October 2008




  ...it looks to be rat for breakfast for this Kestrel - Portland Bill, 31st October 2008 © Martin Cade

  31st October

Today's clear skies and pleasant sunshine were somewhat tempered by a raw north-east wind although the latter was no doubt the main factor in really bucking up the birding. Most of the arrivals at the Bill were struggling in off the sea and heading away into the wind, with the morning returning totals of 375 Starlings, 250 Chaffinches, 100 Blackbirds, 80 Redwings, 30 Song Thrushes, 25 Fieldfares, 11 Lapwings, 10 Goldcrests, 7 Bramblings, 6 Long-tailed Tits, 3 Chiffchaffs, 3 Redpolls, 2 Blackcaps, a Grey Heron, a Woodcock, a Swallow, a Wheatear and a Firecrest; 30 Brent Geese also passed though on the sea there. Noteworthy reports from elsewhere included the Yellow-browed Warbler still at Reforne, a Firecrest at Pennsylvania Castle and a Hen Harrier heading north over Perryfields.



  Goldcrest - Portland Bill, 30th October 2008 © Martin Cade

  30th October

Quite disappointing today with some really interesting-looking weather conditions - a blasting easterly and heavy rain lingering on into the morning - failing to produce the goods. Plenty of Starlings - including a minimum of 700 at the Bill - were arriving in off the sea through the morning and several dozen Redwings were swirling around in the rain but otherwise the best of the day's reports were of 4 Long-tailed Tits, 3 Lapwings, 2 Black Redstarts, a Purple Sandpiper, a Mistle Thrush and a Firecrest at the Bill, 2 Firecrests at Delhi Lane, 2 Black Redstarts at Reap Lane and 5 Fieldfares and 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Ferrybridge. Eight Brent Geese and singles of Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver and Mediterranean Gull passed thorough on the sea at the Bill.



  Knot - Ferrybridge, 29th October 2008 © Martin Cade

  29th October

Dawn saw the first frost of the autumn after another very clear night and there was again a small flurry of new arrivals; these continued as the day went on with the afternoon seeing the arrival of quite a few new thrushes that dropped in under the increasing cloud associated with wind and rain that rolled in after dark. The Bill area produced tardy singles of Garden Warbler and Pied Flycatcher, along with 60 Redwings, 30 Blackbirds, 20 Song Thrushes, 20 Siskins, 9 Swallows, 7 Blackcaps, 7 Bramblings, 6 Chiffchaffs, 6 Goldcrests, 4 Redpolls, 4 Reed Buntings, 3 Snipe, 2 Fieldfares, a Great Northern Diver, a Lapwing, a Curlew, a Short-eared Owl, a Black Redstart and a Firecrest. News from elsewhere included a Yellow-browed Warbler at Easton and 42 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Wigeon, a Pale-bellied Brent Goose and a Knot at Ferrybridge.

Despite the chilly conditions there were still a few immigrant moths on the wing, with the Obs garden traps producing 7 Silver Y, 2 Pearly Underwing, a Rush Veneer and a White-speck.







  adult and juvenile Common Buzzards and a Blackbird bearing a French ring comes under scrutiny - Portland Bill, 28th October 2008 © Martin Cade

...it usually takes an age before we receive the ringing details of birds marked in France so just in case a friendly French ringer who might be in the know happens to look at the website then the ring number is GH102023 - any help gratefully received!

  28th October

Fresh northerlies and clear skies saw to it that there was a real nip in the air at dawn and a very minor flurry of Redwings showed up (moaning about something yesterday did some good after all). Most of the news came from the Bill area where there were 20 Redwings, 10 Siskins, 4 Lapwings, 4 Black Redstarts, 4 Bramblings, 4 Reed Buntings, 3 Short-eared Owls, 2 Swallows, 2 Redpolls, a Great Northern Diver, a Snipe and a Firecrest, along with a sprinkle of new Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Goldcrests; rather surprisingly there was no really concerted movement overhead on the sort of morning that looked good for some pigeon passage or the like. The only other news was of a lone Pale-bellied Brent Goose at Ferrybridge.

27th October

The recent migration hiatus continued and it remained very much quieter than it ought to be at this time of the autumn (we keep hearing of, for example, large movements of thrushes and the like in other parts of the country but these things just aren't getting over to this part of the world at the moment). Most of what movement there was today was overhead, with 200 Wood Pigeons, 25 Siskins, 12 Reed Buntings, 11 Swallows and 4 Redpolls the best of some light passage at the Bill where a lot of birds were high enough to be out of audible range and so tricky to identify. The pretty dreadful selection on the ground at the Bill included singles of Short-eared Owl, Black Redstart and Firecrest, all of which appeared to be lingering on from previous days, as was the Grey Phalarope that was still at Chesil Cove; 2 more Black Redstarts were also at the Cove.

Immigrant interest in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning consisted of 11 Silver Y, 3 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Rush Veneer and 2 White-speck.

26th October

Despite a real dose of overnight wind and rain there were a few new arrivals about today although getting to grips with them was never easy as the rain took an age to clear through. A Grey Phalarope that lingered for a while in Chesil Cove was the best of the sightings; a late Arctic Tern was also there and a Shelduck and a Great Skua passed through off the Bill. On the land 4 Black Redstarts, 2 Firecrests and a Short-eared Owl were the pick of the birds at the Bill where a few new arrivals, including 3 Blackcaps, were netted once the rain eased during the afternoon.

Eight Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Rush Veneer and a Silver Y were the only immigrants in the single moth-trap operated overnight in the Obs garden.

Late news for yesterday: a Crossbill passed overhead at Reap Lane and 1, possibly 2, Sabine's Gulls were reported by visiting seawatchers.



  Chiffchaff - Wakeham, 24th October 2008 © Martin Cade

...a photo that has no significance - although we do quite like it - other than it allows us to vent our frustration at not being able to get a single meaningful image of a silent, lurking acro that only showed for milliseconds at a time in the same dense ivy bush  (we were nearly sure it was a Reed Warbler, but you never quite know at this time of year...). Needless to say, the one image obtained of the Chiffchaff shows only a tenth of the bird but allows it to be identified in an instant!

  25th October

A longer list of sightings today although all the numbers were overhead rather than on the ground. Finches in particular were on the move in good numbers, with a short sample count at the Bill producing 370 Linnets, 125 Goldfinches, 120 Meadow Pipits, 21 Wood Pigeons, 21 Skylarks and 18 Chaffinches; lots more of the same were on move at other times along with 10 Siskins, 4 Bramblings and the first Fieldfare of the autumn. Two Black Redstarts, a Merlin and a new Firecrest were the best of the scarcer species on the ground at the Bill. A freshening wind didn't perk things up on the sea, with singles of Manx Shearwater and Great Skua providing the only interest off the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 27 Rusty-dot Pearl, 3 Rush Veneer, 3 Silver Y and 2 Pearly Underwing.

24th October

With the weather having calmed down again there was decent coverage of the land which did little more than reveal how few new arrivals there were. The only particularly worthwhile sightings were of 5 Siskins, 3 Black Redstarts, a Short-eared Owl, a Firecrest and a Redpoll at the Bill, a Ring Ouzel at Southwell and another 2 Firecrests at Church Ope Cove. Seawatching at the Bill produced singles of Great Northern Diver, Great Skua and Mediterranean Gull.

Eight Rusty-dot Pearl, a Delicate and a Clancy's Rustic were the only immigrant moths in the Obs garden traps this morning.



  Agonopterix umbellana - Portland Bill, 23rd October 2008 © Martin Cade

  23rd October

A freshening south-westerly saw most attention return to the sea, with totals of 29 Common Scoter, 16 Balearic Shearwaters, 10 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Great Skuas and a Manx Shearwater logged at the Bill. The only reports from the land at the Bill were of singles of Merlin, Purple Sandpiper, Firecrest and Siskin.

A minor improvement in moth numbers in the Obs garden traps included an overnight immigrant tally of 35 Rusty-dot Pearl, 8 Silver Y, 7 Rush Veneer, 3 White-speck and 2 Pearly Underwing, along with some local interest in the form of a single specimen of the gorse-feeder Agonopterix umbellana (of which the only other island record is of 2 at the Obs on 1st October 1994).

22nd October

Totally uninspiring conditions - blustery, crystal-clear westerlies - and a pretty uninspiring bird list today. Routine passage on the land dwindled to such an extent that only 4 new birds were trapped and ringed at the Obs all day, and the only faintly interesting sightings at the Bill were of 25 Siskins, 3 Turnstones, 2 Firecrests, a Merlin, a Golden Plover, a Black Redstart and a Redpoll. Elsewhere there was another a Firecrest at Church Ope Cove and a Lesser Whitethroat at Southwell.

The conditions were as poor for moths as they were for birds, with the only immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning being 11 Silver Y, 9 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Rush Veneer and singles of Pearly Underwing and White-speck.






  Stonechat, Garden Warbler and something that ought by rights to have been an American Painted Lady but unfortunately was just another regulation Painted Lady - Portland Bill, 21st October 2008 © Martin Cade

...the Garden Warbler is a long-stayer that's clearly thriving: its weight had increased from 18.7gm when first caught on 15th October to 26.2gm when retrapped today.

  21st October

With the overnight wind and rain having taken way too long to have cleared through there was little opportunity for migrants to have got moving and new arrivals were again at a premium. Odds and ends at the Bill included 20 Siskins, 3 Turnstones, 3 Black Redstarts, 3 Wheatears, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Redpolls, 2 Reed Buntings, a Short-eared Owl, a Ring Ouzel, a Garden Warbler and a Firecrest.

At least 1 Painted Lady was in the Obs garden.

There were very few immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 15 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Silver Y and a Clancy's Rustic.

Late news for yesterday: a Little Gull was an addition to the seawatch tally at Chesil Cove.

20th October

Whilst there was considerably less rain than forecast until well into the afternoon it remained dreary and windy throughout and nearly all the news was of seawatching, which produced 11 Common Scoter, 5 Balearic Shearwaters, 5 Great Skuas, a Pomarine Skua and an Arctic Skua off the Bill and singles of Manx Shearwater and Great Skua off Chesil Cove. The only other reports were of single Black Redstarts at the Bill and Reap Lane.

The immigrant tally in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning consisted of 24 Rusty-dot Pearl and singles of White-speck, Clancy's Rustic and Silver Y.



  Helen Brotherton and Jo Mowday at the Obs unveiling a plaque in memory of our late Hon Secretary, Peter Mowday, who died last year - 19th October 2008 © Martin Cade

  19th October

A good deal of coverage of the land revealed nothing much more than 3 Siskins, 2 Black Restarts, a Snipe and a Ring Ouzel amongst the very small numbers of commoner migrants at the Bill; elsewhere there was another Ring Ouzel at Barleycrates Lane. Quite a bit of attention was also given to the sea, with the Bill producing 25 Common Scoter, 4 Balearic Shearwaters and singles of Great Northern Diver, Great Crested Grebe and Manx Shearwater.

The first Painted Lady for some while was in the Obs garden, where yet another Western Conifer Seed Bug was also discovered.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning consisted of 48 Rusty-dot Pearl, 4 Silver Y and 2 each of Delicate and Dark Spectacle.

18th October

Poor reward again today with few oddities, precious little grounded and surprisingly little on the move overhead. The only scarcer migrants reported were 3 Bramblings and singles of Merlin, Short-eared Owl, Black Redstart and Firecrest at the Bill where there was otherwise little worth reporting by way of numbers or variety of commoner species. A single Balearic Shearwater passed through on the sea at the Bill.

Another Western Conifer Seed Bug was found at the Obs this morning.

Immigrant numbers picked up a little in the Obs garden moth-traps: 70 Rusty-dot Pearl 10 Silver Y, 3 Delicate, a Dark Sword Grass and a Clancy's Rustic.




   Treecreeper and Jackdaw - Portland Bill, 17th October 2008 © Martin Cade

  17th October

A lovely clear, still day to be out birding but, the usual suspects aside, there still wasn't too much to be seen, with what oddities there were - namely a Yellow-browed Warbler at Wakeham and a Treecreeper trapped and ringed at the Obs - only providing interest at a relatively local level. The supporting cast included 2 Firecrests, a Merlin, a Short-eared Owl, a Ring Ouzel and a Dartford Warbler at the Bill, where 50 Goldcrests made up the bulk of the new arrivals on the ground and 44 Jackdaws, 35 Siskins, 20 Redpolls, 15 Reed Buntings, 4 Bramblings (click here to listen to a short recording of one of these birds calling from a treetop at the Obs), 2 Snipe and a Lapwing were the best of the birds on the move overhead.

Moths were not at all plentiful in cool conditions overnight and 11 Silver Y, 5 Rusty-dot Pearl and a lone Delicate were the only immigrants attracted to the Obs garden traps.

16th October

Despite a gradual improvement in the weather there wasn't too much to be seen by way of common migrants although a Hawfinch at Penn's Weare, a Ring Ouzel at Barleycrates Lane and singles of Black Redstart and Firecrest at the Bill did provide some interest. Commoner migrants were very thinly spread on the ground but a little more on the move overhead included 300 Linnets, 150 alba wagtails, 100 Chaffinches, 70 Starlings and 60 Goldfinches at the Bill; singles of Merlin, Golden Plover, Short-eared Owl and Garden Warbler were about the only other noteworthy sightings on the ground at the Bill, where a lone Arctic Skua also passed though on the sea.

As on the last few sunny days there was again some evidence of presumed emigration of Red Admiral butterflies today, with many individuals watched moving purposefully from north to south at the Bill.

In cool and breezy conditions overnight the only immigrants attracted to the Obs garden moth-traps were 11 Rusty-dot Pearl, 9 Silver Y, a Pearly Underwing, a White-speck and a Clancy's Rustic.

Late news for last Saturday night/Sunday morning (11th/12th): a Western Conifer Seed Bug was attracted to one of the moth-traps operated overnight by visiting moth-trappers at Cheyne Weare.

15th October

Grey skies, a brisk westerly wind and a few early showers weren't the sort of conditions to enthuse anyone but a few oddities did still show up, notably a brief Yellow-browed Warbler in a private garden at Southwell, a Woodlark in Top Fields and a Dartford Warbler at Barleycrates Lane. Two Black Redstarts and a Firecrest were still at the Bill, late singles of Reed Warbler and Garden Warbler were new arrivals there and single Merlins were at both Barleycrates Lane and Verne Common but commoner migrants were pretty few and far between. 

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning included 43 Rusty-dot Pearl, 19 Silver Y, 2 Delicate and singles of Vestal, White-speck and Clancy's Rustic.

Late news for yesterday: 2 Pintail passed through off the Bill.






    Western Conifer Seed Bug, Vestal, Four-spotted Footman and Pale-bellied Brent Geese - Portland Bill, 14th October 2008 © Martin Cade

  14th October

Less overhead and not too much on the ground today. The only out of the ordinary sightings involved a family party of 5 Pale-bellied Brent Geese that dropped in on the shore along the East Cliffs at the Bill and 2 Continental Coal Tits at Wakeham. Fifty Siskins, 2 Merlins, 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Firecrests and late singles of Yellow Wagtail and Reed Warbler were the pick of the commoner migrants at the Bill.

In very good moth-trapping conditions overnight the immigrant list in the Obs garden traps consisted of 125 Rusty-dot Pearl, 34 Silver Y, 5 Vestal, 4 Clancy's Rustic, 2 Diamond-back Moth, 2 Rush Veneer, 2 Four-spotted Footman and 2 Delicate.

Finally, we've been very slow on the uptake regarding the identification of a peculiar large bug discovered on the Obs patio yesterday. We've just realised today that it's a specimen of the Western Conifer Seed Bug Leptoglossus occidentalis, a North American species that was accidentally introduced into Europe in 1999 and first reached Britain in 2007 (the first specimen was found at Weymouth College by Obs member Bob Ford, and subsequently the species has been recorded at several sites in south-east England this autumn).

13th October

The return of overcast skies didn't produce much in the way of grounded migrants but did lead to one of the better 'non-hirundine' overhead movements of the autumn. At the Bill most movement was southward along/off the East Cliffs, with a 2 hour sample count producing totals that included 1415 Linnets, 533 alba wagtails, 525 Goldfinches, 490 Meadow Pipits, 185 Swallows, 104 Siskins, 46 Skylarks, 19 Chaffinches and 3 Merlins. The land produced a light scatter of October staples such as Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests everywhere, with minor interest provided by the likes of 3 Black Redstarts, 2 Redwings, a Water Rail and a Golden Plover at the Bill and a Grasshopper Warbler at Perryfields.

There wasn't too much change in the Obs garden moth-traps, with the overnight immigrant tally consisting of 106 Rusty-dot Pearl, 5 Silver Y, 4 Clancy's Rustic, 2 Four-spotted Footman, 2 Delicate and a Palpita vitrealis.

12th October

Dense fog that rolled in shortly after dawn spoilt the morning's birding and by the time it cleared a few hours later most birders had jacked in for the day. What little coverage there was revealed 4 Short-eared Owls and singles of Merlin, Snipe, Redwing and Firecrest at the Bill and singles of Redwing and Garden Warbler in the Easton/Grove area; commoner migrants were only thinly spread and there was practically no overhead passage other than the trickle of hirundines that going once the fog cleared.

The immigrant moth tally from the Obs garden traps was similar to yesterday: 81 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Delicate, 2 Silver Y, a Rush Veneer, a European Corn-borer and a Clancy's Rustic; visiting moth-trappers working the Cheyne Weare area overnight logged a similar list, along with a single Flame Brocade.

11th October

Another lovely day to be out birding but probably too nice to be very productive. Most of what movement there was was overhead, with a sample 90 minute count at the Bill producing 240 Linnets, 180 alba wagtails, 94 Skylarks, 38 Siskins, 7 Chaffinches, 4 Grey Wagtails, 4 Reed Buntings, a Brambling and a Redpoll; singles of Little Egret and Osprey also passed over at the Bill at other times. It remained pretty deadly on the ground, with the best that could be mustered from the Bill area being 4 Short-eared Owls, 2 Merlins, a Snipe, the first Black Redstart of the autumn and a Yellowhammer, whilst a Great Spotted Woodpecker showed up at Verne Common and a Turtle Dove was at Easton. The only news from the sea was of 8 Mediterranean Gulls, 3 Sanderling and a Balearic Shearwater passing through off the Bill.

Overnight mothing at the Obs produced 85 Rusty-dot Pearl, 4 Clancy's Rustic, 2 Silver Y and a Delicate.





   Bill Oddie and crew visit to film a piece for the BBC Autumnwatch series and Short-eared Owl - Portland Bill, 10th October 2008 © Luke Phillips (SEO) and Martin Cade (film crew)

  10th October

Fair weather again but precious little by way of quality or quantity today. Two Short-eared Owls, a Merlin and a Woodlark provided just about the only interest at the Bill where commoner migrants were reduced to little more than ones and twos of the most routine species on the ground and nothing in any great numbers overhead. Seawatching at the Bill produced 3 Arctic Skuas, 2 Little Egrets, 2 Great Skuas, 2 Puffins and a Manx Shearwater.

9th October

No sign today of the Grey-cheeked Thrush. Under an almost cloudless sky it was something of a surprise to get a decent arrival of new Goldcrests, that included a good 200 or so in the Bill area, but otherwise grounded migrants were restricted to small numbers of the usual early October fare that included singles of Merlin, Water Rail, Short-eared Owl and Firecrest at the Bill; single Yellow-browed Warblers at Easton and Verne Common were the only goodies discovered elsewhere. There was plenty of movement overhead although in nothing more than a light breeze birds seemed to be heading in all directions; all the usual hirundines, wagtails, finches etc were well represented without there being any particularly noteworthy numbers or species. The only reports from the sea were of 25 Common Scoter and singles of Great Northern Diver and Great Skua passing the Bill.

Another small overnight catch of immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps included 33 Rusty-dot Pearl, 6 Silver Y, 2 Dark Sword Grass, a Delicate and a Clancy's Rustic.

Late news for yesterday: we forgot to mention a Bearded Tit that dropped in briefly near the Admiralty hedge at the Bill and 5 Great Skuas that passed through on the sea there.






 Grey-cheeked Thrush and albino House Martin - Portland Bill, 8th October 2008 © Martin Cade

...and we may as well bore you with some more thrush pictures: the outdoor photos above were taken in very strong sunlight and perhaps wash out the colour tones a bit too much; the two head shots below were taken indoors and give a better idea of the true colouration:



...several observers commented on the age of the bird as pale tips to the greater coverts weren't at all apparent at most angles; as the photo below shows they were present when you got the light/angle right and the moult-limit between these pale tipped outer feathers and the uniform inner feathers clearly established the age as being first-winter:


...and finally some incidental pictures of the bird on show in the hand, being photographed and about to be released in the Obs Quarry:




additional photos © Martin Cade (in hand photos) and Debby Saunders (other photos)

  8th October

Portland's share of the Nearctic bonanza deposited in south-west England and Ireland in the aftermath of tropical storm Laura turned up today when Portland and Dorset's first Grey-cheeked Thrush was trapped and ringed at the Obs early in the afternoon; the bird showed well for half an hour after release but thereafter afforded just a few mainly fleeting flight views in the last hour of daylight. In glorious sunshine commoner migrants were very thinly spread on the land but there was quite a bit of passage overhead. The Bill area received pretty well all the attention: singles of Merlin, Whinchat and Reed Warbler provided just about the only interest on the ground, whilst a sample 90 minute count of overhead passage produced 780 Meadow Pipits, 319 alba wagtails, 290 Swallows, 135 Linnets, 110 House Martins, 70 Goldfinches, 32 Chaffinches, 14 Skylarks, 6 Siskins, 2 Reed Buntings and a Tree Pipit.

7th October

Another southerly blow saw to it that all eyes were on the sea again today but, a good Great Skua tally aside, the reward for the hours spent watching was not too great. The day's totals for the Bill were 46 Great Skuas, 25 Common Scoter, 6 Balearic Shearwaters, 6 Arctic Skuas, 6 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Pomarine Skuas, a Little Gull and a Sandwich Tern. Full totals aren't available yet for Chesil Cove but a short watch in the late morning produced 5 Arctic Terns, 2 Balearic Shearwaters and 2 Sooty Shearwaters.

The Obs garden moth-traps produced more of the same, with the overnight immigrant tally consisting of 53 Rusty-dot Pearl and 16 Silver Y.






   Merlin and Grey Phalarope - Portland Bill, 6th October 2008 © Martin Cade

  6th October

For the most part a pleasantly still and overcast day with plenty of opportunity for decent coverage of the land for the first time for a few days. The only unexpected find was a freshly dead Grey Phalarope that was brought to the Obs by a member of the public who'd found it underneath a bench near the Bill lighthouse. The Bill area got most of the attention and returned totals that included 50 each of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, 20 Stonechats, 15 Blackcaps, 10 Song Thrushes, 3 Little Egrets, 3 Reed Buntings, 2 Merlins, 2 Wheatears, 2 Garden Warblers, a Golden Plover, a Yellow Wagtail, a Redstart, a Redwing, a Reed Warbler, a Willow Warbler, a Firecrest and a Brambling; relatively small numbers of hirundines and Linnets also passed though overhead. A late Pied Flycatcher at Tout Quarry was about the best of the sightings from elsewhere. Sea passage died right away but did still include 45 Common Scoter, 6 Balearic Shearwaters, 5 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Great Skuas and a Manx Shearwater passing through off the Bill.

There was a big increase in immigrant numbers - although certainly not in variety - in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 142 Rusty-dot Pearl and 12 Silver Y.

5th October

Another stormy and wet night/early morning but not nearly so much on the move off the Bill. The morning's totals for the two main watchpoints included 28 Great Skuas, 20 Common Scoter, 11 Mediterranean Gulls, 10 Arctic Skuas, 6 Manx Shearwaters, 5 Balearic Shearwaters and 2 Sooty Shearwaters passing the Bill and 3 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Manx Shearwaters, a Great Skua, a Sabine's Gull, a Little Gull and a Grey Phalarope passing/lingering at Chesil Cove. Once the worst of the weather cleared through there were fair numbers of Swallows on the move at the Bill, where the land otherwise produced just small numbers of Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests and a lone Short-eared Owl.





   Arctic Skua, Little Stints and Sooty Shearwaters - Ferrybridge and Portland Bill, 4th October 2008 © Pete Saunders (skua and stint) and Martin Cade (shearwaters)

  4th October

A fairish couple of hours at the start of the day provided a short window of opportunity to have a look on the land but before long the wind freshened from the south-west and it became increasingly stormy and wet as the afternoon went on. Quite a bit of Linnet movement was evident overhead although most of the 500 or so that passed over the Bill seemed to chicken out of actually leaving out to sea; 4 Wheatears, 2 Merlins, 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 Siskins and small numbers of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were also there. Sea passage started to pick up off the Bill through the morning and by late afternoon there had been totals that included 32 Arctic Skuas, 25 Common Scoter, 18 Sooty Shearwaters, 16 Manx Shearwaters, 15 Great Skuas, 11 Balearic Shearwaters, 4 Arctic Terns, 2 Fulmars, a Sabine's Gull and a Mediterranean Gull. Elsewhere, Chesil Cove produced several Arctic Skuas, 3 Grey Phalaropes and 4 probable Long-tailed Skuas, whilst 2 Arctic Skuas and an Arctic Tern passed through at Ferrybridge and 2 Little Stints were settled there.

3rd October

The slow start to October continued with the north/north-westerly wind having freshened up again. Grounded migrants included small numbers of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests in all the sheltered spots, 250 Pied Wagtails, 8 Wheatears, 3 Yellow Wagtails, a Short-eared Owl, a Whinchat and a Spotted Flycatcher at the Bill and a Firecrest at Wakeham, whilst 15 Siskins and a Woodlark were the pick of the birds on the move overhead at the Bill. The only news from the sea was of 5 Mediterranean Gulls passing through off the Bill.

Two Silver Y were the only immigrants in the otherwise very nearly empty Obs garden moth-traps.


2007 Annual Report update. We always seem to have been too busy with visitors/birds/website etc this year to be able to quite finish the report but are finally nearly there! Apologies to our members for what will be a much later publication date than usual but you'll be receiving the report with our autumn newsletter.


2nd October

A fairer day once a few hefty showers had passed though during the first hour of daylight. It remained relatively quiet on the ground but there was a good deal more on the move overhead, with a 75 minute early morning watch at the Bill producing 560 Meadow Pipits, 148 Linnets, 93 alba wagtails, 16 Swallows, 16 Chaffinches, 5 Siskins, 2 Merlins and a Yellow Wagtail; hirundines got moving in better numbers as the day went on when another 30 Siskins, 3 Grey Wagtails, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Reed Bunting also passed over. Nothing of particular importance was reported from the land but 4 Balearic Shearwaters and 4 Mediterranean Gulls passed through on the sea at the Bill.

A lone Rusty-dot Pearl was the only immigrant in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.



   Hummingbird Hawk-moth - Southwell, 28th September 2008 © Pete Saunders

  1st October

The strong north-westerly kept up all day although it was much sunnier than yesterday. The sheltered spots again held a few common migrants including, for example, 24 Blackcaps, 16 Chiffchaffs, 14 Goldcrests, 2 Garden Warblers and a Willow Warbler at Penn's Weare, and there was again at least 1 Merlin at the Bill.

Four Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Silver Y and a Dark Spectacle were the only immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.