31st August

August closed out much as it had plodded along throughout with a perfectly respectable spread of common migrants but, with the notable exception of the second Wryneck in as many days, little to excite; that the first third of the autumn is now behind us was evidenced by the lack of even a single Sedge Warbler making the day-tally for the first time this month, whilst passing Wigeon (4 off the Bill) hinted at what's to come. The day's Wryneck - like yesterday's - turned up unannounced in a mist-net at the Obs, whilst the day's migrant totals for the wider Bill area included the likes of 60 Wheatears, 8 Tree Pipits, 8 Spotted Flycatchers, 7 Whinchats and 4 Whimbrel with Ferrybridge helping the variety with 7 Sanderling, a Knot, a Little Stint and a Snipe amongst others. The sea also perked up, with 54 Balearic Shearwaters, a steady flow of Mediterranean Gulls and 2 Arctic Skuas through off the Bill.

30th August

With the notable exception of a Wryneck that obliged by turning up in a mist-net in the Obs garden today's migrant happenings remained on a par with recent days. Wheatears conspicuously increased, with around 100 at the Bill alone but, if anything, there was an overall dip in numbers that saw Yellow Wagtails fall well short of a three figure tally at the Bill, where most other seasonable fare was reduced to single figure totals. Ferrybridge continued to chip in with respectable totals of Ringed Plover and Dunlin but 2 each of Sanderling, Knot and Redshank were as good as it got for less frequent visitors. Sandwich and Common Terns were again lingering off the Bill in above average numbers but a lone Balearic Shearwater provided the only quality.

There's nothing like an in-hand Wryneck to please the visitors © Martin Cade:

29th August

It's beginning to seem like a stir-up in the weather won't do any harm, with samey conditions producing a samey selection of migrants again today. A passing Osprey over Weston and the first Merlin of the autumn at the Bill were noteworthy, but apart from small arrival of Pied Flycatchers - including at least 7 at the Bill - the migrant situation remained at the level of a fair spread of Yellow and White Wagtails, Wheatears, Redstarts, Spotted Flycatchers and routine waders and warblers on the ground and a Hobby and a few Tree Pipits and hirundines overhead. A small resurgence in Balearic Shearwaters saw 22 logged at the Bill, where 2 Arctic and a Great Skua also passed by.

A selection of the day's migrant action: Merlin, Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail © Joe Stockwell and godwit duo and Sandwich Terns © Pete Saunders:

28th August

The crystal-clear, breezy dawn didn't look too promising and so it came to pass, with yesterday's Wryneck - still very elusive in the Crown Estate Field - the highlight and little beyond expected fare in modest numbers as back-up. A fair spread of the likes of Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears was evident everywhere, with the odd Tree Pipits, Whinchats, Lesser Whitethroats, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers and other expected arrivals livening things up here and there; a Grasshopper Warbler at the Bill and 6 Knot and 2 Little Stints at Ferrybridge constituted the best of the slightly less regulars. Sea interest has dwindled, with 50 Black-headed Gulls through off the Bill as good as it got by way of passage.

27th August

A little more interest on the migrant front today with an overdue first Wryneck of the season the best of the arrivals at the Bill; a Marsh Harrier also left to the south from the Bill, 2 Little Stints were new in at Ferrybridge and flurry of Crossbills saw 7 head overhead at High Angle Battery and 5 arrive at the Bill. Numbers and variety were otherwise much as yesterday, with 2 Greenshanks, a Redshank and a Snipe at the Bill of note amongst the seasonable spread everywhere.

One of the two Little Stints that were on cue arrivals at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders:

Even without the migrants there's always a nice array of local residents to get amongst © Roy Norris:

26th August

Strive as we might it proved impossible to break through a ceiling of mediocrity today, with even the assistance of heavily overcast skies throughout the morning and the continuing northeasterly breeze failing to provide us with any of seasonable scarcities that had seemed so on the cards at dawn. That blanket dismissal of the day was of course entirely unfair to the pretty respectable spread of routine mid-autumn migrants that were uncovered and amounted to, for example, 150 Wheatears, 100 Yellow Wagtails, 20 Spotted Flycatchers and 10 Pied Flycatchers dotted about the centre and south of the island. At that level and below everything that might have been expected put in appearances but a list of oddities that started and stopped at a single Hobby over the Bill was lean enough to leave the feeling that we'd been short-changed. The sea was barely any better, with 3 Arctic Skuas and an early Great Northern Diver through off the Bill hardly constituting a watch to remember.

25th August

Rarity highlights have been at a bit of a premium this year so a White-winged Black Tern that flew through at Ferrybridge into the teeth of this morning's brisk easterly was a very welcome little event. With conditions again not at all conducive to a fall of migrants most of the day's numbers were overhead or on the sea and included 150 Yellow Wagtails over the Bill, 350 Swallows and 80 Sand Martins through over Ferrybridge and 55 Balearic Shearwaters through off the Bill; on the ground 5 Reed Warblers at the Bill was a good autumn total but little else posted a significant tally there or elsewhere. The Melodious Warbler from a couple of days ago made a reappearance at the Obs after escaping detection all day yesterday, whilst the miscellany of lesser frequent migrants included an Osprey south off West Cliffs, 2 Knot at Ferrybridge with singles of Hobby and Teal overhead there, and 2 Arctic Skuas and singles of Little Egret, Great Skua and Arctic Tern through off the Bill.

The White-winged Black Tern was the island's sixth record but the first since 1999 - Ferrybridge and the Bill are now neck and neck at three apiece. Since it literally flew straight through it was a sharp spot by Graham Bright and it was fortuitous that Pete and Debby were on station to capture what we think are the first photographs taken of any of the Portland White-winged Blacks © Pete Saunders (top two) and Debby Saunders (bottom):

This morning's Hobby and Knots at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders:

This Porter's Rustic is an addition to yesterday's immigrant moth tally at the Obs. We'd already done the traps and passed the tub containing the contents of the eight traps we'd operated to Marcus Lawson to have a sift through; fortunately, Marcus was more attentive than we were and spotted the Porter's Rustic that we'd very ineptly managed to overlook - slotting in examining eight traps between net-rounds and everything else on the go here clearly isn't an ideal scenario for spotting something as anonymous-looking as a Porter's Rustic tucked away deep in an egg tray! © Marcus Lawson:

24th August

After a surprisingly cool and breezy start today quickly saw a resounding return of summer as the breeze quickly dropped out and the temperature shot up in the blazing sunshine that was the order of the rest of the day. Pleasant as they were, these weren't conditions for quantities of grounded migrants although variety wasn't too bad, with 70 Yellow Wagtails, 30 Tree Pipits, 15 Whinchats and 4 each of Spotted and Pied Flycatcher amongst the mix around the south of the island. Yesterday's offshore Balearic-fest wasn't repeated, with not a single one logged at the Bill, where a steady trickle of commic and Sandwich Terns, and a lone Great Skua were the best on offer. Singles of Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit featured amongst the waders at Ferrybridge.

The Obs moth-traps were extremely busy with resident fare, with 22 Rush Veneers - their highest total of the season to date - 3 Vagrant Piercers and singles of Brown China-mark, Olive-tree Pearl, Barred Hook-tip and Jersey Mocha constituting the best of the immigrants and dispersers; elsewhere, the first Scarce Bordered Straw of the year was trapped at Weston.

Variety's on the up as we head into the the last week of August with the likes of Pied Flycatchers finally showing up in numbers, Wheatears beginning to get conspicuous everywhere © Roy Norris:

...Ferrybridge always boosts the day-lists as well with a selection of waders not so easy to see elsewhere; Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit were good list-fillers there today © Roy Norris:

None of the hook-tips are resident at Portland and Barred - a beech-feeder - is a far less than annual visitor to the Obs moth-traps © Martin Cade:

23rd August

No sooner had the wind shifted into the northeast - and freshened on very conspicuously for the morning at least - then both variety and numbers really perked up, with a Melodious Warbler trapped at the Obs and a passing Marsh Harrier on West Cliffs the pick of the arrivals. On the ground, Willow Warblers and Wheatears totalled 75 and 60 respectively at the Bill, where new Robins were much in evidence and the likes of 3 Redstarts, 3 Garden Warblers, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Reed Warblers and a Lesser Whitethroat provided additional interest. Numbers overhead included 400 Swallows, 100 Sand Martins and 40 Yellow Wagtails, with 10 Tree Pipits, 2 Snipe and a Golden Plover in with the mix. After their poor showing so far thus summer and early autumn a bumper haul of 325 Balearic Shearwaters passing the Bill was a very welcome return for the seawatchers, who also chipped in with 5 Gadwall and singles of Great and Arctic Skuas amongst others.

Several Bluefin Tuna and at least 20 Common Dolphins were off the Bill during the morning.

Immigrant moth numbers increased with overnight totals at the Obs that included 45 Silver Y (the highest total since 25th July) and 5 Vagrant Piercer Cydia amplana (the highest total this year).

This morning's Melodious Warbler - by our reckoning Portland's 230th record! © Martin Cade:

22nd August

Another little sprinkle of migrants today amongst which an Osprey over the Bill, 4 Garden Warblers at Culverwell and up-island singles of Redstart and Pied Flycatcher were about the best on offer. Numbers were nothing to shout about, with Tree Pipit, Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler all only just getting into double figures at the Bill where the continuing lateness of the season was indicated by totals of just 7 Wheatears and 2 Yellow Wagtails. The sea was hardly more rewarding, with just 8 Balearic Shearwaters through off the Bill.

Ospreys usually motor through high overhead at the Bill so it was a bit of a novelty to get one close enough to quite easily confirm that it was a nice fresh juvenile © Martin Cade:

21st August

A bit of a damp squib on several levels today: rain that set in just as dawn broke washed out the first couple of hours of the day, whilst migrant numbers were far from what might have been expected given the conditions; additionally, the hoped-for arrival of quantities of immigrant moths came to nothing. The grounded arrivals list was a little more varied than of late and included the likes of 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a Whinchat and a Curlew Sandpiper, whilst waders also featured quite strongly both overhead and passing on the sea, including at the Bill 6 each of Dunlin and Turnstone, 3 Ringed Plovers, 2 Sanderlings and singles of Golden Plover and Greenshank; also overhead, 75 Swifts and 14 Tree Pipits were of note at the Bill. The sea was always worth attention, with 15 Balearic Shearwaters lingering off Chesil and 13 Shelducks, 12 more Balearics, 6 Arctic Terns, 2 Arctic Skuas and a Yellow-legged Gull through off the Bill.

We forgot to mention yesterday the season's first Bluefin Tuna close inshore off the Bill; today there were at least 3 offshore there.

After several pretty duff autumns for Curlew Sandpipers it'd be nice to think that today's quite early arrival at Ferrybridge might be the vanguard of a better passage of them but we won't hold our breath! © Pete Saunders:

20th August


A reminder that there's an InFocus field day at the Obs between 10am and 4pm this Sunday, 22nd August.

A heavily overcast sky and scarcely a breath of breeze were welcome conditions as dawn broke and it was soon apparent that there was a considerable improvement in migrant numbers, with  50 Sedge Warblers, 30 Willow Warblers, 9 Tree Pipits, 2 Reed Warblers, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Garden Warbler among the grounded selection at the Bill; the dearth of a variety of other usually routine fare such as Wheatears - just 2 were logged at the Bill and another 7 at Ferrybridge - and either of the commoner flycatchers - of which there were none - did however remain entirely baffling. Overhead passage was scarcely a feature until late in the day when upwards of 100 Swifts and 50 Sand Martins appeared over the Bill; earlier the first Hobby of the season had passed through at Ferrybridge. A steady trickle of departing Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 11 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Yellow-legged Gulls, 2 Arctic Skuas and a single Great Skua provided interest offshore; of potentially much greater interest there was what looked to be a strong candidate for an immature booby sp passing by in loose association with some Gannets - although seen quite well for the short time it was in view it showed no signs of lingering and was quickly lost heading west.

19th August

Just when we thought we'd seen the last of the poor weather with the cessation of the recent incessant wind, along came the drizzle. Despite the general gloom, a few odds and ends managed to make it through with a trickle of Yellow Wagtails and Tree Pipits overhead, and a smattering of Willow Warblers and Garden Warblers in the garden. A steady trickle on the sea included: 10 Balearic Shearwaters, three Bonxies, two Yellow-legged Gulls and an Arctic Skua. Ferrybridge continued its run of form with four Whimbrel of note among the usual fare. 

18th August

The first calm morning of the week saw an early morning flurry of Sedge Warblers and Willow Warblers in both the garden and the crop fields. However, the highlight of the day was the first pair of autumn Rooks overhead. Ferrybridge continued to shine with: 140 Ringed Plovers, 40 Dunlin, 17 Turnstone, five Sanderling and singles of Redshank and Sandwich Tern

17th August

A morning of gusty wind and scattered showered lifted to deposit the first Spotted Flycatcher of the autumn in the garden. This short-lived flurry involving a Whitethroat and two Willow Warblers was not continued through the rest of the morning and the days ringing tally ended on a measly three. Ferrybridge continued recent form with: 103 Ringed Plovers, 62 Dunlin, nine Sanderling, seven Turnstone, two Curlew and a Black-tailed Godwit

Less than annual on Portland (despite the proximity to multiple reed beds), a Bulrush Wainscot was the highlight from the mornings moths traps along with a smattering of common migrants ©Erin Taylor:

16th August

Clearer conditions made for a much better passage day. The early morning saw an increase in overhead passage including a smattering of Sand Martins, six Tree Pipits and singles of Yellow and Grey Wagtail. The garden was much busier with over 30 Willow Warblers 'hu-wheating' from the tree tops, and a skulking Garden Warbler eventually revealing itself in the nets. Sea passage was also a lot more promising 15 Balearic Shearwaters, three Bonxies and a supporting cast of Kittiwakes and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Wader passage was also notable with the Bill producing five Redshank, three each of Ringed Plover and Dunlin and two Turnstones to add to the Purple Sandpiper sighting at Ferrybridge.        

Ferrybridge saw its own piece of the action with the young Peregrines quickly learning just how aggressive Oystercatchers can be...©Debby Saunders:

One of the best August birds, a Yellow Wagtail ©Debby Saunders: 

A rare sighting at Ferrybridge, the first Purple Sandpiper of the winter ©Pete Saunders:

The rest of the Ferrybridge totals added up to five Common Sandpipers, five Sanderlings, a single Redshank and over 50 apiece of Dunlin and Ringed Plover ©Pete Saunders: 

15th August

 A fog-bound and heavily damp morning brought little in the way of enthusiasm to the early proceedings of the day. As the weather began to clear through, it was with reluctance that we opened some nets and began emptying the moth traps. It was clear that there had been no falls of autumn migrants as seen along other parts of the coast so it was exceedingly surprising that the only bird of the day trapped was a Melodious Warbler just before lunch. Other migrants were few and far between with just singles of Wheatear and Willow Warbler at the Bill. Ferrybridge was its usual autumnal self with three Knot, three Sanderling and a Redshank among the lingering Terns. 

Quality over quantity was the order of the day in the nets ©Bryony Baker:

Ferrybridge is beginning to look distinctly autumnal with passing Knots and only a few remaining juvenile terns ©Pete Saunders:

14th August

 A cool start to the morning was not indicative of the afternoon to follow, with clear blue skies and scorching sun. Passage migrants were thin on the ground with just four Sedge Warblers trapped alongside a Grasshopper Warbler in the crown nets and a smattering of Wheatears across the Bill and Ferrybridge. The warm afternoon saw a flying ant emergence and a formation of a feeding kettle of Swifts, Mediterranean Gulls and a Sparrowhawk. Ferrybridge was busy once more with 233 Ringed Plovers, 60 Dunlin, nine Sanderlings, six Turnstones and a Redshank

The Ferrybridge Wheatears were busy fattening up for their journey south ©Pete Saunders:

13th August

Bright and rather too breezy again today - conditions that were seemingly not conducive to dropping much in the way of new arrivals to the extent that the day's tally at the Bill didn't include a single Willow Warbler! What little did drop in was entirely routine with nothing remotely close to reaching a double figure total at the Bill where a few Wheatears and Sedge Warblers, and a single Whimbrel was about as good as it got. An exodus of waders from Ferrybridge that had been apparent towards dusk yesterday evening was reflected in noticeable lower totals there today.

The first young Sparrowhawk trapped this season needn't have given us its best death stare: by the look of the carnage on the ground close by it'd just cleared up the best part of a Wood Pigeon for breakfast! © Martin Cade:

We were surprised to find a fresh Four Spotted in one of the moth-traps this morning - over a week since the last one was caught. We've logged the highest ever annual total in the traps this year, including a remarkable 32 on one night alone (not so long ago annual totals didn't even reach that level), so it seems this iconic Portland macro-moth is thriving right now...

...The larval foodplant is Field Bindweed and it's tempting to put the increase in numbers down to the proliferation in bindweed in our Crown Estate Field where, quite by accident, it's now abundant beside the footpaths and net-lanes amongst the stewardship crops - in bygone times when this field was variously planted with commercial crops or heavily grazed bindweed would presumably have been less of a feature © Martin Cade:

Strong showings from several of the local speciality butterflies continue to be reported, with Chalkhill Blues and Graylings both very numerous in their usual haunts around the top and edges of the island © Roy Norris:

12th August

Not that a day can have several halves but today was certainly full on contrasts, what with its drippingly damp, foggy start, its sunny but stickily humid afternoon and its bright, briskly breezy evening. Bird-wise, there was little to commend, with a lone Grasshopper Warbler the best of a woefully low tally of common migrants at the Bill; Ferrybridge was considerably busier including further increases to 277 Ringed Plovers and 14 Sanderling

This odd, buffy-toned Dunlin has been at Ferrybridge for a couple of days now; we're guessing it's melanin-deficient in some way - there's probably a correct term for this but we haven't looked it up - but in the soft light this evening it cut a subtly pretty figure amongst its still very contrasty summer-plumaged congeners © Martin Cade:

11th August

Today didn't quite pan out as expected since the promised overcast skies didn't materialise until the evening and for the most part the day was pleasantly warm and sunny but underwhelming on the migrant-front. Sedge and Willow Warblers again accounted for the bulk of the passerine numbers on the ground but both were far less numerous that they'd been yesterday; in contrast, Ringed Plovers continued to increase with 252 at Ferrybridge by the end of the day. Variety included a Wood Warbler reported briefly at the Obs Quarry and the Green Woodpecker doing another early round of the Bill.

Had we have had time to scan through the night's nocmig recording before opening the nets we mightn't have been so surprised that one of the first migrants trapped after dawn was what seemed to be a quite early Tree Pipit; although there had been a couple of singles overhead at the Bill yesterday morning and a random single calling over the Obs after dark a few evenings ago it would usually still be considered early in the season for any numbers of them. However, the nocmig recorder logged 15 calls over the Obs last night so some of them are certainly on their way pretty promptly this year © Martin Cade:

10th August

A decent arrival of migrants has been a long time coming this autumn but the wind finally falling light under a clear but moonless sky presented promising-looking conditions today. Dawn saw the Crown Estate Field in particular hopping with Sedge Warblers and it wasn't long before the warmth of some strong sunshine saw Willow Warblers emerging in quantity; variety still wasn't a feature on the ground but overhead a steady passage of hirundines developed to further bolster the numbers. Eventual day totals for the Bill included 150 Sand Martins, 100 each of Swallow and Sedge Warbler, and 50 Willow Warblers, with nuggets in interest including 3 Yellow Wagtails, 2 each of Tree Pipit and Reed Warbler, a single Garden Warbler and an island oddity in the form of a Green Woodpecker. Ferrybridge was also busier, with Ringed Plover and Dunlin conspicuously more numerous at 182 and 70 respectively, and 9 Sanderling, 2 Redshanks and a Black-tailed Godwit of further note. The increase in waders was also noted offshore, with 9 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plovers and 2 Whimbrel through off the Bill; passage of Lesser Black-backed Gulls was also gathering momentum and singles of Balearic Shearwater and Yellow-legged Gull passed by. 

It's so rare for us to get to handle an adult male Yellow Wagtail - and with ridiculous thoughts of American vagrancy still at the back of our mind - that the distant sight of the dazzling underparts of this bird that turned up out of the blue in the bottom panel of a mist-net in the densest cover in the Crown Estate Field momentarily and amusingly set in motion thoughts of a repeat of the Yellow Warbler © Martin Cade:

It's been well documented that the Catocalas - the Red, Crimson and Blue Underwings - have not only increased but also started wandering about far more than they used to. We've already recorded a Light Crimson Underwing - the scarcer of the two crimson underwings - this year and last night the island's seventh Dark Crimson Underwing put in an appearance in the Obs moth-traps © Martin Cade:

9th August

A wet and blustery start to the morning only got wilder as the wind peaked above 30mph for the remainder of the day. Land-based migrants were more notable for their absence with the Bill entirely devoid of Wheatears and just seven at Ferrybridge merely confirming the impression that this has been a dire year on the island for the species. The sea was perhaps surprisingly quiet with just a Bonxie and two Balearic Shearwaters of note. Waders continued to move with the Ferrybridge total of Ringed Plovers falling just short of triple figures, and Dunlins not too far behind. 

8th August

The days to forget in a hurry have been mounting up with alarming frequency just lately (...not that it matters one jot when a random Stephens' Gem pops up in the midst of them!) and today with its wet start and later further rain breaks more than qualified to be quickly forgotten. With the westerly wind again gusting up towards gale force at times meaningful searching for passerines was out of the question and the only worthwhile reports from the Bill were of 3 Balearic Shearwaters through offshore and a Ringed Plover arriving in off the sea. Elsewhere, the wader tally at Ferrybridge included 75 Dunlin, 65 Ringed Plovers and 4 Sanderling.

7th August

An unexpectedly quiet start to the day amid what's otherwise turning out to be an unwelcome downturn in the weather afforded the opportunity to get amongst a few grounded migrants, with double figure totals of Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler, and a lone Grasshopper Warbler logged at the Bill; wader numbers also improved again, with 8 Sanderling and 2 Common Sandpipers amongst the 60 each of Ringed Plover and Dunlin, and 17 Turnstones at Ferrybridge. Three passing Balearic Shearwaters off the Bill were all that showed up once the wind and rain returned by mid-morning.

6th August

A constantly gloriously sunny day spoilt only by the near gale force strength of the westerlies; however, it was certainly a day to forget on the birding front with 2 Balearic Shearwaters through off the Bill and a Great Skua over Ferrybridge the sum total of interest.

The out of context Bonxie over Ferrybridge was getting a bit of its own medicine from one of the local Great Black-backs © Debby Saunders:

Having had such a good run of island firsts and interesting immigrants and dispersers we thought we'd more or less run out of superlatives for this summer's mothing happenings. However, nothing had prepared us for the unmistakable sight of the hugely engorged Y-mark of a Stephens' Gem in one of this morning's Obs moth-traps - not only a first for Portland and Dorset but also just the fifth record for Britain. To boot, this is a moth with a home range confined to the Americas which makes it an all the more staggering occurrence: hitherto, our highlight of the year had been the sight of a much-wanted Rose Plume in one of the traps a couple of weekends ago but we're guessing that had only strayed a couple of hundred miles from northern France to get here - Stephens' Gem really is in an entirely different league! © Martin Cade:

5th August

A note for Obs members: by the end of last week we'd finished posting out our 'annual' reports so all should have been received by now; since the report actually covered two years it was sent to everyone who'd been a member at anytime during 2019 and 2020. If you were a member during this period and haven't received a report do please let us know - we've already been notified of several address changes and the like and are sure there'll be other issues still to clarify with some memberships. Many thanks.

A little bit of everything today although the sea proved to be disappointingly unproductive in the mix of showers and gusty southwesterlies that had set in by mid-morning. Early brightness had allowed for some mist-netting that revealed a Reed Warbler amongst a few Sedge and Willow Warblers at the three Bill ringing sites; the only other land coverage was of Ferrybridge where there were respectable totals of 92 Ringed Plovers and 14 Curlews amongst the wader selection. The sea quickly looked quite enticing once the wind got up but sporadic watches at the Bill came up with no more than 6 Balearic Shearwaters amongst the slow trickle of routine passage on offer.

Yesterday's moth-traps provided us with yet another addition to the island list: a Daisy Bent-wing Bucculatrix nigricomella at the Grove...

...Despite a designation of 'Rare and local resident' in Dorset we wouldn't mind betting that this Ox-eye Daisy feeder is a good deal more widespread than the relatively few county records suggest: it's a tiny moth that's best sought in its early stages rather than as an adult; the adults are apparently also not particularly frequent visitors to light-traps © Martin Cade

4th August

Autumn passage continues to tick along at a rather less than inspiring level, with today's fair weather coming up with an increase in wader numbers and a little more out to sea but the passerine tally largely unchanged. Both Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler just struggled into double figures at the Bill, where singles of Grey Heron, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grasshopper Warbler and Reed Warbler provided the best of the variety. The wader tally at Ferrybridge included across the board increases amongst which 9 Redshank were of particular note. Nine Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Arctic Skuas and a Yellow-legged Gull were the best of the offerings from the seawatchers.

Unfortunately we're running days and days late with going through our nocmig recordings so we're not sure to what extent the expected uptick in wader numbers by day is also in evidence overnight when the likes of Common and Green Sandpipers are usually detected more frequently. These five Redshank were part of a larger group that dropped in for a while at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders:

3rd August

What looked to be a decent little arrival of grounded migrants was a surprise as a clear, calm and very dewy dawn broke but, sadly, the birds either moved on very quickly or we were getting ahead of ourselves at the sight of a little bit more than we've been used to just lately! In the event, Sedge and Willow Warblers were both in double figures but precious little else was uncovered bar a steady movement of Swallows and Sand Martins overhead. The wader tally remained steady, with 47 Ringed Plovers, 34 Dunlin and 6 Sanderling making up the bulk of the numbers at Ferybridge. Two Yellow-legged Gulls and a lone Balearic Shearwater were all that could be mustered by way of quality from the sea.

Thank goodness for insects just lately: it it weren't for them we'd have had some pretty thin blog posts in recent days. Today's highlight was the first fully confirmed island record of a Southern Migrant Hawker that was spotted by Ken Dolbear beside the lane on the west side of the Obs garden. There have been several previous reports both this year and last but none of these was supported by a photo so we don't know whether they'll prove acceptable to the national authorities (does anyone actually scrutinize the claims now that the species has become established elsewhere?) © Ken Dolbear: