September 2011



Sparrowhawk - Portland Bill, 30th September 2011 © Joe Stockwell Hampshire Yearlisting

  30th September

Even warmer than yesterday and even quieter on the migrant front. Visible passage was again taking place at some height but it was apparent that numbers were considerably reduced compared with the last couple of days; 8 Redpolls and several flocks of audible although rarely visible Siskins provided minor interest over the Bill. On the ground, routine migrants were thinly spread with, for example, 50 Chiffchaffs and 10 each of Blackcap and Goldcrest at the Bill. Somewhat perversely, considering the balmy conditions, the sea came up with as much if not more quality than the land, with 12 Mediterranean Gulls, 14 Common Scoter, 5 Sandwich Terns, 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Red-throated Divers and singles of Great Skua, Pomarine Skua and Common Gull passing through off the Bill.

Red Admiral emigration continued, with another light passage of southbound butterflies logged throughout the morning (we also heard this morning from someone who was fishing from a boat off the Bill yesterday who reported seeing a steady trickle of Red Admirals heading south well offshore).

The immigrant tally in the Obs garden moth-traps was shockingly poor, with just singles of Rusty-dot Pearl, Delicate and Silver Y caught overnight.



Honey Buzzard - Portland Bill, 29th September 2011 © Joe Stockwell Hampshire Yearlisting

  29th September

Another blistering summer-like day, with a Honey Buzzard that headed south over the Grove and the Bill at midday and a Sabine's Gull through off the Bill during the afternoon providing the day's highlights. Visible passage was again the feature of the morning but, as happened yesterday, the majority of birds were so high that no serious attempts were made to count them (at the Obs we heard numerous flocks of Siskins but didn't actually manage to see a single one of them!); odds and ends of interest amongst the passage included 12 Grey Herons, 6 Redpolls, 4 Hobbys and the first Reed Bunting of the autumn. Another very light scatter of migrants on the ground included 25 Chiffchaffs, 15 Blackcaps, 5 Goldcrests, 2 White Wagtails and singles of Merlin, Short-eared Owl, Whinchat, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler at the Bill, whilst 21 Mediterranean Gulls, 15 Brent Geese and the first Common Gull of the autumn were at Ferrybridge. Two Brent Geese and singles of Balearic Shearwater, Great Skua and Pomarine Skua passed through on the sea at the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 6 Silver Y, 4 Rusty-dot Pearl and singles of Hummingbird Hawk-moth, Delicate and Small Marbled.



Garden Warbler - Portland Bill, 28th September 2011 © Joe Stockwell Hampshire Yearlisting

...and we also received another decent field shot of yesterday's Blyth's Reed Warbler (© Rob Adams): 


 It's interesting to compare this and yesterday's other photos with a couple of shots of a Reed Warbler taken today at the Bill (© Duncan Walbridge):



These photos were taken in quite different conditions (fog yesterday and blazing sun today) but they show rather nicely the often quoted difference in tertial pattern between these species. Here's another shot of the Blyth's Reed (© Martin Cade) when it's deeper in cover and looking remarkably plain-winged:


And finally on the subject of this bird we've added a few more annotations/biometrics to yesterday's photos that we didn't get round to doing at the time.

  28th September

Yesterday's excitment evaporated as quickly as the blanket of fog lifted, with nothing of great note reported under today's clear blue skies and warm sunshine. There were plenty of migrants - mainly hirundines and Meadow Pipits - on the move overhead but with passage occurring at considerable height and on a very broad front meaningful counting was out of the question; variety looked to be quite limited, with the odd groups of Siskins, a few Yellow Wagtails, 3 Tree Pipits and singles of Merlin and Hobby providing some of the only interest at the Bill. On the ground a very thin scatter of routine fare included nothing of particular note at the Bill. The only seawatch news concerned 2 Great Skuas through off the Bill.

Immigrant butterflies today included several single Clouded Yellows and Painted Ladys scattered around the island; there was also some southbound passage of Red Admirals evident at the Bill through the morning.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 5 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Delicate and singles of Palpita vitrealis and Convolvulus Hawk-moth.





  Blyth's Reed Warbler - Portland Bill, 27th September 2011 © Martin Cade (in hand) and Kevin Lane (field shot)

...and a few close-ups of relevant bits and some biometrics of note:


The bird looked to be rather slight-billed for a Blyth's Reed and this was borne out by the measurements - 14.1mm to skull, and 11mm to feathering - which fell below the usual range for the species.


Note the emargination on primary 3 falling short of the longest secondary/tertial; also primary 2 falling level with primary 5. The wing length was 63mm, and primary 1 to primary 2 35mm. Several observers remarked on how the primary projection looked to be unexpectedly long, and this was borne out by the wing point to longest secondary measurement - 17mm - being just outside the usual range for a Blyth's Reed.


3rd and 4th primaries emarginated; also 1st primary falling short of the longest primary covert.


...and a quick showing before release in the Obs Quarry (© Colin White)


  27th September

On a fog-blighted day Portland's fifth Blyth's Reed Warbler that was trapped and ringed in the Crown Estate Field at the Bill in the morning was an unexpected highlight; it was released in the Obs Quarry and was seen there and in the adjacent field for a while later in the morning before disappearing around midday. Overhead passage was almost non-existent but a small flurry of other new arrivals at the Bill included 60 Chiffchaffs, 40 Wheatears, 10 Blackcaps, 10 Goldcrests, 2 Hobbys, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Grey Wagtails and singles of Hobby, Whimbrel, Tree Pipit, Whinchat and Grasshopper Warbler. During one fog-free spell a lone Balearic Shearwater passed through off the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 20 Rusty-dot Pearl and singles of Palpita vitrealis, Delicate, Silver Y and Red Admiral butterfly.

26th September

Despite a fair drop of rain through the late hours of the night there wasn't much of an upturn in migrant numbers or variety. At the Bill there were getting on for 75 Wheatears, along with a good scatter of grounded Meadow Pipits, but among the other expected fare totals of, for example, 20 Chiffchaffs, 10 Blackcaps and 8 Goldcrests were hardly impressive for this time of year; a fly-over Lapland Bunting was the only oddity reported, whilst 6 Grey Herons and a single Merlin featured in the list of less numerous migrants. Seawatching at the Bill came up with 65 Common Scoter, 7 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 each of Great Skua, Arctic Skua, Arctic Tern and Black Tern and a single Pomarine Skua.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 16 Rusty-dot Pearl and 1 Silver Y.

25th September

Pretty hopeless today. Grounded migrants were relatively few and far between and passage overhead was very subdued; reports of 3 Hobbys over the Bill and a late Swift over Southwell provided the only real morsels of interest amongst the grim numbers of routine fare. Seawatching at the Bill came up with 43 Common Scoter, 9 commic terns, 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Brent Geese and singles of Teal and Sooty Shearwater.

The mothing was as poor as the birding, with 15 Rusty-dot Pearl and singles of Rush Veneer, Delicate and Silver Y the only immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps.





 Kestrel, Wheatear and Painted Lady - Portland Bill, 24th September 2011 © Nick Hopper

...and an extra photo from yesterday of a Grey Phalarope seen from a survey vessel 3 miles or so off the Bill (© Kevin Lane):


  24th September

Another lovely day although seemingly too pleasant for much to have dropped in on the land and, at least in terms of numbers, slightly disappointing for passage overhead. Much of ther interest through the morning was overhead with, for example, a sample one hour count at the Bill soon after dawn returning totals of 253 Meadow Pipits, 205 Linnets, 76 alba wagtails, 74 Siskins, 32 Goldfinches, 16 Chaffinches, 5 each of Grey and Yellow Wagtail, and 4 Tree Pipits; others odds and ends overhead at other times included the first 3 Redpolls of the autumn, a Grey Heron and a Hobby. On the ground at the Bill Wheatears numbered around 100, but other routine fare was pretty thinly spread, with 10 Whinchats, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Snipe and a White Wagtail providing the only minor interest there; elsewhere a Firecrest was another first for the autumn at Southwell. Not a great deal of attention was given to the sea but 4 Balearic Shearwaters, an Arctic Skua and a Black Tern passed through off the Bill.

Two Painted Ladys, 2 Clouded Yellows and the first Western Conifer Seed Bug of the autumn were at the Bill.

Despite the mildly promising conditions the immigrant tally in the Obs garden moth-traps consisted of just 11 Rusty-dot Pearl and singles of Rush Veneer, Hummingbird Hawk-moth and Dark Sword Grass.




 Kestrel and Small Marbled - Portland Bill, 23rd September 2011 © Martin Cade

  23rd September

The nicest day for a while produced plenty more overhead, a small flurry of new arrivals on the ground and a trickle on the sea. Pretty well all the day's reports came from the Bill where 100 Chiffchaffs made up the bulk of the numbers on the ground; variety wasn't much of a feature, with 40 Wheatears making up a good deal of the rest of the numbers, and a single Grasshopper Warbler being the only slightly uncommon  migrant. Overhead, Meadow Pipits got well into a four figure total and, hirundines aside, 75 Siskins and 25 Chaffinches were among the other totals posted. A good deal of seawatching came up with 8 Balearic Shearwaters, 4 Great Skuas, 2 Arctic Skuas and a Sooty Shearwater.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 11 Rusty-dot Pearl, 6 Silver Y, 3 Rush Veneer and singles of Dark Sword Grass, Pearly Underwing, Delicate and Small Marbled.

22nd September

In a brisk westerly there were a fair few birds on the move overhead but, Wheatears aside, extremely slim pickings on the ground. As expected, Swallows and Meadow Pipits dominated overhead, with getting on for 1000 of each heading south at the Bill in the first couple of hours of the morning; 20 Siskins were among the other usual suspects overhead there. Around 100 Wheatears were grounded at the Bill, where the likes of sylvias and phylloscs were reduced to little more than a handful, and singles of Merlin, White Wagtail and Pied Flycatcher provided the only minor interest; elsewhere there was another Pied Flycatcher at Wakeham. Seawatching at the Bill came up with 2 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Arctic Terns and the first passing diver of the autumn.

The stiff breeze blowing all night restricted numbers in the moth-traps, with 6 Rusty-dot Pearl the only immigrants attracted to the Obs garden traps; a Convolvulus Hawk-moth at the Grove was the pick of the catches elsewhere.

21st September

Since the overnight rain begun before dusk yesterday and ended soon after dawn today it was probably too much to have expected many migrants to have got moving, and that certainly proved to be the case at the Bill where 70 Wheatears, 40 Chiffchaffs and 15 Blackcaps made up the bulk of the tally on the ground; the sole report from elsewhere was particularly noteworthy: a Corncrake flushed by chance at East Weare during the afternoon. Overhead, Swallows and Meadow Pipits got moving in decent numbers once the rain stopped, with further interest provided by 20 Siskins, 4 Grey Wagtails and 3 Tree Pipits over the Bill. Sea reports included 48 Common Scoter, 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Great Skuas, 2 Arctic Terns and an Arctic Skua through off the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 20 Rusty-dot Pearl, 1 Silver Y and 1 Red Admiral butterfly.

20th September

As forecast the rain across south-west England held off until nearly dusk, with the day itself being surprisingly fine and warm, albeit still rather breezy. Equally surprising was the lack of migrants, either grounded or overhead, with 50 Wheatears, a Merlin and a Pied Flycatcher (the latter now well into its third week in residence!) at the Bill being just about the only worthwhile sightings to make the log. The sea did provide more interest, notably 6 Arctic Terns, 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Grey Phalaropes, a Leach's Petrel, a Little Gull and an Great Skua at Chesil Cove, and 8 Arctic Skuas, 4 Balearic Shearwaters, a Sooty Shearwater and a handful of terns through off the Bill.

19th September

A slight improvement in the weather today saw the wind remain in the north-west but gradually drop away in strength. Most migrant activity was overhead, with a one hour sample count soon after dawn at the Bill returning totals of 1060 Meadow Pipits, 460 Swallows, 97 alba wagtails and 70 Linnets; a handful of the likes of Grey Wagtails, Yellow Wagtails, Tree Pipits and Siskins were also on the move there, whilst one or more Merlins were in frequent attendance. Grounded migrants weren't plentiful, with not a great deal more than 40 Chiffchaffs, 20 Wheatears, 20 Blackcaps and a Pied Flycatcher at the Bill. The wind direction was always going to be against the seawatchers, who came up with just a Grey Phalarope at Chesil Cove and 10 Common Scoter, 5 Balearic Shearwaters and singles of Teal, Whimbrel, Grey Phalarope and Arctic Skua through off the Bill.



A reminder that the next In Focus field event at the Obs takes place between 10am and 4pm tomorrow, Tuesday 20th September. 

  18th September

Whilst many sites are reaping rich rewards from the current spell of unsettled weather, there's precious little of note happening at Portland. Today's mix of strong north-westerlies and frequent heavy showers was particularly unproductive, with the sea coming up with just 3 lingering Grey Phalaropes at Chesil Cove and 30 Common Scoter, 5 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Great Skuas and an Arctic Skua through off the Bill. Also at the Bill there were still migrants on the move overhead, with a steady passage of hirundines, pipits and wagtails heading south along the East Cliffs, but on the ground the best on offer were a few Wheatears and Whinchats and the long-staying Pied Flycatcher.



   Brent Goose - Ferrybridge, 17th September 2011 © Paul Baker The Bagsy Blog

  17th September

The brief respite from brisk westerlies came to an end and most of the day's reports came from the seawatchers: 2 Grey Phalaropes and an Arctic Skua were at Chesil Cove and 16 Balearic Shearwaters, 9 Common Scoter, 4 Arctic Skuas, 3 Great Skuas, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, a Sandwich Tern, a Sabine's Gull and a Puffin passed by off the Bill. The only reports from the land were of 30 Wheatears, 5 Yellow Wagtails, a Merlin and a Spotted Flycatcher at the Bill and singles of Brent Goose and Little Stint at Ferrybridge.

Three each of Rusty-dot Pearl and Silver Y were the only immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.





   Little Stints and Dunlin - Ferrybridge, 16th September 2011 © Nick Hopper

  16th September

Something of nothing today with our 12 hours or so of decent easterlies not really coming up with much beyond routine fare in routine quantities. Most of the day's coverage was of the Bill area where hirundines were much in evidence and certainly numbered well into four figures; 50 Yellow Wagtails and 14 Grey Wagtails also passed over, whilst on the ground a total of 70 Wheatears provided the quantity, and 6 Whinchats, 2 Redstarts and a Pied Flycatcher accounted for the minor quality. Interest elsewhere came in the form of 4 Little Stints at Ferrybridge and a Hobby over Cheyne. Passage was still evident on the sea, with watches at the Bill coming up with 17 Sandwich Terns, 15 Arctic Skuas, 14 Balearic Shearwaters and a Sabine's Gull.

There was some evidence of butterfly movement, with 15 Red Admirals heading north-east in an hour at Cheyne and a Clouded Yellow logged at the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 15 Rusty-dot Pearl, 6 Silver Y and singles of Rush Veneer, Pearly Underwing and Delicate; elsewhere a Ni Moth was amongst the overnight catch at the Grove.





   Sabine's Gull, Sparrowhawk and Goldcrest - Portland Bill, 15th September 2011 © Martin Cade

  15th September

A lovely clear, sunny day with a waft of easterly beginning to set in. There was a real mid-autumn feel to the birding, with hirundines gathering in hundreds, Meadow Pipits on the move in quantity, Sparrowhawks and Kestrels in the air almost constantly and the likes of Goldcrests, Chaffinches and Siskins appearing for the first time. At the Bill, Meadow Pipits, Wheatears and a variety of alba wagtails were grounded in fair numbers around the fields, but in the trees and bushes only Chiffchaffs were at all conspicuous (and then only numbered 30 or so); plenty of variety by way of a back-up cast there included 7 Siskins, 3 Goldcrests, a Grey Heron, a Merlin and a Pied Flycatcher. The sea was still worth attention, with a varied list of relocating/passage sightings at the Bill that included 60 Common Scoter, 30 Balearic Shearwaters, 15 Sandwich Terns, 4 Arctic Skuas, 2 Mediterranean Gulls and a Sabine's Gull.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 18 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Delicate, 1 Ni Moth and 1 Silver Y.


Finally, a notice for members and visitors to the Obs: after an unexpectedly long delay since we first announced this change earlier in the year, we are now finally able to accept credit card payment for accommodation fees/membership subs etc at the Obs - at long last you can chuck out that cheque book that you only ever use to pay your dues at the Obs!


14th September

Once a few quite beefy early showers had passed through there was a distinct improvement in the weather, with the wind in particular beginning to drop right away. Seabirds were trickling back down the Channel throughout the day, with 121 Balearic Shearwaters, 18 commic terns, 12 Manx Shearwaters, 10 Sandwich Terns, 5 Arctic Skuas, 2 Sooty Shearwaters and 2 Arctic Terns passing through off the Bill; also on the sea 5 Grey Phalaropes remained in Chesil Cove. A light but steady passage of hirundines and Meadow Pipits were leaving out to sea from the Bill, but grounded migrants there were only very thinly spread and didn't include much of interest beyond 8 White Wagtails, a Tree Pipit and a Pied Flycatcher.


Also notice of an upcoming event:


This Saturday, 17th September, David Lindo will be giving a talk on his latest book - The Urban Birder - and will be signing copies of the book. This will be at 7.00pm in the Observatory Common Room. All members are welcome.


13th September

Although the strength of the wind was still a feature it did feel a good deal more pleasant today in almost constant sunshine. Grey Phalaropes were again conspicuous, with up to 10 settled in Chesil Cove, but sea interest was otherwise limited to around 20 Balearic Shearwaters lingering off the Bill and singles of Arctic Skua and Little Gull passing by there. The fair conditions saw a steady trickle of birds on the move overhead, including 20 Yellow Wagtails, 12 Grey Wagtails and a Tree Pipit at the Bill, but grounded migrants still weren't a feature, with the best on offer at the Bill being 40 Wheatears, 2 Pied Flycatchers and singles of Merlin, Common Sandpiper, White Wagtail and Spotted Flycatcher.

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




   Grey Phalarope and Sandwich Terns - Ferrybridge, 12th September 2011 © Kevin Lane (Grey Phalarope) and Paul Baker The Bagsy Blog (Sandwich Terns)

  12th September

The westerly wind was gusting up to around gale force at times again and most of the day's news came from the seawatchers. Grey Phalaropes continued to feature with up to 8 at Chesil Cove and 2 Ferrybridge at times, but otherwise the watches were rather mundane, with 50 Manx Shearwaters, 12 Balearic Shearwaters, 11 Common Scoter, 3 Great Skuas, a Sooty Shearwater, an Arctic Skua, a Little Gull and a handful of terns through off the Bill and 2 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Arctic Terns and a Great Skua through at Chesil Cove. Despite the conditions a steady trickle of hirundines, including good numbers of Sand Martins, were leaving out to sea from the Bill, where singles of Merlin and Kestrel also departed. Not a great deal of attention was given to the land but Wheatears looked to be well spread everywhere, the long-staying Pied Flycatcher remained at the Obs and 6 Sanderlings, a Little Stint and an Arctic Tern were at Ferrybridge.



   Arctic Tern - Ferrybridge, 11th September 2011 © Paul Baker The Bagsy Blog

  11th September

Yet another very blustery day saw the weekend seawatchers out in force. The most consistent coverage was of Chesil Cove, from where there were totals of 350 Manx Shearwaters, 140 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Arctic Skuas, a Sooty Shearwater, a 'blue' Fulmar and a Black Tern, together with 2 Grey Phalaropes that lingered for a while during the morning. At the Bill coverage was more haphazard and returned approximate totals of 500 Manx Shearwaters, 25 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Sooty Shearwaters, an Arctic Skua and a Sabine's Gull; small numbers of Arctic, Common and Sandwich Terns were reported from both sites. Apart from a selection of small numbers of grounded common migrants at the Bill, the day's only other reports were of 5 Sanderling, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Whimbrel and an Arctic Tern at Ferrybridge.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 3 Rusty-dot Pearl and 1 Delicate.

10th September

Although there were a few migrants grounded on the land, including singles of Merlin, Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and Spotted Flycatcher at the Bill and another Pied Flycatcher at Verne Common, most of the day's fieldwork was devoted to the sea. There was no great quantity of birds on the move off the Bill, but prolonged effort eventually produced totals of 53 Common Scoter, 16 Manx Shearwaters, 10 each of Great and Arctic Skua, 8 Balearic Shearwaters, 5 Dunlin, 4 Sooty Shearwaters and 3 Sandwich Terns.

On an unseasonably warm night the various garden moth-traps were not as full of immigrants as might have been hoped, with the tally at the Obs consisting of just 10 Rusty-dot Pearl and singles of Rush Veneer, Nephopterix angustella and Ni Moth.

9th September

A muggy, mainly overcast day with fog rolling in from time to time. Grounded migrants were a little more conspicuous than of late at the Bill, with Wheatear and Chiffchaff both getting to around the 30 mark, but variety wasn't exactly impressive for the time of year and there was nothing at all unexpected. The 2 Grey Phalaropes were still at Chesil Cove early in the morning, whilst wader variety at Ferrybridge included 4 Redshank, 3 Sanderling, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Knot. The only seawatch reports came from the Bill, where 4 Balearic Shearwaters passed by.

Despite the promising-looking conditions 2 Rusty-dot Pearl and a Rush Veneer were the only immigrants attracted overnight to the Obs garden moth-traps.




   Grey Phalarope - Chesil Cove, 8th September 2011 © Martin Cade

  8th September

Although the Melodious Warbler remained at the Obs - where it was heard calling and glimpsed once or twice in flight - the land was almost lifeless from the migrant point of view, with nothing more than low single figure totals of even the most routine fare; a lone Ruff at the Bill was the only faintly interesting new arrival. Seawatch totals from the Bill included 9 Common Scoter, 8 each of Manx and Balearic Shearwater, and 3 Sooty Shearwaters, whilst elsewhere there were 2 Grey Phalaropes and 3 Arctic Terns lingering in Chesil Cove during the afternoon.




   Melodious Warbler - Portland Bill, 7th September 2011 © Martin Cade

...maddeningly elusive and appearing quite long-winged at times in the field, we'd begun to have slight doubts about the identification of this bird but eventually it gave itself up and was straightforward enough in the hand:



  7th September

Still windy enough for the Obs garden Melodious Warbler to be very tricky to get to grips with in the field, but persistence eventually paid off and it was trapped and ringed during the afternoon; the only other reports from the land at the Bill were of the odd few Yellow Wagtails, Wheatears and phylloscs, and singles of Merlin, Whinchat, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Pied Flycatcher. The wind was still strong enough for plenty of attention to be given to the sea, from where the highlights were a Grey Phalarope and a Sabine's Gull at various times at Chesil Cove; the only worthwhile reports from the Bill were of 30 Balearic Shearwaters, 20 Manx Shearwaters, 4 Knot, an Arctic Skua and a distant unidentified petrel.





Sabine's Gull - Ferrybridge, 6th September 2011 © Martin Cade object lesson in trying to get the best possible photos whilst you've got a chance: it looked to be quite settled when we arrived so we only bothered to reel off a couple of quick photos, in neither of which was it at any sort of decent angle, before putting the camera down to have a look at it/have a chat/roll a cigarette etc - moments after that it flew off and didn't return, leaving us kicking ourselves for not getting anything better than the miserable efforts above. With any luck someone will have been a bit more switched on and done better.

  6th September

The forecast stormy conditions duly arrived and the chief rewards from the day were 4 Sabine's Gulls, 3 Storm Petrels and 2 Balearic Shearwaters at Chesil Cove, a Sabine's Gull at Ferrybridge and 7 Balearic Shearwaters, 5 Sooty Shearwaters and 3 Great Skuas off the Bill; the Melodious Warbler was also seen once in the Obs garden.



   Common Buzzard - Portland Bill, September 2011 © Martin Cade

...for no other reason than we didn't have any photos from today we'll resort to mentioning a 'new' sound that's been a feature at the Bill in recent weeks. Two pairs of Common Buzzards have bred on the island this year and one very noisy juvenile has settled at the Bill where it's constantly calling and demanding the attention of one or other of its parents; click here to have a listen to a short recording from a couple of days ago. This call is probably no big deal to anyone from 'inland' where we guess it's heard all the time, but out here on Portland - where Common Buzzard only bred for the first time in 2006 - it's certainly unfamiliar. Also of note is the striking difference in structure between the youngster and the adults which is immediately apparent in these two upperpart views:



   And finally, Paul Dibben kindly sent through some photos from yesterday of Kestrel and Wheatear at the Bill:



  5th September

The first day of what sounds like being a quite stormy period produced a slight surprise in the form of a Melodious Warbler in the Obs garden; not surprisingly considering the windy conditions it proved to be very elusive, although searching for it did reveal the presence of a Pied Flycatcher and a few phylloscs which, together with a scatter of Wheatears around the fields, constituted the only news from the land. The sea was very well covered but rewards were hard to come by: a tiny trickle of Manx Shearwaters off the Bill eventually topped the 100 mark, and 18 Balearic Shearwaters, 1 Sooty Shearwater and 1 Great Skua also passed by.

A lone Rusty-dot Pearl was the only immigrant amongst the handful of moths attracted overnight to the Obs garden moth-traps.

4th September

A pre-dawn shower dropped what may prove to be the last reasonable flurry of Willow Warblers of this year; the morning also provided the first Meadow Pipit and finch passage of the autumn, but as the day went on a freshening south-westerly saw interest dwindle. In terms of rarity a Wryneck seen briefly at Culverwell provided the day's highlight, whilst around the Bill area as a whole 200 Willow Warblers, 50 Wheatears, 25 Whitethroats and 20 Chiffchaffs providing the numbers on the ground and 130 Linnets, 40 Meadow Pipits and 20 Goldfinches headed south overhead; 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Merlin and a Greenshank were among the wide range of other migrants logged there. Seawatching at the Bill came up with little more than 6 Balearic Shearwaters and an Arctic Skua.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning: 4 Rusty-dot Pearl and singles of Diamond-back Moth, Rush Veneer, Pearly Underwing, Delicate, Scarce Bordered Straw, Ni Moth and Silver Y.



   Ni Moth - Portland Bill, 3rd September 2011 © Martin Cade

...and from a wide selection of other photos we've received over the last couple of days, another of yesterday's Wryneck and one of a Hummingbird Hawk-moth from today (© Nick Hopper):



...and one from today of one of the many Linnets currently frequenting the crops in Helen's Fields (© Steve Gantlett Birding World):


  3rd September

Although it certainly wasn't a migrant-filled day there was just about enough to keep weekend visitors interested, with particular highlights being a Quail flushed in Top Fields, a fly-over Ruff at the Bill and 8 Curlew Sandpipers briefly at Ferrybridge. Grounded commoner migrants weren't very plentiful but did include 25 Yellow Wagtails, 30 Wheatears, 12 Whinchats, 10 Blackcaps and Willow Warblers at the Bill, where the quite long list of back up species included 1 or more Merlins. Manx Shearwaters were a constant feature off the Bill, where sample counts included 250 through in an hour during the morning; 9 Balearic Shearwaters and a single Great Skua also passed through there.

Singles of Clouded Yellow and Hummingbird Hawk-moth were at the Bill today.

Immigrant moths of note included singles of Ni Moth at the Obs and Delicate at the Grove; 27 Rusty-dot Pearl, 3 Red Admiral butterflies and singles of Diamond-back Moth and Silver Y made up the rest of the immigrant tally in the Obs garden traps.



   Wryneck - Portland Bill, 2nd September 2011 © Martin Cade

  2nd September

Quieter conditions and feeling warmer than it has done for several weeks. The main interest of the day concerned 2 Wrynecks discovered together in Top Fields at the Bill; the first Short-eared Owl of the autumn was also at the Bill, where 4 Crossbills passed over and 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Merlin and a Turtle Dove provided further interest. Among the more routine fare, hirundine counts included 800 Swallows and 100 House Martins at the Bill, 150 Yellow Wagtails were grounded/overhead at the Bill, 50 Blackcaps were at Lancridge and the first pulse of Grey Wagtails overhead included 8 at the Bill. The only noteworthy report from the sea was of 2 Balearic Shearwaters passing the Bill.

There was a small but nonetheless welcome increase in immigrant moth numbers in the Obs garden traps, with 39 Rusty-dot Pearl, 6 Rush Veneer, 3 Silver Y, a Palpita vitrealis and a Dark Sword Grass caught overnight.



   Little Stint - Ferrybridge, 1st September 2011 © Martin Cade

  1st September

An even stronger easterly than we'd seen yesterday proved to be quite a downer as it made birding on the land very difficult. Aside from the plethora of hirundines overhead, Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear both just about topped the 100 mark at the Bill, where 15 Tree Pipits, 5 Whinchats, 2 Merlins and a Hobby were of interest overhead/around the fields but migrants in the bushes were very thinly spread and didn't include anything of greater interest than a single Pied Flycatcher; elsewhere a Green Sandpiper over Reap Lane and 4 Sanderling and a Little Stint at Ferrybridge were noteworthy. After recent events the sea got plenty of attention but it was soon apparent that all but 500 or so Manx Shearwaters had departed Portland waters; 500 Gannets, 15 Common Scoter, 8 Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Shelduck and an Arctic Skua also passed though there.

Two each of Rusty-dot Pearl, Rush Veneer and Silver Y were the only immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.