November 2005

November 30th

Quite a change in the weather today with the arrival of milder, overcast and at times drizzly conditions. The only new migrant of any quality was a fly-over Snow Bunting at the Bill; a few new Blackbirds and Song Thrushes showed up, a Blackcap and a Bullfinch were hanging on from yesterday at the Obs but finch passage completely petered out. The Velvet Scoter reappeared amongst the settled scoter flock off the Bill, another 4 Velvet Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Red-throated Diver passed through offshore and a single distant Arctic/Pomarine Skua lingered briefly there.

A half-hearted attempt at moth-trapping - with just one trap instead of the usual four or more - overnight at the Obs produced just singles of Feathered Ranunculus and Epiphyas postvittana.



    Blackcap - Portland Bill, November 29th 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 29th

Late migrants keep trickling through, with totals in the Bill area today of 20 Song Thrushes, 10 Linnets, 9 Siskins, 8 Fieldfares, 8 Redpolls, 7 Bullfinches, 4 Snipe, 2 Redwings, 2 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Blackcaps and a Woodcock; elsewhere there were 3 Bramblings, a Grey Wagtail, a Redwing, a Fieldfare and a Mistle Thrush at Barleycrates Lane. The Common Scoter flock off the Bill again numbered about 80 but there has been no sign of the Velvet Scoter there since the weekend; 2 Red-throated Divers were the only birds on the move offshore.



    House Mouse - Portland Bill, November 28th 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 28th

The stiff north wind of recent days had died right away and in pleasantly still conditions there was plenty of coverage of the centre and south of the island today. A noticeable arrival of Chiffchaffs - including 4 at the Bill, 4 around Southwell, 2 at Foundry Close and singles at Pennsylvania Castle and Delhi Lane - was unexpected, whilst other new arrivals included 15 Song Thrushes, 7 Siskins, 4 Bullfinches, 4 Linnets, 3 Fieldfares, 3 Bramblings, a Snipe and a Redpoll at the Bill, Goldcrests at Pennsylvania Castle (3) and Foundry Close and a Blackcap at Pennsylvania Castle; an additional Blackcap and at least 1 more Bullfinch were also lingering on from recent days at the Bill. Elsewhere there were 4 Mediterranean Gulls, 3 Great Northern Divers, 2 Common Scoter and a Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour.

Two Bottle-nosed Dolphins were again off East Cliffs at the Bill for much of the day.



    Bullfinch and Snipe - Portland Bill, November 27th 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 27th

Another decent little flurry of late migrants today. A Serin seen briefly in the weeds either side of the Privet Hedge at the Bill was the highlight, but the Bill area also produced 16 Linnets, 15 Song Thrushes, 6 Snipe, 6 Bullfinches, 5 Fieldfares, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Bramblings, 2 Siskins, a Common Buzzard, a Lapwing, a Redwing, a Chiffchaff and a Redpoll. The Common Scoter flock off the Bill increased to 97; the Velvet Scoter was also still present there and 4 Red-throated Divers and a Brent Goose passed through on the sea. The only other news was of 2 Common Buzzards at East Weare, 3 Great Northern Divers in Portland Harbour and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose at Ferrybridge.

Late news for yesterday: a late Red Admiral butterfly was on the wing at the Bill and a Black Redstart was at Victoria Square.



    leucistic Rock Pipit - Portland Bill, November 26th 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 26th

A good resurgence in late passage today, with the Bill area producing plenty of new arrivals including 50 Chaffinches, 25 Blackbirds, 20 Song Thrushes, 8 Siskins, 4 Redwings, 4 Redpolls, 3 Linnets, 2 Snipe, 2 Crossbills, 2 Bramblings, a Golden Plover, a Blackcap, a Bullfinch and a Snow Bunting. The flock of 80 Common and a Velvet Scoter remained offshore, where 3 Brent Geese and a Red-throated Diver also passed through.



    Mistle Thrush - Portland Bill, November 25th 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 25th

A strong blast of cold northerly air today but no sign of any response from the birds. The only news was from the Bill where there were 2 Mistle Thrushes, a Golden Plover, a Blackcap and a Bullfinch on the land, 50 Common and a Velvet Scoter settled offshore and a Great Northern Diver passing through on the sea.




  Great Northern Diver and Velvet Scoter - Portland Harbour and Portland Bill, November 24th 2005 © Jon Stirling (Great Northern Diver) and Martin Cade (Velvet Scoter)

  November 24th

Quite a change in the weather today with showery rain being blown through on a strengthening and increasingly chilly north-westerly wind. New arrivals on the land included 4 Redwings, 3 Fieldfares, 2 Bramblings, a Blackcap, a Redpoll and a Bullfinch at the Bill and 7 Fieldfares and a Firecrest at Easton; quite a few new Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Chaffinches were also in evidence everywhere. The scoter flock off the Bill increased to 87 Commons and 1 Velvet; 3 Mediterranean Gulls were also offshore and a single Great Northern Diver passed through. Portland Harbour produced 2 Great Northern and a Red-throated Diver, a Red-necked Grebe and a Mediterranean Gull, whilst a Black Redstart was nearby at Ferrybridge. 

At least 2 Bottle-nosed Dolphins were again off the Bill.



    Stock Dove - Portland Bill, November 23rd 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 23rd

Clear skies returned and after the initial chill of dawn the day was pleasantly sunny and mild. A Snow Bunting passed overhead at Barleycrates Lane but otherwise bird interest dwindled, with nothing more than 3 Siskins, 3 Redpolls, 2 Purple Sandpipers, a Brambling and a Bullfinch at the Bill. A Red-necked Grebe and a Common Scoter were in Portland Harbour.

Late news for yesterday: 2 Red Admirals were still on the wing at the Bill where a single Silver Y was also seen during the afternoon.



    Blackbird - Portland Bill, November 22nd 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 22nd

A thick blanket of fog that rolled in over the sea soon after dawn brought about a subtle change in the species composition of the new arrivals today, with thrushes much more conspicuous than finches. The Bill area produced totals of 40 Blackbirds, 30 Redwings, 20 Song Thrushes, 6 Fieldfares, 5 Bramblings, 2 Bullfinches, a Lapwing and a Redpoll. The Common Scoter flock offshore increased to 60 with the single Velvet Scoter also still present; a lone Red-throated Diver was the only bird of note on the move there.



    Great Northern Diver - Portland Harbour, November 20th 2005 © Allan Neilson

  November 21st

The island stayed frost-free for a second successive night but the quiet, anticyclonic conditions again yielded nothing of particular interest. The only news was from the Bill area where there were 10 Bramblings, 6 Siskins, 5 Bullfinches, 4 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Redpolls, a Snipe and a Turnstone overhead or on the ground, 35 Common and a Velvet Scoter remained offshore and 2 Brent Geese and a Red-throated Diver passed through on the sea.

At least 2 Bottle-nosed Dolphins were off East Cliffs at the Bill most of the day (2-3 dolphin spp. seen there yesterday were presumably the same individuals).

Late news for yesterday: a Great  Northern Diver and a Common Scoter were still in Portland Harbour.

November 20th

Same weather, same trickle of late passage today. Sightings in or over the Bill area included 6 Bramblings, 3 Bullfinches, 2 Lapwings, 2 Redpolls, a Snipe, a Fieldfare, a Blackcap and a Siskin, with 5 Red-throated Divers, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Shelduck and a Teal passing through on the sea and 34 Common and a Velvet Scoter lingering offshore there. The only news from elsewhere was of 5 Chiffchaffs, 3 Siskins, a Fieldfare and a Redpoll in the Wakeham area.



    composite photograph of the avicultural ring found on yesterday's Bullfinch (any help in tracing the origin of this ring/bird would be most welcome) - Portland Bill, November 18th 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 19th

With the clear and chilly anticyclonic conditions continuing there was more of the same on land and sea. Passage overhead included 50 Starlings, 11 Bramblings, 7 Redpolls, 3 Fieldfares, 3 Siskins and 2 Snipe over the Bill and 12 Siskins and 2 Golden Plovers over Easton. Odds and sods on the ground included 2 Bullfinches, a Woodcock and a Blackcap at the Bill, whilst a Common Buzzard continued to roam widely. Seawatching at the Bill produced 51 Common Scoter, 10 Red-throated Divers, 2 Little Gulls, a Great Northern Diver, an Eider and a Red-breasted Merganser. The only other reports were of 5 Mediterranean Gulls, a Great Northern Diver, a Common Scoter and a Redshank in the Ferrybridge/Portland Harbour area.

November 18th

With the Cattle Egret having moved on it was back to more mundane fare today. Passage overhead at the Bill included 125 Starlings, 15 Stock Doves, 13 Siskins, 6 Bramblings, 4 Redpolls, 3 Redwings, 2 Bullfinches, 2 Reed Buntings and a Fieldfare flying north. Odds and sods on the ground around the island included a Green Woodpecker and a Firecrest at Pennsylvania Castle, a Black Redstart at Blacknor and 6 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill, whilst a Common Buzzard roamed widely between the Verne and the Bill. Seawatching at the Bill produced 34 Common Scoter settled offshore and another 12 passing by, along with 13 Brent Geese and a Velvet Scoter also passing through. Nine Mediterranean Gulls and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose were at Ferrybridge and a Shelduck was settled in Chesil Cove. The most peculiar record of the day related to a Bullfinch mist-netted at the Obs that was found to be wearing an aviculturalists ring; measurements suggested the bird might not have been of British origin.




       Cattle Egret - Portland Bill and Reap Lane, November 17th 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 17th

A Cattle Egret - only the second recorded on the island - was an unexpected new arrival today. It was first seen at the Bill early in the afternoon - seemingly having just arrived in off the sea - where it settled for a few minutes among some horses near the Privet Hedge. After flying off north it was re-found among sheep between Reap Lane and Barleycrates Lane later in the afternoon. Earlier, the first frosty dawn of the autumn indicated how calm and clear it had remained overnight. Seven Fieldfares, 4 Reed Buntings and a few finches including 10 Siskins, 10 Redpolls, 5 Bramblings and 3 Bullfinches passed overhead at the Bill, where 3 Redwings, another 2 Bullfinches, a Merlin, a Lapwing and a Black Redstart were present around the area and a Mediterranean Gull and a Velvet Scoter were offshore. The only other reports were of a Woodcock at Reap Lane, a Black Redstart at Weston and a Green Woodpecker still at Pennsylvania Castle.



    Pheasant - Portland Bill, November 16th 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 16th

Just short measures of the usual suspects today. Six Bullfinches passed overhead at Weston but otherwise all the news came from the Bill where small numbers of Chaffinches, 3 Siskins, 3 Bramblings, 2 Bullfinches, 2 Redpolls and a Redwing passed overhead, a Merlin, a Blackcap, a Goldcrest and a Bullfinch were scattered around the area and 25 Common Scoter and a Mediterranean Gull passed through on the sea.  

November 15th

Heavily overcast skies and a post-dawn rain shower didn't help with grounding any numbers of new arrivals and restricted passage overhead to the lightest of trickles. All the news came from the Bill where 2 Blackcaps and a Chiffchaff were new arrivals in the Obs garden, 2 Bullfinches lingered there from previous days and another individual was new at Culverwell, 48 Redwings, 7 Bramblings, 6 Redpolls, 4 Fieldfares, a Lapwing and a Siskin passed through overhead and 22 Common Scoter, 9 Brent Geese, a Great Northern Diver and a Mediterranean Gull passed by on the sea.

A Hummingbird Hawk-moth was still on the wing at Fortuneswell this morning.




    Two of the Common Buzzards, Lesser Redpoll and Red Admiral - Southwell and Portland Bill, November 14th 2005 © Pete Saunders (Common Buzzards) and Martin Cade (other photographs)

  November 14th

A light north-west breeze and surprisingly warm sunshine today. Once again it was sufficiently clear that just about the only new arrivals on the ground were a Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest at the Obs. Passage overhead at the Bill was disappointingly light, but did include 4 Lapwings, 2 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Bullfinches, a Merlin and a Golden Plover among the small numbers of pigeons, thrushes, finches and Reed Buntings on the move; another Bullfinch was at Avalanche Road. The day's highlight was a fly-over Hawfinch at Southwell, where 4 Common Buzzards also lingered overhead for a while. Eight Brent Geese and a lone Red-throated Diver were the only birds of note on the sea at the Bill.

Red Admirals remain on the wing in good numbers throughout the island




    A popular Continental Coal Tit, Fieldfare and yesterday's Serin - Portland Bill and Southwell, November 12th and 13th 2005 © Pete Saunders (Serin) and Martin Cade (other photographs)

  November 13th

Clear skies, along with a brisk and chilly north-east wind, provided good conditions for a trickle of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, pigeons, thrushes and finches to pass overhead but were no good for any sort of late fall of grounded migrants. The gulls and pigeons on the move over the Bill - totalling 850 Wood Pigeons, 300 Stock Doves and 100 Lesser Black-backed Gulls - were leaving or attempting to leave to the south but most other movement was in off the sea into the wind; the pick of this latter passage included 200 Chaffinches, 55 Bramblings, 20 Bullfinches and a Snow Bunting. Interest on the land was restricted to 10 Blackcaps and singles of Short-eared Owl and Continental Coal Tit at the Bill. Three Eider and 2 Pintail were the only birds of note passing through on the sea at the Bill.



  Would you believe it, it flew straight back over the flusher's heads and away from me......


   ......I'd swear it was in full view as I released the shutter......


  ......and then, as all rare things do, it vanished

    Missed opportunity with a Corncrake - Portland Bill, November 12th 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 12th

With the weather settling down interest switched to the land once again. The search for a 'tic-ing' bunting - most probably a Little Bunting - that had flown past the Obs came up trumps when a Corncrake was flushed early in the morning near the Privet Hedge. A Serin also showed up briefly at the Obs and equally briefly shortly afterwards in a private garden at Southwell, whilst other oddities included 3 Grey Phalaropes that remained in Chesil Cove, another Grey Phalarope seen briefly at Ferrybridge and a Tawny Owl heard calling before dawn at Weston. Among the commoner migrants, another 1700 Wood Pigeons passed overhead at the Bill, where there were also 200 Chaffinches, 130 Stock Doves, 23 Siskins, 6 Bramblings, 4 Bullfinches, a Common Buzzard and a Redpoll overhead and 8 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Black Redstarts and a Short-eared Owl on the ground. Seawatching at the Bill produced 3 Eider, 2 Little Gulls, a Red-throated Diver and a Great Northern Diver. Elsewhere the late Arctic Tern remained in Portland Harbour, where there was also a Slavonian Grebe and a Common Scoter, whilst a Short-eared Owl passed overhead at Ferrybridge.



    Grey Phalarope and Migrant Hawker - Chesil Cove and Portland Bill, November 11th 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 11th

The south-west wind freshened through the day and the sea provided most of the interest. At least 3 Grey Phalaropes and 3 Mediterranean Gulls lingered in Chesil Cove where 2 Little Auks and a Little Gull also passed through. The Bill produced a good passage of Common Gulls, Kittiwakes and auks, along with 13 Little Gulls, 2 Sooty Shearwaters, a Manx Shearwater, an Arctic Skua and a Little Auk. The only reports from the land were of 2 Bramblings, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap at the Bill and a Black Redstart at Reap Lane.

A late Migrant Hawker dragonfly was still on the wing in the Obs garden this morning.

November 10th

Something of nothing today - too windy for any serious birding on the land but not really windy enough to blow in any decent seabirds. One or two Grey Phalaropes were again lingering in Chesil Cove where there was also a Mediterranean Gull; 4 Brent Geese, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Velvet Scoter, a Pomarine Skua and a Little Gull passed through off the Bill and 2 Chiffchaffs, a Golden Plover, a Goldcrest, a Bullfinch, a Siskin and a Brambling were at the Bill.

A Brown Hare was seen on Chesil Beach between Ferrybridge and the oil tanks this morning.

Overnight, the first moth-trapping this month in the Obs garden produced a Silver Y, a handful of common residents and a single Brindled Ochre (the latter species is resident on the island but rarely recorded at the Obs); additionally, a single Udea ferrugalis was seen on the Obs lounge windows after dark.



    Arctic Tern - Portland Harbour, November 9th 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 9th

Fair weather returned today although with the wind veering into the north-west it felt a lot chillier than of late. Wood Pigeons put on another decent show overhead, with 6800 leaving to the south over the Bill; also passing overhead there were 50 Bramblings, 14 Redpolls, 11 Bullfinches, the island's latest ever Tree Pipit, a Tree Sparrow and small numbers of all the other expected thrushes and finches. The very light scatter of grounded migrants included a brief Serin at Barleycrates Lane, 3 Black Redstarts, a Wheatear and a Continental Coal Tit at the Bill and further Black Redstarts at Weston (2), Chesil Cove and Ferrybridge. Elsewhere the late Arctic Tern lingered on at Portland Harbour/Ferrybridge where there were also 6 Mediterranean Gulls, a Great Northern Diver and a Slavonian Grebe.




    Pale-bellied Brent Goose and Mediterranean Gulls - Ferrybridge, November 8th 2005 © Pete Saunders

  November 8th

In recent days birding activity seems to be alternating between visible migration watching and seawatching, with the latter returning to the fore today as a southerly gale had set in overnight. All the seawatch reports came from the Bill where 16 Little Gulls, 5 Arctic Skuas, 2 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Velvet Scoters and a Leach's Petrel passed through. It was much too windy for any serious birding on the land, but casual observations from the Bill area included 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Swallows, a Short-eared Owl, a Chiffchaff, a Bullfinch and a Brambling. Elsewhere a dead Grey Phalarope was found on the Beach Road near the oil tanks, singles of Arctic Tern, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern and Great Northern Diver were in Portland Harbour, 4 Mediterranean Gulls were at Ferrybridge and there were 2 Black Redstarts at both Chesil Cove and the Grove YOI.

November 7th

An interlude of fairer weather saw birds get on the move overhead once again. Totals counted over the Bill included 2000 Wood Pigeons, 327 Goldfinches, 315 Greenfinches, 215 Linnets, 180 Chaffinches, 70 Stock Doves, 40 Skylarks, 30 Bramblings, 5 Hawfinches, 4 Siskins, 2 Redpolls and a Bullfinch. New arrivals on the ground included 6 Blackcaps, 4 Black Redstarts and 2 Wheatears at the Bill. The only seawatching reports were of 10 Pintail, 2 Brent Geese, a Great Northern Diver and a Velvet Scoter passing through off the Bill. Elsewhere there were single Grey Phalaropes at Chesil Cove and Ferrybridge, an Arctic Tern remained in Portland Harbour, a Mute Swan was seen at both Ferrybridge and the Bill and up to 6 Mediterranean Gulls and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose were at Ferrybridge.

November 6th

Particularly grim wet and windy conditions returned to put off all but the stalwart seawatchers. Chesil Cove provided most of the quality with around 10 Leach's Petrels, 8 Grey Phalaropes and a Little Auk logged through the day; of the phalaropes, 6 passed through during the morning and at least 2 were still lingering during the afternoon, whilst the petrels all passed through after a particularly heavy squall early in the afternoon. Two Little Gulls also passed through at the Cove, whilst seabirds elsewhere included 3 Great Skuas, a Red-throated Diver and a Sooty Shearwater past the Bill and an Arctic Tern in Portland Harbour. The only other reports were of 3 Blackcaps, 2 Wheatears and a Black Redstart at the Bill, 8 Bar-tailed Godwits and 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Ferrybridge, a Black Redstart at Reap Lane and 2 Great Northern Divers and a Slavonian Grebe in Portland Harbour.

Three Bottle-nosed Dolphins were off the East Cliffs at the Bill during the morning and a long-dead unidentified dolphin was floating amongst the debris in Chesil Cove all day.



    Continental Coal Tit - Portland Bill, November 5th 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 5th

With the forecast cloud and rain holding off until much later than expected there were again plenty of birds on the move overhead during the morning, when counts included 3500 Wood Pigeons, 500 Stock Doves, 320 Greenfinches, 275 Greenfinches, 215 Goldfinches, 104 Starlings, 42 Bramblings, 26 Redpolls, 12 Mistle Thrushes, 3 Hawfinches, 2 Merlins, a Swallow and a Lapland Bunting leaving to the south over the Bill; the same or another Lapland Bunting also passed overhead at Southwell. In contrast to most of the movement the majority of smaller thrushes, including totals of 280 Redwings and 130 Song Thrushes at the Bill, headed off to the north. It was as quiet as in recent days on the ground, with the pick of the sightings being of a Hawfinch settled briefly at Avalanche Road, the reappearance of a Continental Coal Tit (the individual last seen three days ago) at the Bill where there was also a Ring Ouzel and a Black Redstart; further Black Redstarts were at Blacknor and Portland Castle. Elsewhere there were still 3 Grey Phalaropes at Chesil Cove, a Leach's Petrel was reported to have passed through there, 7 Mediterranean Gulls were at Ferrybridge and 2 Great Northern Divers, a Slavonian Grebe and a Red-necked Grebe were in Portland Harbour.



    Bullfinch and Wheatear - Portland Bill, November 4th 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 4th

A handful of seabirds lingered on but otherwise today it was back to counting visible passage overhead. Seabirds included 3 Grey Phalaropes and a Little Gull at Chesil Cove, 2 Leach's Petrels and a commic tern in Portland Harbour and an Arctic Skua at Ferrybridge. The highlight of passage overhead were three flocks of Hawfinches totalling 18 birds leaving to the south over the Bill; another 12000 Wood Pigeons took the same course, as did 600 Chaffinches, 500 Stock Doves, 365 Goldfinches, 335 Linnets, 175 Greenfinches, 153 Starlings, 80 Redwings, 75 Skylarks, 52 Brent Geese, 30 Redpolls, 30 Bramblings, 21 Siskins, 7 Bullfinches, 3 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Swallows and late Yellow Wagtail. Two Common Buzzards looked to be tagging along with this movement but were not actually seen to leave out to sea. Elsewhere, 2 Crossbills passed overhead at Tout Quarry. The rather paltry selection of grounded commoner migrants did include a few more interesting scarcities: a Moorhen at the former Weston Craft Centre, a Dartford Warbler at Nichodemus Knob, a Ring Ouzel at Church Ope Cove, Black Redstarts at Weston, the Bill and Portland Castle (2 at each site), Firecrests at Pennsylvania Castle (2) and the Grove and late Wheatears at Tout Quarry/Blacknor (3), the Bill and Weston. The only other reports were of 3 Red-necked Grebes, a Great Northern Diver, a Slavonian Grebe and a Little Grebe in Portland Harbour and single Mediterranean Gulls at the Bill, Chesil Cove and Ferrybridge.






    Leach's Petrels and wild seas - Portland Harbour and Portland Bill, November 3rd 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 3rd

With a fierce gale having set in during the early hours Chesil Cove was always going to be the best bet to produce storm-driven seabirds and the day's tally from there was impressive: 40 Leach's and 9 Storm Petrels, 14 Great, 3 Arctic and 2 Long-tailed Skuas, 7 Dark-bellied and 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Little Gulls, a Grey Phalarope and a Mediterranean Gull. Seabirds elsewhere included 10 or more Leach's Petrels and 2 Arctic Skuas in Portland Harbour, 3 Leach's Petrels and a Little Gull past the Bill and 2 Leach's Petrels and a Long-tailed Skua through Ferrybridge. The only other reports were of 2 Black Redstarts and a Snow Bunting at the Bill, another Black Redstart at Chesil Cove, a Red-necked Grebe in Portland Harbour and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose at Ferrybridge.




    Continental Coal Tit and active fieldworkers - Portland Bill, November 2nd 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 2nd

Birding was hard work today in a strong south-west wind and frequent heavy showers. Highlights were a good early morning arrival of Redwings (1500 around the centre of the island and 500 at the Bill), a Sabine's Gull through Chesil Cove in the afternoon, Ring Ouzels at Wakeham, the Bill and Fortuneswell and Continental Coal Tits at Wakeham and the Bill. The thrush arrival around the island included small numbers of Song Thrushes and Fieldfares but few Blackbirds (thus far, numbers of this species have been much lower than in recent autumns); other migrants included 2 Snipe, 2 Wheatears, a Merlin and a Black Redstart at the Bill, another Black Redstart at Fortuneswell and small numbers of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and a variety of finches everywhere. Seawatching at the Bill produced 4 Arctic Skuas, a single of Great Northern and Red-throated Diver and Manx, Balearic and Sooty Shearwater. The only other news was of a good count of 1460 Brent Geese at Ferrybridge.





    Ring Ouzel and a lot more Wood Pigeons - Portland Bill, November 1st 2005 © Martin Cade

  November 1st

Wood Pigeon passage continued apace with a prodigious movement of just short of 37000 leaving to the south over the Bill during the morning; this total is more than three times higher than any previous day count of Wood Pigeons at the Bill and is thought to constitute the largest single day's movement of any species there. Good numbers of Stock Doves tagged along: 760 were counted in the closer flocks but doubtless many more were present among the distant flocks. There was plenty of other passage overhead but even with the presence of several counters it proved impossible to achieve anything other than a conservative overview of numbers involved; 1100 Linnets, 750 Goldfinches, 350 Starlings, 350 Chaffinches, 300 Greenfinches, 176 Skylarks, 25 Bramblings, 14 Redwings, 10 Fieldfares, 5 Siskins, 4 Bullfinches, 2 Swallows, 2 Redpolls and a House Martin were among the other totals logged at the Bill, whilst a lone Crossbill was reported over Fortuneswell. Grounded migrants were not at all plentiful, but did include 3 Wheatears, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Continental Coal Tits and a Ring Ouzel at the Bill, a Short-eared Owl at Suckthumb Quarry and a Ring Ouzel at Wakeham. The only seawatching reports were of 19 Brent Geese and a lone Arctic Skua passing the Bill.