flycatchers were few and far between in the trees and scrub. The Bill area provided totals of 500 Swallows, 150 Sand Martins and 75 Yellow Wagtails, whilst oddities there included 2 Snipe, 2 Knot, a Hobby, a Turtle Dove, a Sanderling and a Purple Sandpiper. Seawatching there remained very slow, with just a trickle of Black-headed Gulls, 2 Tufted Ducks and a Balearic Shearwater passing. Two Curlew Sandpipers were at Ferrybridge in the morning. August 22nd No sign of the Woodchat Shrike today, and not too many new common migrants about either. Wheatears still numbered about 100 at the Bill, but otherwise the only decent counts from there were of 40 Yellow Wagtails and 10 Whinchats; a Blackcap there was the first of the autumn, as was a Turtle Dove at Weston. Seawatching at the Bill produced single Balearic and Sooty Shearwaters, and a Great Skua, whilst 3 Knot and a Curlew Sandpiper added to the variety of waders at Ferrybridge.



    Woodchat Shrike - Portland Bill, August 21st 2002 © Martin Cade

  August 21st A Woodchat Shrike was a surprise new arrival today, although it proved to be very mobile and elusive as it ranged around the Pulpit Inn/Obs/Strips area during the afternoon. Common migrants were more numerous than yesterday, and included a high count of 100 Wheatears at the Bill, where there were also 4 Reed Warblers, 3 Pied Flycatchers, a Grasshopper Warbler and the first Merlin of the autumn. A lone Balearic Shearwater was the only bird of note on the sea at the Bill.



   Redstart - Portland Bill, August 20th 2002 © Martin Cade

  August 20th After a clear, moonlit night it was perhaps predictable that the Melodious Warblers and the Booted Warbler had moved on, and it was no great surprise that common migrants were thin on the ground. Swifts and hirundines remained conspicuous overhead, but among the grounded migrants only Yellow Wagtails, Wheatears and Willow Warblers reached double figures around the Bill. A couple of Arctic Skuas and a Mediterranean Gull passed by on the sea, whilst a Little Stint was another new arrival at Ferrybridge. August 19th Another excellent day, with the 2 Melodious Warblers and the Booted Warbler still present at the Bill, and the best arrival of common migrants so far this autumn. Willow Warblers numbered around 300 at the Bill, where there also 75 Wheatears, 15 Spotted and 8 Pied Flycatchers, 10 Yellow Wagtails, 8 Sedge Warblers, 7 Garden Warblers, 4 Redstarts, 4 Whinchats, 3 Grey Herons and a Grasshopper Warbler. Seawatching at the Bill provided 58 commic Terns, 3 Balearic Shearwaters and 2 Arctic Skuas, whilst a Knot was a new arrival among the waders at Ferrybridge. August 18th The Booted Warbler and 2 Melodious Warblers remained at the Bill, but new arrivals were in short supply everywhere. The pick of the commoner migrants were a couple of Pied Flycatchers at the Bill, where Swifts and hirundines were the only birds on the move in any numbers. Seawatches at the Bill produced little more than 2 Arctic and a Pomarine Skua, and another passing Mediterranean Gull.



Icterine Warbler - Portland Bill, August 17th 2002 © Andrew Slade

  August 17th Plenty more action today, with the Booted Warbler and 2 Melodious Warblers still present, a new Ortolan Bunting seen for a while early in the morning in Top Fields, an Icterine Warbler trapped and ringed at the Obs, and another fly-over Little Egret at the Bill. There was a fair variety of common migrants scattered around the island, but numbers were considerably lower than of late, with no noteworthy counts logged at the Bill. Seawatching was also again very unrewarding, with 5 Sanderling and a Mediterranean Gull the only worthwhile sightings off the Bill.



