21st September

A lovely millpond-calm, warm and sunny day provided a very varied species list but, hirundines and Meadow Pipits aside, precious little in the way of numbers.

Portland Bill
Migrants Swallow c2500, House Martin c2000, Meadow Pipit c500, Sand Martin c200, with lower totals including Grey Heron 5, Merlin 2, Little Egret 1, Turtle Dove 1.
Sea passage Common Scoter 21w 1e, Velvet Scoter 15w, Dunlin 10w, Arctic Skua 3w 1e, Sandwich Tern 2w, Dark-bellied Brent Goose 1e.

Firecrest 1.

Dunlin 124, Ringed Plover 119, Bar-tailed Godwit 6, Turnstone 6, Knot 5, Curlew 4, Sanderling 1, Common Sandpiper 1.

Selected immigrants Obs: Rusty-dot Pearl 11, Rush Veneer 11, Delicate 5, Pearly Underwing 4, Turnip 3, European Corn-borer 1, Vestal 1, Convolvulus hawkmoth 1, Dark Sword Grass 1, Scarce Bordered Straw 1, Silver Y 1. Grove: Vestal 1, Convolvulus Hawkmoth 1.

It's a sad state of affairs that these days whenever you see - late alone catch - a Turtle Dove you feel you need to have a really good look at it just in case it's the last one you ever clap eyes on. As is the case with pretty well all our autumn catches of this species, today's bird was a juvenile. These youngsters vary tremendously in appearance which seemingly relates to whether they're from the first or second brood (apparently they sometimes even have three broods): first brood birds moult far more of their plumage before migration than do birds from the second brood. Our bird has so many adult-like next generation feathers in, for example, its wing coverts that we're guessing it has to be a first brood bird; check out also how amazingly longer the next generation inner two primaries are than the juvenile outer primaries...

...We're sure we've got some decent photographs of presumably later brood youngsters but the only one we could lay our hands on straight away was of this bird from pre-digital times, 21st October 1997; having moulted far less of its juvenile plumage, this individual's altogether plainer with only the lightest smattering of more richly-coloured, chestnut and black adult-like wing coverts © Martin Cade: