23rd September

A reminder that the next In Focus field event at the Obs takes place between 10am and 4pm this Saturday, 26th September 2015.

On a day of clear skies and a freshening westerly the numbers were overhead rather than on the ground. At the Bill a sample one hour count early in the morning came up with 600 Meadow Pipits, 140 Linnets, 90 Goldfinches and 49 alba wagtails, whilst full totals for the whole morning including 70 Siskins, 35 Chaffinches, 15 Yellow Wagtails, 7 Redpolls, 4 Grey Wagtails, 2 Tree Pipits, 2 Reed Buntings and a Merlin. Quality was hard to come by amongst the grounded arrivals, with single Firecrests at Southwell and Pennsylvania Castle about the best on offer; numbers included 30 or so each of Wheatear, Blackcap and Chiffchaff at the Bill. Not much attention was given to the sea, with singles of Red-throated Diver and Arctic Skua the only reports from the Bill. The only reports from elsewhere were of a Common Scoter in Portland Harbour and a Knot at Ferrybridge.

A Red-veined Darter was in the Crown Estate Field during the afternoon.

Singles of Delicate and White-speck were the only scarcer immigrant moths caught overnight at the Obs.

Red-veined Darter - Portland Bill, 23rd September 2015 © Martin Cade

Also today Nick Hopper sent us through a report and some recordings from his most recent visit last Friday night/Saturday morning (18th/19th). The main feature of the night was what sounded to be sizeable flocks of moving waders, amongst which Dunlin were prominent (seven parties of multiple birds):

...perhaps surprisingly, it was the first night this autumn when no Ringed Plover were logged. Other highlights included a Greenshank:

...two flocks of Turnstones (together with Dunlin in this recording):

...a Knot, three groups of Sandwich Terns, a Common Sandpiper, a Redshank, a Pied Flycatcher, 9 Robins, 8 Tree Pipits, 8 Yellow Wagtail and two calls from Skylarks. Additionally, this passerine calling and then giving a short snatch of song well after dark on the Friday evening caused considerable puzzlement; despite sounding as though it ought to be some sort of Sylvia, further research couldn't pin it down to any specifically. Magnus Robb's suggestion is that it's most probably a Wheatear, which, on second listening, sounds far more plausible - the chacking calls are rather like those we hear from migrant Wheatears, whilst the little burst of scratchy song could easily come from their wide repertoire: