November 2007

November 30th

Damp, dreary and increasingly windy today. Most of the news was of seawatching at the Bill that produced 12 Common and 3 Velvet Scoters, 5 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Red-throated Diver and an Arctic Skua. The only other reports were of singles of Purple Sandpiper, Black Redstart, Fieldfare and Redwing at the Bill.

The only immigrants (indeed the only two macros) in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning were singles of Pearly Underwing and White-speck.

November 29th

Unfortunately the overnight rain lasted on into the first hour of the morning and seemed to have put a block on potential new arrivals. The rather thin list for the Bill included 40 Linnets, 3 Dartford Warblers, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Redwings, a Fieldfare and the long-staying Siberian Chiffchaff on the land and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Red-throated Diver passing through on the sea. The only other reports were of 2 Velvet Scoter, 2 Black-throated Divers and a Red-throated Diver still in Portland Harbour.







      yesterday's Siberian Chiffchaff (the individual first ringed on 17th November) - Portland Bill, 27th November 2007 © Martin Cade the past we wouldn't have hesitated to label this grey-and-white chiffchaff as a Siberian 'tristis' Chiffchaff; however the 2005 BB paper 'Siberian Chiffchaff' revisited appeared to put the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons by suggesting (or at least we thought it was suggesting) that tristis ought to be browner above and buffer beneath than this individual. Alan Dean, one of the authors of the 2005 paper, has kindly been in touch and pointed out that in fact this bird does fall well within the range of plumage variation of tristis (and it is quite unlike a typical abietinus Chiffchaff); our sound recordings of the bird's call also appear to be pretty well spot-on for tristis.

  November 28th

Not such a pleasant day as yesterday with a freshening south-westerly wind spoiling most birding on the land. Overhead passage virtually ceased and the only noteworthy reports from the land were of 2 Redwings, 2 Dartford Warblers, a Woodcock, a Chiffchaff and the Siberian Chiffchaff at the Bill and single Black Redstarts at Portland Castle and Small Mouth. Seawatching at the Bill produced 2 Red-throated Divers, 2 Velvet Scoter, 2 Pomarine Skuas, 2 Mediterranean Gulls and a Black-throated Diver, whilst odds and ends at Portland Harbour included 20 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Little Grebes, 2 Velvet Scoter and a Black-throated Diver.

Another fair selection of immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning included 14 Rusty-dot Pearl, 5 White-speck, 2 Silver Y, a Dark Sword Grass and a Delicate; Double-striped Pug, Brick and Feathered Ranunculus were additions to yesterday's list of resident macros still on the wing.

Late news for yesterday: 19 Common Scoter were settled off Chesil Cove and 4 Red-throated Divers, 2 Velvet Scoter and a Great Northern Diver were in Portland Harbour.






      Garden Warbler and Serin - Portland Bill, 27th November 2007 © Martin Cade

...considering Portland's position as probably the premier site in Britain for Serin remarkably few have been handled here (today's individual was only the seventh to be trapped and ringed by PBO) so we're by no means well up on their ageing and sexing. That said, today's bird looks like a pretty straightforward first-year male: the unstreaked, bright yellow throat and breast mark it out as a male and the presence of a well-marked moult limit in the greater coverts (the four juvenile pale-edged outer feathers contrasting with the new green-edged feathers in the rest of the tract) confirm that it is a bird of the year.

  November 27th

Today was another of those days when you wonder why more birders don't visit Portland in November - and also ponder on what might have been found if there'd been coverage of sites away from the Bill. In mild, calm conditions the day's highlights were a Serin trapped and ringed in the Obs kale field, a late Garden Warbler trapped and ringed at the Obs and one of the Siberian Chiffchaff retrapped at the Obs. More mundane fare at the Bill included 200 Starlings, 5 Siskins, 4 Redwings, 3 Bramblings and a Redpoll passing overhead, 4 Snipe, 2 Dartford Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Water Rail on the land and 20 Common and a Velvet Scoter passing through on the sea

The first attempt at moth-trapping at the Obs for a few nights was very productive for the time of year: 12 Rusty-dot Pearl, 6 White-speck, 4 Silver Y and singles of Pearly Underwing and Delicate made up the immigrant tally, whilst Feathered Thorn, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Black Rustic and Angle Shades were the resident macros still on the wing.

November 26th

Unfortunately, on what looked to be quite a promising overcast morning very little coverage was possible. At the Bill the first couple of hours of the day produced 17 Bramblings, 9 Redwings, 3 Chiffchaffs (including at least one of the Siberian Chiffchaffs), a Water Rail, a Black Redstart, a Mistle Thrush and a Dartford Warbler. The only later news was of 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Ferrybridge and 2 each of Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver and Velvet Scoter in Portland Harbour.




      Goosanders - Portland Harbour, 25th November 2007 © Martin Cade

  November 25th

Far less by way of numbers overhead and on the sea but still quite a bit of quality to report today. The 2 Goosanders and a Little Auk remained in Portland Harbour where there were also 2 Red-throated, 2 Black-throated and a Great Northern Diver. The 2 Black Brants, along with 3 Pale-bellied Brents, were also still at Ferrybridge. The rest of the news came from the Bill where a probable Long-eared Owl that arrived in off the sea was the pick of the sightings; singles of Merlin and Bullfinch were also logged but, Blackbirds and Chaffinches aside, the strong passage of thrushes and finches of recent days petered out.




      Shag and Water Rail - Portland Bill, 23rd and 24th November 2007 © Martin Cade, we didn't need guile or years of hard-won experience to get our hands on these two infrequently ringed species: the Shag was reeled in by an angler after it had flown into his line when he was fishing off Pulpit Rock and the Water Rail was delivered to us from Easton after it had been brought indoors by a cat; both birds were released seemingly none the worse for their respective ordeals.

  November 24th

Despite a freshening westerly wind and a generally chilly feel to the day there were a fair few people in the field and a long list of sightings to report, with the pick of the bunch being 2 Little Auks past the Bill, an early morning sighting of the Serin at Culverwell and at least one of the Siberian Chiffchaffs still in the Crown Estate crop field, 2 Black Brants at Ferrybridge and 2 Goosanders and another Little Auk in Portland Harbour. The Bill produced decent numbers of birds on the move overhead, including 570 Wood Pigeons, 130 Chaffinches, 20 Bramblings, 14 Redwings, 8 Fieldfares, 7 Snipe, 5 Redpolls, 2 Siskins and 2 Reed Buntings, along with 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Dartford Warblers, a Merlin, a Water Rail and a Firecrest scattered around the area and 24 Common Scoter, 13 Velvet Scoter, 11 Red-throated Divers, 6 Brent Geese, 2 Great Northern Divers,  a Shoveler and a Curlew through on the sea. News from elsewhere included 1500 Dark-bellied and 3 Pale-bellied Brents, 12 Mediterranean Gulls and 6 Black-tailed Godwits at Ferrybridge, 48 Mediterranean Gulls and a Great Northern Diver in Portland Harbour and a Water Rail at Easton.

November 23rd

Two Siberian Chiffchaffs were in the Crown Estate fields today and a Serin - presumably yesterday's individual again - put in a brief appearance nearby but the main feature of the day was a good northward passage of finches. Chaffinches dominated, with 500 over the Bill, whilst other totals from there included 70 Linnets, 52 Bramblings, 35 Fieldfares, 30 Redwings, 5 Siskins, a Redpoll and a Reed Bunting. Odds and ends on the ground at the Bill included 4 Chiffchaffs and at least one Dartford Warbler, whilst elsewhere there was a Swallow at Easton and a Black Redstart at Weston. Two Red-throated Divers and a Mediterranean Gull passed through on the sea at the Bill.








  one of yesterday's Black Brants and some Redwing detail - Ferrybridge and Portland Bill, November 2007 © Pete Saunders (Black Brant) and Martin Cade (Redwings)

...give or take the occasional first-year bird that has a more extensive post-juvenile moult than usual Redwing ageing is pretty straightforward and this series of photographs show the 'classic' suite of differences between adults and first-years - differences that are usually just as visible in the field as they are in the hand: some of the first-year tertials are tipped with triangular white marks, there is an obvious moult discontinuity in the first-year greater-coverts and there is a marked difference in tail feather shape between the age classes.

  November 22nd

After another very wet night the sky had cleared completely by dawn and another decent array of late migrants were logged. The Bill received most of the coverage and returned totals of 150 Chaffinches, 42 Bramblings, 40 Linnets, 100 Goldfinches, 39 Redwings, 11 Fieldfares, 8 Reed Buntings, 5 Siskins, 5 Redpolls, 4 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Merlin, a Water Rail and a Bullfinch; quality there was provided by one of the Siberian Chiffchaffs (click here to have a listen to the call) in the Crown Estate crop field, a fly-over Lapland Bunting and a Serin that appeared briefly in and over the Obs garden in the morning and equally briefly in the Obs kale field in the afternoon (click here to hear a sequence where the Serin suddenly appears beside us whilst we're recording the Siberian Chiffchaff, and click here to hear it as it darts about amongst the weeds before flying off; apolgies for the shocking quality of these recordings but it was quite windy, the Bill Road is much busier in late November than you might imagine and our fieldcraft was about as subtle as a herd of Wildabeast on the move). The only other reports were of a Firecrest at Southwell and 2 Red-throated Divers and a Mediterranean Gull past on the sea at the Bill.

November 21st

A big improvement in the weather allowed for a pretty full day of birding. Late migrants included 3 Goldcrests, a Black Redstart, a Chiffchaff and a Brambling at Southwell School and 100 Goldfinches, 18 Siskins, 9 Redwings, 9 Bramblings, 3 Reed Buntings, 2 Dartford Warblers, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Water Rail and a Goldcrest at the Bill; 2 Red-throated Divers, 2 Mediterranean Gulls and a Pomarine Skua also passed through on the sea at the Bill. The only other reports were from Ferrybridge where a Kittiwake passed through and 3 Pale-bellied Brents and 2 Black Brants were amongst 1500 Dark-bellied Brents.

November 20th

Just a few hours birding possible early in the morning before more heavy rain set in and washed out proceedings. All the news was from the Bill where 65 Common Scoter, 4 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Brent Geese, a Black-throated Diver and a Pomarine Skua passed through on the sea, 5 Ravens headed north high overhead and a Fieldfare and a Chiffchaff were in the Obs garden.

Late news for last night: a Barn Owl was seen twice at Ferrybridge either side of midnight.

November 19th

Still very unsettled today with frequent heavy, thundery showers blown in on a brisk south-westerly. A steady movement of Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks was evident off the Bill where quality was provided by 8 Mediterranean Gulls, 3 Pomarine Skuas, a Red-throated Diver and a Leach's Petrel passing by. Birding on the land was hampered by the poor weather but did produce 14 Bramblings, 6 Redwings, 4 Fieldfares, a Water Rail, a Golden Plover and a Black Redstart at the Bill, a Firecrest at the Eight Kings Quarry, a Chiffchaff at Avalanche Road and a Black Redstart at Chesil Cove. Elsewhere the first Black-necked Grebe of the winter was in Portland Harbour.

We have now been informed of the arrangements for Peter Mowday's funeral which will take place at 11.30am next Monday (26th November) at St. Michael and All Angels Church, Melksham; refreshments will be available after the funeral at the Beechfield House Hotel, Melksham.

November 18th

After a late autumn of relatively benign weather conditions today's dose of blasting southerlies and constant heavy rain came as a very unpleasant shock. Seawatching was the only birding possible at the Bill where 17 Fulmars, 4 Pomarine Skuas, 3 skua spp, 2 Great Skuas and singles of Red-throated Diver, Manx Shearwater, Common Scoter and Arctic Skua passed through. The only other news was of 46 Common Scoter still settled at Chesil Cove.



   Siberian Chiffchaff - Portland Bill, 17th November 2007 © Martin Cade

  November 17th

Another quite nice little flurry of migrants this morning included by way of a highlight a putative Little Bunting that was heard and seen over the Obs, and shortly afterwards over Culverwell, early in the morning. Further quality was provided by another Siberian Chiffchaff trapped and ringed at the Obs and singles of Great Spotted Woodpecker and Lapland Bunting over the Bill, whilst the morning's numbers there consisted of 72 Redwings, 50 Chaffinches, 43 Fieldfares, 25 Song Thrushes, 10 Bramblings, at least 4 Dartford Warblers, 4 Chiffchaffs, 3 Reed Buntings, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Siskins, a Little Egret, a Blackcap and a Redpoll. Singles of Red-throated and Black-throated Diver were in Portland Harbour and 2 Long-tailed Ducks flew through the Harbour heading towards Weymouth Bay. Seawatching at the Bill produced 2 Mediterranean Gulls and a Great Skua.

Four Rusty-dot Pearl provided the only immigrant interest in the Obs garden moth-traps; L-album Wainscot and Satellite were additions to yesterday's list of resident species still on the wing.

November 16th

In pleasantly still and partly overcast conditions there was a fair list of late migrants today topped off with a fly-over Richard's Pipit at the Obs during the morning. The tally of commoner species at the Bill included 1200 Starlings, 41 Redwings, 16 Bramblings, 9 Reed Buntings, 6 Fieldfares, 4 Dartford Warblers, 4 Siskins, 3 Swallows, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Redpolls, a Woodcock, a Black Redstart, a House Martin and a Bullfinch. Seawatching there produced just 7 Common Scoter, 4 Eider and 3 Brent Geese, whilst news from elsewhere included 74 Mediterranean Gulls and a Common Scoter in Portland Harbour, a Black-throated Diver at Ferrybridge and 45 Common Scoter at Chesil Cove.

The only immigrant in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning was a single Pearly Underwing; resident species still on the wing included Large Yellow Underwing, Angles Shades, Black Rustic, Red-line Quaker, Feathered Ranunculus, Dark Chestnut, Beaded Chestnut and Lunar Underwing.

November 15th

It is with great sorrow that we announce the death of Peter Mowday, our Honorary Secretary and bookshop manager. Peter died this morning after fighting a long illness with great courage and fortitude. Our sincere condolences go to Jo and Peter's family. Peter served the Observatory with devotion and distinction over a sustained period and he will be sorely missed. Details of his funeral will be posted on this site as soon as they are known.


A chilly but otherwise very fair morning produced another typical array of mid-November sightings. A Long-eared Owl that arrived in off the sea at the Bill was easily the highlight of the day. As would be expected nearly all the routine movement at the Bill was overhead, with 250 Starlings, 23 Redwings, 10 Bramblings, 7 Fieldfares, 3 Lapwings, 3 Snipe, 3 Siskins, 2 Common Buzzards, 2 Reed Buntings, a Little Egret and a late Swallow passing through during the course of the morning. On the ground 5 Dartford Warblers remained at the Bill (these birds look to be settling in for the winter in the Obs crops opposite the entrance to the Observatory; the two individuals that have been trapped there this week were originally ringed in the same area on 10th and 22nd October respectively). Seawatching at the Bill produced 7 Brent Geese, 6 Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver, 4 Common Scoter, a Teal and a Mediterranean Gull.

November 14th

Yesterday's rain didn't do us much good and today's hint of east in the wind wasn't a lot better although a Siberian Chiffchaff (presumably the bird heard and seen there a couple of days ago) was a noteworthy capture in the Crown Estate crop fields. Passage overhead at the Bill included 60 Blackbirds, 24 Redwings, 24 Siskins, 17 Fieldfares, 2 Bramblings and a Reed Bunting, whilst 5 Dartford Warblers, 2 Snipe, 2 Blackcaps and 2 Chiffchaffs were the best on offer on the ground there. Ferrybridge produced 1330 Dark-bellied Brents, 14 Little Egrets, 10 Mediterranean Gulls, a Pale-bellied Brent and a Black Brant, and 23 Common Scoter, a Red-throated Diver, a Red-breasted Merganser and a Pomarine Skua passed through on the sea at the Bill.



  Pale-bellied Brent Geese - Ferrybridge, 13th November 2007 © Pete Saunders

  November 13th

A bit of pre-dawn rain briefly raised hopes for a flurry of late migrants but it soon became apparent that not too much had dropped in. The morning's list for the Bill included 70 Starlings, 35 Redwings, 6 Fieldfares, a Merlin, a Chiffchaff, a Brambling and a Siskin on or overhead on the land and 10 Common Scoter, 3 Mediterranean Gulls, a Red-throated Diver, a Red-breasted Merganser and a Pomarine Skua lingering or passing through on the sea. The only reports of note from elsewhere were of 46 Common Scoter settled off Chesil Cove, 3 Goldcrests at Ladymead, Easton, and 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and 1 of the Black Brants again at Ferrybridge.





  Meadow Pipit detail - Portland Bill, 12th November 2007 © Martin Cade

...unless you're a) extremely cocky, or b) Scandinavian, Meadow Pipits are one of those species that are a nightmare to age for much of the year: the partial pre-breeding moult ensures that spring is a 'don't bother to try' season; summer isn't too bad when sparklingly fresh juveniles appear amongst breeding birds whose feathers are worn back to the quills, but mid-autumn - when most Meadow Pipit passage takes place at Portland - is again a difficult period when relatively fresh first-years can be tricky to distinguish from newly-moulted adults. Perhaps by late autumn the waters become a little less muddied as we didn't have too much trouble with an adult and a first-year trapped together today. The difference in wear was immediately apparent, with the relatively pristine adult contrasting well with the pretty shoddy-looking first-year. Moult-limits weren't too hard to spot in the first-year wing (for example in the tertials and between the new innermost greater-covert and the rest of the greater-coverts) and there were plenty of other differences to check out in the colour and pattern of the wing-coverts and the shape of the primary-coverts.

  November 12th

What a difference a day makes. A considerable reduction in the strength of the wind saw far more movement overhead with Bramblings being particularly conspicuous; a probable Siberian Chiffchaff was also seen and heard briefly at the Bill. The morning's totals at the Bill where virtually everything was moving north into the light breeze included 400 Starlings, 150 Wood Pigeons, 116 Bramblings, 100 Chaffinches, 60 Redwings, 45 Siskins, 19 Redpolls, 15 Black-headed Gulls, 13 Reed Buntings and a Snipe; odds and ends on the ground there included 2 Water Rails, 2 Dartford Warblers, a Purple Sandpiper and a Corn Bunting. Two Arctic Skuas were lingering amongst the feeding flock of Gannets and gulls off the Bill and 37 Common Scoter, 10 Brent Geese, 3 Red-throated Divers and 2 Goldeneye also passed through on the sea.

In much lighter winds overnight the Obs garden moth-traps attracted a few immigrants: 2 Pearly Underwing and singles of Rusty-dot Pearl, White-speck and Silver Y.

November 11th

In terms of painful experiences an umpteenth day of blasting north-westerlies provided the Portland ornithological equivalent of sticking pins in your eyes. Thankfully a Black Brant continued to provide some interest at Ferrybridge but the morning's tally at the Bill didn't get beyond 80 Starlings, 3 Fieldfares, 2 Redwings, a Siskin and a Brambling on the move overhead and 11 Common Scoter, 2 Brent Geese, a Red-throated Diver, an Arctic Skua and a Mediterranean Gull passing through on the sea.

Late news for 9th November: a Hummingbird Hawk-moth was on the wing at Wakeham.



  Black Brant - Ferrybridge, 10th November 2007 © Pete Saunders

  November 10th

A slightly better species list today despite a general lack of enthusiasm for birding in the continuing stiff north-westerly wind. At least 1 of the Black Brants was again at Ferrybridge where there were also 5 Mediterranean Gulls and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose but most of the variety was reported from the Bill where 200 Chaffinches, 12 Siskins, 5 Purple Sandpipers, 5 Bramblings, 4 Redwings, 3 Redpolls, 2 Fieldfares, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Black Redstart and a Dartford Warbler were logged on or overhead on the land and 18 Common Scoter, 2 Black-throated Divers, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Great Northern Diver and a Grey Plover passed through on the sea.



  Black Brants - Ferrybridge, 9th November 2007 © Pete Saunders

  November 9th

Both Black Brants were again at Ferrybridge this morning (along with a record-breaking total of 2100 Dark-bellied Brents) but there was precious little else to report, with the day's list at the Bill consisting of nothing better than 4 Siskins, 2 Merlins, a Grey Wagtail, a Fieldfare and a Chiffchaff.

In cold and windy conditions overnight no immigrants were caught in the Obs garden moth-traps.





  Black Brant and November Moth - Ferrybridge and Portland Bill, 8th November 2007 © Joe Cockram (Black Brant) and Martin Cade (November Moth)

...the bottom photograph is a microscope and compact camera attempt (a technique that we clearly need to refine!) to record the detail of the underside of the abdomen tip of the November Moth. Close examination of this area is required to separate November Moth from the other Epirrita species; in our specimen the tooth-like processes (arrowed) are widely separated and relatively long, whilst the clasper has a conspicuous curved spur (visible between the two tooth-like processes). 

  November 8th

The discovery of 2 Black Brants amongst the Brent Geese at Ferrybridge provided some welcome rarity interest on what was otherwise another pretty slow day. Heavy cloud cover and a stiff north-west wind reduced overhead passage to a tiny trickle, with nothing better than 12 Siskins, 11 Redwings, 2 Redpolls, a Fieldfare, a Mistle Thrush and a Brambling passing through at the Bill. A lone Merlin was also logged at the Bill where singles of Great Northern Diver and Mediterranean Gull passed through on the sea

An unexpectedly decent selection of immigrants in the  Obs garden moth-traps this morning included 5 Delicate, 4 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Pearly Underwing, 2 White-speck and a Dark Sword Grass; much more interesting for Portland was a single November Moth (only the third island record of this relatively common 'inland' species).

Finally, it was with great sadness that we heard today of the recent death of Colin McEntee. Colin was a staunch supporter of the PBO website who had always been most generous in allowing us to use examples of his fine photographic skills with which to illustrate the site. Our thoughts and sympathies are with Colin's partner, Bev Benham, at this time of her sad loss.

November 7th

Extremely quiet today with a stiff and chilly north-west wind making birding hard work everywhere. Odds and ends on the ground or overhead at the Bill included 15 Fieldfares, 9 Bramblings, 6 Redwings, 3 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Turnstones, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Merlin and a Blackcap, whilst seawatching there produced 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Great Skua and a Mediterranean Gull.

The only immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning were 4 Rusty-dot Pearl and 2 Delicate.










  Whooper Swans and some Fieldfare detail - Portland Bill, 6th November 2007 © Martin Cade

...since we don't catch many Fieldfares it was something of a fortuitous fluke that the two netted today allowed us to compare both sexes and both age classes. Sexing wasn't too difficult in this case with the male being altogether more richly-coloured than the female; as would be expected it also had much larger black centres to the crown feathers, a much blacker tail and much darker wings. The presence/absence of a moult-limit in the greater coverts and the difference in tail feather shape saw to it that ageing was just as straightforward as sexing.

  November 6th

Today's big highlight - literally and metaphorically - were 2 Whooper Swans that were spotted flying south over Weston and shortly afterwards carried on out to sea over the Bill (the last Portland record of this species was as long ago as 1990). Under clear blue skies virtually all the rest of the movement was also high overhead with a flock of at least 40 Bearded Tits over Easton being the pick of the bunch; 21 Fieldfares, 16 Redwings, 8 Redpolls, 5 Siskins, 2 Reed Buntings, a Lapwing, a Snipe, a Mistle Thrush and a Brambling made up the numbers at the Bill. A Black Redstart at Verne Common and singles of Merlin and Short-eared Owl at the Bill were the best of the what little could be found on the ground.

Overnight moth-trapping was again a bit of a non-event with 9 Rusty-dot Pearl and a lone Rush Veneer the only immigrants caught in the Obs garden traps.

November 5th

Not a busy day today with grounded migrants in particular in very short supply. Starling passage was conspicuous for a while during the morning when 1500 arrived in off the sea in quick time at the Bill; other 'overhead' totals there included 70 Chaffinches, 38 Siskins, 21 Redwings, 18 Bramblings, 8 Redpolls, 4 Fieldfares, 4 Reed Buntings, 2 Snipe and a Lapwing. The only sightings of any interest from the ground where of 2 Purple Sandpipers and singles of Black Redstart and Dartford Warbler at the Bill. Seawatching at the Bill produced 13 Common Scoter, 2 Teal, 2 Mediterranean Gulls and singles of Red-throated Diver and Red-breasted Merganser, whilst the Ferrybridge list included 300 Brent Geese, 20 Mediterranean Gulls and a Red-throated Diver.

Overnight moth-trapping was especially dire with 2 Rusty-dot Pearl, a Pearly Underwing, a Delicate and a Silver Y the only immigrants caught in the Obs garden traps.

November 4th

Not so much on the move today but still a reasonable species list for the day. At a local level the pick of the sightings were 2 single Corn Buntings at the Bill; the best of the rest there were 2 Dartford Warblers, a Merlin, a Mistle Thrush and a Black Redstart on or overhead on the land and 3 Velvet Scoters, 3 Shoveler and a Pomarine Skua passing through on the sea. Sample counts of passage over the Bill through the morning included 28 Redwings, 12 Fieldfares, 8 Bramblings, 6 Reed Buntings, 5 Redpolls, 4 Lapwings, 4 Snipe, 3 Siskins and a Golden Plover, whilst further totals on the sea included 98 Common Scoter, 7 Brent Geese, 3 Teal and a Great Northern Diver.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning consisted of 24 Rusty-dot Pearl, 3 Delicate, 3 White-speck and 2 Silver Y; singles of Heart and Dart and White-point were both noteworthy for the time of year.






  Ring Ouzel - Portland Bill, 3rd November 2007 © Martin Cade's Ring Ouzel - sorry, but this is another series of photographs taken when the light was dull as ditchwater - had such a cracking gorget that you'd be forgiven for thinking it had to be an adult male (compare it with, for example, the really ropey-looking presumed first-year male caught on 4th October); however a quick look at the greater coverts showed that it was certainly a bird of the year (the five outer juvenile feathers contrasting well with the new inner feathers).

  November 3rd

Plenty more fairly routine early November passage today with, in particular, decent numbers of thrushes, Starlings and finches on the move under a blanket of heavy cloud but the only real quality was provided by a Mealy Redpoll that paid a brief early morning visit to a garden at Southwell, a Hen Harrier that passed through over Top Fields and the Yellow-browed Warbler that remained at Southwell. The morning's totals for the Bill area (where pretty well everything was on the move overhead) included 1100 Starlings, 150 Chaffinches, 100 Blackbirds, 100 Redwings, 90 Siskins, 40 Fieldfares, 35 Bramblings, 30 Song Thrushes, 12 Redpolls, 5 Reed Buntings, 4 Mistle Thrushes, 4 Dartford Warblers, 2 Swallows and singles of Snipe, Ring Ouzel and Black Redstart; similar variety and numbers elsewhere included 1400 Starlings and 510 Chaffinches (many of which were additions to those counted at the Bill) during a walk from Southwell to Weston.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 16 Rusty-dot Pearl, 10 Delicate, 4 Pearly Underwing and singles of White-speck, Merveille du Jour and Silver Y.

November 2nd

It certainly didn't feel like November today in clear skies and warm sunshine. Unfortunately these conditions didn't do much for the quality of the birding and aside from the Yellow-browed Warbler that remained at Southwell and a little bit of passage overhead there wasn't too much to report. For the first time this autumn Starlings made up the bulk of the numbers overhead with more than 1000 arriving from the south during the course of the morning; other totals from the Bill included 100 Chaffinches, 24 Redwings, 11 Siskins, 6 Redpolls, 5 Reed Buntings, 4 Bramblings, 3 Fieldfares, 3 Dartford Warblers, 2 Snipe, 2 Swallows, a Black Redstart, a Bullfinch and a Lapland Bunting.

The overnight catch of immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps consisted of 41 Rusty-dot Pearl, 4 Delicate, 3 White-speck, 2 Silver Y and a Pearly Underwing.



  Yellow-browed Warbler - Southwell, 1st November 2007 © Joe Cockram

  November 1st

After what frankly was a pretty poor October there are high hopes that November - so often the rarity month in recent years - might bring a change in Portland's fortunes. In the event today proved to be just a continuation of October: a heavy cloud cover at dawn was enough to drop a fair number of thrushes and finches but the only oddity discovered was a Yellow-browed Warbler at Southwell. More routine fare in the Bill area included 100 Redwings, 80 Chaffinches, 50 Blackbirds, 25 Song Thrushes, 18 Siskins, 11 Fieldfares, 3 Swallows, a Woodcock and a Reed Bunting; a lone Mediterranean Gull was about the only worthwhile sighting on the sea.

Conditions overnight looked quite promising for moth-trapping and there was a fair list of immigrants in the Obs garden traps this morning: 53 Rusty-dot Pearl, 7 Silver Y, 6 Pearly Underwing, 6 Delicate, 3 White-speck and singles of Gem, Scarce Bordered Straw and Red Admiral butterfly.