31st July

In what can only be described as an absolute nose-dive in form compared to recent days, today saw an almost total dearth of migratory activity. Despite the promising looking easterly start, even Willow Warblers remained in single figures as the ringing totals failed to reach double figures. On a brighter note, a Great Crested Grebe past the Bill was the first for the autumn, whilst other highlights included three Manxies, two Balearic Shearwaters and singles of Dunlin and Redshank. There were also a couple of fly-overs with only the second Siskin since the spring, and two Yellow Wagtails. Continuing on the slightly wintery theme (Red-breasted Merganser yesterday and Great Crested Grebe today), the first Teal for the autumn was at Ferrybridge, accompanied by singles of Whimbrel, Curlew, and Sanderling.

30th July

With a hint of east entering the wind over night, it was with great hope that we opened all of the nets, following on from yesterdays success. However, in our experience, birds are about as predictable as the weather (you can have a go, but you can't always spot the hurricane) and the trickle of migrants yesterday was slowed to just single figures today. Amongst the migrants present were 10 Willow Warbler, two Grasshopper Warblers and singles of Reed and Sedge Warbler as well as two apiece of Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit. The sea was almost entirely devoid of migrants with singles only of Manx Shearwater, Yellow-legged Gull, Dunlin and Ringed Plover. Ferrybridge showed a little extra variety with the first returning Red-breasted Merganser, three Sanderlings, two Curlews, four Turnstones and the usual mix of small waders.

With their frequent skulking followed by explosive bursts into the sky, juvenile Skylarks are often underappreciated, but we think their spangled camouflage is pretty impressive ©Erin Taylor:


29th July

All things considered, today was pretty impressive. Portland isn't necessarily known for its grand numbers in July but a steady passage today, including a selection of warblers, was an excellent bonus. The majority of the netted birds came out of the Crown Fields, the highlights being a pair of Grasshopper Warblers, six Sedge Warblers, 11 Willow Warblers and (a personal highlight) three Skylarks. Away from the nets a constant passage of low numbers of Sand Martins and singles of Garden Warbler and Blackcap added to the migrant tally, whilst the Long-eared Owl continued to irritate the garden dwelling Blackbirds. The sea was reasonably quiet, and was rapidly obscured by a thick heat haze as the morning progressed. The only birds of note included 36 Manx Shearwaters, two Yellow-legged Gulls and a variety of single waders with one each of Curlew, Turnstone, Ringed Plover and Dunlin. Ferrybridge also saw a trickle of Sand Martins with 20 through during the mornings watch, as well as four Sanderlings and 20+ each of Dunlin and Ringed Plover.

28th July

As the year continues its pledge to be the windiest on record, the clear skies and dazzling sun brought a welcome warmth to what would otherwise have been a cool and biting breeze. The sea was disappointingly quiet but a sprinkling of new migrants added a splash of excitement to the days proceedings. The nets provided singles of Garden and Sedge Warbler as well as the now regular smattering of Willow Warblers. Away from the nets the Long-eared Owl was sighted once again coming out of its roost sight, as well as a pair of returning Wheatears. Highlights on the sea were limited to a single Balearic Shearwater, four Manx Shearwaters and just six Common Scoters.

27th July

Unseasonable, gale force winds and intermittent showers kept birding to a minimum on the land. Expectations for the sea were high but delivered very little in the way of year ticks.  A passage of 70+ Manx Shearwaters were not accompanied by any of their rarer relatives, and an additional three Yellow-legged Gulls and singles of Bonxie, PuffinWhimbrel and Dunlin were the only real highlights from the selection. The land was difficult going with much of the mornig dominated by driving rain showers, a pair of hardy Willow Warblers in the garden and a lone Wheatear at Walls End were about the best we could muster in the gaps in the rain. 

Belated news from yesterday of a Cattle Egret in amongst the scarce herd of cattle (there are only two herds on Portland to our knowledge). Build it and they will come... ©Dave Rashley:


26th July

A clear day left much to be desired in both the nets and on the sea. A continuation of the trickle of Willow Warblers saw another 20 around the Obs area, accompanied by a pair of Sedge Warblers and two Yellow Wagtails. The sea provided little of note with just 29 Manx Shearwaters, 13 Balearic Shearwaters and singles of Bonxie and Whimbrel. On the non-migratory front, it was excellent to see a flock of 15 Greenfinches feeding in the Crown Fields, a good breeding year is excellent news for this declining species.

25th July

 A wet and wild day saw very little in the way of land-based migrants, and much of the focus was on the sea. Highlights on from both a morning and evening sea watch included the first Sooty Shearwater for the year, four Balearic Shearwaters and 67 Manx Shearwaters. In terms of commoner species, there was a strong passage of Gannets with 368 within a few hours in the early morning, at one point being harassed by a Bonxie. On the land, a small selection of WheatearsWillow Warblers and Blackcaps were the best we could muster on the passerine front, as well as a lone Yellow-legged Gull below Culverwell.  Ferrybridge was unremarkable compared to recent form, with the usual selection of waders, including 21 Sanderlings and a single Whimbrel.

On a wet, miserable day, Ferrybridge still managed to provide a selection of waders to watch ©Pete Saunders: 



24th July

Perhaps it was the expectation of the Melodious Warbler that didn't ever show up, but somehow today turned out to be something of an anticlimax despite there being an obvious arrival of new migrants under the good cloud cover that rolled in ahead of a promised change in the weather. The fall was hardly spectacular but 30 Willow Warblers and 6 Sedge Warblers at the Bill were decent enough totals for so early in the season, even if waders didn't respond as anticipated with no more than 42 Dunlin and 16 Sanderling at Ferrybridge and a lone Whimbrel at the Bill. Sea interest has dwindled right away in the last fortnight, with 2 Balearic Shearwaters and a single Arctic Skua the best of a thin selection off the Bill.

23rd July

Whilst enjoying what looked to be a promising early morning flurry of migrants word was received that a large owl had been seen fleetingly near the Obs Quarry and it wasn't long before the bird blundered into the Obs garden and into a mist-net where its identity as 'the' Long-eared Owl could be confirmed. Migrant-wise, 25 Willow Warblers, 5 Wheatears, 5 Sedge Warblers and a Garden Warbler were grounded at the Bill, with 61 Dunlin, 15 Ringed Plover and 13 Sanderling (along with 290 Mediterranean Gulls) making up the slightly meagre wader selection at Ferrybridge. Mediterranean Gulls also made up the bulk of the numbers off the Bill, where 16 Common Scoter, 10 Manx Shearwaters, 4 Yellow-legged Gulls, 2 Balearic Shearwaters and a Whimbrel also passed by.

Since we've had a Long-eared Owl remain at the Bill for literally months in the past without any suspicion of its presence it was no surprise when, out of the blue, last week's bird appeared in a mist-net at the Obs this morning - after its initial dabble at being diurnal it's presumably reverted to type and become more or less strictly nocturnal.


Hardly surprisingly, we don't handle Long-eared Owls nearly often enough to know anything about telling the sexes apart although we were aware it's possible. According to the literature some of the features to check are the underwing coverts - white in male, more golden-buff in female...


...the outer web of the largest alula feather - three or fewer bars in male, four bars in female...


...and the colour of the inner webs of the secondaries - white in male, buff in female. These features all seem to indicate the bird is a male - perhaps there are folk out there with more experience of the species who could confirm that for us? © Martin Cade:


Immigrant moth interest remains almost non-existent but there are always some nice local specials to look out for. The advent of pheromone lures has seen the clearwings lose a lot of their mystique but it's still exciting to occasionally bump into Six-belted Clearwing - by far the most frequent of the species present on the island - 'in the field'; this mating pair at Tout Quarry surprised the photographer by flying in and landing right in front of him © Colin Burningham:


Late July specials in the moth-traps just lately have included the Wormwood - the first one of the year was trapped at the Obs last night...


...and a few Small Grey Eudonia mercurella of the distinctive local form portlandica - this one was trapped a few days ago by Paul Parsons at St Andrews Church © Martin Cade:

22nd July

A mixed bag today with plenty of names on the list, but little to write home about. Passerine migrants were reasonably varied but with few individuals of each. A total of seven Wheatears were present throughout the obs area as well as 25 Willow Warblers and singles of Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler. The sea had a similar vibe with the same sort of variety as previous days but with lower numbers of all. Of note was a Puffin (especially notable given the departure of 'our' cliff-nesting auks so pretty certain to be a non-local bird)), otherwise 31 Manx Shearwaters, two Balearic Shearwaters, five Yellow-legged Gulls and a single Whimbrel made up the majority of the sea sightings. Ferrybridge maintained its recent form but with Greenshank the only new addition.

Ferrybridge continued to provide a nice selection of photo opportunities; Common Tern © Pete Saunders...


...Turnstone and Kestrel © Will Bown:



Whilst a pretty photo is all well and good, there's so often a little back story to the bird itself that's easy to pass over if you look no further than the photo. In this case we were intrigued by still further evidence of Ferrybridge being such a mini melting pot of gulls from all over the place: this Black-headed Gull was originally ringed in Norway (the full details haven't been received yet)...


...whilst less than a month ago this Mediterranean Gull was ringed as a pullus in Vendée, France - thanks to Debby Saunders for the information © Debby Saunders:

21st July

A cooler edge to the morning as the north-easterly wind continued, however, it was a short-lived and the afternoon was blazing hot (and ideal for a spot of painting!). A similar morning to yesterday on the sea with Manx Shearwater once again the most numerous species although much reduced on just 201 for the morning. The variety continued with more than 70 Mediterranean Gulls, Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Yellow-legged Gulls and a Greenshank; as well as low double figure totals of Black-headed Gull and Dunlin. Passerine migrants were also present in similar levels to yesterday with 20+ Willow Warblers and 4 Wheatears throughout the Obs area, a Grasshopper Warbler in the Crown Estate Field and a small handful of Swifts and Sand Martins overhead; there was also a Hobby through Southwell during the evening. Ferrybridge was graced by a fly-over Great White Egret, a single Redshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 7 Sanderling and over 100 each of Mediterranean Gull and Black-headed Gull.

Despite records increasing in line with the current UK trend, a photograph of a Great White Egret in Portland airspace is a really rare event © Angela Thomas:


Ferrybridge came up with most of the other photo opportunities as well; Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Sanderling & Dunlin and Sandwich Tern © Debby Saunders (the waders) and Pete Saunders (Sandwich Tern):





With the continuing presence of Large Tortoiseshells twitchers about the island (the butterflies have become sufficiently routine that we've given up reporting them every day!) plenty of attention has been paid to butterflies in general; Silver-studded Blues - many still in really good condition - have been popular at Tout Quarry © Roy Norris: 



20th July

With a gusting northeasterly winds hammered at the lighthouse windows it was not a tough decision for the staff to stay in bed for an extra hour or so; thankfully, one local stalwart was more dedicated to the cause and was well rewarded with some good sea movement, a pulse of hirundines and Swifts overhead and a small arrival on the deck. In what's been a lean season for them it wasn't too difficult to at least equal the year peak to date of 2000 Manx Shearwaters heading east past the Bill, with further variety at sea that included 20 Dunlin (along with another c70 small waders that were too distant to clinch an ID on), 18 Black-headed Gulls, 6 Teal and singles of Balearic Shearwater and Arctic Skua. Swift, Sand Martin and Swallow each got into the few dozen overhead, with 2 passing Yellow Wagtails also of note; 15 Willow Warblers topped the numbers on the ground that also included 2 Yellow-legged Gulls. Wader totals at Ferrybridge dropped back to just 74 Dunlin and 5 Sanderling.

It's been a challenging year for the Little Tern colony on Chesil with no paid warden due to the pandemic, and major predation by a particularly persistent Hedgehog. However, a small, extremely dedicated band of local volunteers have put in many hours of wardening, including daily diversionary feeding of the Kestrels on the West Cliffs (which has significantly helped to reduce predation). Consequently scenes like this have continued to delight those lucky enough to see them (video taken under NE license) © John Dadds:

19th July

An unseasonably damp, gusty morning was improved immeasurably by a phone call about a White-rumped Sandpiper at Ferrybridge. With the bird being found at high tide it was often close-by and offered excellent comparison views with the neighboring waders that included up to 122 Dunlin and 27 Sanderlings. This was not the only highlight from Ferrybridge as an adult Roseate Tern also dropped in briefly. Back at the Bill, the initial drizzle downed a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a handful of Willow Warblers and the odd Blackcap but nothing more of note. The sea was exceptionally quiet with just two Balearic Shearwaters, three Manx Shearwaters and an Arctic Skua.

A nice find by Pete and Debby: the fog and drizzle forced down lots of new small waders and they hit the jackpot in amongst them © Debby Saunders (top three), Pete Saunders (flock flight shot), Martin Cade (video) :






Also thanks to Debby for passing on news of this colour-ringed Herring Gull and its rather freaky movements. There's nothing particularly untoward in a movement from Guernsey to Ferrybridge - the bird was first marked as an adult at the former in May 2012 and was at the latter yesterday; however, Paul Veron Guernsey Gulls, who first marked it, reports that the only other sightings of it have been in Norway where it was present on Sandsøya Island - 1500km from Guernsey and on the same latitude as the Faroe Islands - for a week in February 2014. We're struggling to think of any plausible explanation for what's going on there! © Debby Saunders:

18th July

A low-key day with no more than dribs and drabs of movement on land and sea. Passerine migrants were limited to 5 Willow Warblers, a Sand Martin and a Sedge Warbler at the Bill; a Great Spotted Woodpecker heading north over Ferrybridge was a bit of an oddity, whilst waders and gulls there included 228 Mediterranean Gulls, 7 Dunlin and a Whimbrel. A trickle of birds on the sea included 79 Manx Shearwaters, 16 Balearic Shearwaters, 17 Mediterranean Gulls, 13 Common Scoter and a Puffin through off the Bill.

17th July

Another little flurry of common migrants maintained interest today, with a dozen Willow Warblers and singles of Sedge Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher grounded at the Bill and 30 Sand Martins through overhead there. Common Scoter accounted for the numbers on the sea, with 61 through off the Bill where 6 Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Manx Shearwaters and singles of Whimbrel and Curlew were also logged. The only other news was of 5 Curlew and singles of Whimbrel and Redshank at Ferrybridge.

Grayling at Tout Quarry today © Roy Norris


16th July

Perhaps the poor numbers seen this spring has lowered our expectations, but the recent arrival of small numbers of autumnal migrants has been a genuine and unexpected pleasure to behold so early in the season. Today saw another flurry of up to 20 Willow Warblers (the majority sporting the lemon yellow adornments of the younger generation), a new Sedge Warbler in addition to yesterday's bird that was still about, a flurry of incoming Whitethroats and the first departing Garden Warbler. It was not only the bushes showing signs of the impending changing seasons, but the sky as well with Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit adding to the autumnal ambience. The presence on the sea of nearly 70 Mediterranean Gulls, 37 Manx Shearwaters and 18 Balearic Shearwaters added to the general feeling that the summer breeding season is starting to wind down to a close. Ferrybridge continued this form with 157 Mediterranean Gulls on the mud flats, with a single Redshank the only wader of note.

It is sometimes hard to believe that the British blue butterflies are British at all. From the pale, dusky shade of this Chalkhill Blue to the electric of an Adonis, they're all pretty spectacular © Roy Norris:


We've been hugely impressed by some of the breathtakingly lovely images posted online just recently of the NEOWISE comet (for example, check out @guyedwardes offerings on Twitter). Of course, the camera can be made to lie very effectively and in real life it isn't quite the celestial spectacle that might be imagined; that said, from the Bill we've still been really enjoying watching its progress in recent nights. Currently it's visible looking more or less straight up the Obs driveway...


...and even our utterly inept attempts at night sky photography make the scene appear quite compelling - particularly when we forget to switch off Erin's moth-trap and so inadvertently leave the Obs tower bathed in blue actinic light © Martin Cade:

15th July

A cooler, overcast day saw yesterday's star warbler replaced by the first Sedge Warbler and the second Grasshopper Warbler of the autumn; the Long-eared Owl was still present but it didn't show up until dusk when it appeared hunting in the Strips. The warbler promise came early in the day but didn't foreshadowed a wider movement, with a pulse of a few dozen Swifts overhead as good as it got on the land. The sea was extremely quiet for most of the morning but the evening saw a return to form with the arrival of 50+ Balearic Shearwaters and 30+ Manx Shearwaters feeding off the Bill along with a minimum of 25 Common Terns. Ferrybridge was less eventful that in recent days but fresh in were three Sanderling, two Whimbrels and a Curlew. 

14th July

July rares are a thing of myth and folklore at Portland as well as being the niggling doubt of those who dare to pack up the nets early on days that seem to be devoid of life. Today proved why you shouldn't give up, even in the middle of July. The day started slowly with little in the way of sea passage and a slow trickle of breeding birds in the crop nets, however, the report of an 'eared-owl' in the Strips, soon materialised into a very fresh, juvenile Long-eared Owl. A new bird for the year list is always an exciting addition for the day, but this was topped off by the midday appearance of the second Blyth's Reed Warbler of the year in the Obs nets. Other land-based migrants continued to percolate through with a new Willow Warbler, single figures of Swifts and 20 Sand Martins. The sea totals were limited to 17 Balearic Shearwaters, 30+ Manx Shearwaters and a small selection of gulls and Common Scoters. 

The second Blyth's Reed Warbler of the year and the eighth for the island - it was also the only bird trapped in the Obs garden all day!


Like the June individual, today's bird was entirely typical in pretty well all respects. If we were better organised we'd be able to immediately lay our hands on some comparison photos of Reed Warbler wing formula detail but we're not so we can't and viewers will have to make do with the Blyth's Reed alone. Primary 4 (the third from outside primary in this view) had a nice prominent emargination and there's even a trace of an emargination on primary 5; with any luck a Reed Warbler wouldn't show these 'extra' emarginations but that's not something that's 100% fail safe so it's always worth checking that everything else is as it should be...


...amongst these other esoteric details, primary 2 (again, the outer primary in this view) fell well short of the wing-tip and not far off level with primary 7; in a Reed, primary 2 should be longer and fall much closer to the wing-tip © Martin Cade:


We don't know nearly enough about Long-eared Owls to even begin to speculate in any informed manner as to where a fresh-ish juvenile that arrived at the Bill in mid-July might have come from, but arrive it did. Do they vacate their natal area quite quickly once they fledge or should we be wondering if there's been a breeding event right under our noses somewhere on the island? © Martin Cade


We publicised news of the discovery of the owl together with a request that observers didn't enter the surrounding fields since the latter are all privately owned and there's no carte blanche permission to enter any of them - besides, the owl was showing nicely and could be viewed perfectly satisfactorily and without causing any disturbance from several public vantage points. With all this in mind it was profoundly dismaying to discover that within an hour miscreants had already ignored this request...


...Arrogance, entitlement, stupidity? - we're not sure what it is that prompts this sort of behaviour from these folk but it shows nothing but contempt for the hand that feeds them and always risks compromising local birder's often hard-won informal arrangements to access these and other usually out-of-bounds areas. 

13th July

In a shake up from yesterday, the morning was gloriously warm and breeze-free and slowly descended into a wet and windy evening. Some more signs of  wader passage included the first autumn Little-ringed Plover, three Black-tailed Godwits and a single Curlew at Ferrybridge. Passerine migration continues at a slow trickle with low double figures of Sand Martins, the second dispersing Grey Wagtail of the autumn, and a smattering of the lingering Phylloscs. The sea produced a couple of points of interest including four Little Egrets in off, singles of Arctic and Great Skua, a lone Balearic Shearwater, the usual selection of Common Scoters and Mediterranean Gulls in small numbers and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls consorting with the now much diminished gull flocks; a third Yellow-legged Gull also dropped in at Ferrybridge.

It was certainly a day of two halves: the Black-tailed Godwits at Ferrybridge were bathed in the lovely soft sunlight of a millpond-calm dawn but by evening the Yellow-legged Gull there was being buffeted by the stiff breeze that preceded an impending downpour © Pete Saunders (the godwits) and Martin Cade (the gull): 





Moth interest has dwindled away since the heady days of the Silver Barred and Bright Wave so some minor signs of dispersal kicking in again were more than welcome: Pine Hawkmoth and Gorse Knot-horn Pempelia genistella were both less than annual captures at the Obs overnight © Martin Cade:


12th July

A pleasantly warm morning heated up through the day leaving a afternoon fit for little more than trying to keep out of the sun. The first signs of wader movements finally reached the isle, culminating the highlight of the day of a Wood Sandpiper at Ferrybridge, accompanied by three Common Sandpipers. The Bill was (as ever in terms of waders) the poor relation with just four Dunlin and singles of Whimbrel and Lapwing to add to the day's tally. Passerine migration was limited to 22 Sand Martins and a Willow Warbler at the Bill and another Willow Warbler at Sweethill. The sea was exceptionally quiet compared to recent days with just four Balearic Shearwaters, two Manx Shearwaters and a steady trickle of Common Scoter and Mediterranean Gulls. 


Wood Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders:



11th July

A lovely, calm and (at times) scorchingly hot day left much to desire on both the sea and the land. A disappointing down turn in the numbers of shearwaters off the Bill saw Balearics dip to below double figures in the feeding flock, whilst Manxies passed through in low double figures with no sign of the putative Yelkouan. Land-based migration is slowly warming up with a trickle of Sand Martins heading south overhead, along with small family parties of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers.

The Lepidopterans remain of interest with regular sightings of Large Tortoiseshells across the island, as well as a noticeable influx of Small Whites in over the cliffs on the mornings sea-watch. Its sad to see Chalkhill Blues having such an underwhelming start to their year, but with the recent spells of baking hot summers killing off the vetch much too early, it is highly unsurprising.

Apologies to everyone who's sent us through photos of various shearwaters off the Bill in recent days. We will get back to this subject but through spending so much time seawatching and blogging about it  - along with gearing up for welcoming guests back to some of our accommodation for the first time since March - we've ended up with a huge backlog of boring admin to catch up with!

10th July

A complete change in the weather with clear, blue skies and bright sunshine replacing the murk of the last couple of days proved to be very challenging for shearwaters-watchers who struggled to discern the Yelkouan/Menorcan Shearwater amongst the dwindling numbers of Balearics present off the Bill (the day's highest count of Balearics was 40 although only 8 were left by the evening); the bird was reported from time to time until mid-morning but not thereafter. It was otherwise a quieter day on all fronts, with 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Sand Martins and a Whimbrel the best of the migrants on the land and a small increase in Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls offshore.

Large Tortoiseshells were spotted at several locations, with regular sightings at Pennsylvania Castle in particular throughout the day.

We will get back to shearwaters tomorrow but whilst everyone else has been seawatching one gallant soul has been trawling through the local gull flocks. Keith's highlights from the last week have included a Caspian Gull from Chesil Cove last weekend...


...and a small influx of non-juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls through the week (there have been a few juveniles from time to time but not nearly as many as have arrived by this time in most recent years); these two birds were at the Bill yesterday © Keith Pritchard

9th July

Another blustery, grey start saw the onslaught of twitchers continue as the Yelkouan/Menorcan Shearwater lingered another day within the swirling flocks of gulls and Balearic Shearwaters. The feeding frenzy off the Bill was also harbouring up to 17 Manx Shearwaters and three Yellow-legged Gulls; whilst two Great Skuas and a lone Arctic Skua passed through. A good addition to the day list - seemingly overlooked by the watchers of the flock - was a passing group of seven Ruddy Shelducks heading west around the Bill tip.

The seven Ruddy Shelduck made a brief appearance whilst everyone else was too distracted by the shearwater © Mike Trew:


We gather that confusion reigned again today at the Bill tip, with reports of two or even three Yelkouan/Menorcan Shearwaters offshore. Our angle on all this is that we ourselves have only ever managed to see one individual - seemingly always the same one both yesterday morning and evening, and again this evening - and we haven't yet seen a photograph/video from either day that conclusively depicts anything other than this one bird. The bird photographed two days ago by Pete Saunders that begun this whole process does indeed appear to show plumage features at variance to what's been seen since but the state of moult of the 'two' birds looks to be very similar and, being notoriously conservative, we remain to be wholly convinced that there isn't some trick of the light at play. We might have got this all wrong but that remains our take on matters. Unfortunately, the waters in this affair are being constantly muddied by the pronouncements of less than well informed 'Wolverhampton seawatchers'; take for example the matter of moult in Manx Shearwaters: we were astonished to yesterday see images from the Bill of what looked to be a typical Manx in extensive wing moult; this has been followed up by social media claims that quite a few of the Manx present are in moult which is patently not the case. We ourselves have never seen a Manx in wing moult in summer and on checking the facts with Richard and Giselle on Skokholm who know an awful lot more about Manx than nearly anyone else in Britain discovered that neither had they - for there to be one moulting Manx off the Bill in July is a vanishingly rare event, there certainly aren't quite a few of them in moult and if you think you're seeing that then you're mistaken. ID-wise, we're not overly bothered what it is: as far as we can see all the features are compatible with Yelkouan/'Menorcan' Shearwater but since we're not aware of any way that these two forms can be conclusively separated on the sort of views we're getting here then we can't really see how things can be progressed - maybe someone else knows differently? For anyone who hasn't seen it and wants to know how to spot it these photos and video from this evening might help. Overall, it's far more like a Manx than a Balearic and looks very clean-cut/contrasty (oddly like a mini-Great Shearwater when it's bobbing about on the water) compared to the scruffy Balearics - beware, though, several of the Balearics are really pale and particularly in flight can really catch you out!...








....Here's a Manx from this evening for comparison all photos/video © Martin Cade: