August 2003



Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Portland Bill, August 31st 2003 © Andrew Slade

  August 31st The recent purple patch continued today when an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler was trapped and ringed in the Obs garden during the morning (biometry and more in-hand photos); it was released into the Obs Quarry where it eventually showed well for a while in the early evening. A strong supporting cast included a Rose-coloured Starling at the Bill and later at Southwell, 3 Ortolan Buntings at the Bill, another Ortolan Bunting over Barleycrates Lane and at least 3 Wrynecks in the Barleycrates Lane/Reap Lane/Suckthumb Quarry area. Common migrants included good numbers of Wheatears and Whinchats everywhere.



Black Kite - Portland Bill, August 30th 2003 © Martin Cade

  August 30th Plenty of action today, with a Black Kite over the island for nearly an hour during the morning, a Marsh Harrier leaving to the south over the Bill at dawn, single Ortolan Buntings at Verne Common and the Bill, and single Wrynecks at Barleycrates Lane, at the Bill and near Verne Prison. A decent sprinkle of common migrants included counts of more than 150 Wheatears at the Bill and 35 Whinchats at Barleycrates Lane, whilst lesser regular species included a Merlin, a Cuckoo and a Wood Warbler at the Bill and a Corn Bunting at Barleycrates Lane.



Ortolan Bunting - Verne Common, August 29th 2003 © Martin Cade

  August 29th Rarity interest today was provided by a couple of Ortolan Buntings - one that remained at Verne Common and another that was seen briefly near the Privet Hedge at the Bill - as well as a Marsh Harrier over the Bill and an Osprey over Cheyne. Wheatears were conspicuous everywhere, with more than 100 at the Bill alone, although the only other common migrants to scrape into double figures at the Bill were Whinchat, Willow Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher. Less regular species included a Hobby, a Turtle Dove and a Grasshopper Warbler at the Bill and a Wood Sandpiper over the Grove. Sea passage off the Bill was restricted to a few commic and Sandwich Terns, and 7 Arctic Skuas.


Tree Pipit - Verne Common, August 28th 2003 © Martin Cade

  August 28th The Ortolan Bunting remained at Verne Common but common migrants were still not plentiful anywhere. Yellow Wagtails, Tree Pipits, Whinchats, Wheatears and Spotted Flycatchers were scattered about the island in small numbers but other species were restricted to just odd singles here and there; a Redpoll overhead at the Bill was the only minor oddity seen. Seawatching at the Bill was poorer than in recent days, with a handful of commic and Sandwich Terns, a couple of Arctic Skuas and a lone Manx Shearwater providing the only interest.



Wryneck - Portland Bill, August 27th 2003 © Sarah Masterman

  August 27th A bit of quality today in the form of a Wryneck trapped and ringed early in the morning in the Obs garden, and an Ortolan Bunting seen at Verne Common in the middle of the day. Wheatears and Whinchats numbered 80 and 30 respectively around the southern half of the island, but most other commoner migrants remained in short supply, with the pick of a mediocre bunch being 2 Grasshopper Warblers and a Merlin at the Bill. Seawatching at the Bill produced 5 Balearic and a Sooty Shearwater, and 3 Arctic and a Great Skua, whilst waders at Ferrybridge included 4 Knot.



Spotted Flycatcher - Portland Bill, August 26th 2003 © Martin Cade

  August 26th Still precious little in the way of numbers of birds anywhere around the island. Amongst the scatter of commoner migrants at the Bill there were 5 Tree Pipits, 4 Whinchats, a Redstart, a Pied Flycatcher and a Spotted Flycatcher, as well as the first Merlin of the autumn. A very heavy passage of Gannets made up the bulk of sea movement, although a lot of watching also produced a motley back-up cast of 43 Common Scoter, 11 Balearic Shearwaters, 10 commic and 2 Sandwich Terns, 8 Teal, 8 Greenshank, 7 Arctic, 4 Great and a Pomarine Skua, 5 Shelduck and a Whimbrel. Finally, 13 Sanderling were the best of the waders at Ferrybridge. August 25th A very disappointing day with the fresh easterly wind bringing in neither quality nor quantity. The Bill area provided totals of 50 Wheatears, 15 Yellow Wagtails, 15 Willow Warblers, 10 Whinchats, 2 Tree Pipits, a Common Sandpiper, a Purple Sandpiper, a Turtle Dove and a Redstart. Odds and sods on the sea included 2 Arctic and a Great Skua, a Balearic Shearwater and an Arctic Tern. Wader numbers at Ferrybridge showed some improvement, with Dunlin and Ringed Plover both numbering around 200. August 24th After a few days of westerly weather the wind swung to the east overnight but the hoped-for flourish of scarce migrants didn't materialise.  Counts from the Bill area included 35 Yellow Wagtails, 25 Wheatears, 20 Willow Warblers, 10 Tree Pipits, 7 Whinchats, 6 Pied Flycatchers, 5 Dunlin, 4 Swifts, 2 Redstarts, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a Little Egret, a Ringed Plover, a Whimbrel, a Snipe and a Garden Warbler. The sea was a shade busier than of late, with totals off the Bill of 19 Common Scoter, 19 Black-tailed Godwits, 8 Arctic, 2 Great and a Pomarine Skua, 6 Sandwich Terns, 4 Balearic Shearwaters and a Black Tern. August 23rd A little more interest today, with a small flurry of common migrants on the land and a trickle of passage on the sea. Totals in the Bill area included 20 Yellow Wagtails, 11 Turnstones 10 Willow Warblers, 10 Pied Flycatchers, 5 Wheatears, 4 Whinchats, 3 Ringed Plovers, 3 Grey Wagtails, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Snipe, 2 Tree Pipits, a Dunlin, a Common Sandpiper, a Redstart, a Sedge Warbler and a Garden Warbler; the sea provided counts of 26 commic terns, 19 Common Scoter, 6 Balearic Shearwaters and 3 Sandwich Terns. August 22nd Passage has ground to a halt on the land and the sea, and only news today is of 4 Wheatears, 3 Willow Warblers and a Yellow Wagtail at the Bill, a Sedge Warbler at Barleycrates Lane and 3 Common Scoter passing through on the sea at the Bill. August 21st Exceedingly quiet today with the commoner migrants such as Wheatear and Willow Warbler reduced to just single-figure totals, and the only faintly interesting sightings being of a 4 Whinchats, a Grey Wagtail and a Pied Flycatcher at the Bill, a Balearic Shearwater passing by on the sea there, and a lone Buzzard at Verne Common.



Treecreeper and Ortolan Bunting - Portland Bill and Southwell, August 20th 2003 © Martin Cade and Debby Saunders

  August 20th A couple of quality arrivals today in the form of an Ortolan Bunting briefly in a Southwell garden and a Treecreeper trapped and ringed at the Obs; a Wood Warbler at Southwell and a Green Sandpiper over the Bill were also decent quality scarcities for the island. Commoner migrants included 30 Willow Warblers, 15 Wheatears, 15 Yellow Wagtails, 6 Common Sandpipers, 6 Whinchats, a Whimbrel, a Reed Warbler, a Garden Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher at the Bill, whilst further Pied Flycatchers were at Southwell (3) and Reap Lane. A single Balearic Shearwater passed through off the Bill. August 19th Scarcely any improvement in common migrant numbers today, with counts at the Bill of 20 Willow Warblers, 9 Wheatears, 6 Tree Pipits, 3 Sedge Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Grasshopper Warbler, a Garden Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher. A Knot and a Sanderling were the only noteworthy waders at Ferrybridge. August 18th A Nightingale trapped and ringed at the Obs was a minor highlight today, but the sparse spread of migrants around the Bill otherwise totalled just 20 Wheatears, 13 Willow Warblers, 4 Sedge Warblers, 4 Tree Pipits, 3 Whitethroats, a Ringed Plover, a Golden Plover, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Pied Flycatcher; a lone Balearic Shearwater was the only noteworthy bird on the sea there.



Raven - Ferrybridge, August 17th 2003 © Debby Saunders

  August 17th An Osprey did a round of the island during the morning but common migrants were still thin on the ground, with counts at the Bill of just 30 Wheatears, 5 Willow Warblers, 3 Ringed Plovers, 3 Tree Pipits, 3 Whinchats, a Grey Heron and a Sedge Warbler. Waders at Ferrybridge included 129 Ringed Plovers, 2 Sanderling and a Knot. August 16th  A wet night and early morning did nothing to improve migrant numbers, with the Bill area coming up with only 40 Wheatears, 10 Willow Warblers, 3 Swifts, 2 Yellow Wagtails, a Ringed Plover, a Greenshank and a Pied Flycatcher. With a strong easterly wind blowing seawatching there was more productive, and provided counts of 6 Common Scoter, 5 commic and a Sandwich Tern, 3 Arctic and 3 Great Skuas, and 2 Balearic and a Sooty Shearwater. A single Knot was a new arrival amongst the commoner waders at Ferrybridge. August 15th Passage remained on the slow side, with the Bill area providing counts of just 35 Wheatears, 10 Willow Warblers, 3 Tree Pipits, 3 Whinchats, 3 Sedge Warblers, 3 Pied Flycatchers, a Ringed Plover, a Dunlin, a Common Sandpiper, a Yellow Wagtail and a Reed Warbler; seawatching there produced 2 Common Scoter, a Teal and an Arctic Skua. Dunlin and Ringed Plover both totalled 80 at Ferrybridge, where there were also 2 Sanderling. August 14th A stiffish easterly wind and clear skies were not conducive to good numbers of migrants dropping in, and the the Bill area produced no more than 45 Wheatears, 10 Willow Warblers, 4 Pied Flycatchers, 3 Whinchats, 2 Sedge Warblers, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a Ringed Plover, a Dunlin and a Grey Wagtail. Seawatching there produced 27 Black-headed Gulls, 6 commic terns, 5 Common Scoter and an Arctic Skua, whilst waders at Ferrybridge included 60 Dunlin and a lone Sanderling. In the evening an Osprey was seen flying south over Fortuneswell. August 13th Despite a minor change in the weather which saw the arrival of overcast skies and a generally fresher feel to the air, there still wasn't a great deal to be found on the island. Pied Flycatchers were conspicuous, with at least 17 at the Bill and another at Reap Lane, but there were otherwise just 40 Wheatears, 6 Whinchats, 4 Tree Pipits, 4 Sedge Warblers, 2 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpipers, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, a Dunlin and a handful of Robins and Willow Warblers at the Bill. The first Sooty Shearwater of the autumn was off the Bill, where 2 Gadwall, a Common Scoter and a Common Tern also passed through. August 12th Precious little to report today, with the Bill area producing a handful of common migrants including 35 Wheatears, 15 Willow Warblers, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Tree Pipits, a Dunlin, a Common Sandpiper, a Sedge Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher. August 11th No sign of the Black Kite today and not a great deal in the way of common migrants to be found in more hot and sultry conditions. Counts from the Bill area included 35 Wheatears, 15 Willow Warblers, 4 Sedge Warblers, 3 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Common Sandpipers, a Ringed Plover, a Greenshank, a Tree Pipit, a Whinchat and a Lesser Whitethroat. August 10th After a couple of days away on the mainland the Black Kite reappeared over the centre and north of the island for an hour during the middle of the morning. Searching for migrants was hard work in the continuing very hot weather, although the Bill area did manage to produce totals of 50 Wheatears, 10 Willow Warblers, 5 Sedge Warblers, 4 Tree Pipits, 3 Whinchats, 2 Grey Herons, a Ringed Plover, a Redstart and a Garden Warbler; seawatching there provided 5 Great Skuas, 4 Gadwall and 3 Balearic Shearwaters. August 9th Fairly slow again today, with just a light sprinkle of common migrants everywhere; the Bill area produced 40 Wheatears, 15 Willow Warblers, 9 Sand Martins, 3 Sedge Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Snipe, a Tree Pipit, a Redstart, a Reed Warbler and a Blackcap. August 8th Not so much to report today, with common migrants in much lower numbers everywhere. The Bill area produced 45 Wheatears, 40 Willow Warbler, 4 Sedge Warblers, 3 Ringed Plovers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Redshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, a Grey Wagtail, 1 Garden Warbler and 1 Spotted Flycatcher. August 7th Most unexpectedly, yesterday's Black Kite reappeared over the island for a while late in the morning before it left towards the mainland again at midday. Although there was no let up in the very high temperatures, a veil of heavy cloud overhead at dawn dropped plenty of typical early autumn common migrants, and the total of 107 birds ringed at the Obs represented not only the best day-total of the autumn so far but also the highest day-total this year. The Bill area provided counts of 200 Willow Warblers, 25 Wheatears, 15 Sedge Warblers, 15 Pied Flycatchers, 6 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Garden Warblers, a Ringed Plover, a Dunlin, a Green Sandpiper, a Whimbrel and a Redshank. Similar variety and somewhat smaller numbers elsewhere included a noteworthy count of 8 Pied Flycatchers at Fortuneswell/Verne Common. August 6th A surprise highlight today was a Black Kite that flew north over Easton and the Grove soon after midday. It otherwise remained pretty slow, with just 150 Swifts, 10 Wheatears, 10 Willow Warblers, 2 Sedge Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers and a Garden Warbler at the Bill. August 5th Another very hot, humid day with both birds and birdwatchers in short supply. The only news from the Bill was of 13 Dunlin, 10 Willow Warblers, 3 Wheatears, a Black-headed Gull and a Sedge Warbler. Waders at Ferrybridge included 225 Dunlin and 8 Sanderling. August 4th A very hot and sunny day, with the Bill area producing 35 Willow Warblers, 10 Wheatears, 7 Sand Martins, 4 Ringed Plovers, 2 Sedge Warblers, a Grey Heron, a Lapwing, a Curlew, a Robin and a Reed Warbler. August 3rd More of the same today, with 200 Swifts, 60 Willow Warblers, 11 Wheatears, 10 Whitethroats, 5 Sedge Warblers, 2 Grey Herons, a Redshank, a Green Sandpiper, a Robin and a Garden Warbler at the Bill; seawatching there produced just 22 Common Scoter and a Sandwich Tern. August 2nd A complete change in the weather saw the island bathed in warm sunshine all day. Willow Warblers continued to feature, with more than 40 at the Bill, but other migrants were thin on the ground; the Bill area otherwise produced just 5 Wheatears, a Ringed Plover, a Whimbrel, a Sedge Warbler and a trickle of Sand Martins and Swallows leaving to the south. Fourteen Common Scoter passed through off the Bill, but the only other interest on the sea was a high-ish count of 21 Shags. Waders at Ferrybridge included at least 5 Sanderling. After dark, a Quail was heard calling in the Top Fields at the Bill. August 1st A damp, dreary day with constant drizzly rain spoiling birding throughout the morning. The only reports came from the Bill, where there were 25 Willow Warblers, a Whimbrel and a Garden Warbler.