Booted Warbler - Portland Bill, August 16th 2002 © Martin Cade

  August 16th The Booted Warbler was still present and showed on and off all day. Melodious Warblers remained a feature in and around the Obs garden, where the 3 birds present included a new individual that was trapped and ringed. A less obliging new arrival was an Ortolan Bunting that was seen twice early in the morning at Windmill Riding Stables, whilst a fly-over Spotted Redshank at Suckthumb Quarry was a good island rarity. Common migrant numbers increased, with totals around the Bill area including 200 Swifts, 100 Willow Warblers, 75 Sand Martins, 35 Wheatears, 12 Yellow Wagtails, 10 Tree Pipits, 4 Reed Warblers, 3 Sedge Warblers, 3 Garden Warblers, 3 Pied Flycatchers and 2 Lesser Whitethroats. Seawatching at the Bill produced virtually nothing except 3 unseasonable Velvet Scoters.




Aquatic Warbler and Booted Warbler - Portland Bill, August 15th 2002 © Martin Cade

  August 15th The island hit the jackpot today, with an exceptional arrival of rarities. The highlight was a Booted Warbler found early in the morning in the Hut Fields next to the Obs garden; it was trapped and ringed there (biometry and more in-hand photos) and, although usually very elusive, it showed from time to time through the afternoon and evening. At midday an Aquatic Warbler was found, and also trapped and ringed (more in-hand photos), in Top Fields; it was not seen after release. Finally, at least 2 new Melodious Warblers were seen in and around the Obs garden, and 2 Little Egrets flew north over the Bill. Surprisingly, commoner migrants were not at all numerous, with counts from the Bill of just 18 Wheatears, 15 Willow Warblers, 6 Yellow Wagtails, 5 Garden Warblers, 4 Pied Flycatchers, a Golden Plover, a Sedge Warbler and a Reed Warbler.



Melodious Warbler - Portland Bill, August 14th 2002 © Martin Cade

  August 14th Another new Melodious Warbler trapped and ringed at the Obs late in the afternoon was the highlight today. This aside, common migrant numbers fell slightly, with totals around the Bill of 40 Willow Warblers, 20 Wheatears, 5 Garden Warblers, 3 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Sedge Warblers, a Yellow Wagtail and a Tree Pipit. Three Balearic Shearwaters passed the Bill, and counts of waders at Ferrybridge included 160 Dunlin and 154 Ringed Plovers. August 13th With the same few species continuing to dominate, the only real change was in numbers today. Most of the island was fairly quiet, but the Bill area produced 60 Willow Warblers, 30 Wheatears, 5 Common Sandpipers, 5 Pied Flycatchers, 4 Garden Warblers, 2 Tree Pipits and a Yellow Wagtail. Seawatching there provided 15 Common Scoter, 5 Teal, 3 Balearic Shearwaters and an Arctic and a Great Skua. August 12th Meagre reward again today, with 50 Wheatears, 40 Willow Warblers, a Ringed Plover, a Pied Flycatcher and a few Swifts and Sand Martins at the Bill. A lone Curlew was the only oddity amongst the commoner waders at Ferrybridge. August 11th Wheatears and Willow Warblers remained the only really conspicuous migrants, with 40 of the former and 50 of the latter at the Bill, where there were otherwise just 5 Common Sandpipers, 3 Greenshank, 3 Tree Pipits, 2 Sedge Warblers and a Pied Flycatcher. Despite the wind strengthening as the day went on, the sea produced nothing more than 10 Common Scoter, an Arctic Skua and single Manx and Balearic Shearwaters. August 10th Just a trickle of migrants on land and sea today. The Bill area produced 50 Wheatears, 25 Willow Warblers, 6 Sedge Warblers and smaller numbers of other common species, whilst elsewhere there was a Marsh Harrier over Chesil Cove and Ferrybridge, and a Grasshopper Warbler at Reap Lane. Three Great and an Arctic Skua were the pick of the few birds on the sea off the Bill. August 9th Interest picked up on the sea today as a slow moving low pressure area passed through; light southerly winds produced a steady trickle of birds in the morning, whilst late in the afternoon there was another pulse of movement ahead of the wind veering to the north and heavy rain setting in. Morning watches at the Bill produced 48 Common Scoter, 17 commic and 2 Black Terns, 6 Great and an Arctic Skua, and 3 Balearic and 2 Sooty Shearwaters. Late afternoon passage was mainly of Manx Shearwaters, which numbered over 300 off the Bill, with otherwise just 3 more Balearic Shearwaters and a lone Storm Petrel passing through there. Common migrants were all but absent on the land, with just a handful of Willow Warblers, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher at the Bill. August 8th After a slow start, the arrival of increasingly heavy cloud overhead dropped unexpected numbers of migrants through the morning. Counts at the Bill included 120 Willow Warblers, 60 Wheatears, 8 Robins, 5 Pied Flycatchers, 4 Sedge Warblers, 3 Garden Warblers and 2 Whinchats; a flurry of waders, including a Greenshank and a Wood Sandpiper, also passed through. Heavy rain swept in during the afternoon and prevented any serious birding elsewhere.



Pied Flycatcher - Portland Bill, August 7th 2002 © Martin Cade

  August 7th Quieter today, with just 60 Willow Warblers, 40 Wheatears, 4 Pied Flycatchers, 3 Common Sandpipers, 2 Sedge Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers, a Whimbrel and a Greenshank at the Bill. August 6th The combination of overcast skies and the new moon period again produced plenty of birds, particularly at the Bill where there were 150 Willow Warblers, 30 Wheatears, 15 Sedge Warblers, 10 Garden Warblers, 4 Pied and 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a Cuckoo and a Yellow Wagtail; diurnal passage also picked up, with 150 Swallows, 100 Swifts and 100 Sand Martins passing through there. The only oddities seen were a Green Sandpiper and a Yellow-legged Gull at the Bill. August 5th Another small arrival of migrants produced totals of 25 Willow Warblers, 20 Wheatears, 8 Sedge Warblers, 3 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Garden Warblers, a Whinchat and a Grasshopper Warbler at the Bill. The Mediterranean Gull was still at Ferrybridge.



Mediterranean Gull - Ferrybridge, August 4th 2002 © Martin Cade

  August 4th More of the same in the way of common migrants, although numbers were generally lower than those logged yesterday. Counts at the Bill included 50 Wheatears, 40 Willow Warblers, 5 Sedge Warblers, 5 Garden Warblers and 3 Pied Flycatchers, with oddities there including a Marsh Harrier flying through early in the morning. A Balearic Shearwater and 30 Common Scoter were the only seabirds of note off the Bill, whilst elsewhere there was another Mediterranean Gull at Ferrybridge.




 Melodious Warbler and Vitelline Masked Weaver - Portland Bill, August 3rd 2002 © Martin Cade

  August 3rd Rain in the night and muggy, overcast weather by day did the trick and there was the first decent flurry of common migrants of the autumn. At the Bill, totals included 100 Willow Warblers, 25 Wheatears, 10 Garden Warblers, 8 Sedge Warblers and smaller numbers of other species including the first 2 Spotted and single Pied Flycatchers. The Melodious Warbler first trapped on 31st July was retrapped in the Obs garden and later seen briefly in the adjacent Hut Fields, an escaped Vitelline Masked Weaver visited the Obs garden during the afternoon, and elsewhere there was a Hobby at Reap Lane and 10 Sanderling at Ferrybridge. August 2nd The clear skies and fine weather of recent days continued and saw to it that migrants were still not at all plentiful. The Bill area produced 30 Swifts, 25 Sand Martins, 25 Willow Warblers, 7 Wheatears, a Whimbrel, a Turnstone and a Garden Warbler, with just 7 Common Scoter and 2 Great Skuas passing on the sea there.



Mediterranean Gull - Ferrybridge, August 1st 2002 © Martin Cade

  August 1st The flurry of interest yesterday proved short-lived, with migrants in very short supply today. The Bill area could muster no more than 50 Sand Martins, 4 Willow Warblers and a Whimbrel, with 10 Common Scoter the only birds of any note on the sea. Two Mediterranean Gulls were new arrivals at Ferrybridge, where there were also 120 Dunlin, 100 Ringed Plovers, 7 Sanderling, and 3 Sandwich and a Common Tern.