30th September

Hardly a day to remember but there were encouraging hints of passage picking up just a little, most notably in the form a decent spread of Chiffchaffs just about everywhere. A Wryneck at Easton was as good as it got in the scarcity line although in this day and age a Turtle Dove at the Bill was of almost the same status. The Chiffchaff tally at the Bill reached a good 50, with plenty more in most areas of cover around the centre of the island; at least new Great Spotted Woodpeckers pitched in at the Bill but, bar the now ubiquitous flocks of off-passage Meadow Pipits, there were no other notable concentrations of grounded migrants. Visible passage of Meadow Pipits, Chaffinches and Siskins got off to a good start in the clear skies after dawn but fizzled out as soon as thick cloud rolled in from the north before mid-morning.

Although we're always quick to deride the national news services for putting out reports of the likes of single Black Redstarts and Firecrests from southern coastal headlands - since when have they been even faintly unexpected migrants anywhere other than at places that don't get any birds anyway? - we can certainly understand why every migrant Turtle Dove is now being reported. The writer of these notes dipped this one and still hasn't seen one at Portland this year - his memories of flushing flocks of 50 in Top Fields when he was a kid are also getting hazier by the year © Roger Hewitt: 

Considering the dearth of grounded migrants generally, Spotted Flycatchers have been surprisingly conspicuous at the Obs, albeit only in low numbers; this one was there a couple of days go © Dave Sawyer: 

29th September

Plenty more gripes about the general dearth of migrants today: visible passage continued to tick over although was hardly spectacular but it was island-wide paucity of the likes of Chiffchaffs that drew the most comment. A Cattle Egret that arrived in off the sea at the Bill and continued rapidly northwards was a nice island rarity, whilst a small flurry of Firecrests - including 4 at Avalanche Road - was a welcome event. Stonechats are beginning to feature in some quantity, with 35 scattered between the Bill and Barleycrates Lane, but few if any of the other grounded totals were worthy of a mention. Most of the usual suspects were represented overhead but numbers were on the low side for a seemingly suitable clear day and single Hobbys over the Bill and Avalanche Road were the only oddities. Additionally, 2 Brent Geese and an Arctic Skua passed through off the Bill and 2 Knot were at Ferrybridge.

Another Radford's Flame Shoulder was the pick of the immigrant moths trapped overnight at the Obs.

28th September

It'd be pushing it to say that there were high expectations for today but with a fresh north-easterly having sprung up overnight as a weak weather front arrived from the north there was at least some hope that grounded migrant numbers might pick up; in the event, cloud cover didn't arrive until well after dawn and it was as quiet on the ground as it had been for the rest of the week. A Common Rosefinch that dropped into a mist-net in the Crown Estate Field certainly wasn't to be sniffed at, but quality didn't otherwise get beyond an Osprey over Ferrybridge. A strong visible passage for the first few hours of the morning took place on such a broad front that it was tricky to quantify, but sample totals at the Obs included >1000 hirundines, 550 Meadow Pipits, 100 alba wagtails and 46 Siskins. Bitsy interest on the sea included singles of Manx Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Arctic Skua and Great Skua through off the Bill.

Never a regular autumn visitor to the island, the Common Rosefinch was easily the day's bird highlight © Martin Cade: 

Moth-wise, there was a small increase in immigrant numbers and variety at the Obs were a Convolvulus Hawkmoth was the first to make it into a moth-trap for nearly a fortnight...

...whilst the battered Porter's Rustic was a less than spectacular rarity highlight © Martin Cade: 

27th September

This week's run of crystal clear, full moon nights and cloudless, increasingly hot days have been just what the migrants ordered for trouble-free departures from our shores but the birders have been left scratching around with no more than scraps of interest to keep them entertained. The first Woodlark of the autumn was today's highlight at the Bill, where Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail all featured in mid three figure totals overhead. The overwhelming bulk of the numbers of just about everything were overhead, with 50 Skylarks and 22 Siskins further noteworthy totals at the Bill, where 42 Blackcaps was the only worthwhile grounded total. Reports from elsewhere included a presumed Nightingale glimpsed briefly near Nichodemus Knob.

A Radford's Flame Shoulder was the pick of the overnight moth catch at the Obs.

26th September

A blistering sunshine filled day came up with an early highlight in the form of a Caspian Gull that spent a few minutes in the fields along East Cliffs. A brief pause in the Meadow Pipit passage we have been experiencing was soon evident but the hirundines, wagtails and finches remained true to their usual form and put in a strong showing, including 42 Siskins over the obs. Reed Buntings are also becoming a frequent addition to the day tallies as the autumn draws on. A Tree Sparrow added some much needed variety to the proceedings but it was the Hirundines that stole the show with a monumental passage of Swallows and House Martins with a few Sand Martins tagging along for the ride.

The not inconsiderable gulling effort put in over recent weeks eventually paid dividends with Portland's fourth Caspian Gull © Keith Pritchard: 

The Buzzards always get a bit of stick when they enter the immediate vicinity of the lighthouse (the frequent haunt of the Jackdaw flock) and this cracking action shot sums up their usual reception © Martin King: 

The clear skies have been pretty useless for grounding birds but brilliant for sunsets... © Martin King: 

25th September

Dawn offered up perfect migration conditions - crisp and clear in a gentle north-easterly - and four figure totals of Meadow Pipit and Swallow were racked up in very quick time; however, with the notable exception of yesterday's likely Monarch butterfly being fully confirmed and a typically out-of-the-blue Cetti's Warbler dropping into a mist-net the day otherwise proved to be a little bit of an anti-climax, with precious little grounded in any quantity. The Bill area Swallow and Meadow Pipit totals reached 5000 and 1000 respectively, with further reports of many thousands of the former from several sites around the north of the island. Most of the other mid-season visible migrants were well represented, with a new Great Spotted Woodpecker and an early-ish Mistle Thrush the best on offer at the Bill. Despite the benign conditions the sea came up with a few surprises including 72 Common Scoter, 4 Great Skuas, 2 Arctic Skuas and the first Dark-bellied Brent Goose of the season through off the Bill.

A small influx of immigrant lepidoptera included 6 Clouded Yellows and an obvious increase in Red Admirals around the south of the island, along with the first White-speck of the season from the Obs moth-traps; the first Convolvulus Hawkmoth for over a week was also visiting Nicotiana flowers at the Grove after dark.

Yesterday's presumed Monarch was fully confirmed once it surfaced for a while in the Obs garden as the temperature started to creep up from an overnight single figure low; sadly it hardly looked to be thriving - quite apart from being very battered - and after a few seemingly weak flights and the odd bit of basking it vanished © Martin Cade:

Clouded Yellow was another of the 12 butterfly species logged today, whilst a White-speck was hopefully a sign of moth immigration picking up a little © Roger Hewitt (Clouded Yellow) and Martin Cade (White-speck):

Scarcities don't get much more random in their appearances at Portland than Cetti's Warbler that's less than annual and liable to pop up just about any time during both migration periods © Martin Cade/Erin Taylor:

More usually an October/November visitor to the Bill, Mistle Thrushes are infrequent enough to always arouse interest when they do appear; they're also a bird of which we have absolutely no inkling as to their origins or destination © Martin Cade:

24th September

A distinctly autumnal feel to the brisk and clear morning, the recent gales have forced the most prominent of the gardens Sycamores to surrender their uppermost leaves allowing for an unhindered view of the early morning migration. Highlights of the day came on the form of two Ortolan Buntings in separate areas of the island (one bird heard calling over the top fields and one in Suckthumb quarry) and a Rosy Starling at Weston. A constant stream of Meadow Pipits across the entire observation area made obtaining an accurate count difficult but a minimum of 2000 birds was recorded for the morning. The finches also put in a good display with 37 Chaffinches and 18 Siskins over the garden. An autumnal record of Merlins was also recorded with 4 distinctly different individuals. Other birds moving in numbers included: Swallows, Skylarks, Alba Wagtails, Blackcaps, Wheatears, Whinchats and Reed Buntings.

Today we were treated to a selection of brilliant predator-prey interactions. This tiny male Merlin was giving the flocks of Meadow Pipits the run around, and the Kestrels appear to have found a new food source by diving into the Brambles for Great Green Bush-crickets. © Martin Cade (Merlin and Meadow Pipit) © Edmund Mackrill (Kestrel): 

23rd September

Just for a moment - as some more post-dawn rain cleared through - it seemed like passage was really kicking into gear again: the beach hut fields were positively leaping with migrants, the Bill tip was carpeted in Wheatears and pulses of House Martins and Meadow Pipits raced through overhead; however, just as quickly as the action looked to be starting so it fizzled out rather anti-climactically. The only really worthwhile totals from the Bill area ended up being 470 Meadow Pipits and 70 Wheatears, with nothing of particular note unearthed amongst the more varied than of late tally of also-rans. There was precious little passage on the sea but a feeding flock off the Bill attracted up to 17 Sandwich Terns and 2 Arctic Terns.

We're rather conscious that just at the moment the bird news in the area is almost entirely one-way traffic from Weymouth toward Portland; our day will eventually come but in the meanwhile we made another evening trip to Lodmoor to have a look at the Lesser Yellowlegs that had first been spotted over-flying Abbotsbury this morning before later pitching in on the same now-flooded pool at Lodmoor that had held the Spotted Crake a couple of days ago © Martin Cade:

22nd September

The first day of really heavy rain for quite some time did not produce the best birding conditions but it did at least bring some much needed moisture to the parched ground. As the howling gale had alleviated over night, there was a bit more variety out to sea, despite numbers of each species being dismally low: 5 Balearic Shearwaters, 9 Common Scoters, an Arctic Tern, a Black Tern, 3 Arctic Skuas, a Mediterranean Gull and a Whimbrel. Meadow Pipit passage was hindered somewhat by the deluge and therefore numbers were slightly down on yesterday with 700 grounded birds. Accompanying these were: a Grey Wagtail, 3 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Tree Pipits and 150 Swallows. Other migrants of note included a Whinchat in the top fields, a Spotted Flycatcher in the obs garden and a Hobby past the Bill.

21st September

After a stormy night that brought the heaviest rainfall for some weeks dawn broke clear and bright but no less windy. The clear skies prompted a surge in Meadow Pipit passage, with 1200 through at the Bill where another 700 were grounded; single of Grey Heron, Merlin and Golden Plover were also on the move overhead, whilst 4 White Wagtails were the pick of the otherwise meagre offerings on the ground. With the wind having veered into the northwest sea passage was limited to just 4 Balearic Shearwaters through off the Bill, with a brief Grey Phalarope at Chesil Cove and a grounded Gannet at Ferrybridge the only other seabirds of note.

The grounded Gannet was an unusual sight at Ferrybridge; we don't usually hold out much hope for seabirds in this sort of stricken state but evidently it was seen to take to the air on several occasions so with a bit of luck might just have been an exhausted storm-driven bird © Mike Lockyear:

Being paupers just lately when it comes to scarcities we took to begging some quality from Weymouth in the evening and returned for another helping of the Spotted Crake that had first shown up yesterday at Lodmoor. The era when Spotted Crake was a bread-and-butter autumn migrant at Radipole is an almost forgotten memory so it was nice to be able to gross out on some decent views of today's bird in just the sort of lovely habitat that used to be such a productive feature of Radipole in its heyday © Martin Cade:

20th September

Its beginning to feel rather 'do or die' and all we can do is wait and see whether our Yank decides to turn up. Whilst we're waiting, the sea produced another small string of 12 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Manx Shearwaters, 10 Common Scoters, 1 Great Skua, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, and the first Great Northern Diver of the autumn. Land-based migrants were limited to a lingering Spotted Flycatcher (which managed to put on 0.6g throughout the day despite the weather), 5 Wheatears, 28 Swallows, 2 Blackcaps, 1 Chiffchaff and 4 Chaffinches.

19th September


A reminder that there's an In Focus field event at the Obs between 10am and 4pm this Saturday, 22nd September.

A pretty pitiful day as far as birds were concerned, impressive as far as wind speed and sea swell go. The highlights came from outside the traditional obs recording area and were instead off Chesil and Ferrybridge with Black Tern, and Grey Phalarope respectively. Chesil also harboured a pair of Arctic Terns and Ferrybridge saw: 64 Dunlin, 23 Ringed Plover, 7 Turnstone, 2 Sanderling and 1 Yellow-legged Gull. The Verne saw the highlight of the passerines today with a pair of Pied Flycatchers (we thought they'd all been blown away).

Around the Obs the sea was relatively quiet with just 7 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Common Scoters and 2 Sandwich Terns. Other migrants were pretty thin on the ground with 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 16 Wheatears, A Spotted Flycatcher, 103 Swallows and a lone House Martin.

We never cease to be amazed at the resolving capabilities of cheap and cheerful bridge cameras: a good half-hour after sunset it was as much as we could do to even make out this evening's Grey Phalarope with conventional optics but with the camera it wasn't too difficult to get what amounted to perfectly acceptable record images/video in the semi darkness © Martin Cade:

18th September

A howling Westerly whipping its way around the lighthouse tower did not instil a vast amount of confidence in the days birding and this feeling turned out to be relatively accurate. The largest totals came from a well attended sea-watch with 31 Balearic Shearwaters, a single Manx Shearwater, 8 Common Scoters, 7 Kittiwakes, a Turnstone and 54 Swallows. Unsurprisingly, given the wind direction, the east cliffs were the most productive for land-based migrants with a Common Sandpiper, 8 Oystercatchers, 4 Wheatears, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Goldcrest and 1 Whinchat (in the top fields). Elsewhere, Ferrybridge came up with 65 Dunlin, 12 Redshank, 6 Sanderling and the first returning Great Crested Grebe of the season.

Perhaps not a record breaking count but 8 Oystercatchers is the highest bill total this autumn 
© Erin Taylor:

17th September

Another unseasonably quiet day, thick cloud and strong winds overnight meant little was seen in the way of passage in the morning. The highlight at the obs came after the cloud cover had melted away when the first Firecrest of the autumn was trapped. The sea continued to be marginally productive with 15 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Arctic Skuas, a Bonxie and 23 Common Scoters. Singles of Hobby, Merlin, Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher and Golden Plover added a little variety. There was a hint of things to come with the passage of 5 Skylarks and 3 Chaffinches.

Elsewhere on the island, the real highlight of the day came in the form of a Turtle Dove at Wakeham, only the fourth for the year.

Whilst the migrants are a tad on the quiet front we can take some time to enjoy the subtleties of the breeding populations, this moulting juvenile Stonechat provided a nice display of changing plumage characteristics ©Erin Taylor

16th September

It was a quieter day at the bill for migrating songbirds with passing totals of 19 alba Wagtails, a single White Wagtail, 6 Yellow Wagtails, 14 Grey Wagtails and 49 Swallows. The best of the rest were 9 Wheatears, 2 Whinchats, a Common Sandpiper, and the first Firecrest of the autumn in the 'fig tree' quarry.
At sea there was slightly more moving with 35 Balearic Shearwaters, single Manx and Sooty Shearwaters, 3 Bonxies, 37 Common Scoters, 2 'commic' Terns and a Sandwich Tern.
Totals from Ferrybridge comprised of 62 Dunlin, 21 Ringed Plovers, an Oystercatcher, a Sanderling, a Turnstone and 2 Skylarks (a sign of things to come?).

15th September

Bright and clear conditions early on harboured some good visible passage at the bill but this failed to turn into a mass movement, with just dribs and drabs moving by late morning. Passing birds were dominated by pipits and wagtails with 582 Meadow Pipits, a single Tree Pipit, 9 alba Wagtails, 1 confirmed White Wagtail, 13 Grey Wagtails and 16 Yellow Wagtails. Passing hirundines comprised 3 House Martins and 65 Swallows. In keeping with the recent theme a lone Golden Plover flew through calling in the morning. Birds at sea included 16 Balearic Shearwaters, a Sandwich Tern, a Mediterranean Gull, a Yellow-legged Gull and 11 Common Scoters. Odd grounded birds included 20 Wheatears dotted about, 4 Whinchats entertaining the strips and top fields as well as singles of Sedge Warbler and Redstart.

Despite good visible passage, birds in the nets were few and far between but the highlight was this fine example of Motacilla alba alba (White Wagtail) caught late morning ©Gavin Woodbridge:

Quiet net rounds may not be conducive to increasing our meagre ringing totals but they at least lead to some interesting discoveries and this female Vapourer moth that emerged early in the morning was soon joined by a frisky male ©Erin Taylor

14th September

Continuing the rollercoaster of birding that we've been experiencing, today was another below par day. Meadow Pipit numbers were reduced to just 37, Yellow Wagtails to just 11 and Grey Wagtails to just 16. A mid morning highlight brought some unexpected class with the first Grey Phalarope of the autumn. 2 Arctic Skuas and 11 Common Scoter were the only additional sea farers. Singles of Tree Pipit, Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, and Goldcrest were accompanied by 2 Reed Buntings, 14 Blackcaps and 16 Wheatears

Elsewhere on the island, a Green Woodpecker at Suckthumb quarry was our third woodpecker species for the month. Ferrybridge produced 6 Sanderling and 11 Knot

Moth interest has been pretty minimal in recent nights, with immigrant activity restricted to the odd Convolvulus Hawkmoth, Delicate and Scarce Bordered Straw amongst single figure totals of more routine fare. We're still a wee bit hesitant about claiming 100% certain Jersey Mochas but this very peppered mocha trapped last night at the Obs looks to be as good as it could be for one without it being dissected:

Jersey Mocha is still infrequent enough here that we doubt that it's yet become established. Rather rarer in island terms was this Barred Hook-tip - in fact just one quarter of a Barred Hook-tip because that's all there was in the bottom of the trap after the rest of it had presumably been snaffled by a bird that beat us to the trap at dawn! Since they're a Beech feeder it's unlikely this species would ever get established here and our few records presumably relate to strays from the mainland or the Continent © Martin Cade:

13th September

A vast improvement on the bird free zone we have been experiencing (although probably equivalent to an average Portland autumn day). A solid start to the day with a good passage of the early morning migrants: 40 Grey Wagtails, 42 Yellow Wagtails and 15 Tree Pipits were joined by nearly 500 Meadow Pipits. The first passage of Phylloscopus warblers for some time also occurred with a 50:50 split of Willow Warblers to Chiffchaffs at around 60 apiece; Wheatears were also well represented, reaching a good 100. A smattering of other migrants were also recorded with: 2 Redstarts, Reed Bunting, 5 Whinchats, 1 Pied Flycatcher and a late Swift.  

The biggest news of the day came from Ferrybridge with a fly-by group of 11 Avocets - one of the largest group logged for the island. These were accompanied by 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Sanderling, 50 Dunlin, 50 Ringed Plovers and a Knot

Although not ideal for dropping quantities of grounded migrants, the beautiful clear skies have been perfect for a spot of night time photography ©Paula Redmond

Wheatears were conspicuous today, with at least 90 scattered about the Bill area © Roy Norris:  

It wasn't only the birds moving through today with a minimum of 5 Clouded Yellows recorded across the island © Matt Ames: 

12th September

Migration slowly ground its way into first gear with a slight improvement on previous days totals. The only birds to appear in any numbers included: 24 Grey Wagtails, 6 Alba Wagtails, 27 Yellow Wagtails. Birds appearing in singles or low figures included: Yellow-legged Gull, Short-eared Owl, Common Sandpiper, Tree Pipit, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler. The sea produced a small selection of 10 Balearic Shearwaters, 9 Black-headed Gulls, 4 Mediterranean Gulls, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Great Skua and 5 Common Scoters.

Ferrybridge totals amounted to: 4 Knot, 4 Sanderling, 70 Dunlin and 32 Ringed Plovers.

With juveniles in short supply Sanderling numbers have been on the low side at Ferrybridge - today's four were the most youngsters seen there so far this autumn © Debby Saunders:

11th September

Some kind of sacrificial offering may have to be made in order to bring some avian life to Portland. With the exception of a Hobby over the Bill Hill, a Common Sandpiper on the rocks at the Bill and a Reed Warbler in the obs quarry the migratory life on Portland was sadly lacking. We can only hope that the change in the weather, forecast for the next couple of days brings a change in our fortunes.

10th September

After such an abject weekend today's most minor of pulses of passage hinted at a corner being turned  - although the buffeting southwesterly that had set in by the evening will just as likely return things to square one! A selection of the commonest migrants managed double figure totals at the Bill where it was Grey Wagtail (25 through overhead) that staged the strongest showing; 3 White Wagtails and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were as good as it got for less frequent visitors there, with a single Knot the best of the waders at Ferrybridge. The freshening breeze saw another 20 Balearic Shearwaters pass through off the Bill.

This Knot in its crisp juvenile plumage amongst the Turnstones at Ferrybridge provided some much need variety for the day © Debby Saunders

9th September

Today did not merit a blog post. Migration well and truly ground to a halt. With just a small handful of commoner migrants we were left to scrabble around for a morsel of entertainment, thankfully Ferrybridge produced the days saving grace of a stunning juvenile Little Gull, otherwise 14 Balearic Shearwaters and a Bonxie were the only birds of note.

Nick Hopper has once again provided us with a snapshot of the wonders of night time migration from the night of 5th/6th September. Although the skies were clear that night there was still an interesting mix with the highlight of an over-land Common Scoter, which was joined by: Short-eared Owl, Golden Plover, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel (flock), Ringed Plover (flocks), 5 Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Robins, 84 Yellow Wagtail calls and 71 Tree Pipit calls.

Many thanks to Pete and Debby for saving the day bird-wise, the Little Gull was accompanied by three Sandwich Terns © Pete Saunders:

8th September

Conventional wisdom would have it that an early September mix of a gentle southwesterly, a party overcast sky and the New Moon period would be a perfect combination for a rewarding birding day at Portland but in the event they delivered up another shocker, with routine passage on the ground, overhead and on the sea reduced to the merest of trickles. Seasonable fare of the likes of Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Blackcap and Willow Warbler all just managed to scrape into double figures at the Bill, where a lone Merlin constituted the only minor less frequent interest on the land and just 2 Balearic Shearwaters passed by on the sea.

As a reminder of the sort of volume of passage that ought to be a feature at the moment we'll skip back to earlier in the week when Nick Hopper sampled nocturnal passage for us on Tuesday night (4th/5th September):
'It was really busy night, predominated unusually by Yellow Wagtail calls with regular waves of birds through the night, often accompanied by Tree Pipits; in total 507 Yellow Wagtail calls were logged along with 212 Tree Pipit calls.
Other highlights were a flock of Arctic Tern passing overland and another Ortolan. Waders were very well represented with 3 flocks of Knot, a small party of Green Sandpiper including a bird attempting to sing, 3 Greenshank, 4 Redshank, 2 Whimbrel, Turnstone, Common Sandpiper, 3 Dunlin and 4 Ringed Plover flocks.
Also, Short-eared Owl, alba Wagtail, Robin 6, Pied Flycatcher 2 and the first Blackbird calls of the autumn.'

7th September

A reasonably uneventful day with a couple of nice highlights. The day started crisp and clear with very little noticeable migration, thankfully a mystery Phyllosc came to add a little excitement. This later transpired into one of our days highlight as a Wood Warbler was trapped in the final net round of the day. The second highlight came from a sea watch total of 131 Balearic Shearwaters, an unusually high count for the North-westerly winds we experienced throughout the day. Besides these, a handful of common migrants were all we had to offer including: 18 Yellow Wagtails, 7 Grey Wagtails, 4 Tree Pipits, 2 Redstarts, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Garden Warbler, 12 Blackcaps, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Goldcrest and 1 Golden Plover.

Elsewhere on the island, both Blacknor and Ferrybridge were the sites of fly-by Merlins. Other records at Ferrybridge included: 2 Mute Swans, 30 Ringed Plover, 17 Dunlin, 14 Turnstone and 30 Oystercatchers.

As migration ground slowly onwards today, our guests took to photographing some of the commoner species such as the resident Ravens and the obliging Spotted Flycatchers. This hoverfly, found by the obs quarry has been identified as Chrysotoxum cautum (Large Wasp-hoverfly) and possibly represents the second ever record for Portland, although this is likely due to under recording © Simon Colenutt thedeskboundbirder

6th September

It seems like only days ago that there was a noticeable transition from early to mid autumn fare so it was quite a surprise when today came up with signs of passage moving even further down the line, as the first Siskins (2 over the Bill) were on the move overhead and the first Goldcrests (singles at the Bill and Southwell) and a Reed Bunting (at Reap Lane) showed up on the ground. A crystal-clear morning had seen most of the usual suspects on the move overhead; none was especially numerous at the Bill where 30 Tree Pipits represented the only notable count and another passing Hobby was as good as it got by way of quality. The spread on the ground was varied albeit relatively thin, with a new Wryneck at Suckthumb Quarry the only oddity unearthed.

The first Olive-tree Pearl of the year at the Obs was the pick of the overnight moth catch.

5th September

As the season moves on we start to witness the change in numbers of certain birds and today marked the beginning of the end of Tree Pipit passage as the Meadow Pipits will begin taking over. Although today's count of 18 Tree Pipits was the highest for a few days, the tally of 200 Meadow Pipits was the highest of the autumn so far. The Wagtails also put in a good display with 59 Yellow Wagtails (including a good number pitching in the neighbouring fields), 16 Grey Wagtails and 9 Alba Wagtails (including 2 definite White Wagtails). Sylvia warblers were seen in good numbers for the first time within the Bill area with 16 Blackcaps and 4 Garden Warblers. Other notable counts included: 114 Wheatears, 600+ Swallows, 10 Sedge Warblers, 2 Reed Warblers and 5 Redstarts including a British controlled bird. Singles of Pied Flycatcher, Short-eared Owl, Merlin and Greenshank rounded off the days land-based totals. A brief evening sea watch was rewarded with 16 Manxies, 8 Balearic Shearwaters and 1 Sandwich Tern.

Elsewhere on the island, the Ortolan Buntings showed early doors for a few lucky birders at High Ang1e Battery; a Hobby was over Barleycrates Lane, 4 Spotted and a Pied Flycatcher were at Southwell and Ferrybridge maintained its steady course with: 1 Grey Wagtail, 7 Wheatears, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Sanderling, 48 Dunlin, 65 Ringed Plover, 18 Turnstone and 1 Sandwich Tern. Rather more unexpectedly, the summering Whooper Swan from further up the Fleet was spotted off Chesil during the morning before it evidently returned to Abbotsbury.

A massive thank you to Martin King for this fantastic selection of photos including this Araneus Sp. © Martin King:

Martin spent a while this afternoon photographing our pond life (and occasionally having a snooze in the sun) and has produced some excellent shots of Common Pond Skaters, including the moment an unfortunate Marmalade Hoverfly strayed too close to the voracious predator © Martin King:

Unfortunately, earlier this autumn our resident male (and very nicely marked) Sparrowhawk hit a window and died. Fortunately he successfully managed to produce a minimum of 3 offspring this summer and these progeny, along with the resident female, have been putting on an excellent display throughout the obs area © Martin King

Today's Ortolan action was brief, with at least one bird showing early morning only at High Angle Battery - later searches there and at Fancy's Farm drew a blank © Roger Hewitt:

4th September

Yet another dramatic switch in our fortunes as thick cloud that rolled in early yesterday afternoon remained all night and resulted in very little movement throughout the morning. The benefit of this cloud cover was that the Ortolan Buntings, located last night at Fancy's farm, were still on display for most of the morning. Although not as dramatic as yesterday, the passage of Hirundines continued with over 200 Swallows and 60 House Martins (likely a large underestimate). Other migrants of note included: 21 Yellow Wagtails, 7 Grey Wagtails, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Redstarts, 34 Wheatears, 4 Whinchats, and 2 Reed Warblers. The highlight of a rather dismal seawatch was 7 Teal. Notable by their absence were Willow Warblers with a modest 4 recorded throughout the day.

Elsewhere on the island, a Golden Plover flew over the Ortolan Buntings at Fancy's Farm as well as 2 Whinchats, 17 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Tree Pipits and a Spotted Flycatcher. Southwell also saw its share of the Hirundine passage with large numbers of both Swallows and House Martins, as well as: Redstart, 5 Spotted Flycatchers, Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat.

After a run of brief fly-bys and sound recorded nocturnal migrants it was good to finally clap eyes on a couple of settled Ortolans © Duncan Walbridge (top) and Clive - oops, do remind us of your surname when you're here next! (bottom)

The Obs garden lingering Pied Flycatcher was putting on a good show for the guests © Paul Ward:

After reports of a dreadful breeding season in at least one part of their summer range it's been good to see that at least some of the Sanderlings showing up at Ferrybridge are juveniles © Debby Saunders:

Small Heaths are having a stunning second generation on the island and most are looking as stunning as this one from today © Martin King: