November 2002

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.

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