September 2012

30th September

Today's mix of a constantly freshening westerly and dreary skies didn't bode well and it was quickly apparent that new arrivals on the land were few and far between: the Red-backed Shrike was still around at Southwell, as was a Curlew Sandpiper at Ferrybridge, but the Bill area came up with little more than some light overhead passage of hirundines, alba wagtails, pipits and finches, along with singles of Snipe, Woodcock, Whinchat, Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat amongst the handful of Wheatears, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs on the ground. Given the conditions, the sea got a lot of attention at the Bill but could only return totals of 38 Common Scoter, 10 Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Great Skuas and a Great Northern Diver.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps: 12 Silver Y, 8 Rush Veneer and singles of Diamond-back Moth, Rusty-dot Pearl and Dark Sword Grass.

29th September

Although the Red-backed Shrike remained to provide interest for the weekend visitors, the clear night and full moon ensured that new arrivals - at least on the ground - were thinly spread. The day did provide one further moment of excitement when 2 Honey Buzzards arrived in off the sea at the Bill and shortly afterwards were watched flying on northwards over Weston and Chesil Beach. Events were otherwise rooted firmly at the routine level, with grounded migrants including little of particular note beyond 4 Redstarts and a Merlin at the Bill and a Curlew Sandpiper at Ferrybridge, and 62 Siskins and 7 Golden Plover providing some interest amongst an otherwise hirundine- and Meadow Pipit-filled overhead passage at the Bill. Two Balearic Shearwaters and a lone Brent Goose passed through on the sea at the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps: 4 Silver Y, 3 Rush Veneer, 2 Scarce Bordered Straw, 1 Rusty-dot Pearl and 1 Dark Sword Grass



   Red-backed Shrike - Southwell, 28th September 2012 © Pete Saunders

    28th September

After a day that had seemed something of an anti-climax after yesterday's flush of oddities there was eventual salvation in the form of a Red-backed Shrike that was discovered during the afternoon in the hedges on the southern edge of Southwell. An almost complete clear-out of migrants had earlier seen numbers reduced to hardly more than single figure totals of even the most routine fare, with 3 Firecrests and 2 Pied Flycatchers around the centre of the island and a Curlew Sandpiper at Ferrybridge providing just about the only interest. The fresh westerly wind and occasional showers gave some encouragment to the seawatchers, but their rewards consisted of little more than 3 Balearic Shearwaters and a Great Skua through off the Bill and an Arctic Tern lingering in Chesil Cove.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps: 7 Silver Y, 3 Rush Veneer, a Dark Sword Grass and a Pearly Underwing.



A reminder that the next In Focus field event at the Obs takes place between 10am and 4pm tomorrow, Saturday 29th September. 







Little Bunting and Reed Bunting - Portland Bill, 27th September 2012 © Martin Cade

  27th September

With the weather having settled right down there was plenty of opportunity for migrants to get moving in quantity today. Decent numbers of new arrivals had certainly dropped in overnight, with, for example, more than 200 Chiffchaffs and 100 Blackcaps scattered around the centre and south of the island, whilst hirundines and Meadow Pipits featured conspicuously in a strong northward passage overhead during the first few hours of daylight. The day's rarity highlight was a Little Bunting that was mist-netted in the Crown Estate Field at the Bill; the back-up cast of scarce migrants included 2-3 Lapland Buntings, a Short-eared Owl, a Woodlark and an Ortolan Bunting all overhead at the Bill and a Red-necked Grebe that was settled close inshore off the Bill tip. Amongst a wide variety of grounded or overflying common migrants at the Bill 24 Siskins, 14 Whinchats, 13 Tree Pipits, 2 Garden Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Firecrest were of note.

Overnight moth-trapping was a good deal more interesting than has been case just lately, with 17 Silver Y, 7 Rush Veneer, 4 Dark Sword Grass, 2 Rusty-dot Pearl, a Convolvulus Hawk-moth and a Pearly Underwing constituting the immigrant interest at the Obs; a Palpita vitrealis at Southwell was the pick of the catches elsewhere.



A reminder that the next In Focus field event at the Obs takes place between 10am and 4pm this Saturday, 29th September. 





   Merlin and Ortolan Bunting - Portland Bill, 26th September 2012 © Joe Stockwell This Isn't Portland Birding...

  26th September

Once some very heavy rain cleared though a little while after dawn an unexpectedly pleasant day allowed for plenty of fieldwork around the island. The Ortolan Bunting remained in the Crown Estate Field at the Bill although it was always rather mobile and elusive, and late in the day a second individual was also seen there. The day's tally at the Bill was conspicuously short on other rarer migrants, with the list of routine fare including nothing much better than 15 Whinchats, 9 Siskins, 2 Merlins, 2 Redpolls and singles of Woodcock, Grasshopper Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Pied Flycatcher and Reed Bunting. Elsewhere there were 2 Firecrests at Pennsylvania Castle and 5 Knot, 3 Sanderling, 2 Grey Plover and a Curlew Sandpiper at Ferrybridge. Seawatching at the Bill came up with 16 Balearic Shearwaters and singles of Great Skua and Pomarine Skua.




   Balearic Shearwaters - Portland Bill, 25th September 2012 © Martin Cade

  25th September

Blustery westerlies and frequent heavy showers saw to it that most coverage was given to the sea, with day-totals at the Bill that included 163 Balearic Shearwaters, 30 Common Scoter, 5 commic terns, 3 Arctic Skuas, 2 Great Skuas and singles of Manx Shearwater, Little Gull and Sandwich Tern. The land came up with a couple of surprises in the form of a Wryneck briefly in a private garden at Southwell and an Ortolan Bunting equally briefly in the Crown Estate Field at the Bill; amongst small numbers of common migrants there were also 3 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Whinchats and singles of Merlin and Tree Pipit at the Bill, whilst elsewhere 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a Firecrest in the Wakeham/Pennsylvania Castle area and 6 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Little Stints and a Curlew Sandpiper at Ferrybridge were of additional note.



   Curlew Sandpiper - Ferrybridge, 24th September 2012 © Joe Stockwell

  24th September

After a night of more very heavy rain the day itself brought a gradual improvement, although the strength of the westerly wind always put a spoiler on serious attempts at birding on the land. For the most part, seawatching was very unproductive although a late afternoon movement of 51 Balearic Shearwaters through off the Bill did eventually provide some interest; earlier, the only worthwhile sightings there were of 27 Common Scoter, 4 Teal, 4 Wigeon, 4 Great Skuas and singles of Ringed Plover, Common Gull and Arctic Skua. Despite the strength of the wind hirundines were leaving to the south from the Bill in some quantity through the morning, but the only worthwhile odds and ends on the ground were singles of Grey Heron, Merlin, Redstart and Pied Flycatcher at the Bill, another Pied Flycatcher at Reap Lane and 5 Sanderling and 2 Curlew Sandpipers at Ferrybridge.

Six Silver Y and a lone Red Admiral butterfly were the only immigrants caught overnight in the Obs garden moth-traps

23rd September

Just as forecast, a depression arriving from the south introduced strong easterlies and regular pulses of heavy rain. With the land all but unbirdable the sea got plenty of attention, with an unusually varied list logged at the Bill that included 40 Common Scoter, 27 Wigeon, 11 Balearic Shearwaters, 8 commic terns, 6 Grey Plover, 4 Arctic Skuas, 3 Turnstones, 3 Little Terns, 2 Dunlin and singles of Manx Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Teal, Shoveler, Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Great Skua. Ferrybridge was also well-watched, with 5 Curlew Sandpipers, 5 Knot, 4 Sanderling, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Teal and a Snipe the pick of the sightings there. Although it was apparent that the odd bits of semi-sheltered cover did harbour quite a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, meaningful counts were impossible; 11 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Lapwings and a Grey Wagtail were the only other migrants of note at the Bill, whilst a Pied Flycatcher was in a garden at Reap Lane.

In pretty unsuitable conditions for moth-trapping, 2 Silver Y and a Red Admiral butterly did make it into the Obs garden traps.

22nd September

With a really stiff north-easterly having sprung up overnight today saw a strong passage of mainly hirundines and Meadow Pipits passing through into the wind during the morning. Day-totals still aren't available for the Bill, although they run well into the thousands of hirundines (seemingly with House Martins well to the fore), hundreds of Meadow Pipits, lower but still decent totals of alba wagtails and Siskins, as well as a miscellany of hangers-on that included singles of Hobby and Marsh Harrier. On the ground Chiffchaffs and Wheatears were more conspicuous than of late, with totals for the Bill area of 100 and 60 respectively; the back-up cast there lacked any great quality but did include the likes of 3 White Wagtails, 2 Redstarts and a Grasshopper Warbler. Although generally quiet the sea did eventually come up with 11 Balearic Shearwaters through off the Bill.

Five Silver Y were the only immigrants caught overnight in the Obs garden moth-traps.




   Nuthatch - Portland Bill, 21st September 2012 © Martin Cade

...only the tenth record for Portland; the occurrence pattern is quite peculiar, with records in every month between February and June, and again in each of the months from September to November. Also from today, thanks to Nick Hopper for a photo of one of the White Wagtails: 


  21st September

For the first time this week the wind died right away which, together with completely overcast skies, at least made birding a lot easier. Despite the heavy cloud cover there was a strong passage of migrants overhead, with hirundines - particularly House Martins - moving through in impressive pulses at some height throughout the morning; a Marsh Harrier leaving to the south from the Bill was the most notable of these visible migrants. On the ground Chiffchaffs were more conspicuous than they've been all week, with 50 at the Bill, but variety and numbers were otherwise none too great: a Nuthatch was a surprise arrival at the Bill, where 2 White Wagtails and a new Great Spotted Woodpecker were also of note.

Yesterday's small improvement in immigrant numbers was maintained in the moth traps, with 7 Rush Veneer, 6 Silver Y, a Pearly Underwing and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly making up the tally at the Obs.




   Linnets - Portland Bill, 20th September 2012 © Martin Cade

...and whilst messing around photographing flying finches (...we'd prefer to be more gainfully employed on our net-rounds in the Crown Estate Field but on quiet days beggars can't be choosers) the camera captured two faintly amusing examples of Linnets flying upside down; presumably our eye/brain combination just can't take in details like this in real time, and it takes a 1/2000th of a second freeze-frame to reveal exactly what's happening: 

  20th September

Evening update.

A forecast of cloudier skies engendered some hope on the migrant front, but expectations fell well short of reality at the Bill where it was quieter than yesterday, both on the ground and overhead; 40 Yellow Wagtails, 4 Tree Pipits, 3 White Wagtails, 3 Siskins, 2 Grey Wagtails and a Redpoll providing the only interest amongst the more routine fare there. Elsewhere there were 6 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Sanderling and a Curlew Sandpiper at Ferrybridge. Seawatching produced 31 Common Scoter and an Arctic Skua through off the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps: 2 Rush Veneer and singles of Rusty-dot Pearl, Pearly Underwing and Dark Sword Grass.

19th September

On another day of sunshine and brisk north-westerlies there were a few more grounded migrants about, along with a fair passage overhead, but oddities were conspicuously absent. Amongst a light sprinkle of routine fare and 200 or so Meadow Pipits, grounded new arrivals at the Bill included the likes of 10 Blackcaps, 7 Goldcrests and singles of Grasshopper Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler; elsewhere the Curlew Sandpiper remained at Ferrybridge. Along with Swallows and House Martins, Meadow Pipits were also very conspicuous over the Bill, where 20 Yellow Wagtails, 8 Tree Pipits, 3 Siskins, the first 2 Redpolls of the autumn, a Hobby and a Snipe also passed through.

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



   Sparrowhawk - Portland Bill, 18th September 2012 © Pete Saunders

...also thanks to Pete for a photos of yesterday's Curlew Sandpiper at Ferrybridge:


And we didn't have enough time yesterday evening to dwell further on the Ortolan. Ageing it as a bird of the year was rather straightforward since the greater coverts contained a mixture of white-fringed juvenile and brown-fringed adult-like feathers:


We've touched on Ortolan ageing before (22nd/23rd September 2010) when we mentioned that it's apparently not uncommon for the greater coverts to be moulted in the irregular sequence visible on yesterday's bird, where the block of retained juvenile feathers is sandwiched between new inner and outer feathers. The tail was worth a look...


...particularly to compare it with, for example, the tail of the first-winter bird trapped last autumn (1st November 2011):


Note how last year's bird had much more obviously pointed tail feathers, as well as having a white patch on the end of the inner web of t4 (which it shouldn't have had).

    18th September

Sadly, although not at all unexpectedly since there was no change in the weather, migration remained pedestrian at best. Hirundines and Meadow Pipits left in some quantity over the Bill, but grounded migrants were only very thinly spread and included little of note beyond a long-staying Pied Flycatcher at the Bill. Another 2 Balearic Shearwaters and a lone Great Skua passed through on the sea at the Bill.




   Ortolan Bunting - Portland Bill, 17th September 2012 © Martin Cade

  17th September

With the current spell of persistent westerlies beginning to get really quite tiresome it came as something of a surprise when an Ortolan Bunting turned up out of the blue early in the morning in one of the Crown Estate Field mist-nets; upon release it didn't look to be disappearing too rapidly but it couldn't be found again. The migrant situation was otherwise pretty dreadful for mid-September, with low numbers and poor variety both on the ground and overhead; the Curlew Sandpiper that remained at Ferrybridge was the day's only other minor oddity. The only news from the sea was of another 20 Balearic Shearwaters through off the Bill.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps: 5 Silver Y, 2 Delicate, 1 Diamond-back Moth and 1 Rush Veneer.

16th September

A lot more cloud in the sky today but no sign of passage picking up at all on the land. Isolated pockets of grounded migrants included, for example, 16 Blackcaps at East Weare, but by way of quality it didn't get much better than a Pied Flycatcher at the Bill, 2 Firecrests at Easton, another Firecrest at the Grove and 6 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and the Curlew Sandpiper at Ferrybridge; the heavy cloud cover saw to it that passage overhead was a non-event. The sea was still worth attention, with 39 Common Scoter, 24 Balearic Shearwaters and an Arctic Skua through off the Bill and a Great Crested Grebe through off Cheyne Weare.

Immigrant activity remained very subdued in the moth-traps, with 5 Silver Y and a single Dark Sword Grass providing the only interest at the Obs.





   Little Egret, Curlew Sanpiper and Kestrel - East Weare, Ferrybridge and Portland Bill, 15th September 2012 © Keith Pritchard (Little Egret), Ken Tucker (Curlew Sandpiper) and Jonathin Forgham (Kestrel)

   15th September

As is often the case in clear weather, it seems that Portland was the poor relation in the common migrant stakes, with the falls of new arrivals reported from the mainland coast being barely represented on the island. That said, overhead passage was conspicuous, with hirundines and Meadow Pipits getting well into the high hundreds at the Bill, where 50 Yellow Wagtails, 17 Tree Pipits, 12 Grey Wagtails and 10 Siskins were also amongst the overflyers. The rather paltry selection on the ground at the Bill included 20-30 each of Wheatear, Blackcap and Chiffchaff but nothing else in any great quantity; 4 White Wagtails, 2 Firecrests and singles of Hobby, Snipe, Wood Warbler and Pied Flycatcher provided minor interest there, whilst elsewhere a Curlew Sandpiper was at Ferrybridge.

The Monarch remained at Easton, whilst immigrant interest in the Obs garden moth-traps consisted of just 6 Silver Y, 2 Rush Veneer and 1 Rusty-dot Pearl.



   Square-spot Dart - Southwell, 8th September 2012 © John Chainey

...thanks to John for informing us of this addition to the Portland moth list. He and Jenny Spence recorded 2 Square-spot Darts at Southwell last Saturday evening but didn't appreciate the significance of their capture until later in the week; the species' absence from Portland is puzzling since it's resident within sight of the island along parts of the Purbeck coast.

    14th September

A stiff westerly wind stifled passage today to the extent that there really wasn't anything worth reporting from the land, with numbers reduced to a minimum and variety including nothing beyond the mundane. Some interest was salvaged from the sea, with 19 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Great Skuas and an Arctic Skua through off the Bill.

The Monarch took a long time to surface today, but did eventually show well at Easton from mid-afternoon.

The moth-traps were very quiet, with singles of Rush Veneer and Silver Y constituting the only immigrants caught overnight at the Obs.




   Little Owl and Monarch - Portland Bill and Easton, 13th September 2012 © Nick Hopper

    13th September

After a very chilly dawn it soon warmed up under a cloudless sky and, although migrants were never numerous, there was a nice selection of most of the expected mid-September fare. Hirundines aside, Yellow Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Wheatear, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Siskin all got to totals between 10 and 50 at the Bill, where the less frequent species included 6 White Wagtails, 2 Snipe, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Pied Flycatcher. Balearic Shearwaters still figured, with another 20 through off the Bill.

The Monarch made the most of the sunshine and was frequently on view at Easton.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps: 6 Silver Y, 3 Rush Veneer and 1 Delicate.

12th September

A chilly morning gave way to a sunny and considerably warmer afternoon - conditions that prompted the Easton Monarch to surface again and spend a fair bit of time on its favoured buddleia. 

Bird-wise, there was decent little arrival of Wheatears - the total for the Bill area topped 100 - but variety and numbers on the land otherwise still left a lot to be desired, with singles of Knot and Firecrest the only uncommon migrants to show up at the Bill; as an example of how migration has to some extent ground to a halt it was interesting to discover that the singles of Pied Flycatcher and Spotted Flycatcher netted at the Obs were both retraps that had been present there for nearly a week. Despite the wind being well round toward the north-west the sea chipped in with some movement, particularly off the Bill where 51 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Arctic Skuas and increasing numbers of returning auks passed by.

Two each of Rush Veneer, Dark Sword Grass and Silver Y consituted the night's immigrant tally in the Obs garden moth-traps.



   Yellow Wagtail - Ferrybridge, 10th September 2012 © Pete Saunders

    11th September

In a brisk and at times quite cold north-westerly - our least favourite wind direction - it was no surprise at all that the recent migration hiatus continued. With the exception of a scatter of 35 Wheatears the Bill area was very quiet indeed for grounded migrants; overhead there was a small early morning passage that included 15 Yellow Wagtails, 9 Grey Wagtails, 6 Siskins and a Tree Pipit. The only worthwhile reports from the sea were of a total of 10 Balearic Shearwaters through off the Bill.

A single Silver Y was the only immigrant in the Obs garden moth-traps this morning.



Spotted Flycatcher - Church Ope Cove, 10th September 2012 © Andy Swash World Wildlife Images

  10th September

Yesterday's increasing cloud cover proved to be the precusor of a wholesale change in the weather, with today dawning cooler, breezier and frequently showery. Balearic Shearwaters were quick to respond to the change, with 118 passing down-Channel off the Bill through the morning; sea interest was otherwise surprisingly scant, with little more than 8 Common Scoter, 2 Arctic Skuas, a Sooty Shearwater and a Great Skua also through off the Bill. On the land a Red-legged Partridge was a surprise visitor at Verne Common, but in the migrant line although there were a few off-passage birds in the sheltered spots - including 10 Balckcaps at Verne Common, 2 Spotted Flycatchers at Church Ope Cove and singles of Pied Flycatcher and Spotted Flycatcher at the Obs - it looked as though there were precious few new arrivals.

The Monarch remained at Easton although it again spent long periods at roost.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps: 8 Silver Y, 3 Rush Veneer and 1 Diamond-back Moth.

9th September

Another day with what seemed like more birders than birds around the island; that said, there were the odd highlights although none proved straightforward to catch up with: a Marsh Harrier left out to sea from the Bill early in the morning, a ringtail harrier sp arrived in off the sea there later in the morning and headed away high to the north, a Wryneck near the Obs at the same time afforded nothing more than fleeting views, whilst later in the day an Osprey was seen briefly at Portland Harbour. Although hirundines were again passing through in quantity, and there was the customary early morning overhead movement of relatively small numbers of Yellow Wagtails, Grey Wagtails and Meadow Pipits, it did seem at times as though grounded common migrants were virtually absent; a lot of legwork did eventually come up with odds and ends that included singles of Pied Flycatcher and Spotted Flycatcher at the Bill; the Wood Warbler was also reported to be still present at Portland Castle. With the recent begign conditions being gradually swept away through the day by a freshening south-westerly, seawatching at the Bill came up with 7 Manx Shearwaters, 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Arctic Skuas and a Great Skua.

The Monarch butterfly remained at Easton although in progressively cooler conditions it eventually ended up roosting for long periods in a pine tree close to its favoured buddleia.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps: 19 Silver Y, 7 Rush Veneer, 2 Rusty-dot Pearl and 1 Cydia amplana.




Dunlin, Sanderling and Wood Warbler - Ferrybridge and Portland Castle, 8th September 2012 © Brett Spencer Brett's Goosey Ganderings

  8th September

A presence of the Short-billed Dowitcher at Lodmoor and the Monarch at Easton ensured that the island was awash with birders but new discoveries were few and far between, with an Avocet at Ferrybridge and a Wood Warbler at Portland Castle being the only arrivals of any particular note. Migrant totals were barely worth mentioning, with the likes of 8 Tree Pipits, 5 Whinchats, 4 Grey Wagtails, 2 Reed Warblers, a Golden Plover, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Goldcrest providing about the only interest amongst the meagre spread of commoner fare at the Bill; 4 Balearic Shearwaters also passed through on the sea there. Elsewhere, 3 Sanderling and a Common Gull were of note at Ferrybridge.

The Monarch remained in situ all day on its favoured buddleia at Easton.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps: 52 Silver Y, 29 Rush Veneer, 2 Rusty-dot Pearl, 1 Diamond-back Moth, 1 Convolvulus Hawk-moth and 1 Dark Sword Grass.





   Monarch - Easton, 7th September 2012 © Martin Cade

  7th September

In more summer-like conditions the day's highlight was undoubtedly a Monarch butterfly that showed up in the small ornamental park off Park Estate Road, Easton; after being discovered during the morning it remained faithful to a lone buddleia bush for the rest of the day.

Bird-wise, the conditions were much too fine to have expected any sort of arrival of migrants and the day's numbers - hirundines aside - were quite pitiful for early September. At the Bill, were overhead passage was much less conspicuous than in recent days, minor interest was provided by the likes of 7 Tree Pipits, 4 Grey Wagtails, 3 White Wagtails, 3 Reed Warblers, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Snipe, 2 Siskins, a Redstart and a late Swift, whilst morsels of interest elsewhere included a Grasshopper Warbler at East Weare and a Firecrest at Avalanche Road. Seawatching at the Bill came up with 5 Balearic Shearwaters and an unseasonable Puffin.

The best of the night's immigrant moths were singles of Flame Carpet and Convolvulus Hawk-moth at Reap Lane, Southwell; at the Obs immigrant totals were 46 Silver Y, 23 Rush Veneer, 9 Diamond-back Moth and 2 Rusty-dot Pearl.



   Great Spotted Woodpecker - Southwell, 6th September 2012 © Pete Saunders

...we're not at all sure how many are roaming the island at the moment but they're being seen sufficiently frequently that we've given up bothering to mention them on the daily updates.

    6th September

With anticyclonic conditions now well established there was just a light waft of an easterly today, with the clear skies doing nothing by way of dropping migrants in any quantity. At the Bill the first couple of Firecrests of the autumn and an overflying party of 16 Greenshank constituted the best of the day's new arrivals; otherwise it was a largely a case of less of the same as we've been seeing in recent days: along with the ubiquitous decent numbers of hirundines there were noteworthy totals of 75 Yellow Wagtails, 16 Whinchats,11 Tree Pipits, 8 Grey Wagtails, 6 White Wagtails, 5 Grasshopper Warblers and 4 Pied Flycatchers, but the general impression was that is was pretty quiet on the ground. The sea has received very little attention in recent days, but 3 Balearic Shearwaters were noticed passing through off the Bill during the afternoon.

Silver Ys were abundant, with 242 caught overnight in the Obs garden moth-traps and many thousands about the Bill area by day; the only other immigrants attracted to the Obs traps were 9 Rush Veneer and a single Red Admiral butterfly.





   Painted Lady, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell - 5th September 2012 © Ken Dolbear

    5th September

A welcome switch in wind direction to the north-east looked promising and although nothing a great note was discovered there was a decent selection of migrants on view. The Bill area got most of the coverage and along with a constant movement of hirundines the tally of grounded/overflying arrivals included 50-60 each of Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear and Willow Warbler, together with 15 each of Tree Pipit and Spotted Flycatcher, 10 Sedge Warblers, the first Goldcrest of the autumn and ones and twos of most of the other expected early September migrants. Elsewhere, singles of Knot and Common Gull were of note at Ferrybridge.

Red Admiral and Painted Lady numbers continue to increase throughout the island, with approximate totals of 120 Red Admirals and 25 Painted Ladys in the Obs garden alone during the afternoon.

The windy and clear conditions weren't very helpful for overnight moth-trapping; 77 Silver Y, 3 Rusty-dot Pearl and 3 Rush Veneer made up the immigrant totals in the Obs garden traps.

4th September

Another pleasant day to be out birding but, not surprisingly after a clear night, not especially productive for migrants. A typical array on the ground and overhead at the Bill saw 50 Yellow Wagtails, 40 Willow Warblers and 25 Wheatears make up the bulk of the numbers; the list of also-rans there included 8 each of Grey Wagtail and Tree Pipit, 5 White Wagtails, 2 each of Grasshopper Warbler and Pied Flycatcher and a single Turtle Dove, whilst elsewhere the pick of the bunch was an Osprey that flew south over Fortuneswell during the afternoon.

A party of at least 8 Bottle-nosed Dolphins were off East Cliffs at the Bill during the morning.

Immigrants in the Obs garden moth-traps: 23 Silver Y, 7 Rush Veneer, 5 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Diamond-back Moth and 1 Southern Wainscot.




   Wood Warbler - Southwell, 3rd September 2012 © Paul Baker The Bagsy Blog

    3rd September

Although last year was a notable exception, it seems that more often than not no sooner do the schools go back then high pressure sets in and summery conditions become the rule - this year certainly looks like it'll be adhering to the pattern. At the Bill, hirundines were the most conspicuous migrants, with up to 200 Swallows lingering over the fields and a fair throughput of Sand Martins and Swallows on the move throughout the morning; other totals of grounded/overflying migrants there included 50 each of Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear and Willow Warbler, 14 Whinchats, 13 Tree Pipits, 10 Sedge Warblers and single figure totals of most of the other expected mid-autumn species; oddities included a Green Sandpiper heading north over the Bill and a Wood Warbler at Southwell.

Moth numbers picked up again, with the Obs garden traps coming up with an immigrant tally of 65 Silver Y, 21 Rusty-dot Pearl, 13 Rush Veneer, 2 Diamond-back Moth, 2 Dark Sword Grass and singles of Cydia amplana, Loxostege sticticalis and Pearly Underwing.

2nd September

Disappointingly quiet all round today. With no arrival of any numbers of routine migrants (just 3 birds were trapped and ringed all morning at the Obs) it was left to a handful of less common species, including 3 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Knot and a White Wagtail, as well as the autumn's first singles of Chiffchaff and Chaffinch, to provide interest on the land at the Bill. The sea was also as bereft of interest, with a lone passing Balearic Shearwater the only bird of note off the Bill.

A cooler and breezier night saw a marked reduction in moth numbers at the Obs, where 34 Silver Y, 5 Rush Veneer and a Pearly Underwing were the only immigrants attracted to the moth-traps.



   Pale-bellied Brent Goose - Ferrybridge, 2nd September 2012 © Pete Saunders

...Portland's ealiest autumn record by more than a month: the previous earliest record was on 4th October 2009. This individual was very likely present yesterday when a lone brent goose sp was seen briefly from a moving bus.

    1st September

Yesterday's flurry of new arrivals wasn't sustained, with much more promising heavily overcast conditions today failing to deliver anything in quantity. Although Swallows and Sand Martins were passing through in good numbers throughout the morning, the only commoner migrants getting into double figure totals on the ground at the Bill were Wheatear and Willow Warbler that struggled to 50 and 20 respectively; amongst the lower totals there was quite a bit of variety but nothing unexpected beyond an early first returning Pale-bellied Brent Goose at Ferrybridge. Odds and ends through on the sea off the Bill included 4 Arctic Skuas, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Teal.

There was a conspicuous increase in immigrant moths, with the Obs garden traps returning totals of 297 Silver Y, 10 each of Rusty-dot Pearl and Rush Veneer, 4 Cydia amplana and singles of (presumed) Jersey Mocha, Hoary Footman, Dark Sword Grass and Red Admiral butterfly; the pick of the trap contents elsewhere were a Cydia amplana at Southwell and a notable total of 165 Silver Y in one trap at the Grove.