11th October

Some nice very seasonably variety on offer today under more clear, blue skies and pleasant warmth. Given the circumstances, grounded offerings were always likely to be wanting, numbers-wise, and so it came to pass, with Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs reduced to just ones and twos in many patches of cover; however, interest came in the form of a Richard's Pipit, 3 Dartford Warblers, 2 Black Redstarts, a Cetti's Warbler and a Firecrest at the Bill and 2 Black Redstarts and a Yellow-browed Warbler at Southwell. Once again, it was considerably busier overhead where some of the higher totals from sampling at the Bill included 600 Meadow Pipits, 460 Linnets, 250 Swallows, 155 alba wagtails, 135 Goldfinches, 36 Chaffinches, 35 Jackdaws, 24 Skylarks and 10 Siskins; interest amongst the lower totals included 2 Golden Plovers and singles of Hen Harrier, Merlin, Hobby, Brambling and Redpoll. The sea remained rather quiet, with 400 Mediterranean Gulls, 11 Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Pintail and 2 Dark-bellied Brent Geese the best off the Bill.

We were beginning to feel rather left out with Yellow-browed Warblers but, in truth, it's still a tad earlier than average for our peak numbers so today's first arrival at Southwell may well prove to be the first of quite a few © Roger Hewitt:

Same old story: both Hen Harrier today and Montagu's Harrier earlier this autumn affording nice confirmatory photo opportunities but the one we really wanted - Pallid Harrier - quite likely snuck by last weekend and escaped the attention of both binoculars and cameras © Joe Stockwell:

Cetti's Warbler's on consecutive days (together with another last month) from the nets at Culverwell suggests that there's a fair bit of dispersal going on with them - did they have a better than average breeding season this year? © Mark Cutts:

Dartford Warblers are distinctly seasonable fare and, duly, there's been quite a little influx of them yesterday and today © Martin Cade:

Black Redstart's another very typical mid-October migrant. The first of the season at the Bill was this bird handled on Sunday - its capture was somewhat unconventional since it came indoors and had to be caught with a hand-net before it came to grief by crashing into a window or some other unfortunate fate. Like the vast majority it was a grey, unsexable youngster - not that that was immediately apparent since we'd first noticed the seemingly very broad tail feathers and wondered if it was going to be an adult...

...however, the pattern of the greater coverts told a different story (ageing-wise, what's visible there pretty well always trumps what's going on with the tail) as the inner two feathers had a (subtle but surprisingly noticeably even if that might not be apparent in our inadequate photo) blue-grey tinge - these are adult-pattern feathers acquired in the post-juvenile moult and the contrast between them and the duller, retained juvenile outer feathers allowed us to confidently age the bird as one of this year's youngsters. We don't handle nearly enough Black Restarts to be fully au fait with their moult but it seems from the literature that pretty well all youngsters also moult all of the smaller covert feathers on the leading edge of the wing - the lesser and median coverts - and on our bird that certainly seems to be the case as they're distinctly bluer-tinged and darker-centred than the surrounding feathers © Martin Cade: