August 2004



  Pied Flycatcher - Portland Bill, August 31st 2004 © Martin Cade

  August 31st Something of a return to summer weather-wise although the crystal-clear moonlit night and warm sunny day saw to it that grounded migrants were hardly conspicuous. Hirundines were overhead in quantity all day, but otherwise the best the Bill area could offer were 4 Pied Flycatchers, a Merlin and the first Kingfisher of the autumn. In light offshore winds nothing much was expected from the sea so the 4 passing Great Skuas were a bonus at the Bill. Waders remain numerous at Ferrybridge, where 11 Knot and a Golden Plover made brief visits and another party of 20 Knot passed overhead without stopping. August 30th Today's excitement came late in the afternoon when 2 White Storks were spotted flying low over Weston; after leaving out to sea off Blacknor and Chesil Cove they came ashore again over Ferrybridge before carrying on to the north over Weymouth. It otherwise remained quiet in brisk north-westerly winds, with a very light sprinkle of common migrants in the Bill area included nothing much better than 4 Whinchats, 3 Grey Wagtails, 2 Tree Pipits, a Sedge Warbler, a Garden Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher, whilst seawatching there produced just 4 Great and an Arctic Skua, 3 Common Scoter and 2 Manx Shearwaters. August 29th Pretty poor all round today with a freshening westerly wind not only spoiling birding on the land but also failing to produce much on the sea. The few birds at the Bill included 5 Snipe and a Pied Flycatcher, as well as a fly-over Little Egret. Seawatching there provided totals of 32 Common Scoter, 8 Arctic and 4 Great Skuas, 4 Black Terns and a Manx Shearwater, whilst the best of the waders at Ferrybridge were 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Sanderling and a Knot. August 28th A day of good variety if not great numbers in much improved weather conditions. The Barred Warbler was again on show in Top Fields at the Bill, whilst the most conspicuous commoner migrants were hirundines, Wheatears and early morning fly-over Yellow Wagtails and Tree Pipits (the latter totalled over 30 at the Bill and 20 at Suckthumb Quarry). Smaller numbers of most of the other expected migrants were scattered around the island, with the best being 3 Pied Flycatchers, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Reed Bunting at the Bill. The sea provided a few oddities, including a Tufted Duck, a Grey Plover and singles of Long-tailed, Great and Arctic Skua passing the Bill. August 27th Wet and windy conditions restricted most birders to seawatching this morning, with totals of 16 Common Scoter, 12 Great Skuas, 6 Arctic Skuas, 4 commic terns, 3 Manx Shearwaters and a Pomarine Skua logged at the Bill. The handful of migrants on the land included a Merlin, a Blackcap and a Pied Flycatcher at the Bill. August 26th The main change today was the disappearance of the Hoopoe and the reappearance of last weekend's Barred Warbler not too far from where it had originally been seen in Top Fields at the Bill. Yellow Wagtails are beginning to feature strongly in the common migrant line-up, with more than 70 at the Bill today, whilst Wheatears still number around 80 there. Most other migrants were in short supply, with 3 Pied Flycatchers being about the best of the supporting cast at the Bill. August 25th Precious little change today, with the Hoopoe still present at the Bill and just a handful of commoner migrants on land and sea. Apart from continuing good numbers of Wheatears the pick of the birds at the Bill were 3 Whimbrel, 3 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Redstarts, 2 Whinchats, 2 Garden Warblers, a Merlin, a Greenshank, a Grey Wagtail and a Reed Warbler, with the sea there producing 15 Manx and 2 Balearic Shearwaters. The only other news was from Ferrybridge where there were 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Greenshank, a Sanderling and a Knot among the good numbers of commoner waders. August 24th The Hoopoe remained in Top Fields at the Bill but it was otherwise a very quiet day on land and sea. Wheatears were still by far the most conspicuous migrants at the Bill, where they numbered around 75, whilst 3 Pied Flycatchers and a Turtle Dove again constituted the only faintly noteworthy scarcer migrants on view there. With the strong wind having veered into the west the only sea-passage of interest was of 3 Great Skuas, 3 Arctic Skuas and a Manx Sheawater passing the Bill.



  Hoopoe - Portland Bill, August 23rd 2004 © Martin Cade

  August 23rd A Hoopoe in Top Fields at the Bill was a good autumn record but the land otherwise remained rather quiet; Wheatears numbered in excess of 50 at both the Bill and Barleycrates Lane, and 5 Pied Flycatchers and 3 Turtle Doves were noteworthy sightings at the Bill. In brisk south-westerlies there was plenty of interest on the sea, with 10 Great, 8 Arctic and a Long-tailed Skua, and 5 Balearic and a Sooty Shearwater passing the Bill; the same Long-tailed Skua was also seen at Chesil Cove, where 6 Gadwall and 2 Arctic Skuas also passed through. August 22nd A poor man's re-run of yesterday, with no rarity and much lower numbers of the same variety of migrants. At the Bill only Sand Martins, Yellow Wagtails, Wheatears and Willow Warblers struggled into double figures, the first Grey Wagtail and Turtle Dove of the autumn passed through and scarcer migrants included a Golden Plover, a Merlin, a Hobby and a Knot. A strengthening south-east wind perked up the sea a little, with 60 Common Scoter, 10 Sandwich Terns, 4 Manx Shearwaters, 4 Great Skuas and 4 Arctic Skuas passing through off the Bill.




  Bar-tailed Godwit, Barred Warbler and Whitethroat - Ferrybridge and Portland Bill, August 21st 2004 © Martin Cade

  August 21st A stiff north-west wind persisted throughout the night but with skies completely clearing for the first time for several days common  migrants got moving in quantity and there was a decent fall of birds at dawn. The Bill area seemed particularly favoured but in the fair weather nothing lingered there for long and the rest of island picked up plenty of birds as the day went on. A Barred Warbler in the Admiralty Hedge at the Bill for a while early in the morning was the only rarity discovered, but counts of common migrants at the Bill included 700 Wheatears, 300 Willow Warblers, 100 Whitethroats, 50 Yellow Wagtails, 25 Tree Pipits, 25 Whinchats, 15 Sedge Warblers, 10 Pied Flycatchers, 8 Redstarts, 6 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Sanderling, 2 Reed Warblers, a Grey Heron, a Merlin, a Hobby, a Ringed Plover, a Turnstone, a Blackcap and a Garden Warbler. The sea provided odds and sods including 3 Manx Shearwaters and an Arctic Skua passing the Bill, whilst waders at Ferrybridge included 4 Sanderling, 3 Knot and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits. August 20th Grim pickings again today, with the Bill area producing 50 Wheatears but not even double-figure totals of any of the few other species of migrants seen. The sea salvaged something with 6 Manx, 2 Sooty and a Balearic Shearwater passing the Bill during the morning.



   Knot - Ferrybridge, August 19th 2004 © Martin Cade

  August 19th Early heavy showers gave way to pleasant sunshine but a blustery westerly wind persisted throughout the day. A Roseate Tern passing the Bill was a good highlight, but the sea was otherwise very quiet and produced just 10 Ringed Plover, 7 Common Scoter, a Manx Shearwater, a Balearic Shearwater and an Arctic Skua. The best the land could offer was 50 Wheatears, 3 Pied and a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Sedge Warblers and a Snipe at the Bill. The pick of the waders at Ferrybridge were 4 Sanderling and 2 Knot. August 18th The sea provided most of the interest today, with 7 Manx, 5 Balearic and a Sooty Shearwater, 3 Great Skuas and the first 2 Guillemots for several weeks passing through off the Bill. Wheatears totalled at least 70 at the Bill but were the only migrants that were at all conspicuous on the land, with otherwise just a few hirundines, 10 Willow Warblers, 8 Whitethroats, 2 Swifts, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Turnstone, a Tree Pipit and a Whinchat to show for searches of the Bill area. Ferrybridge provided totals including 250 Ringed Plover, 105 Great Black-backed Gulls, 16 Sandwich and 7 Common Terns, 2 Knot and a Sanderling. August 17th With the much-vaunted wind and rain holding off until late in the day there was ample opportunity to discover that it was still pretty quiet everywhere. The Bill area produced 70 Wheatears, 35 Sand Martins, 20 Willow Warblers, 4 Whinchats, 4 Pied Flycatchers, 3 Swifts, 3 Tree Pipits, 2 Ringed Plovers, 2 Sedge Warblers, a Yellow Wagtail, a Reed Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher, whilst the sea there came up with nothing more than 4 Common Scoter, 2 Great Skuas, a Manx Shearwater and an Arctic Skua. August 16th Yesterday's flurry of interest on land and sea proved to be short-lived, with the only news today being of 75 Wheatears, 20 Willow Warblers, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a Yellow Wagtail, a Tree Pipit and a Pied Flycatcher at the Bill, where 9 Common Scoter and a Great Skua passed through on the sea.



   Tree Pipit - Portland Bill, August 15th 2004 © Martin Cade

  August 15th Misty, murky conditions didn't produce a big fall but there was enough to keep interest going, with 50 Willow Warblers, 40 Wheatears, 15 Pied Flycatchers, 6 Sedge Warblers, 3 Tree Pipits and a Spotted Flycatcher at the Bill. The sea provided constant interest if not a heavy passage, with 43 Oystercatchers, 24 Common Scoter, 23 Dunlin, 11 Great Skuas, a Balearic Shearwater and a Long-tailed Skua passing the Bill through the day. Waders were plentiful at Ferrybridge, where counts included 275 Ringed Plover, 250 Dunlin, 5 Sanderling, a Knot and a Bar-tailed Godwit. August 14th A pleasantly warm and sunny day that provided signs of things beginning to pick up on the land, with totals in the Bill area of 80 Wheatears, 60 Willow Warblers, 10 Tree Pipits, 8 Sedge Warblers, 6 Ringed Plovers, 4 Sanderling, 4 Whinchats, 4 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Redstarts, a Golden Plover, a Green Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper and a Spotted Flycatcher; 3 more Spotted Flycatchers were also at Verne Common. A lone Arctic Skua was the only noteworthy sighting on the sea at the Bill. August 13th Passerine movement remained at a standstill although new waders continued to show up at Ferrybridge. Odds and sods in the Bill area included 33 Wheatears, 12 Sand Martins, 6 Willow Warblers, 2 Tree Pipits, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Sedge Warbler and a Ringed Plover; elsewhere the only report of interest was of an unseasonable Goldcrest at Easton. A Great Skua passed overhead at Ferrybridge, whilst the shore there produced 200 Dunlin, 6 Common Sandpipers, 4 Knot, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, a Curlew and a Black-tailed Godwit.



   Little Stint - Ferrybridge, August 12th 2004 © Chris Courtaux

  August 12th If a description of dire applied to yesterday's numbers on the land then the description of today's is best left unprinted. The Bill area producing just 12 Wheatears, 6 Willow Warblers, 2 Grey Herons and a Garden Warbler, with seawatching there revealing nothing more than 7 Common Scoter, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Sandwich Terns, a Turnstone and an Arctic Skua. Elsewhere, a fly-over Wood Sandpiper was a good record at the Grove, a Reed Warbler was at Southwell and a Little Stint put in a brief appearance at Ferrybridge during the afternoon.



   Mediterranean Gull - Ferrybridge, August 11th 2004 © Martin Cade

  August 11th Pretty dire numbers of common migrants today, with just 16 Willow Warblers, 15 Wheatears, 3 Sedge Warblers, 2 Reed Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers and a Grasshopper Warbler at the Bill. Seawatching at the Bill produced 25 Common Scoter, 6 Sandwich Terns, 3 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Arctic Skuas, whilst Ferrybridge provided 2 Sanderling, a Curlew Sandpiper and a Mediterranean Gull. August 10th The unsettled conditions of the past couple of days gave way to pleasant warm sunshine but there was no upsurge in migrant numbers, with the Bill area producing nothing more than 100 Swifts, 50 Willow Warblers, 30 Sand Martins, 25 Wheatears, 4 Sedge Warblers, 3 Garden Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Grey Heron and a Dunlin; 18 Common Scoter and single Manx and Balearic Shearwaters passed through on the sea there. August 9th A dearth of Willow Warblers - usually the most conspicuous of the commoner migrants on the land at this time of year - masked evidence of a little more movement today, with 200 Swifts, 30 Wheatears, 10 Sedge Warblers, 4 Pied and a Spotted Flycatcher, a Dunlin, a Common Sandpiper and a Lesser Whitethroat in the Bill area. Sea interest died off, with nothing more than 2 Manx Shearwaters passing the Bill.



   Swallow - Portland Bill, August 8th 2004 © Martin Cade

  August 8th The land remained very quiet, with nothing better at the Bill than a Sedge Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher. Fortunately the sea proved slightly better than of late, with 16 Common Scoter, 3 Manx and 2 Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Dunlin, 3 Great Skuas, 2 commic terns and a Sandwich Tern passing through off the Bill. August 7th With thick fog blanketing this part of the coast over night and into the morning it seemed as though most migrants passed overhead oblivious to the attractions of Oasis Portland. Plenty of scrutiny of the Bill area turned up just 10 Willow Warblers, 9 Wheatears, 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Turnstones, 2 Garden Warblers and the first returning Purple Sandpiper of the autumn. With the fog preventing anything other than the occasional glimpse of the sea it was no surprise that only 14 Common Scoter were spotted passing through. In the evening there were 130 Ringed Plover, 120 Dunlin, a Sanderling and a Mediterranean Gull at Ferrybridge.



   Wheatear - Portland Bill, August 6th 2004 © Martin Cade

  August 6th Extremely quiet today, with reports only from the Bill where there were 20 Willow Warblers, 15 Wheatears, 3 Garden Warblers, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Sedge Warbler on the land, and 7 Common Scoter, an Arctic Skua and an Arctic Tern on the sea.



   Sedge Warbler and Ringed Plover - Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, August 5th 2004 © Martin Cade

  August 5th A small fall of Willow Warblers saw numbers increase to 100 at the Bill, where there were also 10 Wheatears, 4 Sedge Warblers, 3 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Garden Warblers, a Ringed Plover and a Reed Warbler, as well as around 200 Swifts overhead. Elsewhere, a Redpoll passed over at Barleycrates Lane and there were 125 Ringed Plovers, 60 Dunlin, 8 Redshank and 4 Sanderling at Ferrybridge. August 4th Something of nothing bird-wise, with just a handful of common migrants everywhere. The Bill area came up with nothing more than 30 Willow Warblers, 15 Wheatears, 4 Tree Pipits, 4 Sedge Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers, a Whimbrel, a Reed Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher, whilst the best of the waders at Ferrybridge were a high count of 94 Ringed Plovers, along with a Common Sandpiper, a Curlew and a Whimbrel. August 3rd Despite some more heavy thundery rain overnight there was still nothing in the way of numbers of common migrants, although a Moorhen and a Green Sandpiper at the Bill and a Wood Sandpiper at Ferrybridge did provide some quality. The Bill area also produced 20 Willow Warblers, 12 Wheatears, 5 Sedge Warblers, 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Dunlin and a Ringed Plover, whilst there were also 3 Sanderling, a Grey Plover and a Mediterranean Gull at Ferrybridge.



   waders, gulls and terns - Ferrybridge, August 2nd 2004 © Martin Cade

  August 2nd A pre-dawn thundery shower did nothing to improve migrant numbers at the Bill, where there were just 15 Willow Warblers, 12 Sand Martins, 7 Wheatears, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher. Ferrybridge was more productive, with 370 Dunlin, 6 Sanderling, a Common Sandpiper, a Mediterranean Gull and a Little Tern the pick of the bunch on the falling tide at midday. August 1st Quiet again in very hot and sunny weather, with the Bill area producing just 25 Willow Warblers, 8 Wheatears, a Green Sandpiper, a Tree Pipit and a Sedge Warbler; elsewhere there was a Cuckoo at Verne Common and a Common Sandpiper at Ferrybridge. Seawatching at the Bill produced just 18 Common Scoter, 8 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Sandwich Terns and a Manx Shearwater.