21st August

At least until well into the afternoon a more heavily overcast day than expected - conditions that might have been expected to produce a good drop of migrants; sadly, today wasn't that sort of day although its blushes were more than spared by the year's first Melodious Warbler turning up in a mist-net at the Obs, the highest count to date of Balearic Shearwaters over the sea and a Honey Buzzard through overhead at the Bill. Migrant numbers left a lot to be desired, with still no more than a thin spread of Wheatears, Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats and Willow Warblers at the Bill, amongst which the likes of 15 mainly overflying Tree Pipits, 4 Grey Herons, 3 Yellow Wagtails, a Greenshank, a Blackcap and a Spotted Flycatcher were hardly the sort of variety to excite. Offshore, the surge of 61 Balearic Shearwaters was a highpoint and very welcome after their woeful showing so far this summer/autumn; Arctic Skuas continued their strong showing with 8 more through and Lesser Black-backed Gulls continued to trickle away to the south but sea movement was otherwise rather limited. Twelve Whimbrel were the pick of the day's waders at Ferrybridge.

Autumn Melodious Warblers - particularly youngsters that are the almost exclusive rule at this time of year - are often rather subdued in saturation but today's bird was having none of that and was heading towards as bright as a spring adult...

...although causing many a quandary in the field, the in-hand separation from Icterine Warbler is a lot more straightforward: wing length alone separates all but the tiniest proportion (today's bird with a wing length of 64mm was way, way short of anything possible for an Icterine Warbler) but there are always simple visible features that can be checked at a glance like the number of primary emarginations (three on this Melodious but only two on an Icterine) © Martin Cade: