23rd May

A largely uneventful day with persistent cloud cover dropping no more than a handful of late migrants. The only full coverage was of the Bill area, where 6 Wheatears, 4 Whimbrel, 3 Chiffchaffs and singles of Redstart, Blackcap and Spotted Flycatcher were logged on the ground and 26 Common Scoter, 20 Manx Shearwaters and singles of Great Northern Diver, Great Skua and Arctic Skua passed through on the sea.

One of the long-staying Whimbrel photographed yesterday at the Bill © Chris Minvalla:

Finally, this spring passed off with us accumulating a huge backlog of photos and other material that we're only just getting round to going through and certainly didn't get round to posting. Amongst these we received an interesting email from Ian Lewington concerning the Red-footed Falcon earlier this month; Ian had been staying at the Obs at the time and had scrutinised/photographed the bird himself so we'd asked if he'd mind commenting rather more authoritatively than we were able to on the age of the bird. Ian replied as follows: this is an amazingly advanced bird and from some shots I have that are too bad to send I see it appears to have completely moulted its tail. When I looked at the collection at Tring for a paper I did in Birding World (July 1998) most 1st summer males in June had only replaced the two central tail feathers, still hadn't moulted any underwing coverts but had a few new, fresh central upper greater and median coverts. The Portland bird also showed grey second generation central tail feathers with a dark sub-terminal band (as opposed to all blackish) shown by about 20% of the museum specimens. A very interesting and instructive bird (photos © Ian Lewington):