September 2005



 Firecrest - Avalanche Road, September 30th 2005 © James Lidster

  September 30th

Still virtually nothing in the way of common migrants on the ground and, with heavily overcast skies, visible passage was reduced to little more than a trickle; the only scarcer migrant reported was a lone Firecrest at Avalanche Road. Seawatching during the morning produced just a single lingering Arctic Tern in Chesil Cove but action suddenly perked up at the Bill early in the afternoon when 5 Sooty Shearwaters, 4 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Arctic Skuas and a Great Skua passed through in quick time; unfortunately passage ceased as quickly as it had started and there were no further sightings of note through the rest of the afternoon. Elsewhere a Grey Phalarope spent a short while in the morning on the shore at Ferrybridge before flying off towards Portland Harbour; 3 Curlew Sandpipers were also at Ferrybridge.

A Painted Lady butterfly and a Silver Y were the only immigrants caught in the Obs garden moth-traps overnight.




 Pied Wagtails - Portland Bill, September 29th 2005 © Martin Cade

  September 29th

Grounded migrants remained about as absent as it's possible for them to be during a peak passage period (no newly arrived migrants were trapped and ringed in the Obs garden all day) but there was plenty of visible passage of hirundines, wagtails, pipits and finches overhead during the morning. Not a single seabird worth recording was logged at the Bill. Oddities seen included a Dartford Warbler at Barleycrates Lane and a Merlin and a fly-over Lapland Bunting at the Bill.



 Yellow-fronted Canary and Lapland Bunting - Portland Bill and Cheyne Weare, September 28th 2005 © Martin Cade

  September 28th

Another day of brisk westerlies ahead of some very heavy rain showers that begun to push in late in the afternoon. Bird of the day was a very confiding Lapland Bunting that spent much of the afternoon in and around the Cheyne Weare car park; the same or another individual had been seen briefly early in the morning on the West Cliffs at the Bill. The land was again very quiet, with little more than singles of most of the expected common migrants grounded in the Bill area. However, there was plenty of movement overhead, with a 2 hour sample count at the Bill producing 960 Meadow Pipits, 325 Linnets, 268 alba wagtails, 179 Goldfinches and 174 Swallows as well as smaller numbers of a wide variety of other birds leaving to the south. Despite the strong wind sea interest was restricted to a solitary Balearic Shearwater passing through off the Bill. Of further interest, the escaped  Yellow-fronted Canary showed up again at the Bill where it was trapped in the Obs garden.

A single Convolvulus Hawk-moth was the only immigrant caught overnight in the Obs garden moth-traps.

September 27th

The only change today was that the birding was even poorer than in recent days. The seawatchers were out in force after a windy and wet night but their only reward was a Common Scoter and a Balearic Shearwater passing the Bill and 3 Arctic Terns lingering in Chesil Cove. The land was very poorly covered and those that did look discovered nothing other than a handful of the commonest migrants grounded at the Bill and a steady but unspectacular passage of hirundines, wagtails, Meadow Pipits and finches overhead.

September 26th

Extremely quiet on land and sea again today, with some visible passage overhead but no fall of grounded migrants and nothing in the way of even the commonest seabirds on the move offshore. A 75 minute count of visible passage along the East Cliffs at the Bill provided totals of 370 Meadow Pipits, 215 Linnets, 92 alba wagtails, 40 Goldfinches, 29 Swallows, 5 Siskins, 3 Grey Wagtails and 2 Yellow Wagtails leaving to the south but grounded migrants at the Bill consisted of just 15 Wheatears and ones and twos of a few other common species; a single Merlin was the only less common migrant reported there. Considering the conditions - the westerly wind was heading towards gale force by the end of the day - seawatching was dreadful, with 12 Common Scoter and a trickle of auks the only sightings of note at the Bill. The only other reports were of 3 Arctic Terns and 2 Black-tailed Godwits at Ferrybridge.

September 25th

With the weather becoming increasing unsettled today offered some hope of productive seawatching in blustery westerly conditions. As it was the only reports were of 33 Common Scoter, 5 commic terns, 4 Arctic Skuas, a Balearic Shearwater and a Sooty Shearwater passing through off the Bill. Passage on the land remained pretty much at a standstill but there was quite a bit of movement overhead, with 125 Meadow Pipits, 122 Linnets, 108 alba wagtails, 6 Grey Wagtails, 5 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Kestrels and fair numbers of hirundines flying south at the Bill where 10 Grey Plovers also passed over heading in the opposite direction.

It was quiet in the Obs garden moth-traps with a single Hummingbird Hawk-moth the only immigrant of note trapped overnight.

September 24th

Another change in the weather but still rather uneventful birding. A clear morning with a brisk and chilly north-east wind provided decent conditions for visible passage and a two hour watch on the West Cliffs at the Bill produced totals of 395 Meadow Pipits, 130 Swallows, 55 Linnets, 46 alba wagtails, 23 Wheatears, 9 Siskins, 3 House Martins, 2 Grey Wagtails, a Greenshank, a Tree Pipit and a Lapland Bunting passing through; another watch later in the morning from Priory Corner provided totals of 1028 Swallows, 90 Meadow Pipits, 39 Linnets, 31 House Martins, 8 Siskins, 6 Sand Martins and 3 alba wagtails. On the ground the Firecrest remained in the Obs garden and a Ring Ouzel was a new arrival at Church Ope Cove but more routine species were still only thinly spread.

Another two Convolvulus Hawk-moths enlivened an otherwise poor overnight catch of immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps.

September 23rd

A marked change in the weather saw the warm, settled conditions of recent days replaced by a stiff south-westerly and occasional drizzly outbreaks. However, the maxim that a change is always a good thing proved wide of the mark as the birding was just as quiet as it has been throughout the week. The overcast skies knocked visible passage on the head and apart from a trickle of Swallows the only bird seen to leave out to sea was a lone Hobby. Grounded migrants were all but absent, with a Knot, a Turtle Dove and a Firecrest at the Bill, another Firecrest at Weston and a Little Stint at Ferrybridge being the only noteworthy sightings. There were high hopes that the sea would come up with the goods but a morning that produced just a single passing Arctic Skua off the Bill was hardly exciting enough to keep most locals watching and it was left to one diehard visitor to report a Cory's Shearwater passing by in the afternoon; later watches drew a blank with that or anything else on the move.

A single Convolvulus Hawk-moth was caught overnight in the Obs garden moth-traps but there was no sign of any other upturn in immigration there.



 Whinchat - Portland Bill, September 22nd 2005 © Martin Cade

  September 22nd

Apologies for the delay in updates - the BT ftp server has been out of action so we have been unable to upload to the site for a couple of days.

Warm, sunny and remarkably birdless again today. At the Bill visible passage was a little more conspicuous, with plenty of hirundines, alba wagtails and Meadow Pipits, along with 27 Yellow Wagtails, 19 Grey Wagtails, 3 Siskins and 2 Tree Pipits passing overhead, but on the ground the only faintly noteworthy counts were of 22 Wheatears and 12 Whinchats. The only scarcer migrants reported were a Grasshopper Warbler and a Firecrest at the Bill.

The mothing was as uninspiring as the birding, with the Obs garden traps providing just a handful of common immigrants amongst a good catch of resident species.



 Yellow-fronted Canary - Portland Bill, September 21st 2005 © Martin Cade

  September 21st

The heavily overcast skies of dawn soon cleared and the rest of the day was warm and summer-like; unfortunately the birding was of a distinctly summerish quality with plenty of toil in the heat revealing very little of interest. As late September highlights go, the fleeting visit of an escaped Yellow-fronted Canary to the Obs garden didn't rank highly but it had precious little competition in the bird of the day stakes, with a Great Spotted Woodpecker at the Bill being the only other slightly out of the ordinary sighting. Hirundines gathered in quantity but grounded migrants were as few as in recent days; a Merlin and a Turtle Dove were the only scarcer species logged in the Bill area. The light passage overhead included 10 Grey Wagtails, 6 Siskins and 5 Tree Pipits over the Bill.

There were no noteworthy immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps overnight.



 Knot - Portland Bill, September 20th 2005 © Martin Cade

  September 20th

Passage seems to have ground to a halt for the time being, with just 5 new birds trapped and ringed at the Obs and searches of the Bill area revealing no highlights beyond a Knot and a Kingfisher. Among the commoner migrants only Wheatear managed a double figure total at the Bill where scarcer species included a Merlin, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Firecrest; visible passage overhead was virtually non-existent.

The Obs garden moth-traps were busy with resident species but there were no noteworthy immigrants amongst the catch.

Late news for yesterday: a party of 6 Balearic Shearwaters passed the Bill and additional single Firecrests were at Avalanche Road and Easton.



 Palpita vitrealis - Portland Bill, September 19th 2005 © Martin Cade

  September 19th

Very quiet again today. The light scatter of migrants in the Bill area included a Merlin, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Firecrest, with 20 Siskins being the best of an equally poor passage overhead. Seawatching there produced 40 Common Scoter, 2 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Arctic Skuas. The only news from other sites was of 185 Ringed Plover, 165 Dunlin, 5 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Little Stints, 2 Curlew Sandpipers and a Mediterranean Gull at Ferrybridge.

A milder, overcast night saw immigrant numbers pick up quite well in the Obs garden moth-traps: 17 Silver Y, 10 Pearly Underwing, 8 Delicate, 5 Nomophila noctuella, 4 Dark Sword Grass, 1 Plutella xylostella, 1 Udea ferrugalis, 1 European Corn-borer, 1 Palpita vitrealis and 1 Cosmopolitan.



 Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawk - Portland Bill, September 18th 2005 © Martin Cade

  September 18th

The combination of the full moon and a crystal-clear night sky didn't bode well for any sort of arrival of common migrants and in the event grounded arrivals were at a premium. A Wryneck put in a brief early morning appearance at Culverwell whilst the pick of the other odds and sods around the Bill were 2 Firecrests, a Golden Plover and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Passage overhead wasn't as conspicuous as might have been expected although hirundines and Meadow Pipits were numerous and another 20 Siskins and a Hobby passed through; a party of up to 6 Common Buzzards were presumably wandering from the mainland in the fine weather.

After a run of very lean nights the Obs garden moth-traps were a little busier although a single Convolvulus Hawk-moth was the only immigrant of note.



 Yellow-browed Warbler - Portland Bill, September 17th 2005 © Martin Cade

  September 17th

Another chilly start to the day with a clear sky and brisk northerlies but it soon warmed up as the wind eased down later in the morning. A Yellow-browed Warbler trapped and ringed at the Obs - the earliest island record by a couple of days - was an unexpected highlight, a Marsh Harrier left out to sea from the Bill shortly after dawn when a Barn Owl was also seen at Barleycrates Lane but there was no sign of any Wrynecks today. Grounded migrants around the island included a light scatter of all the expected species but there was a lot more movement overhead; fair numbers of hirundines, wagtails, pipits and Siskins made up the bulk of passage but the supporting cast included oddities such as a Greenshank and a late Swift over the Bill. A small passage of ducks offshore included 46 Wigeon, 42 Common Scoter and 32 Teal passing the Bill where 2 Arctic Skuas, a Great Northern Diver and a Pomarine Skua also passed by.

September 16th

With the wind having swung right round into the north-east  there was a distinct autumnal chill in the air today. An elusive Wryneck remained in the Obs Quarry/hut fields area but most of the interest was overhead where there was a good passage of birds passing through into the strong wind. An early morning 90 minute sample count produced totals of 460 Swallows, 365 Meadow Pipits, 105 House Martins, 23 Wheatears, 18 Siskins, 9 Yellow Wagtails, 6 Sand Martins, a Grey Wagtail and a Ring Ouzel passing through at the Bill. House Martins in particular became more numerous as the morning went on and certainly numbered in the thousands in total; 70 more Siskins, a Merlin and a Hobby were also noteworthy additions to the tally later in the day. Grounded migrants were much scarcer and included nothing much more interesting than 10 Whinchats, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Common Sandpipers, 2 Redstarts and 2 Reed Warblers at the Bill. Three Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Sandwich Terns and an Arctic Skua passed through on the sea at the Bill.

September 15th

Another windy day with frequent low cloud and showers making birding quite difficult. Single Wrynecks were seen in the Obs Quarry and near the archaeological dig at the Bill and 2 Pied Flycatchers and a Merlin were the pick of the commoner migrants in the Bill area. The sea was remarkably quiet, with a single Arctic Skua off the Bill being the only sighting of note.



 Arctic Tern - Portland Bill, September 14th 2005 © Martin Cade

  September 14th

Blustery westerly conditions knocked routine passage on the head but there were still a few oddities discovered. A Long-tailed Skua flew south over Ferrybridge at midday and single Wrynecks were seen briefly at various times of the day in the Obs garden, in Top Fields and near the archaeological dig at the Bill. The light scatter of migrants on the land included 4 Turtle Doves, 2 Merlins and a Pied Flycatcher at the Bill and another Pied Flycatcher at Southwell School, whilst seawatching at the Bill produced just 8 Arctic Terns, a Balearic Shearwater and an Arctic Skua. Ferrybridge provided little more than a Bar-tailed Godwit and an Arctic Tern.

The inclement conditions restricted moth interest to ones and twos of the commonest immigrants in the Obs garden traps.





  Grey Bush-cricket, Long-winged Cone-head, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Many-lined - The Grove and Portland Bill, September 13th 2005 © Bob Ford Nature Portfolio Image Library (Grey Bush-cricket) and Martin Cade (other photographs)

  September 13th

Another overcast morning, this time with just the lightest of south-westerly breezes, produced plenty more common migrants; numbers were not up to yesterday's level but there was just the same good variety on show throughout the island. A Marsh Harrier passed overhead at the Grove, a Wryneck remained in Top Fields at the Bill and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen at several spots between Southwell and the Obs, whilst less common migrants included 10 Turtle Doves, 10 Pied Flycatchers, 3 Ring Ouzels, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, a Merlin, a Grey Plover and a Firecrest scattered around the island.

As usual at this time of year bush-crickets are conspicuous, with Great Green Bush-cricket, Grey Bush-cricket and Long-winged Cone-head all regularly encountered around the island at the moment.

The highlight in the Obs garden moth-traps was another specimen of Many-lined; other immigrant totals there included 37 Silver Y, 14 Pearly Underwing, 6 Dark Sword Grass, 9 Delicate and 2 Red Admiral butterflies.

Late news for yesterday: the first Red-throated Diver of the autumn flew over Ferrybridge in the morning, an Arctic Skua was in Portland Harbour during the afternoon and a Marsh Harrier and a late Swift were over Top Fields at the Bill in the evening.



  Wryneck - Portland Bill, September 12th 2005 © Martin Cade

  September 12th

A heavily overcast dawn with a north-easterly breeze dropped the best arrival of common migrants of the autumn. At the Bill birds were very conspicuously on the move with even the likes of warblers and flycatchers flying straight through without stopping to feed, as a result the counts logged were likely to underestimate the true number of birds passing through. Estimates there included 500 Wheatear, 400 Meadow Pipits, 150 Willow Warblers, 120 Yellow Wagtails, 50 Tree Pipits, 50 Whitethroats, 40 Robins, 30 Whinchats, 25 Spotted Flycatchers, 15 Grey Wagtails, 13 Siskins, 12 Redstarts and 12 Sedge Warblers; the lower totals of a wide range of other species included 6 Pied Flycatchers, 5 Turtle Doves, 3 Ring Ouzels, 2 Grasshopper Warblers and a Merlin, but the only rarities discovered were at least 2 Wrynecks (both seemingly new individuals). Common  migrants were reported to be present in quantity elsewhere around the island where noteworthy records included 'thousands' of hirundines passing Priory Corner, a Ring Ouzel at Lancridge and a Wryneck at Barleycrates Lane. No great attention was paid to the sea although 49 Common Scoter, a Manx Shearwater and a Garganey passed through off the Bill.

A cooler night saw immigrant numbers drop in the moth-traps; totals at the Obs included 41 Silver Y, 25 Pearly Underwing, 11 Dark Sword Grass, 11 Delicate, 2 Nomophila noctuella, 2 Plutella xylostella, 1 Vestal and 1 Scarce Bordered Straw




  Tebenna micalis, Antigastra catalaunalis and Many-lined - Southwell and Portland Bill, September 11th 2005 © Martin Cade

  September 11th

The mothing outshone the birding again today with quality immigrants including specimens of Many-lined and Tebenna micalis (2) at the Obs and Antigastra catalaunalis and Tebenna micalis at Southwell; commoner immigrants in the Obs garden traps included 87 Silver Y, 26 Pearly Underwing, 13 Dark Sword Grass, 12 Delicate, 6 Nomophila noctuella, 2 Plutella xylostella, 2 Udea ferrugalis and 1 Scarce Bordered Straw

The pick of the birds were an Osprey that flew round the Bill shortly after dawn, an Ortolan Bunting that was seen briefly on the Bill Common during the evening, the long-staying Obs Quarry Wryneck that was still present, a new Wryneck that was found on the East Cliffs at the Bill and the reappearance after several days missing of the hippolais warbler (now thought to be almost certainly a Melodious Warbler) at Fortuneswell. Most of the typical mid-September commoner migrants were logged during the day but the majority were in lower numbers than yesterday; scarcer species at the Bill included 2 Merlins, 2 Pied Flycatchers and singles of Hobby, Knot, Turtle Dove and Grasshopper Warbler, whilst elsewhere a presumed Short-eared Owl was seen over Ferrybridge. Seawatching at the Bill produced 83 Common Scoter, 2 Great Skuas, 2 Arctic Skuas and a Balearic Shearwater.



  Pale Mottled Willow and Clancy's Rustic - Portland Bill, September 10th 2005 © Martin Cade

  September 10th

The highlight of the day was again found in one of a moth-traps: a specimen of Clancy's Rustic was a long-awaited first for the island at the Obs; other immigrant totals there included 16 Nomophila noctuella, 10 Delicate, 6 Silver Y, 5 Dark Sword Grass, 3 Plutella xylostella, 3 Hummingbird Hawk-moth, 2 Udea ferrugalis, 1 Pediasia contaminella, 1 Vestal and 1 Scarce Bordered Straw

On the bird front it was initially rather quiet at dawn but a spell of heavy rain during the morning dropped a small arrival of new migrants at the Bill, where there were totals of 150 Yellow Wagtails, 40 Willow Warblers, 25 Wheatear, 24 Grey Wagtails, 8 Chiffchaffs, 6 Tree Pipits, 5 Ringed Plovers, 5 Whinchats, 3 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Redshank, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Blackcaps and singles of Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Turtle Dove, Redstart, Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler, Wood Warbler, Firecrest and Spotted Flycatcher; the Obs Quarry Wryneck also reappeared after being missed yesterday. A little trickle of passage on the sea provided totals of 5 Arctic Skuas, a Balearic Shearwater, a Great Skua and a Black Tern passing the Bill and 2 Arctic Terns off Chesil Beach, whilst waders at Ferrybridge included 3 Knot, a Sanderling and a Little Stint.

September 9th

The hot, humid conditions that have dominated the week's weather showed no sign of petering out and passage didn't pick up at all. Nothing even slightly unexpected was seen at the Bill where, hirundines aside, none of the common migrant species logged reached double figure totals and most were in ones and twos. What minor interest there was occurred on the sea where 16 Sandwich Terns and 2 Black Terns passed through off the Bill.

In very promising conditions there were surprisingly few immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps overnight: 19 Nomophila noctuella, 12 Delicate, 4 Convolvulus Hawk-moth, 2 Pearly Underwing, 1 Udea ferrugalis, 1 Vestal, 1 Hummingbird Hawk-moth, 1 Dark Sword Grass and 1 Silver Y. Additional singles of Vestal and Convolvulus Hawk-moth were recorded overnight by a visiting moth-trapper at Cheyne Weare.




  Little Stint and Sabine's Gull - Ferrybridge and Chesil Cove, September 8th 2005 © Martin Cade

  September 8th

A pitiful lack of passage today, with nothing on the move overhead, grounded migrants reduced to little more than ones and twos and - one good sighting aside - no movement on the sea. The only one of the recent rarities still on view was the Wryneck in the Obs Quarry, whilst the only less common migrants of interest at the Bill were a Merlin, a Redstart, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Pied Flycatcher. As an example of the recent lack of common migrants in is pertinent to note that in the first three weeks of August more than 600 birds were trapped and ringed in the Obs garden whereas only a little over 100 have been ringed in the three weeks since. The one surprise of the day came in the form of a Sabine's Gull that was spotted flying along Chesil Beach at Ferrybridge during the afternoon; after lingering offshore for a short while it passed through Chesil Cove before leaving to the south along the West Cliffs; seawatching at the Bill produced just 2 Sandwich Terns and an Arctic Skua. The first Little Stint of the autumn and 4 Curlew Sandpipers were the pick of the waders at Ferrybridge.

Six Delicates were the only immigrants of note in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.



  Grey Wagtail - Portland Bill, September 7th 2005 © Martin Cade

  September 7th

A day with a varied list of possibles and probables to accompany the selection of rarities on view. The Melodious Warbler had disappeared from Culverwell but another Melodious/Icterine Warbler was seen at Fortuneswell during the morning (where it had evidently first been seen yesterday). The Obs Quarry Wryneck was still present and was reported to have been joined by a second individual early in the morning; another individual was seen at St Georges Church early in the morning, at which time an Ortolan Bunting was heard but not seen flying high over the Bill car park.  The customary flurry of pipits and wagtails over the Bill after dawn included totals of 40 Yellow Wagtails, 30 Tree Pipits and 25 Grey Wagtails; many hundreds of hirundines, 4 Siskins and 2 late Swifts also passed overhead there. On the ground it was as quiet as in recent days with only Wheatear and Willow Warbler achieving double figure totals at the Bill. Singles of Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Knot and Sanderling were at Ferrybridge.

The Obs garden moth-traps produced totals of 18 Silver Y, 8 Udea ferrugalis, 8 Delicate, 3 Nomophila noctuella, 3 Dark Sword Grass, 3 Pearly Underwing, 1 Hummingbird Hawk-moth and 1 Scarce Bordered Straw.



  Small Marbled and Wryneck - Obs garden and Culverwell, September 6th 2005 © Martin Cade (Small Marbled) and James Lidster (Wryneck)

  September 6th

The Wryneck remained at the Obs Quarry with further new or wandering individuals showing up at Culverwell and in the railway cutting at Wakeham. The long-staying Melodious Warbler remained at Culverwell but there was no sign of the Barred Warbler at Verne Common today. Among the commoner migrants pipits, wagtails and chats continued to dominate, with totals of 100 Yellow Wagtails, 50 Wheatears, 21 Tree Pipits, 20 Grey Wagtails and 15 Whinchats at the Bill. There was a small increase in numbers of some of the warblers grounded at the Bill, whilst scarcer species there included 4 Grey Herons, 2 Grasshopper Warblers and a Turtle Dove; another Grasshopper Warbler was at Verne Common.

A Small Marbled was the best of the immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning; totals of commoner species there included 17 Silver Y, 8 Udea ferrugalis, 4 Delicate, 3 Nomophila noctuella, 2 Plutella xylostella, 2 Dark Sword Grass, 1 Vestal, 1 Scarce Bordered Straw and 1 Common Darter dragonfly. .



  The Passenger - Southwell, September 5th 2005 © Duncan Walbridge/Martin Cade

  September 5th

The highlight today came out of a moth-trap, with the third island specimen of The Passenger being caught overnight in a garden trap at Southwell; the very promising-looking weather conditions actually produced surprisingly few other immigrant moths, with the Obs garden traps providing totals of just 66 Silver Y, 4 Nomophila noctuella, 4 Udea ferrugalis, 3 Plutella xylostella, 2 Dark Sword Grass and 2 Pearly Underwing.

On the bird front the news was much the same as over the weekend, with the Melodious Warbler remaining at Culverwell, single Wrynecks still present at Barleycrates Lane and the Obs Quarry and the Barred Warbler reappeared at Verne Common. There was a very noticeable decline in common migrant numbers, with no more than 35 Wheatears and 20 Yellow Wagtails at the Bill where the thin scatter of other species included 4 Grey Herons, 2 Curlews, a Merlin, a Whimbrel, a Grasshopper Warbler, a Pied Flycatcher and the first Goldcrest of the autumn. Two Balearic and a single Manx Shearwater passed through off the Bill and singles of Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Whimbrel  along with 3 Curlew Sandpipers were at Ferrybridge were at Ferrybridge.

Three unidentified dolphins were seen heading east close inshore off the Bill early in the morning; from the description provided it seemed that they may have been Risso's Dolphins.

September 4th

The Melodious Warbler remained at Culverwell, a new Wryneck was discovered at Barleycrates Lane and the Wryneck last reported in the Obs garden/hut fields the day before yesterday reappeared nearby in the Obs Quarry. Otherwise there was little change in the common migrant situation with plenty of wagtails and chats around the fields but very little in the way of warblers and other migrants in the bushes (just seven new birds were trapped and ringed in the Obs garden all weekend). At the Bill, Yellow Wagtails numbered around 100, with a back-up cast including 80 Wheatears and 15 Whinchats; scarcer species there included 4 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Turtle Doves and a Merlin. Noteworthy sightings elsewhere included a Turtle Dove and a Green Woodpecker at Church Ope Cove, a Golden Plover over Barleycrates Lane and 2 Curlew Sandpipers at Ferrybridge. Seawatching was hampered by very hazy conditions and a single Balearic Shearwater was the only worthwhile sighting off the Bill.

Overnight moth-trapping in the Obs garden produced 8 Silver Y, 7 Pearly Underwing, 4 Delicate, 2 Udea ferrugalis, 2 Dark Sword Grass, 1 Plutella xylostella and a Pale Eggar (only the second island record of the latter species). Elsewhere on the island a single Convolvulus Hawk-moth was caught at Tout Quarry by visiting moth-trappers.

Late news for recently: evidently the Barred Warbler first reported from Verne Common on 1st September was still present yesterday and the day before but there has apparently been no sign of it there today.



  Curlew Sandpiper - Ferrybridge, September 3rd 2005 © James Lidster 

  September 3rd

The easterly breeze had freshened considerably overnight and made early morning birding on the land quite difficult. The weekend crowds were treated to the continued presence of the Melodious Warbler at Culverwell but the only new arrival of note was a Wryneck discovered on the West Cliffs near the Higher Lighthouse. Hirundines were on the move overhead in large numbers but once again grounded migrants were disappointingly thinly spread for the time of year. The Bill area produced 100 Yellow Wagtails and 50 Wheatears but the other expected species remained stuck in single figure totals; less common species there included 2 Turtle Doves and 2 Grasshopper Warblers, whilst 3 Shoveler were the only birds of note on the sea there. Nine Knot, 4 Curlew Sandpipers, a Merlin and a Mediterranean Gull were at Ferrybridge.

There was again precious little in the way of immigrants in the Obs garden traps this morning - a single Convolvulus Hawk-moth was the only only noteworthy capture - but news was received today of some excellent records from a visiting moth-trapper working the Southwell area recently: singles of Cydia amplana, Antigastra catalaunalis, Convolvulus Hawk-moth, Scarce Bordered Straw and Pale Shoulder were taken on the late evening of 1st September and a single Cydia amplana was taken on the night of 2nd/3rd September.






  Wrynecks, Great Green Bush-cricket and Common Buzzard - Culverwell and Obs garden, September 2nd 2005 © James Lidster (Culverwell Wryneck - top and centre left) and Martin Cade (Great Green Bush-cricket, in-hand Obs Wryneck and Common Buzzard)

  September 2nd

Warm sunshine, the breeze in the east and some quality birds - a good day at Portland! The Melodious Warbler remained at Culverwell where a new Wryneck also showed up and another Wryneck - perhaps the bird first discovered the day before yesterday? - was in the hut fields and Obs garden. Once again there was plenty of variety in the list of common migrants logged but, Yellow Wagtails aside, numbers were on the low side. The Bill area provided counts of 150 Yellow Wagtails, 30 Wheatears, 25 Willow Warblers and 11 Tree Pipits, with the miscellany of other sightings there including 4 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, a Hobby, a Nightingale and an extraordinarily-plumaged Common Buzzard on the land and a lone Balearic Shearwater passing through on the sea. Notable sightings elsewhere included the first 2 Siskins of the autumn at the Grove and 1-2 Merlins in the Weston Street/Perryfields area.




  Wheatear, Melodious Warbler and Wrynecks - Culverwell and Southwell, September 1st 2005 © James Lidster (Wheatear and Melodious Warbler) and Martin Cade (Wrynecks)

  September 1st

Plenty of variety again today but migrant numbers dropped noticeably in fresher, brisk westerlies. Scarcities included a Melodious Warbler at Culverwell (a ringed bird so most likely the individual trapped at the Obs yesterday), 2 Wrynecks in the Pumping Station Quarry at Southwell, a Barred Warbler at Verne Common, an Osprey flying south-east over the Verne and a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Avalanche Road. Among the commoner migrants at the Bill there were 50 Wheatears, 30 Yellow Wagtails, 10 Willow Warblers, 8 Whinchats, 7 Grey Wagtails, 6 Turtle Doves, 5 Spotted Flycatchers, 3 Sedge Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers and singles of Swift, Nightingale, Redstart, Reed Warbler and Blackcap. Other sites chipped in with a Turtle Dove and a Pied Flycatcher at Verne Common and a Knot and a Little Gull at Ferrybridge. The only seawatch reports were of single Manx and Balearic Shearwaters passing the Bill.

The interesting-looking muggy conditions overnight failed to produce anything better than a lone Vestal in the Obs garden moth-traps.