31st July

The end of July played out in a rather similar fashion to the rest of the month with strong Westerly winds and frequent showers. Apart from a couple of Wheatears new in at the Bill, interest was again focused out at sea, with 1 European Storm Petrel, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Balearic Shearwater and a couple of Manx Shearwater passing by. Variety at Ferrybridge continued, with 3 Common Sandpipers, 2 Knot, 13 Turnstone, 40 Dunlin, 10 Sanderling, 13 Ringed Plover, 3 Sandwich Terns and singles of Whimbrel and Common Tern. 

Following on from the record catch of Sand Martins in the last fortnight, we have heard back regarding one of the control birds: ringed as a youngster in Perth and Kinross on the 18th July, it took only 7 days to travel 654km on its Southward migration over the Bill! © Martin Cade

30th July

Apologies for the lack of blog post yesterday, but it's never a good sign when the entirety of the weekends sightings can fit onto a single page of the clipboard! Today's ever increasing South-Westerly meant the focus was almost entirely out to sea, with a total of 3 European Storm Petrels, 1 Sooty Shearwater, 1 Balearic Shearwater, 13 Manx Shearwater and 13 Common Scoter seen off the Bill. Elsewhere, a total of 54 Dunlin, 10 Curlew, 12 Sanderling, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, and 6 Turnstones were seen at Ferrybridge. 

Today's Black-tailed Godwit from Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders  

28th July

Improved conditions saw a little spread of new arrivals drop in at the Bill, including about a dozen each of Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler, a few Whitethroats and a couple of Wheatears; Swifts and Sand Martins also aggregated overhead from time to time but few seemed inclined to leave out to sea. The wader situation was rather static, with 52 Dunlin, 8 Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper the best of it at Ferrybridge. The less said about the sea the better, with no more than 7 Common Scoter, 2 Yellow-legged Gulls and a lone Manx Shearwater off the Bill. These are lean times!

27th July

With long portions of the day blighted by limited visibility and a stiff westerly enthusiasm took a hit and sightings weren't up to much today. Two each of Manx and Balearic Shearwater, and a lone Arctic Skua passed through off the Bill, 2 Yellow-legged Gulls and singles of Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, Wheatear and Willow Warbler were about on the land there and 53 Dunlin, 18 Ringed Plover, 17 Sanderling, 15 Turnstone, 4 Whimbrel, 2 Curlews and a Redshank were at Ferrybridge.

The dreary conditions ensured there was plenty of action at Ferrybridge including these two Whimbrel...

...and a lot of Little Tern activity that had all the look of them being not far off leaving © Pete Saunders:

26th July

A day of huge contrasts: a clear, quiet morning gave way to a far cloudier and increasing breezy afternoon before heavy rain swept in to comprehensively wash out the evening. The hours of darkness had been too clear to have expected much of an arrival of grounded migrants and no more than a light spread of Sedge and Willow Warblers was evident at the Bill; waders remained better represented, with 38 Dunlin, 29 Ringed Plovers, 19 Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel and a Redshank at Ferrybridge and 7 Sanderling, 4 Whimbrel and a Wood Sandpiper either overhead or settled at the Bill. It was busier overhead with some good gatherings of Swifts and Sand Martins showing up as the morning went on; 3 Little Egrets also arrived from the south at the Bill and 2 Yellow Wagtails were amongst the other miscellany overhead there. Common Scoters - 43 in total - made up nearly all the numbers passing through off the Bill where at least 7 Yellow-legged Gulls were also still offshore.

Aerial diurnal migrants are making up the bulk of the numbers right now, with Swifts, Sand Martins and Swallows either lingering overhead or departing out to sea in some quantity on all the suitable days during the last week:

Today's Little Egrets were moving in the opposite direction; they were first spotted as tiny specks several miles out to sea having presumably left France soon after dawn and it took a long time before they got close enough for their identity to be confirmed - they made a beeline for the Obs and eventually passed directly overhead © Martin Cade

The second Wood Sandpiper in two days was another bird that flew right over the Obs although we were dopey enough not to have had a camera at hand at that moment:

