29th November

Quiet conditions prompted a fair bit of fieldwork today but the rewards were largely of a distinctly mid-winterish quality, with a Redpoll at the Bill, 2 Blackcaps at Sweethill and a Slavonian Grebe in Portland Harbour the only arrivals of particular note. Routine fare included 14 Red-throated and 2 Great Northern Divers through off the Bill, c20 Common Scoter settled offshore and 2 Water Rails and a Chiffchaff on the land there; elsewhere, a Chiffchaff was again at Sweethill, 4 Black Redstarts and a Chiffchaff were at Church Ope Cove with another Black Redstart at Blacknor, 5 Greenfinches, 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and singles of Great Northern Diver, Goosander and Redshank were at/over Ferrybridge and 3 Great Northern Divers, 2 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Common Scoter and a Black-throated Diver were in Portland Harbour.

The Great Northern Diver right overhead at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders:

And now back to an episode of crass ineptitude on our part that that we haven't found time to detail until now. For this event we go back to 22nd October that had been a decent day with, amongst other things, a Little Bunting trapped in the Crown Estate Field, whilst the good scatter of other seasonable migrants had included a couple of Yellowhammers - noteworthy scarcities here these days. Their presence clearly clouded our faculties to the extent that when an apparently quite bright yellow female/immature bunting also turned up in a net we didn't hesitate in taking it to be a Yellowhammer - it was exhibited as such and duly given to someone who hadn't ringed a Yellowhammer to get on with:

We featured the bird on the blog that evening and it was Mike Morse who first contacted us the next day with a 'why isn't that a Cirl Bunting?' message. If truth be known we probably thought something along the lines 'what a load of rubbish' but Mike's a sensible fellow who sees and clearly pays attention to non-male Cirl Buntings relatively often so his remarks needed following up. Apart from plumage differences Cirl Bunting has a definitively different wing-formula to Yellowhammer (Cirl has an emarginated 6th primary but Yellowhammer doesn't) so it was the easiest job to check our additional photos and see that it was indeed a perfectly obvious Cirl Bunting:

The morals of this story: don't take our word for anything and always take a good selection of photographs of oddities © Martin Cade: