1st August

After our holiday absence (...we'll catch up with our lost week during the next few days) we returned to tap into the migration mediocrity that seems to have been the rule just lately. A small arrival of 25 grounded Willow Warblers at the Bill had in tow a lone Whinchat but seemingly precious little else beyond a likely lingering Great Spotted Woodpecker; it was busier overhead where 2 Dunlin, a Marsh Harrier and a Ringed Plover were the variety amongst 50-100 totals of both Swallow and Sand Martin, along with 20 Swifts (the local breeders of the latter look to have departed now). The grounded wader situation was hardly more rewarding, with 41 Dunlin the only worthwhile total from Ferrybridge. Fortunately the sea had considerably more to give, with another good showing of 44 Balearic Shearwaters off the Bill; 200 Mediterranean Gulls, 7 Manx Shearwaters and a Yellow-legged Gull were the best of the rest there.

On the moth front immigration picked up a little after a couple of quieter nights: 34 Dark Sword Grass at the Obs reflected their recent increase (many were in mint-fresh condition so just as likely locally-hatched rather than new arrivals), whilst 17 Turnip represented their highest total of the year to date; the second Jersey Mocha of recent nights - this one at Freshwater Bay - was the best of the rarities, with singles of Chocolate-tip and Brown-veined Wainscot noteworthy dispersers making it to the Obs.

Having got thoroughly confused as to exactly what's been going on with breeding Barn Owls this summer it's at least nice to see that those that are about have been finding rich pickings: this bird at Southwell this evening was tapping into a fleeting bonanza of voles exposed by hay cutting operations © Pete Saunders:

To begin our catching up we have to start with easily the highlight of the last week: the Purple Cloud  trapped overnight at the Obs on 28th/29th July was not only new for Portland but also new for Dorset and seemingly the furthest west one's ever been recorded in Britain... 

...a Marbled Clover - only Portland's third ever - was reduced to also-ran status on the same night (many thanks indeed to John Lucas for manning the bulk of the Obs garden moth-traps in our absence and in so doing not only maintaining the continuity of recording but also ensuring these goodies weren't missed!) © Martin Cade: