July 2004

July 31st Not so much to see today, with 40 Willow Warblers, 25 Sand Martins, 19 Wheatears, 8 Sedge Warblers, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Reed Warblers, 1 Dunlin, 1 Whimbrel and 1 Garden Warbler at the Bill, where the sea produced just 2 Common Scoter, 1 Manx Shearwater and 1 Arctic Skua. July 30th Rather surprisingly bearing in mind the crystal clear skies at dawn the island played host to the best flurry of migrants so far this autumn, with 120 Willow Warblers, 20 Sedge Warblers, 5 Wheatears, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Reed Warblers, a Whimbrel and a Garden Warbler counted in the Bill area alone. Seawatching came up with nothing better than 17 Common Scoter and a Great Skua passing the Bill, whilst 5 Sanderling were among the commoner waders at Ferrybridge. July 29th Bird of the day today was a Honey Buzzard that showed up twice in the early afternoon over Verne Common. Both land and sea were otherwise pretty quiet, with 20 Willow Warblers, 8 Sedge Warblers, 4 Wheatears and 2 Reed Warblers in the Bill area, 15 Common Scoter, 2 Sandwich Terns and a Black-headed Gull passing through on the sea there and 140 Dunlin, 4 Sanderling and 2 Green Sandpipers at Ferrybridge. July 28th Quieter on the land today, with just 25 Willow Warblers, 7 Wheatears, 2 Sedge Warblers, a Grey Heron and a Greenshank at the Bill, where seawatching produced 49 Common Scoter, 4 Great Skuas, a Balearic Shearwater and a Whimbrel




   Mediterranean Gull, Willow Warbler and Little Stint - Ferrybridge and Portland Bill, July 27th 2004 © Martin Cade

  July 27th Similar to recent days at the Bill, where there were 40 Sand Martins, 40 Willow Warblers, 7 Sedge Warblers, 6 Wheatears, 3 Common Sandpipers, a Curlew, a Ringed Plover and a Garden Warbler on the land and 30 Common Scoter, 9 commic terns, 2 Whimbrel, a Balearic Shearwater, a Great Skua and a Sandwich Tern on the sea. Ferrybridge provided 7 Sanderling, 1 Little Stint and a Mediterranean Gull along with good numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plover. July 26th Better coverage of the Bill area saw 40 Willow Warblers, 2 Sedge Warblers, a Ringed Plover, a Wheatear and a Grasshopper Warbler logged on the land and 5 Common Scoter, 3 Whimbrel, 3 Black-headed Gulls, a Balearic Shearwater, a Little Egret, an Arctic Skua and a Mediterranean Gull seen during morning seawatches. Elsewhere there were 7 Sanderling among the commoner waders at Ferrybridge. July 25th  The Obs annual open day got in the way of serious birding today and the only news from the Bill was of a scatter of Willow Warblers and 2 Sedge Warblers on the land, a few Sand Martins passing through overhead and 17 Common Scoter, 2 Common Terns, a Manx and a Balearic Shearwater, a Great Skua and a skua sp passing on the sea.



   Yellow Wagtail - Southwell, July 24th 2004 © Debby Saunders

  July 24th More of the same again, with the Bill area producing 35 Sand Martins, 25 Willow Warblers, 5 Wheatears, 5 Sedge Warblers, 2 Dunlin, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, a Ringed Plover, a Whimbrel, a Reed Warbler and a Garden Warbler; elsewhere there was a Cuckoo at Suckthumb Quarry and a Yellow Wagtail at Southwell. A total of 85 Common Scoter passed the Bill during the morning and a lone Mediterranean Gull passed through later in the day. July 23rd Another minor flurry of migrants this morning, with 25 Willow Warblers, 12 Sand Martins, 4 Wheatears, a Ringed Plover, a Curlew and a Garden Warbler at the Bill. Seawatching there produced 3 Sandwich Terns, a Mediterranean Gull, a Common Gull and a Black-headed Gull. In the evening there were 80 Dunlin, 45 Ringed Plovers, 2 Sanderling, 2 Curlew and a Redshank at Ferrybridge. July 22nd A promising-looking overcast, muggy and damp dawn that would no doubt have produced a hatful of migrants in a few weeks time nonetheless dropped a surprising selection of birds for so early in the autumn, with the Bill area providing totals of 6 Willow Warblers, 4 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Sedge Warblers, a Lapwing, a Ringed Plover, a Wheatear, a Whinchat and a Garden Warbler. The only news from elsewhere was of 178 Dunlin, 49 Ringed Plovers, 3 Curlew and a Sanderling at Ferrybridge.



   Little Owl - Portland Bill, July 21st 2004 © Martin Cade

  July 21st A fly-over Crossbill was a quality new arrival at the Bill, where other migrants included a Common Sandpiper, a Wheatear and a Willow Warbler; the long-staying Pheasant was also still present and the family group of Little Owls continued to show well in the Obs Quarry. Seawatching there produced just 53 Common Scoter and a Sandwich Tern. July 20th The first 2 Sedge Warblers and first 2 Willow Warblers of the autumn were new arrivals at the Bill, along with 2 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Wheatears, a Grey Heron and a handful of over-flying Sand Martins. The sea provided just 39 Common Scoter, 2 commic terns and a Manx Shearwater, whilst there were 120 Dunlin and 2 Sandwich Terns at Ferrybridge. July 19th Early autumn migrants today included 67 Sand Martins, 3 Whimbrel, a Green Sandpiper, a Yellow Wagtail and a Reed Warbler at the Bill, where there were also 2 Yellowhammers. Nine Common Scoter and 9 commic terns also passed through on the sea at the Bill, 10 Common Terns and a Black Tern flew overhead at Ferrybridge and single Mediterranean Gulls were at Ferrybridge and Chesil Cove. July 18th There was a small movement of Sand Martins overhead, but otherwise most of the interest today was on the sea, with totals of 111 Common Scoter, 6 Manx Shearwaters, 5 commic terns, 1 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Arctic Skua and 1 Great Skua passing through off the Bill.



   Marsh Warbler - Portland Bill, July 17th 2004 © Martin Cade

  July 17th Having failed with the early July rarity in the nets there was some compensation today when a Marsh Warbler was trapped and ringed in the Obs garden late in the morning; it was released into the Obs Quarry where brief searches later in the day failed to reveal any sign of it. Seawatching at the Bill produced 87 Common Scoter, a Shoveler and a Great Skua, whilst an Arctic Skua flew over Ferrybridge where there were also 130 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling, 9 Oystercatchers, 7 Common Terns, 2 Sanderling and a Wheatear.



   Little Egret - Ferrybridge, July 16th 2004 © Martin Cade

  July 16th Late afternoon update. Just typical mid-July fare today, with 13 Common Scoter and a Great Skua past the Bill (where the last few tardy Guillemots and Razorbills remain offshore but no Puffins have been seen for a couple of days) and 96 Dunlin, 7 Sanderling, 6 Common Terns, a Little Egret and a Wheatear at Ferrybridge.  July 15th Hardly a bumper selection of news, with just 30 Common Scoter and a Sandwich Tern past the Bill and a single Common Sandpiper at Grove Point. July 14th Very little to report today. A single Chiffchaff was at the Bill, whilst Ferrybridge produced 109 Dunlin, 5 Sanderling, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Little Terns, 3 Common Terns, a Great Crested Grebe, a Curlew and a Sandwich Tern.



   Sand Martin and Gannets - Portland Bill, July 10th 2004 © Martin Cade

  July 13th Sand Martins were again conspicuous, with more than 300 feeding over Top Fields and further small parties leaving to the south from the Bill throughout the morning. The Bill area also produced 2 Grey Herons and a Little Egret, with 11 Common Scoter, 2 Manx and a Balearic Shearwater and a Whimbrel passing on the sea. Dunlin increased to 125 at Ferrybridge, but there was otherwise just a Curlew and a Little Tern there. July 12th A Balearic Shearwater was lingering off the Bill again during the morning, but otherwise the only reports were of a few more Sand Martins and Swifts passing overhead and 2 Grey Wagtails, a Redshank and a Swift at the Bill. July 11th The early autumn trickle continued, with 100 Swifts and 35 Sand Martin leaving to the south from the Bill and a Wheatear new in on the land there. A Balearic Shearwater lingered offshore for a while in the morning, but sea passage otherwise consisted of just 62 Common Scoter, 3 Manx Shearwater and a Whimbrel moving west. Ferrybridge produced 90 Dunlin, a Little Ringed Plover, a Sanderling and a Curlew.



   Sandwich Tern - Ferrybridge, July 10th 2004 © Martin Cade

  July 10th A Cuckoo, a Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler remained at the Bill, but the only new arrivals there were a few Sand Martins, a Curlew and a Grey Wagtail; 18 Common Scoter, 4 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Sandwich Terns and a Great Skua passed through on the sea. Ferrybridge provided totals of 70 Dunlin, 7 Sandwich Terns and 3 Curlew.



   Cuckoo and Mediterranean Gull - Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, July 9th 2004 © Martin Cade

  July 9th The return of quieter weather saw the arrival of a few more birds on the land, including 3 Cuckoos, 3 Grey Wagtails, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler at the Bill. Seawatching there produced just 43 Common Scoter, 1 Manx Shearwater and 1 Black-headed Gull, whilst there were 75 Dunlin, 4 Sandwich Terns and a Mediterranean Gull at Ferrybridge.



   Peregrine - Southwell, July 5th 2004 © Guy Edwardes www.guyedwardes.com

  July 8th Birds remained on the move in between occasional heavy showers, with 300 Swifts, 42 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Curlew, 3 Sand Martins, 2 Dunlin and a Whimbrel passing overhead at the Bill; seawatching there produced 43 Manx Shearwaters, 9 Common Scoter and a Sandwich Tern. Elsewhere, Dunlin increased to 252 at Ferrybridge, where there were also 3 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Curlew, a Greenshank and a Sandwich Tern, whilst juvenile Peregrines are now on the wing and showing well at Southwell.



   Lapwing - Portland Bill, July 7th 2004 © Martin Cade

  July 7th Yesterday's return to summer proved to be short-lived, with a strong north-east wind and heavy rain sweeping in today. There was still some movement overhead, with 250 Swifts, 51 Sand Martins, 2 Dunlin, a Lapwing and a Hobby passing though into the stiff wind at the Bill. The sea was rather quiet, with just 25 Common Scoter, 6 Black-headed Gulls and 2 Manx Shearwaters logged at the Bill. Ferrybridge produced 56 Dunlin, 8 Little Terns, 2 Sandwich Terns, 2 Common Terns, a Curlew and a Mediterranean Gull.




   Guillemot (juvenile settled and leaping from the cliffs), Swift and Little Ringed Plover - Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, July 6th 2004 © Martin Cade

  July 6th Swifts and Sand Martins remained on the move, with the latter being particularly conspicuous: 16 passed straight through at the Bill where another flock of at least 70 were feeding over Top Fields. Two Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpipers, a Curlew, a Tree Pipit and a Grey Wagtail were also at the Bill today. A Little Ringed Plover and a Whimbrel were the pick of the waders at Ferrybridge, where there was also an unseasonable Common Gull; a juvenile Little Tern was also on the wing (the offspring of the only pair of terns that remained in the breeding colony there after the mass desertion in late June). An hour after sunset the juvenile Guillemots reared in the auk colony at the Bill successfully abandoned the breeding ledges and made off out to sea. July 5th At last a day of unbroken sunshine and nothing more than a gentle breeze. Early autumn migrants included 30 Sand Martins and 2 Black-headed Gulls passing overhead at the Bill, where 4 Sandwich Terns, a Little Egret and a commic tern passed by on the sea; 2 Common Sandpipers were also present along West Cliffs. July 4th A length spell of rain during the afternoon spoilt what was otherwise a much more pleasant day, with the strong wind of the last week having dropped right away. A Sand Martin passed overhead at the Bill, where seawatching provided totals of 120 Common Scoter, 80 Manx Shearwaters, 3 Sandwich Terns, 3 Arctic Skuas and 2 Great Crested Grebes. July 3rd Another windy day that produced just 54 Manx Shearwaters and 27 Common Scoter passing through off the Bill. July 2nd A very unsettled day, with the westerly wind gusting close to gale force at times. Birds are clearly in short supply in the near parts of the English Channel at the moment since seawatching at the Bill produced nothing more than 23 Manx Shearwaters, 8 Common Scoter, 2 Sandwich Terns and a Curlew.



   Osprey - Portland Bill, July 1st 2004 © Martin Cade

  July 1st Despite auspicious precedents, the prevailing cool, blustery westerly weather conditions promised precious little in the way of rarities this year, so a surprise early autumn migrant in the form of an Osprey that flew south down the island and left out to sea was a welcome sighting during the morning. A singing Garden Warbler at the Obs was also unexpected, but otherwise the best the Bill area could turn up was an overflying Curlew and 8 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Common Scoter passing on the sea.