25th July

Albeit punctuated by days of inappropriate weather, autumn's got going quite nicely in the last week with today's light northerly breeze and generally fair conditions returning the best variety and numbers so far. Waders staged a good showing, with nine species including a Wood Sandpiper logged by the nocmig recorder as they passed over the Obs during the hours of darkness, whilst the daytime totals at Ferrybridge were much improved and included 71 Dunlin, 30 Sanderling, 22 Ringed Plovers, 10 Redshank, 4 Knot and 2 Whimbrel; another lone Whimbrel also passed by off the Bill. Diurnal overhead passage also picked up, with 150 Sand Martins, 100 Swallows and 43 Swifts leaving to the south from the Bill and fair quantities of each also lingering over the fields there. Grounded passerine arrivals weren't numerous but did include 15 each of Sedge and Willow Warbler at the Bill where a lone Garden Warbler was the first of the season; Whitethroats were also numerous and looked for the first time as though they included some non-locals in their midst; scarcity-wise, the Serin reappeared and was seen at both the Bill and Avalanche Road. The offshore breeze wasn't helpful for the sea, with 30 Manx Shearwaters, 17 Common Scoter, 7 Yellow-legged Gulls and 2 Balearic Shearwaters the pick of the rewards at the Bill.

There were lots of comings and goings at Ferrybridge this morning © Debby Saunders (top two) and Pete Saunders (lower two):

The Wood Sandpiper would have been a nice 'in daylight' bird but, even unseen and unheard as it headed over in darkness well after midnight, it left a digital signature to let us know it had paid a fleeting visit:

24th July

A frustrating day with nearly as many rain delays as clearer slots and concerted migrant-hunting more or less scuppered. There were suggestions of there being a bit around, with brief netting attempts revealing a few Sedge Warblers and a Grasshopper Warbler at the Bill, whilst the Ferrybridge wader tally increased as the day went on and eventually reached 56 Dunlin, 25 Sanderling, 15 Ringed Plovers and a Knot. Poor visibility frequently got in the way of meaningful seawatching, but 5 Yellow-legged Gulls, 4 Arctic Skuas, 2 Manx Shearwaters and a single Balearic Shearwater were logged at the Bill.

23rd July

Brighter and entirely dry today but always too breezy to make the most of what might have dropped in on the land. The day's oddest arrivals were single Black Redstarts at Blacknor and the Grove, a more routine selection of waders included 27 Dunlin, 15 Sanderling and a Redshank at Ferrybridge, whilst the only rewards from the sea were a handful of Yellow-legged Gulls and a single Arctic Skua through off the Bill.

22nd July

A few hours birding was possible today before the heavens opening and the best part of a gale sweeping in wrote off the afternoon and evening. The sea was well watched for precious little reward, with just 28 Manx Shearwaters, 17 Common Scoter, 4 Yellow-legged Gulls, 3 Arctic Skuas, a Whimbrel and a Puffin through off the Bill. Ferrybridge continued to tick over, with 300 Mediterranean Gulls, 25 Dunlin, 12 Sanderling, a Redshank and a Common Sandpiper the pick of the morning selection. Elsewhere on the land a Grey Heron dropped in at Sweethill.

So comprehensive was the downturn in the weather that whatever might have dropped in later in the day at Ferrybridge escaped attention; earlier, the wader selection had been routine, with Sanderlings, Dunlins and a Common Sandpiper as good as it got © Pete Saunders:

The rain and wind did dump this young Grey Heron into a garden at Sweethill © Pete Saunders:

And back to yesterday for news from Bryan Edwards of a new bee for the island. While checking the Golden Samphire on East Cliffs Bryan found plenty of Green-eyed Flower Bees Anthophora bimaculata; Brian further tells us: 'can't believe it was overlooked in the past as it is easily identified and makes a very distinctive high-pitched whine when darting between flowers. It was frequent on east cliffs from near the obelisk along to the huts, foraging from the samphire and seen entering holes in bare ground on the cliff top. It is generally a species of sandy soils and is frequent on Dorset heaths, and more local on the coast, the nearest sites being Durdle Door to the east and Cogden to the west' © Bryan Edwards:

21st July

Plenty more of the same on a very birdably pleasant sort of day. A Serin at the Bill was the day's highlight, with commoner migrant totals there that included c250 Sand Martins, 64 Swallows, 58 Swifts, 4 House Martins and singles of Grey Heron and Yellow Wagtail leaving to the south, 3 Dunlin, 3 Redshanks and singles of Whimbrel and Turnstone randomly overhead or through over the sea, and 3 Willow Warblers and a Sedge Warbler grounded. The wader tally elsewhere was also varied and included 56 Dunlin, 12 Sanderling, 6 Redshanks and a Whimbrel at Ferrybridge. The sea was also still worth attention, with 22 Common Scoters, 19 Mediterranean Gulls, 7 Yellow-legged Gulls, 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Manx Shearwaters and an Arctic Skua through off the Bill.

The Serin was bombing about overhead all morning but wasn't ever seen to settle © Martin Cade...

...and a little recording of it making one of its many overflies of the Obs when the parabolic picked it up a good deal quicker than the human ear:

The moth-traps have been ticking over all week with oddities up to the level of the likes of Dark Crimson Underwing and Striped Hawkmoth but for us the week's highlight came last night in the form of a Dark Umber - the first record from the Obs traps and only the second record for the island as a whole following one trapped by Julian Clarke somewhere up towards the Grove on 4th July 1984. The larval foodplants of Dark Umber are Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn, both of which are apparently absent from Portland so although the moth's relatively widespread albeit not at all common in the rest of Dorset it's unlikely to ever be more than a very occasional stray to the island © Martin Cade:

20th July

The clear night sky did us no favours when it came to dropping nocturnal migrants but the diurnal movers were loving the sunshine, with Sand Martins in particular putting on a great show and wader variety noticeably picking up. Sand Martins were both moving and lingering, with c200 leaving out to sea from the Bill where upwards of 500 were in a swirling mass over the fields at times; 100 Swallows and 50 Swifts also passed through overhead. It was considerably quieter on the ground, with 3 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Sedge Warblers and singles of Little Egret and Wheatear the best on offer at the Bill, where the sea was also relatively slow: at least 8 Yellow-legged Gulls were still offshore but a single Great Crested Grebe was the pick of miscellany passing by. Waders were well represented, with 14 Sanderling, 3 Little Ringed Plovers and 2 Black-tailed Godwits amongst the selection at Ferrybridge; a Green Sandpiper passed over at Sweethill and 7 Dunlin, 2 Sanderlings and singles of Ringed Plover and Redshank passed over at the Bill.

With the Sand Martins behaving like this it was no surprise that a ringing record was broken at the Bill: the previous highest year total of Sand Martins ringed at the Bill was 83, but this afternoon we ringed 107 and controlled another already-ringed bird (...details on that when we receive them) © Martin Cade:

These two Black-tailed Godwits were the pick of the morning waders at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders...

...while these three Little Ringed Plovers had dropped in by the evening.

We always enjoy being at Ferrybridge when the incoming tide coincides with the end of the day as there's often an exodus of waders that have fed up well during the daylight hours; as the last of the mud gets covered small groups of birds often tower up - usually calling constantly - and head away to the south to begin the next overnight leg of their south-bound migration...

...this evening a few little groups of Dunlin trickled away...

...and eventually the Little Ringed Plovers lost the last of the mud and followed suit © Martin Cade:

19th July

More of the same today, with fair weather bringing forth a good bit of migrant activity on the ground, overhead and on the sea. Grounded arrivals at the Bill included 2 Sedge Warblers, a Common Sandpiper and a Yellow Wagtail but passage there was much more conspicuous overhead, where c200 Sand Martins, c 100 Swallows, 22 Swifts and a Siskin passed through. The sea was also busy, with 97 Mediterranean Gulls, 67 Common Scoter, 26 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 21 Yellow-legged Gulls, 4 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Whimbrel and singles of Great Northern Diver, Storm Petrel and Puffin passed by, with a few more Yellow-legged Gulls and 2 Arctic Skuas lingering offshore. Ferrybridge totals included 47 Dunlin, a Sanderling and a Whimbrel.

As we'd hoped it would, a juvenile Cirl Bunting eventually turned up in a mist-net - whether it's the only one about remains to be seen but, thus far, only single juveniles have been seen since the first sighting the weekend before last. We have been asked about the visibility of these birds but can't really give any indication that they're anything other than extremely elusive: this was actually the first time we'd seen a/the juvenile, there's been no conclusive sighting of a female for ages and on the odd occasions that the male pops up it can be pretty well anywhere around the south of the Bill - yesterday it made visits to Culverwell, the Obs and the QinetiQ compound, singing briefly at each but not lingering at any of them © Martin Cade

18th July

In its own low-key, mid-July sort of way today was an oddly ripping little day, with it feeling for the first time this month that autumn passage was really getting going. With interest on the ground, overhead and over the sea a bit more coverage would have been helpful and would likely have turned up a little more variety on the ground; as it was, Green Sandpiper and Willow Warbler at the Bill and Great Spotted Woodpecker at Sweethill were firsts for the season and totals of at least 70 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 37 Yellow-legged Gulls at the Bill - the latter the highest count so far from their recent influx - were of note. Migrant-wise, a small passage of hirundines - including 100 Sand Martins through at the Bill - and an increase in Dunlin to 54 at Ferrybridge accounted for the bulk of the rest of the numbers, with 2 Whimbrel and singles of Sanderling and Redshank adding some variety at Ferrybridge. Mediterranean Gulls put in a strong showing offshore, with 120 through off the Bill where 53 Common Scoter, 19 Manx Shearwaters, 10 commic terns, 2 Balearic Shearwaters and a Ringed Plover also passed by.

Time-wise, today was spot on for our first Green Sandpiper of the season:

Some nice pulses of Sand Martins were on the move...

...they've obviously been breeding well somewhere or another - all 26 that we netted in an impromptu attempt to catch a few that were lingering over the Crown Estate Field proved to be sparklingly fresh youngsters:

In marked contrast to the super smart Sand Martins, the season's first Willow Warbler was a right shoddy-looking adult in active moult...

...it'd be interesting to know from how far away this one had dispersed from - we're imagining that not too many breed in Dorset these days:

This Striped Hawkmoth - only the second trapped on the island this year - was a nice surprise in the Obs moth-traps; it'd been through the wringer as well, with lots of rubbing and damage to its right wings © Martin Cade:

17th July

A much improved list from today's efforts despite the stiff westerly breeze being very reluctant to die down. The return of an offshore gull flock lured back a considerable number of Yellow-legged Gulls, with at least 25 logged during the course of the morning seawatch and later up to 18 loafing birds settled in the fields; 30 each of Mediterranean Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull were also lingering, with another 22 Lesser Black-backs also departing to the south; an unseasonable Great Northern Diver was a surprise among the morning's passage offshore that also included 24 Common Scoter, 11 Manx Shearwaters, 3 Arctic Skuas and 2 Whimbrel. A Reed Warbler was new at the Bill, with 32 Sand Martins, 16 Swallows and 2 Little Egrets on the move overhead and the odd dispersing Blackcap and Chiffchaff also getting on the tally. Ferrybridge also attracted one or two newcomers, most notable of which was a lone Black-tailed Godwit; 54 Mediterranean Gulls, 10 Sandwich Terns, 3 Dunlin, 2 each of Shelduck, Curlew and Redshank, and the lingering Knot were also there.

After all the tern horror stories from elsewhere it's pleasing to see that at least some young like this Sandwich Tern at Ferrybridge have survived to fledge successfully © Pete Saunders:

16th July

All very quiet still in the continuing blustery westerlies. The return of a gull flock off East Cliffs saw the reappearance of a few Yellow-legged Gull - at least 5 at times - and an Arctic Skua was in attendance; 4 Common Scoter and a lone Manx Shearwater represented the poorest of returns when it came to passage offshore. Incremental improvements in the wader situation saw today's Ferrybridge tally consist of 53 Dunlin, 4 Sanderling, a Knot and a Whimbrel.

Today's Knot at Ferrybridge © Steve Mansfield:

15th July

The wind freshened still further today and was gusting well into gale force by the afternoon although for the most part the rain held off. For no good reason other than most other birding was out of the question the sea was well covered but the results were pitiful, with just 18 Manx Shearwaters, 18 Common Scoter and a lone Balearic Shearwater through off the Bill and nothing of any note at all at Chesil Cove; the gale seemed to have dispersed many of the gulls that had been offshore and only odd singles of Yellow-legged Gull - perhaps involving no more than a couple of individuals - appeared from time to time at the Bill. The Ferrybridge wader tally increased to 45 Dunlin, 5 Sanderling and a Common Sandpiper.

14th July

This time last year we were probably moaning about the effects of the summer-long drought on our stewardship crops, but today they were in danger of being washed out of the ground, blown over or suffering salt-burn such was the ferocity of the gale and rain that arrived courtesy of an unseasonable depression sweeping through. For the most part sea-watching was utterly unrewarding, with just 22 Manx Shearwaters, 17 Common Scoter and a Balearic Shearwater through off the Bill, although the continuing Yellow-legged Gulls did provide constant entertainment there - numbers were again hard to assess, but examples of up to 12 settled together at times in the fields and 15 through west off the Bill in an hour during the evening suggested that 30 was likely to have been an underestimate. Overhead at the Bill, many dozens of Swifts were apparent at times during the spells of lighter rain but there was no clear evidence that they were moving rather than just circulating while being undecided about quite to escape the grim conditions. Elsewhere, 24 Dunlin, 2 Redshank, 2 Sandwich Terns and a Common Sandpiper were at Ferrybridge.

At the Bill it was another day of Yellow-legged Gulls © Martin Cade:

At Ferrybridge the Little Terns have been fortunate to escape the contagion that's swept through the other Dorset tern colonies and are now fledging in good numbers...

...whilst wader numbers finally picked up a little and included this Common Sandpiper...

...and these two Redshanks (that provide a nice comparison of juvenile vs adult at this time of year after we happened to write about this the other day) © Pete Saunders:

And now onto some pretty exciting news from the island, this being that Cirl Bunting has bred successfully at the Bill - seemingly the first successful breeding in Dorset since 1971 and the first ever breeding record at Portland. In view of events earlier in the year when it was common knowledge that at least two males and a female were present, this probably won't come as a great surprise but actually working out what's been going on and eventually proving a successful outcome has been far from straightforward © Martin Cade:

The timeline of events goes like this: 

7th April a singing male arrives at the Bill and appears to take up territory, ranging widely for the next few days; 

15th April a second singing male arrives but appears not to remain; 

25th April the first male and a female trapped and ringed at the Obs and continue to be seen together during subsequent days with the male singing frequently; 

10th May a second female trapped and ringed at Culverwell, with sporadic sightings of a pair for the rest of the month but very little song heard and the birds generally very furtive; 

5th June the male starts singing more or less continually, mainly at the Obs garden, and continues to do this for several days but thereafter goes quiet and no further sightings of either it or a female; 

27th June the male and second female retrapped and found to be in breeding condition (the male with a strong cloacal protuberance and the female with a conspicuous brood patch); 

9th July the male seen feeding a recently fledged juvenile © James Phillips:

Our interpretation of events, which may be entirely wide of the mark, is that an initial breeding attempt involving the long-staying male and first female failed on or about 4th June and the male then struck up with the second female which was still about but hadn't been noticed. Out of interest, with the exception of periods when the male has been singing, it's been remarkable how unobtrusive these birds have been: although we've tended to give the 'action' a wide berth and most our meaningful encounters from the point of view of understanding the situation have been via the serendipitous handling of the birds during the course of our normal ringing operations, we've never really had a clear idea of where the nest site(s) have been and the many visiting birders to the Bill have had almost no random encounters with the birds since late April - there must be a good chance that breeding attempts in less well-watched parts of the Dorset coast could easily escape attention if a singing male hadn't been noticed early in the attempt.

On an altogether more esoteric note, before this event unfolded we didn't know Cirl Bunting at all well and were surprised when listening to the male how readily it switched between two obviously different versions of the rattling song - if you've watched the video above you'll have heard it do just this but here it is again with two 'ordinary' rattles followed by two slightly slower and lower-pitched rattles. On looking this up in BWP it turns out to be perfectly well documented, albeit without any explanation as to why this 'song-switching' might occur:

 When the Cirl Buntings first turned up we also found ourselves struggling to remember how you told their song from that of Lesser Whitethroat, which in turn reminded us of being in Russia years ago listening to and sound recording Arctic Warblers and thinking how similar they sounded to both these more routine singers. The differences are relatively subtle and relate to the speed of the rattle and its pitch, with both Lesser Whitethroat and Arctic Warbler also throwing in further helpful clues - the former usually precedes the rattle with a bit of a rambling warble, whereas the latter usually chucks in one or more of its characteristic 'zik' call-notes before each rattle. Here are two rattles each of Cirl Bunting, Lesser Whitethroat and Arctic Warbler, together with a sonogram comparison of the individual rattles:

13th July

Nagging blustery westerlies persisted and ensured it was the sea that got most of the day's attention. Yellow-legged Gulls again provided much of the interest, with the day's peak count of 29 at the Bill during the evening constituting an island record total but also believed to underestimate the numbers present not only at that moment but also over the day as a whole; at least 45 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 40 Mediterranean Gulls also lingered offshore, whilst 8 Common Scoter, 4 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Arctic Skuas passed by on the sea. Another steady trickle of Sand Martins saw 50 logged leaving from the Bill, along with 2 Swifts and a House Martin. Five Common Sandpipers were also at the Bill, with another 2 at Ferrybridge along with 8 Dunlin and a Redshank.

Wader interest today included the Common Sandpipers at the Bill...

...whilst the Ferrybridge Oystercatchers continue to be ultra-attentive to their youngsters © Pete Saunders:

The Yellow-legged Gull influx over the last few days has been really impressive although tricky to accurately quantify - the main issues being the constant movement within the melee of gulls feeding offshore, along with the constant movement of birds to and from the flock. Here's a little bit of video of the scene below Culverwell late this evening when there was a loafing group of gulls in the horse fields taking a break from feeding and at the same time a much larger melee a few hundred metres off East Cliffs - we can see eight birds amongst the settled flock, whilst in the background there are a whole lot more amongst the feeding flock. The most we managed in a single scan just after we shot this video was 29 but this was very much a bare minimum and it wouldn't surprise us if the true total wasn't quite a bit higher © Martin Cade:

12th July

Another not especially summery day, with a brisk westerly blowing throughout. The Yellow-legged Gull influx - one of the best ever this early in the season - continued, with comings and goings off the Bill all day and a minimum of 18 at one time there during the evening; at least 41 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 20 Mediterranean Gulls were also present there, whilst 118 Manx Shearwaters, a Balearic Shearwater and singles of Dunlin and Whimbrel passed through on the sea. Fifty Sand Martins, 6 Swallows and a House Martin headed south overhead but it was less rewarding on the ground where little more was uncovered than the lingering Blackcap at the Bill.

So great is the attraction of good feeding off East Cliffs that very few of the gulls at the Bill are actually settling ashore; however, just for a while this afternoon a small flock gathered below Culverwell allowing for a nice look at the variation in the Yellow-legged Gulls © Martin Cade:

In the absence of much else to report from today we'll skip back to May having recently received word from Martin Collinson of his University of Aberdeen team's results from feather samples of our two subalpine warblers. The genetics provided a further level of confirmation for the Moltoni's Warbler on 12th May: the recordings and in-field/in-hand evidence had already established it was a Moltoni's and the lab work showed that it was indeed an entirely typical one:

Our second bird on 20th May was less well documented in as much as it this was an in-hand only event so the bird wasn't heard to call; however, the in-hand details all suggested it was a Western Subalpine and this was fully confirmed in the lab, with it fitting squarely amongst other samples of Western Subalpine (many thanks to Martin for providing the phylogenetic tree below) photos © Martin Cade:

11th July

Blustery again today with the sea getting most of the attention. The Herring Gull and Gannet flock off the Bill lingered all day and proved constantly attractive to a succession of other gulls that included c30 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, c20 Mediterranean Gulls and c15 Yellow-legged Gulls; 2 Arctic Skuas were in constant attention, whilst a good many of the 60 passing Manx Shearwaters also joined the melee for short periods. Six Common Scoter, 5 Sandwich Terns, 3 Balearic Shearwaters and a Whimbrel were also logged there.

This season's incursion of Yellow-legged Gulls got going yesterday and there were even more about today, with ten or more at a time lingering amongst the gull flock off the Bill:

Lesser Black-backs have also suddenly increased, although these are going the opposite way to the arriving Yellow-legged Gulls: we watched quite a few both last evening and again this morning that left to the south until they disappeared from view - next stop Cherbourg harbour?

Also of interest at the Bill tip, the gulls were often frenzied in their quest for whatever it is that's attracting them; bigger fish - are these Bass? - were also attracted and at times the water looked to be boiling and they all broke the surface:

The sea's gone a lot quieter now that pretty well all the local auks have departed - today's trickle of passing birds had all the look of outsiders that were speeding through en route to their offshore moulting grounds:

Shearwaters didn't feature in any numbers today - as they haven't for most of this summer; a trickle of Manx were heading west...

...and the day's only Balearics didn't look as though they were hanging around either:

Finally, these two Arctic Skuas lingered for several hours, beating up the gulls from time to time © Martin Cade: