1st May

May begun in fine style with the very welcome discovery of an Eastern Subalpine Warbler in Helen's Fields at the Bill; first found once the morning's rain had cleared through, the bird proved to be a popular and at times showy draw for the rest of the day. After a damp and murky night when waders were on the move in some numbers grounded migrants were found to be far from numerous at dawn, although the smattering at the Bill did include minor interest in the form of singles of Iceland Gull (the usual long-stayer), Black Redstart, Grasshopper Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher and a likely Continental Stonechat at the Bill, whilst visible passage included several Swifts and a Kestrel arriving in/off there. After being all but absent for much of April Manx Shearwaters featured in their highest numbers so far this year, with 400 through off the Bill during the evening; earlier, 100 commic terns, 53 Common Scoter, 13 Whimbrel, 7 Great Skuas and singles of Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, 'Blue' Fulmar and Arctic Skua had passed by there.



Eastern Subalpine Warbler - Portland Bill, 1st May 2014 © David Carr davidcarrphotography.co.uk (top still), Brett Spencer Brett's Goosey Ganderings   (middle still) and Pete Saunders (bottom still) and Martin Cade (video)
...although there was little doubt that this bird was an Eastern Subalpine Warbler, that fact was more than confirmed by the shape and extent of white in the outer tail feathers. In the field we'd taken it - at least on the basis of the striking tail pattern and seemingly not too faded flight feathers - to be an adult, but closer examination of the wing - there look to be some fresh inner secondaries and inner greater coverts, as well as a new alula, whilst maybe the flight feathers were more faded/worn than we'd at first appreciated - together with the rather ambiguous nature of some what we read in the literature, made us not so sure. Sadly no calls were heard/recorded (and of course it wasn't trapped) so we were none the wiser as to which of the proposed two subspecies of Eastern Subalpine it belonged to (additional photos © Martin Cade):
 Finally, and on a completely different subject, last night's fog and rain brought a whole variety of passing waders within earshot, both at the Bill and elsewhere over the island - we haven't got a clue how many there were or to what extent the same disorientated flocks were merely circling overhead, for although they were at times very low they stayed resolutely out of the beams of the Bill Lighthouse or the light from our Obs garden moth-traps; however, as an auditory experience it was a quite amazing and exceptional event that lasted for several hours - have a listen to a few short recordings made from near the Bill Lighthouse: