31st December

Fuller reports will resume when we get over a nasty attack of toothache(!). Today's highlights were the Yellow-browed Warbler still at Pennsylvania Castle and a Great Skua off the Bill.

Although there's still a lot of fleshing out of it to do - notably including the addition of plenty more controls that we await notification of - we've cobbled together a preliminary summary of this year's ringing activities at the Bill Bird Ringing in 2017

30th December

Just a routine selection today: 430 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 9 Pale-bellied Brents and a Shelduck at Ferrybridge, 9 Black-necked Grebes, 6 Great Northern Divers, a Black-throated Diver and a Goosander in Portland Harbour, an Eider through at Chesil Cove and 2 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill.

29th December

Quite a change overnight from millpond calm at dusk to 80mph gusts around dawn. Such a stir-up was always going to be worth paying attention to and the best of the storm-driven strays were a Sooty Shearwater off the Bill, a Manx Shearwater off Church Ope Cove and the Iceland Gull resurfacing in Chesil Cove; one or more Great Skuas were also about off the Bill. The only other reports were of 43 Brent Geese at Ferrybridge and singles of Great Northern Diver and Goosander in Portland Harbour.

From the Obs it was only possible to get a few very, very long range record snaps of the Sooty Shearwater...

...but as it looked to be lingering we nipped to the Bill tip to get a bit closer; sadly, just as we rolled up at the pump station a really vicious squall came through that not only rendered the sea almost invisible but, once it had cleared through, also put paid to the feeding flock © Martin Cade:

Such was the strength of the wind that a few birds - including this Great Crested Grebe - were sheltering closer to shore than usual in Portland Harbour © Debby Saunders:

28th December

An unexpectedly really pleasant day tempted a fair few folk out into the field but there was little change in the quality of the birding. Good looks at Portland Harbour came up with reports of an increase in Goosanders to at least 20, along with more customary fare including 10 Black-necked Grebes and 3 Great Northern Divers. At least 1 Firecrest and the Grey Heron remained at the Bill, 3 Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest were at Southwell and the Black Redstart was again at Blacknor. Sea reports included 7 Red-throated Divers, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Brent Goose through off the Bill.

Great Northern Diver, Guillemot and Kestrel from Portland Harbour and Southwell today © Debby Saunders:

27th December


A reminder for those with Christmas money burning a hole in their pocket that there's an In Focus field event at the Obs between 10am and 4pm this Saturday, 30th December.

Just a few regulars about today to entertain those that were out braving the blasting and very raw northwesterly: 3 Firecrests and a Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove, another Black Redstart at Chesil Cove and 3 Great Northern Divers, a Black-throated Diver and a Red-necked Grebe in Portland Harbour.

26th December

Once again, very little to report although a fly-by Iceland Gull at the Bill was a nice highlight; single Firecrests were also at Southwell and the Obs.

25th December

The day's only report was of a Goosander in Portland Harbour.

24th December

A freshening breeze and occasional drizzly spells saw a Great Skua and 6 Red-throated Divers pass through off the Bill. The only other reports were of 2 Firecrests still at Pennsylvania Castle and 2 Great Northern Divers in Portland Harbour.

Some aerial views of the Bill © James Bohan and Brett Spencer...

...and some video of the Obs © Brett Spencer:

23rd December

It was back to square one with the weather as yesterday sunshine was replaced by constant low cloud and occasional drizzle. The day's only new arrivals were a Lapwing at the Bill and an extra Blackcap joining the long-staying bird at Weston. The Yellow-browed Warbler showed up again at Pennsylvania Castle where there were also 3 Goldcrests and 2 Firecrests, the Red-backed Grebe was again in Portland Harbour and 13 Red-throated Divers and a Brent Goose passed by off the Bill.

Two Rusty-dot Pearls trapped overnight at Southwell provided the first immigrant moth interest for a few days.

22nd December

It seems as though fieldwork is taking a backseat as Christmas gets nearer, with very little coverage despite the gloriously sunny and mild conditions. Two Siskins were new at Church Ope Cove and 5 more Red-throated Divers passed by off the Bill, but the only other reports were of a few of the established regulars including 2 Firecrests at both the Obs and Church Ope Cove, and the Grey Heron and Reed Bunting at the Bill.

A Red Admiral was on the wing at Blacknor.

Dusk is often a good time to census wintering Firecrests - at least when the weather's as nice as it's been in recent days - since they invariably call a lot prior to going to roost; all this week the two at the Obs which are usually really unobtrusive through the day have been getting ever so noisy towards sunset:

21st December

It was perhaps fortunate that there were so few hours of daylight today since it limited the time that the few stalwarts making an effort had to endure the uninspiringly dreary and mild conditions - even the birds seemed to keeping their heads down, with several of regulars not showing up. Firecrests did put in appearances at the Obs and Church Ope Cove, the Blackcap was still at Weston and 4 Great Northern Divers and 2 Black-throated Divers were still at Portland Harbour/Ferrybridge. Six Red-throated Divers and a Common Scoter passed through off the Bill.

Perseverance at Ferrybridge has paid off with some nice diver fly-by opportunities this winter - today it was the turn of a Great Northern to put on a show © Pete Saunders:

20th December

Precious few changes today in the prevailing quiet conditions, with many of the established winterers getting on the day list: singles of Grey Heron and Firecrest at the Bill and Goldcrest and Chiffchaff at Southwell, 2 Firecrests and the Yellow-browed Warbler at Pennsylvania Castle, the Black Redstart at Haylands and the Blackcap at Weston, 11 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Black-throated Divers and the Red-necked Grebe in Portland Harbour and a Great Northern Diver at Ferrybridge. The only seawatch reports were of 11 Common Scoter and 4 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill.

A Rusty-dot Pearl was the only moth trapped overnight at the Obs.

One of the regular Grey Herons at Ferrybridge this morning © Pete Saunders:

19th December

Another lovely mild, still and bright day saw the Yellow-browed Warbler show again at least once at Pennsylvania Castle. A samey selection from the rest of the day's fieldwork included 10 Common Scoter through off the Bill, 3 Purple Sandpipers and 2 Firecrests at the Bill, single Black Redstarts at Church Ope Cove, Haylands and Blacknor, the Blackcap at Weston and 7 Great Northern Divers in Portland Harbour.

A single Dark Sword Grass was trapped overnight at the Obs.

18th December

Lovely still and sunny conditions tempted the Pennsylvania Castle Yellow-browed Warbler into view for at least a while during the afternoon. Limited other coverage found few changes: 15 Red-throated Divers, 7 Common Scoter and a Brent Goose passed through off the Bill, 3 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a Redwing were dotted about on the land at the Bill, 4 Goldcrests, a Black Redstart and a Firecrest were at Pennsylvania Castle/Church Ope Cove and the Black Redstart and Blackcap were both still at Weston where a Siskin also passed over.

The party of 10 or so Bottle-nosed Dolphins were off the Bill again during the morning.

Despite multiple visits over the nearly fortnight that it's been present we only caught up with the Yellow-browed Warbler at Pennsylvania Castle for the first time yesterday - and then only managed almost unidentifiably poor views. Today's lovely conditions lent themselves to getting to grips with something of this ilk but even then it took two visits before we more or less walked straight into it © Martin Cade:

17th December

The elusive Yellow-browed Warbler at Pennsylvania Castle surfaced again today and was the best of the bunch on what proved to be an increasingly mild but always dreary and sometimes damp day. The released Great Bustards spent at least the first couple of hours of the day at the Bill where 9 Purple Sandpipers and singles of Redwing, Goldcrest and Firecrest were about on the land and 52 Red-throated Divers, 12 Common Scoter and a Little Gull passed through/lingered offshore. A Blackcap was a new arrival in a garden at Southwell, whilst 11 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 5 Great Northern Divers, 2 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Redshanks and singles of Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit were at Ferrybridge/Portland Harbour.

Common Gulls at Ferrybridge today © Debby Saunders: 

16th December

Fair conditions prompted the 3 released Great Bustards to roam out as far as the island once again where they spent the afternoon at the Bill. Earlier there had been some decent movement on the sea, with 42 Red-throated Divers, 7 Common Scoter, 6 Pintail, a Brent Goose and a Velvet Scoter through off the Bill, and one or two newcomers on the land, with 3 Redwings, a Siskin and an extra Reed Bunting showing up at the Bill and another Redwing heading over Blacknor. Established winterers included 4 Great Northern Divers and 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Ferrybridge, a Black-throated Diver and a Red-necked Grebe in Portland Harbour, a Black Redstart at Blacknor and a Blackcap at Weston.

Far removed from how you see 'proper' Great Bustards, today's reappearing trio of released birds looked as though they were rather too accustomed to human presence for their own good - a turkey alternative in the offing? © Martin Cade:

15th December

Not much change today save for the appearance of a Great Skua amongst the gull flock off the Bill. The Black Brant showed up again at Ferrybridge, 2 Black-throated Divers were still in Portland Harbour and other regulars included singles of Black Redstart and Blackcap at Weston, 2 Redwings and a Firecrest at Pennsylvania Castle, the Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove and singles of Chiffchaff and Firecrest at the Bill. Eight Red-throated Divers passed through off the Bill.

A party of 10 or so Bottle-nosed Dolphins lingered off East Cliffs at the Bill for a while during the morning.

Judging by the numbers of bass fishermen still active off the Bill - and the increasing numbers of common seabirds lingering there - there's plenty of food about for the Bottle-nosed Dolphins © Martin Cade:

The Black Brant pitched up again at Ferrybridge this morning © Pete Saunders:

14th December

There were a couple of minor surprises to show from today's fieldwork with a Red-necked Grebe showing up for the first time this winter in Portland Harbour and a late presumably migrant Bullfinch dropping in briefly at the Obs. A couple of Redwings were also fresh in at Pennsylvania Castle, whilst Firecrests there and at the Obs, 12 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill, the Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove and 3 Great Northern Divers and 2 Black-throated Divers in Portland Harbour were all still about. Seawatch reports included 5 Red-throated Divers and 2 Common Scoter through off the Bill.

Whilst fishing around for some other photographs today we came across these rather lovely blast-from-the-past offerings that long-time Obs member Alan Hold had allowed us to copy earlier this year. Alan features third from the right in this gathering of likely lads at the Bill in 1960:

...whilst this soiree in the Obs lounge must date from a year or two later since it features Peter Morgan (second left) - now our Chairman but then the first full-time PBO warden; we can also identify David Godfrey (front left) and Dave Paull (front right), both of whom are still occasional visitors to the Obs:

We do always ask when we post photographs like these but if anyone does have prints/slides/cinefilm from the early years of the Obs we would love to see them - digital images are so ubiquitous these days that it's easy to forget just how few folk carried a camera back in the 1960s. 

13th December

In conditions that couldn't have been more different to those we were with graced with yesterday the only reports were of 10 Common Scoter and 5 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill, 5 Goosanders and 2 Great Northern Divers in Portland Harbour and 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and 2 Redshanks at Ferrybridge.

12th December

The recent spell of very changeable weather continued, with today's lovely calm and bright conditions that followed a very frosty start encouraging plenty of folk into the field. A few new arrivals of interest included a Sandwich Tern in Portland Harbour, single Mistle Thrushes at the Grove and the Bill, a Blackcap at Weston and 4 Bramblings at the Bill. Firecrests were on show at the Bill (2), Southwell Landslip and Pennsylvania Castle, whilst 5 Purple Sandpipers, the Grey Heron and a Black Redstart were amongst other winter regulars at the Bill and 7 Redshanks were at Portland Harbour/Ferrybridge. Seawatching at the Bill came up with 16 Red-throated Divers, 4 Brent Geese and a Common Scoter, with 10 Black-necked Grebes, 5 Goosanders, 4 Great Northern Divers and 2 Black-throated Divers dotted about Portland Harbour.

A Red Admiral was on the wing at Fortuneswell.

It was the most perfect of days to scrutinize Portland Harbour, with the 2 Black-throated Divers and other waterfowl gliding about on a mirror-calm sea © Debby Saunders:

Black Redstarts don't get any better than this fine adult male that turned up at the Bill at the weekend and was still about there today © Dan Law:

Today marked the fourth month in residence for this Grey Heron at the Bill; it now ranges more widely than just the Crown Estate Field where it spent virtually all its time back in the early autumn but it's still mainly confined to dry situations where it's patently finding plenty enough to sustain itself © Martin Cade: 

11th December

Very poor coverage today with the only reports being of Firecrests at the Obs and Penn's Weare (3), the Black Redstart still at Church Ope Cove and 7 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Ferrybridge.

10th December

A wildly stormy day permitted precious little meaningful birding and the only sightings of note were of an unseasonable Manx Shearwater and a Brent Goose off the Bill, a Black Redstart still at the Bill, 4 Great Northern Divers in Portland Harbour and 2 Redshanks and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose at Ferrybridge.

9th December

The rapid return of calm conditions was welcome even if it was hardly balmy under an increasingly dreary sky. A handful of new finds on the land included Black Redstarts at the Bill and at Ferrybridge, a Little Egret and a Brambling at the Bill and a Chiffchaff at Southwell; a Great Spotted Woodpecker trapped at the Obs was also found to be an unringed individual and so not one of the four ringed through the autumn at the Bill. Regulation winterers showing up on the land included 2 Firecrests, a Water Rail, a Purple Sandpiper, a Reed Bunting at the Bill, a Black Redstart at Church Ope Cove and a Firecrest at Broadcroft. The Ferrybridge/Portland Harbour selection included 14 Black-necked Grebes, 4 Redshanks, 3 Great Northern Divers, 2 Shelducks, 2 Goosanders and a Black-throated Diver.

Black-throated Divers have been very unreliable visitors in recent winters so the presence of what looks to be more than one individual at Portland Harbour/Ferrybridge in recent days has been very welcome © Pete Saunders: 

More routine winter fare included this Great Northern Diver in Portland Harbour © Pete Saunders: 

...these three of the four Redshanks at Ferrybridge © Debby Saunders: 

...and this Great Spotted Woodpecker at the Bill © Martin Cade: 

8th December

Even though it was pleasantly sunny throughout the fierce and very chilly northwesterly that was blasting across the island saw to it that forays into the field were pretty brief. Long-stayers putting in appearances included Firecrests at the Obs and at Church Ope Cove, the Black Redstart at Church Ope and the Goosanders in Portland Harbour; the Grey Heron reappeared at the Bill at the Bill for the first time for a while, whilst a Reed Bunting there was perhaps most likely a hitherto unnoticed winterer. A lone Red-throated Diver through off the Bill was the only seabird of note.

7th December

Persistent rain for a couple of hours after dawn and blustery northwesterlies for the rest of the day weren't the recipe for a hatful of sightings today and the only worthwhile reports were of the Yellow-browed Warbler still lurking the Church Ope Cove area, Firecrests still there and at the Obs and 7 Goosanders, 1 Great Northern Diver and a Kittiwake in Portland Harbour.

6th December

Increasingly windy weather limited coverage today and the only real oddity making the list was the Pennsylvania Castle Yellow-browed Warbler that was heard but couldn't be seen. A Common Buzzard heading south over Ferrybridge was slightly unexpected for the time of year and 5 Mute Swans and a Black-throated Diver also over there were of note but otherwise the sightings were much as in recent days: 3 Purple Sandpipers and a Firecrest at the Bill, 3 Red-throated Divers through on the sea there, 7 Goosanders still in Portland Harbour and 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese still at Ferrybridge.

A party of 15 Bottle-nosed Dolphins were off the Bill during the morning.

Two Rusty-dot Pearl and a White-speck were the only immigrant moths trapped overnight at the Obs.

This morning's Black-throated Diver over Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders: 

5th December

The lovely, quiet conditions continued and there was a nice reward from the day's fieldwork in the form of a Yellow-browed Warbler at Church Ope Cove. New arrivals were otherwise few and far between although did include a Woodcock at the Bill; Great Spotted Woodpeckers also increased to 2 at the Bill, with a Purple Sandpiper and a Firecrest remaining there and at least another 2 Firecrests still at Church Ope Cove/Pennsylvania Castle. Eight Red-throated Divers and 5 Common Scoter passed through off the Bill and 19 Black-necked Grebes and singles of Black-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver were still in Portland Haerbour.

A small arrival of immigrant moths saw 2 Rush Veneer and singles of Rusty-dot Pearl and Silver Y trapped overnight at the Obs.

There's never been an overwintering Yellow-browed Warbler at Portland so it'll be interesting to see if today's bird lingers or proves to be just a late migrant © Martin Adlam: 

The Portland Harbour Black-necked Grebes are easy enough to see through a 'scope but are notoriously difficult to photograph well from the shore - get out in boat though and the results are a revelation! © Nick Stantiford:

4th December

Far less coverage today than at the weekend which was a shame since the mild, millpond-calm conditions were perfect for birding. Two Bramblings and a Redwing dropped in at the Obs where a Great Spotted Woodpecker that showed up was most likely the individual that's been at Southwell for a while; 2 Firecrests at the Obs and another at Thumb Lane were the pick of the selection of 'crests and Long-tailed Tits found ensconced at various spots around the centre and south of the island. Seawatching at the Bill came up with 5 Common Scoter, 2 Red-throated Divers and singles of Great Northern Diver and Great Skua, whilst 20 Black-necked Grebes, 8 Goosanders and a Black-throated Diver were in Portland Harbour.

An unseasonable Hebrew Character and a Double-striped Pug were the only moths trapped overnight at the Obs.

3rd December

The second successive milder day saw cold weather movement largely fizzle out, with 4 Redwings and a Fieldfare the only obvious new arrivals at the Bill. Winter regulars on view included 2 Purple Sandpipers and a Firecrest at the Bill, 8 Common Scoter and 4 Red-throated Divers through on the sea there, a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Southwell, 18 Black-necked Grebes, 7 Goosanders, 3 Great Northern Divers and a Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour and 100 Dunlin, 48 Oystercatchers, 5 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and the Black Brant at Ferrybridge.

Two Dark Sword Grass provided some immigrant interest in the Obs moth-traps.

The Black Brant is as often as not throwing its weight about when it's in residence at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders: 

There was plenty of activity at Portland Harbour this morning © Dave Foot: 

2nd December

Today was a bit of a surprise package: the cloud that had rolled in overnight had seen the temperature creep up a few degrees - it did feel noticeably milder - so there were no expectations of more cold weather movement, but in the event there was more on the move than on either of the last couple of days. Thrushes made up the bulk of the numbers on the ground and overhead with c50 each of Blackbird and Song Thrush, 26 Redwings and 7 Fieldfares at the Bill and a few more of each everywhere else that was checked; singles of Brambling and Siskin also passed over at the Bill. Offshore, 27 Wigeon, 27 Common Scoter, 24 Red-throated Divers, 4 Shelducks, 3 Pintail, 2 Brent Geese and a Pochard made up a respectable tally at the Bill, with 6 Teal and 4 Wigeon also settled in Portland Harbour. Winterers included 5 Purple Sandpipers, 4 Firecrests and a Goldcrest at the Bill, 4 Firecrests around the centre of the island and 17 Black-necked Grebes, 7 Goosanders, 4 Great Northern Divers and a Black-throated Diver in Portland Harbour.

The Goosanders were putting on a nice show along the western shore of Portland Harbour this morning, with an additional drake adding more colour to the mix © Debby Saunders: 

A couple of the Goosanders also featured amongst a nice selection of Pete and Debby Saunders' photos from Portland Harbour/Ferrybridge from the last couple of weeks when we were away and unable to update the blog © Pete & Debby Saunders: 

1st December

The chilly snap continued and in a brisker breeze than yesterday outdoor fieldwork was a decidedly unpleasant option. A little more cold weather movement was evident, with 6 Redwings, 2 Fieldfares and a Snipe through at the Bill, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, 3 Wigeon and a Teal through on the sea there, 22 Wigeon, 4 Fieldfares and a Teal through at Ferrybridge and 12 Wigeon and a Teal in Portland Harbour. A varied tally of more routine sightings included 3 Firecrests and a Chiffchaff still at the Bill, 11 Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver through offshore there, 2 Goosanders still in Portland Harbour, 6 Curlew, 5 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, a Black Brant and a Redshank at Ferrybridge and 14 Black-necked Grebes, a Black-throated Diver and a Great Northern Diver in Portland Harbour.

Leading to nothing more than the thinnest skim of ice on the Obs ponds, the current drop in the temperature hardly qualifies as a cold spell but it has been enough to prompt a little waterfowl movement - these Wigeon passed over at Ferrybridge this morning © Pete Saunders: 

30th November

A cold but mainly sunny end to the month brought a surprise in the form of 3 Great Bustards doing a lap of the island: first seen over Chesil Cove they later looked to have arrived in off the sea at the Bill from where they headed back off up the island and were last seen leaving to the north over Portland Harbour. A new Black Brant at Ferrybridge was also unexpected but there was a disappointing response to the cold from more routine fare, with a Snipe over the Bill and 3 Fieldfares at Southwell the only obvious newcomers. Auk numbers have built up very quickly this winter with upwards of 100/minute through off the Bill for long periods during the morning. Winterers making the list included 2 Chiffchaffs and singles of Water Rail, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest and Firecrest at the Bill/Southwell, singles of Black Redstart and Firecrest at Church Ope Cove, 2 Goosanders in Portland Harbour and 6 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Redshank at Ferrybridge.

It's been a while since any wandering Salisbury Plain Great Bustards have reached the island and although clearly completely devalued by being introductions they are nonetheless a pretty spectacular sight when they're in full flight overhead © Pete Saunders (top photo - over Chesil Cove) and Martin Cade (middle and lower photos - over the Bill):

The Church Ope Black Redstart © Martin Adlam: 

...and one of the Southwell Fieldfares © Debby Saunders 

11th November

Please note that there are unlikely to be any regular updates to the blog between now and 29th November; news, photos etc can still be emailed while we're away and if we get an internet connection we'll try and post occasional updates. The Obs will be open to day vistors on most mornings during this period and if you've got an expensive Christmas present in mind there's one event taking place later in the month to tempt you:

A reminder that there's an In Focus field event at the Obs between 10am and 4pm on Saturday, 25th November.

10th November

A very uneventful day with pre-dawn rain grounding next to nothing. A light trickle of Chaffinches and Goldfinches were still on the move at the Bill and 425 Starlings headed north over Blacknor but a single Redwing looked to be one of the only newcomers on the ground at the Bill. A lingering Bullfinch was still at the Obs and Firecrests were still about at several sites.

9th November

Overhead passage was again the order of the day, with the weak weather front that passed over in the late hours of the night producing neither rainfall nor grounded migrants. Passing Chaffinches and Goldfinches both topped 200 at the Bill, where 100 Linnets, 40 Bramblings, 19 each of Redwing and Redpoll, 16 Siskins, 7 Greenfinches, 3 Hawfinches (one of these - or another? - also passed over at Southwell), 2 Swallows, a Golden Plover and a Mistle Thrush made up the rest of the morning's tally. What relatively little there was on the ground at the Bill included 4 each of Chiffchaff and Firecrest (2 of the former and 1 of the latter were new arrivals), 3 Snipe, 2 Bullfinches and a Blackcap. Reports from elsewhere included a Ring Ouzel at Penn's Weare, 2 Hawfinches at Easton, 2 Black Redstarts at Chesil Cove and 2 Mute Swans and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose at Ferrybridge.

Another White-speck, along with singles of Rusty-dot Pearl and Pearly Underwing, constituted the overnight immigrant moth interest at the Obs.

Hawfinches keep showing up and Joe Stockwell managed another nice recording of one of them over the Obs this morning:

Long-tailed Tits also remain a feature, with this group in a garden at Southwell © Debby Saunders:

8th November

A nice day and some nice late autumn birding with a decent pulse of finches and other typical early November migrants trickling through into the light northerly breeze. Totals from the Bill included 100 Chaffinches, 60 Starlings, 33 Redpolls, 27 Bramblings, 12 Long-tailed Tits, 12 Reed Buntings, 10 Redwings and 10 Siskins, with 2 each of Greylag Goose, Merlin, Woodcock, Bullfinch and Hawfinch, and singles of Lapwing and Black Redstart amongst the lower totals. Scrutiny elsewhere came up with a Siberian Chiffchaff at Portland Castle, a few Firecrests lingering on a several sites and 2 Black Redstarts at Church Ope Cove. The only reports from the water were of 8 Black-necked Grebes in Portland Harbour and singles of Red-throated Diver and Great Skua through off the Bill.

A lone White-speck was the only immigrant moth trapped overnight at the Obs.

November's a great month of miscellaneous oddities, with this morning's Greylag Geese moments after a Hawfinch being rather typical © Martin Cade:

Despite what for the most part has been a very mild late autumn it's been noticeable that lingering summer migrants have been in short supply. Swallows are often sufficiently numerous here in early November that we've even trapped and ringed multiples of them on occasions; this year though they've been conspicuously few and far between, with this bird being one of just five logged today © Joe Stockwell:

In remarking yesterday about the infrequency with which Snipe are photographed at Portland we were reminded of an intriguing one that we trapped and ringed here many years ago - 31st July 2000 to be precise (this bird was in the pre-digital era of slide film and it took us quite a time to lay our hands on the slides today and then to take some ropey camera photos of the slides!). The bird was intriguing because it was a 16 tail-feathered Common Snipe; they usually have just 14 tail feathers - with Wilson's usually having 16 - but apparently the numbers do vary:

Although this was before the era when Wilson's Snipe was a vogue species we must have been vaguely aware of some of the features to look out for as we took the trouble to also photograph the upper and underwing patterns which seem to confirm that it was a Common Snipe, although it's quite interesting that, for example, at least one of the secondary tips has a rather narrow white rim to it on the underside © Martin Cade: