21st October

We were very saddened to hear today of the death of Norman Moore, the honorary president of Portland Bird Observatory; Norman's huge contribution to nature conservation in Britain is well known and we greatly appreciate the support that he gave over many years to our work at the observatory. We extend our sincere condolences to Norman's family on their sad loss.

A profound change in the weather with a blusterly westerly and rain throughout the morning made for difficult birding today. New arrivals did make landfall, as evidenced by the Yellow-browed Warblers pitching up at the Obs and Pennsylvania Castle, but commoner migrants were tricky to get amongst in the wind and rain, and didn't seem to be very plentiful, with 7 Short-eared Owls and a new Firecrest at the Bill and a late Willow Warbler at Southwell the best amongst the scatter of thrushes, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests around the south of the island. Despite the conditions another 200 Starlings arrived from the south at the Bill.

Also some late news on nocturnal passage during the night of 15th/16th October: Nick Hopper has just sent us through the totals from that night's recordings which comprised
526 Redwing calls, 413 Song Thrush calls, 4 Blackbirds, 3 Meadow Pipits, 2 Robins, a Fieldfare, a Water Rail and the usual miscellany of unidentified calls that Nick hasn't had time to sort out. For various reasons we've spent a fair bit of time wandering about after dark in recent nights and we've got the impression that just lately nocturnal passage has involved birds moving straight through (on murkier, drizzly nights you often get the feel for birds getting stuck overhead and simply whirring around in circles) so we'd hazard a guess that on this occasion Nick's totals refer to an absolute minimum number of individuals - goodness knows how many birds are really up there since, if diurnal passage is anything to go by, then a lot of the single calls likely refer to small flocks.

Yellow-browed Warbler - Portland Bill, 21st October 2015 © Martin Cade