July 2005




  Ni Moth and Swallows - Southwell and Portland Bill, July 31st 2005 © Martin Cade

  July 31st

Despite the day's fieldwork being restricted by the activities of the Obs annual Open Day it was apparent that there was a good deal more in the way of common migrants on the land. The Bill area produced 20 Wheatears, 20 Willow Warblers, 5 Garden Warblers, 4 Sedge Warblers, a Common Sandpiper, a Whimbrel and a Reed Warbler, whilst elsewhere there was a Cuckoo at Barleycrates Lane and a Tree Pipit at Suckthumb Quarry. In fresh north-westerlies the sea came up with just 45 Common Scoter, 2 Manx Shearwaters and a Balearic Shearwater passing the Bill and although there were still good numbers of commoner waders and terns at Ferrybridge the only less usual migrant on view was a lone Whimbrel.   

Moth-trapping overnight produced a single Ni Moth in a garden at Southwell and 8 Silver Y and 2 Dark Sword Grass at the Obs.



  Four-spotted Footman - Portland Bill, July 30th 2005 © Martin Cade

  July 30th

The land remains very much quieter than might be expected at this time of year, with the only reports from around the south of the island being of 5 Sedge Warblers, 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Sand Martins, a Redshank, a Curlew and a Reed Warbler at the Bill and 2 Willow Warblers and a Sedge Warbler at Barleycrates Lane. Seawatching at the Bill produced 36 Common Scoter, 2 Manx Shearwaters and a Balearic Shearwater, whilst Ferrybridge provided totals of 150 Dunlin, 40 Ringed Plovers, 30 Common Terns, 21 Sanderling, 10 Sandwich Terns, 4 Little Egrets, a Little Ringed Plover, a Knot, a Mediterranean Gull and a Yellow Wagtail.  

Four Silver Y, 3 Dark Sword Grass,1 Udea ferrugalis and 1 Four-spotted Footman were the pick of the moths in the Obs garden traps overnight.




  Southern and Smoky Wainscots including thorax (patagium) detail - Portland Bill, July 29th 2005 © Martin Cade

  July 29th

Most of the news today was from the Bill where there were 13 Willow Warblers, 2 Sand Martins and a Wheatear on the land and 64 Common Scoter, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Puffins, a Manx Shearwater, a Balearic Shearwater and a Little Egret passed through on the sea. Waders and tern number were largely unchanged at Ferrybridge although a single Knot was a new arrival there.

Two Clouded Yellows were seen at the Bill. 

The Obs garden moth-traps produced just a handful of immigrants/wanderers: 8 Silver Y, 4 Dark Sword Grass, 1 Plutella xylostella, 1 Calamotropha paludella and 1 Southern Wainscot.

July 28th

The arrival of clear, sunny skies for the first time this week saw wader numbers and variety take a nosedive, with Ferrybridge holding nothing more than 250 Dunlin and 40 Sanderling (along with 42 Common Terns, 10 Sandwich Terns, 2 Shelduck and 2 Mediterranean Gulls). Seawatching at the Bill also suffered, with the best on offer being 65 Common Scoter, 5 Manx and 4 Balearic Shearwaters and 2 Great Skuas. The change in the weather came perhaps a little late in the night to perk up interest on the land, with the Bill area producing just 10 Willow Warblers, 4 Sedge Warblers, 3 Sand Martins, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Wheatears and a Grey Wagtail

There was just a hint of a little more immigration in the Obs garden moth-traps overnight, with totals of 48 Silver Y, 7 Dark Sword Grass, 1 Udea ferrugalis and 1 Red Admiral butterfly logged.




  Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlins and Sanderlings - Ferrybridge, July 27th 2005 © Martin Cade

  July 27th

Waders continued to figure prominently in drab, drizzly and at times foggy conditions. Ferrybridge provided totals of 450 Dunlin, 47 Sanderling, 50 Ringed Plover, 17 Turnstone, 4 Whimbrel, a Curlew Sandpiper, a Knot, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Greenshank (along with 40 Common Terns, 5 Little Terns, 2 Shelduck and 2 Sandwich Terns) whilst 15 Oystercatchers, 9 Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpipers, a Little Ringed Plover and a Turnstone passed through at the Bill. The sea was quieter than yesterday, although watches at the Bill still produced 62 Common Scoter, 6 commic terns, 4 Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Little Egrets, a Manx Shearwater, a Storm Petrel, a Great Skua, an Arctic Skua, a Mediterranean Gull and an Arctic Tern. Migrants on the land included 92 Swifts, 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Sedge Warblers and a Cuckoo at the Bill. 

July 26th

A surprisingly chilly easterly wind as well as persistent rain from mid-morning onwards made it a thoroughly miserable day for the holidaymakers but a quite rewarding one for the birders. Day totals of birds passing the Bill included 81 Common Scoter, 58 commic terns, 20 Manx Shearwaters, 19 Sanderling, 10 Oystercatchers, 10 Black-headed Gulls, 9 Dunlin, 6 Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Turnstones, 3 Whimbrel, 3 Great Skuas, 2 Ringed Plovers, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 1 Storm Petrel and 1 Arctic Skua. Waders were clearly on the move in quantity, with Ferrybridge producing 320 Dunlin, 35 Sanderling, 5 Knot and a Greenshank, as well as 20 Common Terns, 10 Sandwich Terns, 4 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Shelduck and 2 Little Terns. The land was otherwise a dead loss, with the only new migrants in the Bill area being 3 Willow Warblers





  Sandwich Tern, Sooty Shearwater and Common Terns - Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, July 25th 2005 © Martin Cade

  July 25th

The sea continued to provide most of the interest, with 66 Common Scoter, 6 Manx Shearwaters, 4 commic terns, 2 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Ringed Plovers, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Great Skuas, 2 Sandwich Terns, a Sooty Shearwater, a Turnstone and an Arctic Skua passing through off the Bill. On the land there were 30 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 8 Swifts, 4 Willow Warblers, 3 Sand Martins and a Wheatear at the Bill and 138 Dunlin, 16 Sanderling, 10 Little Egrets, several family parties of Common Terns, a Curlew and a Sandwich Tern at Ferrybridge. The breeding colony of Little Terns at Ferrybridge appears to have completely failed this year; no fledged young have been seen and there is now just one adult bird remaining there.

Late news for yesterday: evening seawatching at Chesil Cove produced 7 Whimbrel, 3 Great Skuas and a Balearic Shearwater.

July 24th

After a night of heavy rain and stiff south-easterlies there was some hope of the sea coming up with more interest but plenty of watching revealed precious little of note on the move off the Bill. There were again several sightings of at least 2 Balearic Shearwaters lingering offshore but the only other sightings of note were of 18 Sanderling, 9 Common Scoter, 4 commic terns, 2 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Great Skuas, a Storm Petrel and an Arctic Skua passing through. The land was only poorly covered, with the Bill area producing just 2 Willow Warbler, a Ringed Plover and a Dunlin although Ferrybridge was much busier than of late, with totals there including 150 Dunlin, 40 Sanderling, 20 Common Terns and 1 Little Tern.

The Obs garden moth-traps were awash with rain water rather than immigrants; the only noteworthy captures overnight were 4 Dark Sword Grass, 2 Silver Y and 1 Udea ferrugalis.



  Scarce Footman and Hoary Footman - Portland Bill, July 23rd 2005 © Martin Cade

  July 23rd

Under overcast skies the pick of a very minor flurry of migrants were 6 Willow Warblers, 2 Little Egret, a Ringed Plover, a Grey Wagtail and a Grasshopper Warbler at the Bill and a Crossbill at Suckthumb Quarry. Common Scoter figured conspicuously off the Bill where a total of 211 passed through, but the only other seawatch interest there consisted of several sightings of at least 3 Balearic Shearwaters, as well as 3 Black-headed Gulls, 2 commic terns, a Manx Shearwater, a Puffin and a Sandwich Tern in the morning and several Manx Shearwaters and a Sooty Shearwater in the evening.

Additional to the bird interest on the sea, a single Sunfish was seen briefly off the Bill.

A better selection of immigrants/wanderers in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning included 14 Silver Y, 8 Dark Sword Grass, 1 Plutella xylostella, 1 Pempelia genistella, 1 Grass Emerald, 1 Pine Hawk-moth, 1 Hoary Footman and 1 Slender Brindle.



  Weasel - Portland Bill, July 22nd 2005 © James Lidster

  July 22nd

More of the same today, with 8 Swifts, 8 Willow Warblers, 6 Sand Martins, 2 Sedge Warblers and a Grasshopper Warbler at the Bill, a lone Wheatear at the Grove and 57 Common Scoter, 9 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Black-headed Gulls passing through on the sea at the Bill.

Windy weather had put paid to moth-trapping at the Obs through the middle of the week but it doesn't look like much was being missed as the only immigrants/wanderers in the traps this morning were singles of Plutella xylostella, Barred Red and Silver Y.

The itinerant Roe Deer showed up at Southwell this morning but a more astounding mammal report came in the form of belated news of a Red Squirrel seen at Underhill/West Weare on Tuesday 19th; evidently the animal was first seen in the open being pursued by gulls before it briefly entered an office via an open window!





  Grey Heron, Herring Gull and presumed Yellow-legged Herring Gull - Portland Bill, July 21st 2005 © Martin Cade

  July 21st

Much improved weather conditions and a slightly wider selection of early autumn migrants today. The Bill area produced the first Garden Warbler of the season as well as 2 Sedge Warblers, a Grey Heron and a presumed Yellow-legged Herring Gull. Seawatching there provided totals of 96 Common Scoter, 8 Manx and 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 4 Whimbrel and a Mediterranean Gull and waders at Ferrybridge included 60 Dunlin and 11 Sanderling.

Finally, apologies for the late posting of these updates on several recent evenings - there just aren't enough hours in the day at the moment!

July 20th

The brisk westerlies persisted and interest was largely restricted to the sea, with 18 Manx and 2 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Common Scoter, 2 Black-headed Gulls, an Arctic Skua and a commic tern passing through off the Bill in the morning and 40 Manx and a Balearic Shearwater passing there in the evening. The only reports from the land were of a 6 Sand Martins, a Whimbrel, a Turnstone and a Tree Pipit at the Bill and 50 Dunlin and 10 Sanderling at Ferrybridge.



  Gannet - Portland Bill, July 19th 2005 © Martin Cade

  July 19th

A brisk westerly wind that freshened conspicuously in the evening was a feature throughout the day. At least 3 Balearic Shearwaters remained off the Bill where 7 Common Scoter, 2 Great Skuas, a Manx Shearwater and an Arctic Skua passed through during the morning and there was a good evening movement of 150 Gannets, 130 Manx Shearwaters, a Mediterranean Gull and an Arctic Skua in the last couple of hours of the day; a single Balearic Shearwater passed Chesil Cove in the morning. A Crossbill arrived in off the sea at the Bill but the only other birds of note on the land there were 3 Common Sandpipers, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Willow Warblers and a Dunlin.



  Guillemot - Portland Bill, July 18th 2005 © Martin Cade

  July 18th

Quite a change in the weather saw the day start calm and sunny before the wind picked up and several squally showers passed through during the afternoon. The tally of Balearic Shearwaters lingering off the Bill increased to 3 but other sea interest there was restricted to 10 Manx Shearwaters and a Little Egret passing by; the last auks have now left the breeding ledges on the West Cliffs although a few tardy individuals - including 2 Puffins - remain offshore at the Bill. A lone Crossbill that visited the Obs garden briefly may have been yesterday's bird wandering down from Weston, whilst a Black Redstart at Tout Quarry may have been the same individual that we learnt today had been seen at Verne Common over the weekend. The land otherwise produced a Yellow Wagtail at the Grove, 2 Willow Warblers and a Green Sandpiper at the Bill and 43 Dunlin, 7 Sanderling, a Whimbrel and a Mediterranean Gull at Ferrybridge.

Two Silver Y and a  Dark Sword Grass were the only immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.



  Balearic Shearwater - Portland Bill, July 17th 2005 © Martin Cade

  July 17th

Two Balearic Shearwaters lingered off the Bill for much of the morning and 75 Common Scoter, 3 Manx Shearwaters, a Storm Petrel, a Mediterranean Gull, an Arctic Skua and a Great Skua also passed through there. On the land a single Crossbill passed overhead at Barleycrates Lane and there were a few Sand Martins, a Grey Heron, a Whimbrel and a Sedge Warbler at the Bill.

Garden moth-traps around the island remained busy although immigrants were again all but absent, with single Plutella xylostella and Dark Sword Grass the only worthwhile captures at the Obs.

July 16th

Clear blue skies for another day although it felt a little fresher than of late as the light breeze had swung into the west. There was a surprisingly long and varied list of sightings at the Bill, including at least 2 Balearic Shearwaters lingering offshore, 61 Common Scoter, 9 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Manx Shearwaters, a Mediterranean Gull and a Common Gull passing through on the sea, 21 Sand Martins, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlins, a Whimbrel and a Little Ringed Plover passing overhead and 4 Common Sandpipers, 2 Willow Warblers and a Lesser Whitethroat on the land.

Immigrants/wanderers in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning included 4 Silver Y, 2 Dark Sword Grass, 1 Udea ferrugalis, 1 Nomophila noctuella and 1 True Lovers Knot



  Redshank - Ferrybridge, July 11th 2005 © Martin Cade

  July 15th

More of the same today: 20 Swifts, 15 Sand Martins, 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 Reed Warblers, a Sedge Warbler and a Willow Warbler were at the Bill where 28 Common Scoter also passed through on the sea, 51 Black-headed Gulls, 32 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Common Sandpiper were at Ferrybridge and a Grey Heron flew over Fortuneswell.

The long-staying but very elusive Roe Deer was seen yesterday evening on the Bill Road near the Obs and this morning near the Higher Lighthouse.

Immigrants/wanderers in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning included 1 Silver Y, 1 Dark Sword Grass and 1 Plutella xylostella

July 14th

The very hot and settled spell of weather continued. Another small arrival of migrants at the Bill included 2 Sedge Warblers, 2 Willow Warblers, a Whimbrel, a Greenshank and a Grasshopper Warbler. Elsewhere, a total of 3 Grey Herons passed over Fortuneswell at various times of the day, a Yellow Wagtail was at Weston and there were 75 Black-headed Gulls, 44 Dunlin and a Common Gull at Ferrybridge.

Immigrants/wanderers in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning included 2 Silver Y, 1 Plutella xylostella, 1 Conobathra tumidana and 1 Dioryctria abietella.



  Cuckoo - Culverwell, July 13th 2005 © Martin Cade

  July 13th

Pick of the early autumn migrants at the Bill today were 60 Swifts, 35 Sand Martins, 4 Willow Warblers, a Dunlin and a Cuckoo; seawatching there produced just 20 Common Scoter.

Another single Clouded Yellow was at the Bill this morning.

The overnight catch of moths at the Obs was much poorer than in recent nights, with the only immigrants/wanderers being 2 Silver Y, 1 Plutella xylostella and 1 Dioryctria abietella.

July 12th

Waders at Ferrybridge today included 34 Dunlin, 6 Redshank, 3 Knot and a Sanderling but there was no sign of the Kentish Plovers there. Three Willow Warblers and a Sedge Warbler were new arrivals at the Bill but the only other news of any note from there was of 16 Common Scoter passing though on the sea.

A single Clouded Yellow was at the Bill where immigrant butterflies have been pretty thin on the ground lately with just small numbers of Red Admirals seen daily and no reports of Painted Ladies for several weeks; Hummingbird Hawk-moth sightings have been restricted to odd singles throughout the island in recent weeks.

Long-distance immigrants remained all but absent in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning but there was a good selection of  wanderers from the mainland including yet another new species for the island: Sophronia semicostella; other interesting species included Zeiraphera isertana, Lozotaeniodes formosanus, Calamotropha paludella, Brown China-mark, Pempelia genistella, Pempelia palumbella, Lilac Beauty, Tawny-barred Angle (3) and Pine Hawk Moth.






Dark Tussock, Endothenia ericetana, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Kentish Plover and Little Ringed Plover - Portland Bill, Southwell and Ferrybridge, July 11th 2005 © Pete Saunders (Great Spotted Woodpecker) and Martin Cade (all others)

  July 11th

The hot spell continued and surprise newcomers included 2 Kentish and a Little Ringed Plover at Ferrybridge and single Great Spotted Woodpeckers - presumably the same individual in each case - at Fortuneswell and Southwell. More routine fare included a couple of Sand Martins and a Willow Warbler at the Bill, 51 Common Scoter passing on the sea there and 26 Dunlin and a Redshank at Ferrybridge.

The moths were as interesting as the birds, with two new species for the island - Dark Tussock and Endothenia ericetana - in the Obs garden traps overnight.

July 10th

A very warm and sunny day that saw fieldwork decline after the first few hours of the morning. Swifts were passing through in quantity, with 376 counted in a couple of hours over the Bill, but the only other reports of note from the land were of 6 Sand Martins, 3 Lapwings and a Whimbrel at the Bill and 4 Lapwings at Reap Lane. Seawtching at the Bill produced 48 Common Scoter, 9 Black-headed Gulls and 2 Mediterranean Gulls, whilst another single Mediterranean Gull was at Ferrybridge.

The only immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning were singles of Conobathra tumidana, Dark Sword Grass and Silver Y.

Late news for yesterday: a flurry of Crossbills in the evening included a party of 7 and a single bird flying north over Pennsylvania Castle and a group of 4 settled nearby.

July 9th

A Dartford Warbler at Easton was a good July sighting but otherwise it was more of the same today, with the Bill area producing 50 Swifts, 15 Sand Martins, a Grey Heron, a Hobby, a Lapwing and a Common Sandpiper, with 110 Common Scoter, 12 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Sandwich Terns, 2 Manx Shearwaters and a Whimbrel passing by on the sea there.

After a quiet spell the last couple of nights have seen large numbers of moths being attracted to the Obs garden moth-traps once again although immigrants remain few and far between; the totals this morning were 4 Dark Sword Grass, 3 Plutella xylostella, 1 Delicate and 1 Silver Y.

July 8th

In very fine weather today there were some more signs of autumn passage gathering momentum, with the Bill area producing 25 Sand Martins, 9 Swifts, 2 Grey Herons, a Lapwing and a Willow Warbler, whilst waders at Ferrybridge included a dozen Dunlin, a Whimbrel and a fly-over Greenshank. Seawatching at the Bill provided totals of 58 Common Scoter, 3 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Sandwich Terns and a Mallard.

Moth-wise the pick of the overnight catch were single Lozotaeniodes formosanus at both Southwell and the Obs; 3 Royal Mantle at Southwell was a noteworthy record and might indicate that this species that was previously considered to be a very rare visitor to the island may be established in the vicinity. The first Sitochroa palealis and Least Carpet of the year were also caught at Southwell.

July 7th

As the day went on the wind begun to ease down and it felt pleasantly warm for the first time this week. Bird-wise there was just a typical selection of early July sightings to report, with the Bill area producing nothing much more interesting than a lone Common Sandpiper; seawatching there produced a few lingering Manx Shearwaters and commic terns, and 12 Common Scoter, 4 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Grey Herons and an Arctic Skua passing by.

It was sufficiently cool and windy overnight that the Obs garden moth-traps weren't operated.

July 6th

A Balearic Shearwater passing through off the Bill during the morning was an expected and rather overdue addition to the island year list but a Marsh/Willow Tit in the Obs garden for a few minutes earlier in the day came quite out of the blue (both species are vagrants to the island and although this individual was thought likely to be a Willow Tit the identification wasn't fully established before it disappeared). Other interest was restricted to small numbers of Manx Shearwaters milling around off the Bill, 2 Common Scoter and a commic tern passing through there and a Mediterranean Gull at Ferrybridge.

The only wanderer in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning was a single Dioryctria abietella.

July 5th

Pretty miserable conditions today, with drizzly rain and a strengthening south-west wind setting by mid-morning. The only reports were of 26 Manx Shearwaters and 14 Common Scoter passing through off the Bill and a singing Reed Warbler at Easton.

There were no immigrants/wanderers of interest in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.

Late news for yesterday: a settled Crossbill at Old Hill during the morning may perhaps have been one of the two seen flying over nearby Ventnor Road.

July 4th

There were further signs of Crossbill movement today with two singles flying overhead at Ventnor Road during the morning. It was otherwise quieter all round, with  seawatching at the Bill coming up with nothing more than 34 Common Scoter, a Manx Shearwater, a commic tern and a Black-headed Gull; the only other news was of another small passage of Swifts overhead.

The Obs garden moth-traps were a lot busier than in recent nights and the catch included a little bit more in the way of quality, with immigrants/wanderers including 3 Plutella xylostella, 2 Conobathra tumidana, 2 Silver Y, 1 Dioryctria abietella and 1 Udea ferrugalis.

July 3rd

The sea provided most of the interest today, with 74 Common Scoter, 24 Manx Shearwaters, 10 commic terns, 6 Black-headed Gulls, 4 Arctic Skuas, 3 Curlews, 2 Pomarine Skuas and 2 Sandwich Terns passing through off the Bill. Elsewhere there were 14 Dunlin, 9 Black-headed Gulls and a Little Egret at Ferrybridge. The Obs has no first-hand knowledge of the sighting of a singing Melodious Warbler reported by the information services to be present at the Bill this morning; later in the day it transpired that a grid reference given for the location of the sighting appeared to place it somewhere in Top Fields rather than 'by the Observatory' as originally reported.

One Plutella xylostella and 1 Silver Y were the only immigrants/wanderers in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.

July 2nd

With the weather remaining very unsettled - today was frequently foggy with occasional drizzle showers blown in on a brisk south-westerly wind - there were low expectations and the only reports were of a Corn Bunting singing in Top Fields, 8 Common Scoter, a Manx Shearwater and a Black-headed Gull passing through off the Bill and 13 Dunlin, 9 Black-headed Gulls and a Sanderling at Ferrybridge. 

The only immigrants/wanderers in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning were 3 Plutella xylostella, 1 Zeiraphera isertana and a Dark Sword Grass.



  Scarlet Tigers - Reforne, June 29th 2005 © Ken Tucker

  July 1st

Two Crossbills were quality new arrivals at Easton, another Reed Warbler showed up at the Obs and 30 Common Scoter and a commic tern passed through on the sea at the Bill. There was little change at Ferrybridge where a few Dunlin and Black-headed Gulls were the only migrants of note. 

The mothing is going rapidly downhill: the only immigrants in the Obs garden traps this morning were a Plutella xylostella, and a Silver Y. Further to comments a few days ago regarding Scarlet Tiger, it appears that this species is more widely distributed in the centre of the island than previously suspected, with sightings both this year and last from Reforne/Easton and East Weare; breeding colonies are thought likely to exist in both areas.