18th September

Having been lulled into something of a false sense of security by the general lack of scarcities this year today's events proved to a rude and very welcome awakening. A Honey Buzzard that slipped away out to sea from the Bill soon after dawn got things off to a good start and it wasn't long before a heron flushed from beside a hedgerow at Barleycrates Lane was pinned down and confirmed as a Purple Heron; sadly, it quickly left and was seen just once more nearly an hour later in flight off Chesil Cove. It was then left to the Obs garden mist-nets to reveal the day's chief prize when in typically wholly unexpected circumstances late on a hot and otherwise birdless afternoon a Great Reed Warbler showed up; it was released into the Obs Quarry where it proved to be very furtive but did show on a couple of occasions before dusk. In very fair weather visible passage made up the bulk of the day's numbers, with a strong passage of Meadow Pipits and hirundines through after dawn and odds and ends such as singles of Merlin and Hobby tagging along; grounded migrants were fewer than yesterday but did include 2 Firecrests at Wakeham and a Dartford Warbler at Coombefield.

The Great Reed Warbler was just the second recorded at Portland - the first was 60 years ago on 15th May 1959 © Martin Cade:

The island's second Purple Heron was an altogether trickier bird: it was found settled in fields at Barleycrates Lane but soon left away over the West Cliffs; some while later it was watched heading first north and then south off Chesil Cove where this long-range record photo was snatched © Paul Gale:

Whilst clearly not an adult, the observers got an impression of greyness about the upperparts and suspected the bird might be a sub-adult. The circumstances of today's record immediately brought to mind the island's first record that concerned a juvenile at the Bill on 16th August 2006...

...that individual also settled in the fields and it too proved to be very skittish and quickly disappeared © Martin Cade: