August 2010




    Little Gull and Brimstone - Ferrybridge and Portland Bill, 31st August 2010 © John Down (Little Gull) and Martin Cade (Brimstone)

  31st August

The much-vaunted easterlies duly arrived but, based on today's evidence, visitors might be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about. At the Bill there were bags of hirundines on the move overhead throughout the morning, grounded/overflying Yellow Wagtails got to around the 70 mark and 40 Wheatears were scattered about but otherwise migrants were in short supply and included nothing at all unexpected for late August; elsewhere the pick of the bunch were singles of Little Stint and Little Gull at Ferrybridge. The change in wind direction saw the sea given a bit more attention, with watches at the Bill producing 54 Common Scoter, 3 Arctic Skuas and singles of Balearic Shearwater, Teal and Great Skua.

Another Clouded Yellow was at Southwell but the most noteworthy of the day's butterfly sightings concerned a Brimstone roaming about the Obs/Obs Quarry area.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 40 Dark Sword Grass, 4 Silver Y, 3 Rush Veneer, 3 Rusty-dot Pearl and a Diamond-back Moth; additionally a Vestal was caught overnight at Reap Lane, Southwell.

30th August

After what felt like the coolest dawn for several months the day itself saw something of a return to summer. Although it was too clear for much of an arrival of grounded migrants there was a good deal of variety and there were plenty of birds, particularly hirundines, on the move overhead. At the Bill, Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear and Willow Warbler all got to around the 50 mark and there were 20 Blackcaps and 13 Tree Pipits, whilst 3 Grasshopper Warblers, 3 Lesser Whitethroats and a Nightingale were the pick of the wide variety of other species making the list; among a similar assortment elsewhere there was a noteworthy total of 4 Redstarts at Avalanche Road.

A single Clouded Yellow at the Bill was the first logged for several weeks, whilst a Chalkhill Blue was a very unusual visitor to the buddleia bushes in the Obs garden (we can't remember actually remember seeing one anywhere near the Obs before).

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 28 Dark Sword Grass and 4 Silver Y.




    Curlew Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper - Ferrybridge and Portland Bill, 29th August 2010 © Pete Saunders (Curlew Sand) and Martin Cade (Green Sand)

  29th August

Under dreary skies and in a brisk north-westerly migrant numbers fell markedly at the Bill where only Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear and Willow Warbler got into the 20s and the only slightly out of the ordinary reports were of 2 Merlins, a Green Sandpiper and a Great Spotted Woodpecker; elsewhere there were 7 Curlew Sandpipers, 2 Mute Swans, a Knot, a Sanderling and a White Wagtail at Ferrybridge. Seawatch reports included 20 Common Scoter and 6 Balearic Shearwaters passing through off the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 31 Dark Sword Grass, 5 Rush Veneer, 5 Silver Y, 3 Rusty-dot Pearl and singles of Diamond-back Moth, Vestal, Pearly Underwing and Delicate.




  Greenshank and Peregrine - Ferrybridge, 28th August 2010 © Pete Saunders

     28th August

The return of much more settled weather conditions saw common migrants get moving after the recent lull in passage. It was too clear overnight to have expected much of an arrival of grounded migrants, but the Bill area returned totals of 60 Willow Warblers, 50 Yellow Wagtails, 40 Wheatears, 6 Tree Pipits, 6 Spotted Flycatchers and smaller numbers of a wide variety of other expected fare, together with minor quality in the form of 2 White Wagtails and singles of Merlin, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Bullfinch; late in the day an Ortolan Bunting was also reported from there. After yesterday's events Ferrybridge got plenty of coverage that resulted in 11 Whimbrel, 5 Knot, 3 Sanderling, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Greenshank being recorded at various times. The only seawatch report was of a single Arctic Skua lingering off the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 16 Dark Sword Grass, 6 Silver Y, 5 Rush Veneer and singles of Diamond-back Moth, Rusty-dot Pearl, Vestal, Pearly Underwing and Scarce Bordered Straw; elsewhere, singles of Calamotropha paludella and Feathered Gothic (both infrequent wanderers to Portland) were the highlights from a few hours trapping at Cheyne Weare yesterday evening.





    Red-necked Stint - Ferrybridge, 27th August 2010 © Paul Baker

...and, although it hardly compensated for dipping the stint, the Curlew Sandpiper at Ferrybridge later in the day © Martin Cade:


     27th August

A stint, at the time thought to be a Little Stint, seen and photographed at Ferrybridge at midday has been re-identified from the photos as a RED-NECKED STINT - the first record for Portland and Dorset; once its true identity had been established the bird was searched for there and at other sites on the Fleet from late afternoon until dusk but couldn't be relocated; check out the finder's blog here for more details and photos.

The rest of the day's proceedings were mundane in comparison, with the brisk north-easterly that had sprung up after another night of rain coming a wee bit late to perk things up on the land. A Honey Buzzard that left to the south from the Bill at midday was the pick of the sightings there, where 3 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Yellow Wagtails and singles of Hobby, Whimbrel, Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher were the only minor highlights amongst a very thin spread of commoner migrants; elsewhere there were singles of Redshank, Sanderling and Curlew Sandpiper at Ferrybridge. Seawatching at the Bill produced 38 Common Scoter, 4 Arctic Skuas, a Manx Shearwater, a Balearic Shearwater and a handful of commic and Sandwich Terns.

The best of the night's immigrant moths - singles of Vestal and Convolvulus Hawk-moth - were caught in a couple of hours of trapping at Cheyne Weare; the immigrant tally in the Obs garden traps consisted of 7 Dark Sword Grass, 5 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Pearly Underwing, 2 Silver Y and 1 Rush Veneer.

26th August

On another windy day nearly all the reports were from the sea, with a brief Grey Phalarope and a Little Gull showing up at Chesil Cove and 17 Common Scoter, 10 Balearic Shearwaters, 4 Great Skuas and singles of Manx Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater and Arctic Skua passing through off the Bill. There were the odd few common migrants in evidence on the land but the strength of wind saw to it that serious migrant-hunting or mist-netting were off the agenda.

A single Silver Y was the only immigrant caught overnight in the Obs garden moth-traps.

25th August

Today's bout of wind and rain held off long enough to discover that what looked like promising conditions - an overcast dawn after a clear, moonlit night - delivered precious little in the way of new arrivals. The Bill area was well covered and returned totals of just 25 Willow Warblers, 21 Wheatears, 10 Yellow Wagtails, 6 Tree Pipits, 5 Whimbrel, 4 Sedge Warblers and ones and twos of a few other expected common migrants. Fifteen Common Scoter and 7 Balearic Shearwaters passed through on the sea off the Bill ahead of the poor weather.

In the Obs garden moth-traps singles of Cydia amplana and Small Mottled Willow provided some welcome rarity interest but the tally of routine immigrants remained less than impressive: 2 each of Diamond-back Moth, Rusty-dot Pearl, and Rush Veneer and singles of Dark Sword Grass and Silver Y.

24th August

Today's tally of just two new migrants ringed in the Obs garden during a whole morning of mist-netting was evidence enough that yesterday's claim of passage picking up was well wide of the mark. Scrutiny of the rest of the Bill area was always hampered by the strength of the westerly wind and revealled just 3 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Whinchats, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Tree Pipit and a Redstart among small numbers of the usual commoner species. Seawatching at the Bill produced 31 Common Scoter and 23 Balearic Shearwaters.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 2 Silver Y and 1 Dark Sword Grass

23rd August

After a very wet night when nothing much appeared to be on the move there were welcome signs by the afternoon - when hirundines in particular were leaving out to sea in some quantity - of a bit of an emergence from the recent doldrums. Grounded/overflying migrants at the Bill included 3 Ringed Plovers, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Sedge Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers and singles of Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Swift, Tree Pipit and Pied Flycatcher, along with a light scatter of Wheatears, Whitethroats and Willow Warblers and a steady passage of departing hirundines. Odds and ends through on the sea at the Bill included 21 commic terns, 20 Common Scoter, 7 Manx Shearwaters, a Balearic Shearwater, a Great Skua and a Pomarine Skua.

A very small improvement in immigrant numbers saw singles of Rush Veneer, Pearly Underwing and Silver Y caught overnight in the Obs garden moth-traps.




    Waders in the fog: Snipe and Black-tailed Godwits - Ferrybridge, 22nd August 2010 © Pete Saunders

...we've recorded too many colour-ringed gulls just lately to have the space/time to mention all of them but one from yesterday was slightly unusual:


Lesser Black-back 4.Z0 was grounded at the Bill in the mist and drizzle yesterday afternoon. It was first ringed as an adult on the nest at Burhou, off Alderney, Channel Islands, in June 2008 but hasn't been seen there subsequently, although it was sighted twice during mid-March this year on nearby Guernsey (as usual thanks to Paul Veron Guernsey Gulls for these details).

     22nd August

With some heavy rain through the day to add to the mix of uniformly poor conditions prevailing at the moment there were no expectations of much in the way of new arrivals. Waders did feature at Ferrybridge where 6 Sanderling, 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Snipe and singles of Redshank and Spotted Redshank (along with 20 Mediterranean Gulls and 3 late Little Terns) were noteworthy, but at the Bill the majority of migrants present again seemed to be lingering on from previous days; 4 Sedge Warblers, 2 Redstarts, 2 Garden Warblers, a Whimbrel, a Tree Pipit and a Pied Flycatcher provided just about the only interest there

Not a single immigrant moth was caught overnight in the four moth-traps operated in the Obs garden!

21st August

Dreadful weather - a stiff south/south-westerly and frequent fog and drizzle - and pretty dreadful birding again today. Birding on the land was hardly worth the effort, with little more than 3 Whimbrel, a Yellow-legged Gull and a handful of commoner migrants at the Bill, whilst lots of coverage of the sea at the Bill produced just 13 Balearic Shearwaters, 8 Common Scoter, 6 Turnstone, 3 Black-tailed Godwits and 1 Great Skua.

Singles of Diamond-back Moth, Rush Veneer, Rusty-dot Pearl and Silver Y were the only immigrants caught overnight in the Obs garden moth-traps.


Also of interest, a couple more links to websites we've been meaning to mention for ages:

Dorset Moth Group

Chesil Beach

We've been surprised how often we've come across visiting and even Dorset-resident moth-trappers who haven't heard of Terry Box's Dorset Moth Group website which is a must-visit site for all the latest county moth news, as well as playing host to Peter Davey's excellent Moths of Dorset status review. The Chesil Beach website includes, amongst a wealth of good background information, lots of useful almost real-time weather data from a weather station at Ferrybridge.



    Sparrowhawk from yesterday - Southwell, 19th August 2010 © Pete Saunders

     20th August

Pretty hopeless today with migration on land and sea looking to have all but ground to a halt. Virtually all of the common migrant mist-netted at the Obs were re-traps from the last few days and most of the odd few very minor highlights at the Bill - including the likes of 2 Whimbrel and singles of Yellow-legged Gull, Redstart and Pied Flycatcher - were lingering on from at least yesterday. Seawatching at the Bill produced just 44 Common Scoter and a Balearic Shearwater.

Mothing seems to be going the way of the birding, with 3 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Dark Sword Grass and singles of Rush Veneer, Scorched Carpet and Silver Y the only immigrants/strays caught overnight in the Obs garden traps.

19th August

With the weather forecast found, yet again, to be well wide of the mark - the heavy rain that had been promised to roll in through the morning certainly hadn't shown up by late afternoon - there was plenty of opportunity for fieldwork today. Unfortunately there wasn't any obvious improvement in migrant numbers, indeed it looked to be the quietest day of the week so far at the Bill, where 8 Sedge Warblers, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Redstarts and singles of Little Egret, Grey Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Garden Warbler and Pied Flycatcher provided minor interest amongst the relatively thin scatter of the likes of Wheatears, Whitethroats and Willow Warblers. Despite a freshening breeze the only reports from the sea were of 5 Common Scoter and a Balearic Shearwater passing through off the Bill.

Immigrant in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 6 Rush Veneer, 5 Rusty-dot Pearl, 5 Dark Sword Grass, 4 Silver Y and 1 Diamond-back Moth.



    Platytes alpinella from yesterday - Portland Bill, 17th August 2010 © Martin Cade

     18th August

Another fair scatter of birds today but quality remains rather elusive. The day's migrant totals from the Bill area included 75 Willow Warblers, 40 Wheatears, 10 Sedge Warblers, 8 Yellow Wagtails, 4 Tree Pipits, 3 each of Redstart and Whinchat and singles of Merlin, Grey Wagtail, Garden Warbler and Blackcap on the land and 13 Balearic Shearwaters, 5 Sandwich Terns, 4 Manx Shearwaters and a Common Scoter through on the sea.

Less to report from the Obs garden moth-traps today, with the best of the overnight catch being 21 Diamond-back Moth, 12 Dark Sword Grass, 8 Silver Y, 4 Rush Veneer, 2 Rusty-dot Pearl and another Antler Moth.

17th August

The promised rain amounted to little more than a few pre-dawn showers and the odd spits of drizzle later in the morning before fairer conditions returned. Unfortunately it looked as though the heavy cloud cover that brought what rain there was restricted overnight passage and although there was a fair scatter of birds at the Bill many of those mist-netted at the Obs were re-traps from previous days. The day's totals for the Bill area included 50 Willow Warblers, 40 Wheatears, 10 Sedge Warblers, 8 Yellow Wagtails, 6 Whinchats, 3 Greenshank, 3 Tree Pipits, 3 Redstarts, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, 2 Yellow-legged Gulls, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Merlin, a Whimbrel, a Reed Warbler, a Garden Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Spotted Flycatcher on the land and 24 Common Scoter, 2 Balearic Shearwaters, a Manx Shearwater and a Great Skua through on the sea.

Quality wanderers continued to feature in the Obs garden moth-traps, with 3 Antler Moth and a Platytes alpinella the pick of the bunch today; the totals of routine immigrants there included 18 Silver Y, 7 Rusty-dot Pearl, 7 Rush Veneer, 4 Diamond-back Moth and 2 Dark Sword Grass. Elsewhere, singles of Bordered Straw and Antler Moth were caught overnight at Southwell.



    Marsh Harrier - Portland Bill, 16th August 2010 © Martin Cade

...easily aged as a juvenile on this view by, for example, the pale tips to the wing coverts and secondaries. 

Also a few record shots of some of the scarcer waders recorded in recent days. One of the two Little Ringed Plovers at the Bill on 13th (particularly noteworthy since, rather bizarrely, they were settled for a time on the roof of the old wireless station)  © Chris Stone:


...the 2 Green Sandpipers at Ferrybridge on the same day © Pete Saunders:


...and Little Ringed Plover and Greenshank at Ferrybridge today © Martin Cade

     16th August

With autumn passage now in full swing even the days of vaguely unsuitable conditions - today was clear, hot and sunny - can be quite productive and there was certainly plenty of variety on show around the island today. The pick of the bunch there were an overflying Marsh Harrier and a slightly earlier than usual first Merlin of the autumn, whilst the rest of the tally included 150 Willow Warblers, 45 Wheatears, 25 Sedge Warblers, 25 Whitethroats, 12 Tree Pipits, 10 Swifts, 9 Yellow Wagtails, 5 Garden Warblers, 5 Spotted Flycatchers, 4 Pied Flycatchers, 3 Grey Herons, 3 Ringed Plover, 3 Grasshopper Warblers and singles of Snipe, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Gull, Reed Warbler and Hobby. Elsewhere singles of Little Ringed Plover and Greenshank were the best of the waders at Ferrybridge.

The Obs garden moth-traps were again overloaded with hoverflies, but in addition there had obviously been quite a bit of moth movement going on, with a list of immigrants/strays that included 39 Silver Y, 23 Rusty-dot Pearl, 21 Rush Veneer, 13 Dark Sword Grass, 9 Diamond-back Moth, 2 Maiden's Blush and singles of Wax Moth, Barred Red, Four-spotted Footman, Rosy Footman and Gold Spot.

15th August

The unexpected strength of the north-east wind made birding quite difficult through the morning but by afternoon calmer, muggy and at times quite hot conditions had set in. At the Bill the day's migrant tally included 70 Willow Warblers, 30 Wheatears, 20 Sedge Warblers, 13 Tree Pipits, 5 Yellow Wagtails, 4 Ringed Plovers, 3 Swifts, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Garden Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Little Ringed Plover, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Reed Warbler on the land and 14 Common Scoter, 10 Sandwich Terns, 3 Balearic Shearwaters and an Arctic Skua through on the sea.

A feature of the day was an enormous arrival of countless hoverflies - the majority were Episyrphus balteatus although several other species also seemed to be involved - which reached a peak during the afternoon when there looked to be a constant, dense northward movement going on a points right across the Bill, although the passage had clearly begun overnight as by dawn the Obs garden moth-traps had each attracted many hundreds of individuals.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 6 Rusty-dot Pearl, 5 Rush Veneer, 5 Dark Sword Grass, 1 Bordered Straw and 1 Silver Y.



    Grass Eggar - Portland Bill, 14th August 2010 © Martin Cade

     14th August

After a frustrating wash-out of a morning there was quite a bit of variety reported during the afternoon when it looked as though passing heavy showers knocked down a few overflying migrants. There was nothing to suggest these were anything other than routine departing British-breeders, but amongst the totals from the Bill area there were 15 Sedge Warblers, 5 Garden Warblers, 2 each of Swift, Tree Pipit, Grasshopper Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat, and a lone Pied Flycatcher; singles of Arctic Skua and Great Skua also passed through on the sea there. The only out of the ordinary report from elsewhere was of a lone Common Gull at Ferrybridge.

The wind blowing off the mainland brought with it a few wandering moths, with a Grass Eggar being the pick of the catch in the Obs garden moth-traps; other strays there included Common White Wave and Pine Hawk-moth, whilst the  tally of immigrants included 18 Silver Y, 17 Rush Veneer, 10 Dark Sword Grass and 4 Rusty-dot Pearl.

13th August

The quietest day of the week on the migrant front. Two Little Ringed Plovers were the best of the new arrivals at the Bill, where there were also 60 Willow Warblers, 40 Wheatears, 15 Whitethroats, 8 Tree Pipits, 2 Dunlin, 2 Swifts, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and singles of Hobby, Ringed Plover, Whinchat and Reed Warbler; elsewhere there were 160 Ringed Plover, 25 Mediterranean Gulls, 5 Sanderling and 2 Green Sandpipers at Ferrybridge. The continuing offshore wind restricted sea passage at the Bill to just 15 Manx Shearwaters and 5 Common Scoter.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 10 Silver Y, 9 Dark Sword Grass, a Rush Veneer and a Rusty-dot Pearl.




    Grasshopper Warbler and Antler Moth - Barleycrates Lane and Portland Bill, 12th August 2010 © Pete Saunders (Grasshopper Warbler) and Martin Cade (Antler Moth)

     12th August

Not much change in the weather or the birding today. Migrant totals at the Bill included 400 Swallows, 150 Sand Martins, 130 Willow Warblers, 30 Wheatears, 15 Sedge Warblers, 2 Ringed Plovers, 2 Garden Warblers, a Yellow-legged Gull, a Yellow Wagtail, a Redstart and a Pied Flycatcher, whilst amongst a similar array elsewhere there were 2 Tree Pipits and a Grasshopper Warbler at Barleycrates Lane and another Yellow-legged Gull at Ferrybridge. Seawatching at the Bill produced 18 Manx Shearwaters, 17 Common Scoter and 2 Balearic Shearwaters.

An Antler Moth (the sixth record for Portland) was an unexpected overnight capture in the Obs garden moth-traps; the only other immigrants recorded were 13 Dark Sword Grass, 9 Rush Veneer, 7 Rusty-dot Pearl and 6 Silver Y.




    Brown Argus - Portland Bill, 19th July 2010 © John Pitman

...a belated posting but one of some interest as it depicts a species we've wanted to feature on the site for several years. Brown Argus seems never to have been a plentiful butterfly at Portland and in recent years it appears to have declined to the point that although we've asked lots of folk to look out for it everyone has either drawn a blank or come back with photographs of look-alike Common Blues. John Pitman's discovery was entirely serendipitous as it popped up (on - of all places - the Obs front lawn!) whilst he was searching for Lulworth Skippers.

     11th August

A little disappointing today: the return of clear skies after yesterday's rain had looked likely to see migrants get going again but in the event, although there were a fair few birds about at dawn, numbers were hardly special and nothing lingered for long. At the Bill there was a decent gathering of 400 Swallows, 200 Sand Martins and a Swift during the afternoon, but the morning's tally of grounded migrants didn't get beyond 120 Willow Warblers, 30 Wheatears, 20 Sedge Warblers, 20 Whitethroats, 6 Tree Pipits and 5 Garden Warblers; 2 Ringed Plover and a Dunlin also passed overhead there.

Overnight moth-trapping was uneventful, with 10 Silver Y, 3 Dark Sword Grass, 2 Rusty-dot Pearl and 2 Rush Veneer the only immigrants in the Obs garden traps.






    Yellow-legged Gull - Portland Bill, 10th August 2010 © Martin Cade

...second calendar year is by far the rarest of the Yellow-legged Gull age classes in this area so we were very pleased to see this individual in well advanced moult from first-summer to second-winter plumage grounded in the rain at the Bill this morning.

Additionally, Pete Saunders kindly let us have a couple more photographs from yesterday: Sedge Warbler and Hummingbird Hawk-moth, both at Southwell:



     10th August

A grim day of almost constant drizzly rain. The conditions were too poor for any concerted quest for migrants on the land, although it was apparent that there were certainly birds about with 100 Willow Warblers, 14 Wheatears, 10 Whitethroats, 6 Sedge Warblers, a Yellow-legged Gull, a Whinchat, a Redstart and a Garden Warbler logged at the Bill. Nine Black-tailed Godwits also passed overhead at the Bill, where 18 Manx Shearwaters, 6 Great Skuas, 3 Balearic Shearwater, a Common Scoter and a Whimbrel passed through on the sea.

On a windy night the only immigrants/strays attracted to the Obs garden moth-traps were 3 each of Rusty-dot Pearl and Silver Y, 2 Rush Veneer and singles of Dark Sword Grass and Buff Footman.







    Shovelers, Wheatear, Melodious Warbler detail and Channel Islands Pug - Ferrybridge and Portland Bill, 9th August 2010 © Pete Saunders (Shovelers and Wheatear) and Martin Cade (Melodious Warbler and Channel Islands Pug)

     9th August

A flavour of the early Augusts of old today with another good fall of departing common migrants and the perhaps predictable capture of a Melodious Warbler in the Obs garden mist-nets. Once again most attention was given to the Bill area where there were 350 Willow Warblers, 300 Swallows, 50 Wheatears, 40 Sand Martins, 30 Sedge Warblers, 20 Whitethroats, 15 Tree Pipits, 10 Swifts, 10 Garden Warblers, 8 Grey Herons and singles of Ringed Plover, Yellow-legged Gull, Whinchat, Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and Spotted Flycatcher. Elsewhere there were 30 Dunlin, 10 Mediterranean Gulls and 4 Shoveler at Ferrybridge, whilst odds and ends reported from the sea at the Bill included 30 commic terns, 11 Common Scoter, 2 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Sandwich Terns

After a lean few nights there was a notable improvement in both numbers and variety in the Obs garden moth-traps: a Channel Islands Pug was a long overdue addition to the Portland list, whilst other strays included singles of Yponomeuta plumbella, Endothenia quadrimaculana, Calamotropha paludella, Scorched Carpet, Spruce Carpet and Southern Wainscot; routine immigrants included 15 Rush Veneer, 14 Silver Y, 9 Rusty-dot Pearl, 8 Dark Sword Grass and a Diamond-back Moth.




    Mediterranean Gull and Willow Warbler - Portland, 8th August 2010 © Nick Hopper

     8th August

Plenty of migrants looked to have got moving under clear skies overnight and, although there didn't seem to be much reason for them to have dropped in on the island, dawn saw the best fall - certainly in terms of numbers if not variety - so far this autumn. The Bill area received most attention and returned totals of 180 Willow Warblers, 75 Sedge Warblers, 20 each of Wheatear and Whitethroat, 4 Grey Herons, 2 each of Green Sandpiper, Redstart and Garden Warbler, and singles of Whimbrel, Whinchat, Pied Flycatcher and Spotted Flycatcher; elsewhere 4 Crossbills passed over at Southwell and the first Curlew Sandpiper of the autumn was a new arrival at Ferrybridge. Seawatching at the Bill produced 14 each of Balearic Shearwater, Manx Shearwater and Common Scoter.

Immigrants/wanderers in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 18 Rush Veneer, 12 Silver Y, 9 Dark Sword Grass, 6 Rusty-dot Pearl and a Dog's Tooth.

7th August

Uneventful so far today. The fact that the majority of the few migrants netted at the Obs were re-traps from the previous few days wasn't encouraging, and those that took the trouble to work the Bill area came up with nothing much more than 22 Wheatears, 15 Willow Warblers, a Dunlin, a Yellow-legged Gull and a Redstart on the land and 12 Common Scoter, 11 Balearic Shearwaters, 4 Arctic Skuas, 3 Manx Shearwaters and a Great Skua passing through on the sea.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 8 Rusty-dot Pearl, 6 Silver Y, 2 Rush Veneer, a Diamond-back Moth and a Dark Sword Grass.




    Ruff - Ferrybridge, 6th August 2010 © Pete Saunders

     6th August

Disappointing today: the increasingly overcast skies and occasional showers during the late hours of darkness had looked likely to drop a few migrants and the ever-freshening south-westerly during the day held promise for the seawatchers but in the event both land and sea were relatively quiet. The highlight of the day - a brief Ruff at Ferrybridge - again only really had appeal at a local level. The scatter of migrants at the Bill included 25 Willow Warblers, 16 Wheatears, 3 Sedge Warblers, a Ringed Plover, a Green Sandpiper, a Tree Pipit and a Redstart, whilst seawatching there produced 50 Balearic Shearwaters, 30 Manx Shearwaters, 8 Common Scoter and a Great Skua.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 14 Rush Veneer, 12 Silver Y, 10 Rusty-dot Pearl and 2 Dark Sword Grass.



    Green Woodpecker - Portland Bill, 5th August 2010 © Martin Cade

     5th August

Quieter weather and still a fair bit to see on land and sea today. From a local perspective the bird of the day was a Green Woodpecker that spent a while wandering around the Bill area early in the morning. On the migrant front another small arrival at the Bill included the likes of 80 Willow Warblers, 10 Wheatears, 8 Sedge Warblers, a Yellow-legged Gull, a Tree Pipit and a Redstart, whilst seawatching there produced 175 Manx Shearwaters, 34 Balearic Shearwaters, 22 commic terns, 17 Common Scoter, 9 Cormorants, 6 Shelducks and singles of Arctic Skua, Mediterranean Gull and Sandwich Tern.

Odds and ends by way of immigrants/strays in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning included 6 Silver Y, 3 Rush Veneer, 2 Rusty-dot Pearl and a Twin-spotted Wainscot.

Of further interest we popped over during the morning to see the Semipalmated Sandpiper that had turned up at Lodmoor; click here for some photos from this off-island excursion.


Finally, a bookshop matter: would the member/visitor who bought the three-volume set "Birds of the British Isles & Their Eggs" by T A Coward from the bookshop last Wednesday, 28th July, please contact Nick Wright on 01305 777991.




    colour-ringed Great Black-backed Gull - Ferrybridge, 3rd August 2010 © Martin Cade recent years we've recorded a decent series of Great Black-backs from the Channel Isles and the Channel coast of France but yesterday evening's juvenile at Ferrybridge had come quite a bit further as it had been ringed as a nestling on 18th May this year at Réserve Naturelle de Lilleau des Niges, Ré Island, Charente Maritime, on the Atlantic coast of France (thanks to Julien Gernigon for the ringing details).

     4th August

A brisk westerly and a couple of brief showers saw to it that the sea was given plenty of attention today. With most shearwaters off the Bill actually passing by as opposed to milling around there was more certainty with regard to numbers than in recent days and by early afternoon 210 Manx and 83 Balearics had passed through; 50 Common Scoter, 18 commic terns and singles of Arctic Skua, Roseate Tern and Sandwich Tern were also logged there. In comparison the land was the poor relation, with little more than 40 Willow Warblers, 5 Wheatears, a Sedge Warbler and a fly-over Green Sandpiper at the Bill.

In the windy conditions immigrant numbers in the moth-traps dwindled, with just 14 Rush Veneer, 4 Silver Y, 2 each of Diamond-back Moth, Rusty-dot Pearl and Red Admiral butterfly and singles of Dark Sword Grass and Brown-veined Wainscot recorded at the Obs.




    Redshank - Ferrybridge, 3rd August 2010 © Martin Cade

     3rd August

More of the same today, with another small arrival of common migrants on the land and a fair few shearwaters lingering offshore. With plenty of movement in both directions it was difficult to be sure just how many shearwaters were off the Bill, but Balearics certainly numbered a good 50 and quite possibly as many as 100; 59 Common Scoter, 2 Sandwich Terns and singles of Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull and Yellow-legged Gull also passed by there. On the land, sample counts of migrants included 90 Willow Warblers, 12 Wheatears, 3 Sedge Warblers and 2 Garden Warblers at the Bill, whilst at Ferrybridge there were 80 Dunlin, 60 Ringed Plover, 4 Sanderling, 3 Yellow-legged Gulls and 3 Mediterranean Gulls.

Immigrants/strays in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 50 Rush Veneer, 17 Silver Y, 3 Diamond-back Moth, 2 Dark Sword Grass, a Rusty-dot Pearl and a Small Rufous.

2nd August

Light westerlies/north-westerlies again today but sunnier and warmer than yesterday. Migrants numbers picked up on the land and overhead, with 500 Swallows, 100 Willow Warblers, 40 Sand Martins, 15 Wheatears, 10 Swifts, 2 Sedge Warblers and singles of Grasshopper Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Blackcap at the Bill, 100 House Martins and 21 Sand Martins at Barleycrates Lane, 16 Swifts and a Marsh Harrier over Weston and 98 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Yellow-legged Gull at Ferrybridge. Offshore the main feature was the continuing presence of small rafts of feeding shearwaters a few miles off the Bill: around 100 birds were present at times with the Manx:Balearic ratio being around 3:1; at least another 10 Balearics, along with 29 Common Scoter and 5 Mediterranean Gulls, also passed through off the Bill.

A small influx of Brown-veined Wainscots - 6 at the Obs and another at Southwell - was the highlight of the overnight moth-trapping; other immigrants/strays logged included 36 Rush Veneer, 32 Silver Y, 9 Dark Sword Grass, 3 Rusty-dot Pearl, a Diamond-back Moth and a Pebble Hook-tip at the Obs and a Slender Brindle at Weston.

1st August

Light westerlies and an overcast sky today as relatively quiet, Atlantic-influenced conditions seem to be getting well-established. The sea provided most of the day's interest, with 65 Manx Shearwaters, 41 Balearic Shearwaters, 32 Common Scoter, 2 Guillemots, a Tufted Duck, a Whimbrel, a Yellow-legged Gull and a Mediterranean Gull passing through off the Bill (additionally, quite a few more shearwaters that were too distant to identify were lingering/feeding several miles offshore). On the land there were 25 Willow Warblers, 5 Wheatears, a Common Sandpiper and a Sedge Warbler at the Bill and 101 Dunlin and 7 Sanderling at Ferrybridge.

Immigrants/strays in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 29 Rush Veneer, 8 Silver Y, 4 Dark Sword Grass, 2 Rusty-dot Pearl, a Diamond-back Moth, a Bordered Straw and a Dark Spectacle.