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15th September

Portland Bird Observatory - Sat, 09/15/2018 - 21:24
Bright and clear conditions early on harboured some good visible passage at the bill but this failed to turn into a mass movement, with just dribs and drabs moving by late morning. Passing birds were dominated by pipits and wagtails with 582 Meadow Pipits, a single Tree Pipit, 9 alba Wagtails, 1 confirmed White Wagtail, 13 Grey Wagtails and 16 Yellow Wagtails. Passing hirundines comprised 3 House Martins and 65 Swallows. In keeping with the recent theme a lone Golden Plover flew through calling in the morning. Birds at sea included 16 Balearic Shearwaters, a Sandwich Tern, a Mediterranean Gull, a Yellow-legged Gull and 11 Common Scoters. Odd grounded birds included 20 Wheatears dotted about, 4 Whinchats entertaining the strips and top fields as well as singles of Sedge Warbler and Redstart.

Despite good visible passage, birds in the nets were few and far between but the highlight was this fine example of Motacilla alba alba (White Wagtail) caught late morning ©Gavin Woodbridge:

Quiet net rounds may not be conducive to increasing our meagre ringing totals but they at least lead to some interesting discoveries and this female Vapourer moth that emerged early in the morning was soon joined by a frisky male ©Erin Taylor

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Sightings - Saturday 15th September 2018.

Dorset Bird Club - Sat, 09/15/2018 - 19:57
Balearic Shearwater - 2 past Portland Bill
Cattle Egret  - 2 By old railway line at Portesham, 2 NW over Abbotsbury SwanneryWood Sandpiper - 1 Christchurch Harbour 
Spotted Redshank - 1 Christchurch Harbour
Balearic Shearwater - 2 past Portland Bill

Dunlin Stanpit Marsh - © Clinton Whale

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15 Sep 18

Martin Adlam - Sat, 09/15/2018 - 19:06
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

Another lovely evening and great to see a few Ivy Bees (Colletes hederae) on the Ivy in Penns Weare Here. Also on the same Ivy 20+ Common Wasps and a couple of Dead Head Flies (Myathropa florea).

Also seen, a couple of Bloody-nosed Beetles, a Common Blue butterfly along the Mermaid track and a Common Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus). At the top of Penn's Wood an adult Harlequin Ladybird, 2 Larvae and a pupae.

Here are a few images from this evening.

A Common Blue butterfly. The only butterfly seen this evening.
An Ivy Bee.
A small bee which only appears between September and November.
Almost wasp-like in appearance but.........
......compared to this Common Wasp the difference between them is quite obvious.
A Dead Head Fly (Myathropa florea).
One of two Bloody-nosed Beetles found this evening, both on Penns Weare.
A Common Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus). A lot heard but this was the only one seen.
A Common Carder bee on a buddleia in the grounds of St Andrew's Church
An adult Harlequin Ladybird......
...........and a larvae........
......and another.
This though is the pupae.
Plants today this is Blackthorn. also known as Sloe
Ash Tree
And here are the seeds known as Ash keys

Overhead this afternoon a small flock of House Martins heading south. Also about a Chiffchaff calling from the end of the back garden.

Ships Today
The large ship is the American Container Ship the Maersk Kentucky on its way from Norfolk, USA to Antwerp Belgium. More on this Cargo Vessel Here. Unfortunately I didn't get to find out the smaller vessel heading towards it.

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Sightings - Friday 14th September 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Sat, 09/15/2018 - 10:28
Common Scoter - 11 Portland Bill
Cattle Egret - 5 Abbotsbury Swannery, 4 Radipole Lake RSPBCurlew Sandpiper 2 Juvs - Standpit Marsh
Wood Sandpiper - 1 Parky Meade Rail, Christchurch
Grey Phalarope - 1 Portland
Arctic Skua - 2 Portland Bill

Kestrel - Stanpit Marsh © Clinton Whale
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14th September

Portland Bird Observatory - Fri, 09/14/2018 - 23:01
Continuing the rollercoaster of birding that we've been experiencing, today was another below par day. Meadow Pipit numbers were reduced to just 37, Yellow Wagtails to just 11 and Grey Wagtails to just 16. A mid morning highlight brought some unexpected class with the first Grey Phalarope of the autumn. 2 Arctic Skuas and 11 Common Scoter were the only additional sea farers. Singles of Tree Pipit, Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, and Goldcrest were accompanied by 2 Reed Buntings, 14 Blackcaps and 16 Wheatears
Elsewhere on the island, a Green Woodpecker at Suckthumb quarry was our third woodpecker species for the month. Ferrybridge produced 6 Sanderling and 11 Knot
Moth interest has been pretty minimal in recent nights, with immigrant activity restricted to the odd Convolvulus Hawkmoth, Delicate and Scarce Bordered Straw amongst single figure totals of more routine fare. We're still a wee bit hesitant about claiming 100% certain Jersey Mochas but this very peppered mocha trapped last night at the Obs looks to be as good as it could be for one without it being dissected:

Jersey Mocha is still infrequent enough here that we doubt that it's yet become established. Rather rarer in island terms was this Barred Hook-tip - in fact just one quarter of a Barred Hook-tip because that's all there was in the bottom of the trap after the rest of it had presumably been snaffled by a bird that beat us to the trap at dawn! Since they're a Beech feeder it's unlikely this species would ever get established here and our few records presumably relate to strays from the mainland or the Continent © Martin Cade:
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Recent Nocturnal Sound Recording

Two Owls Birding - Fri, 09/14/2018 - 20:37
It has been a while since I have posted any nocturnal sounds recorded from Lytchett Bay.  So I've put together a few of the better recording of recent calls from Curlew flying over my listening station into or from the bay.

The first two are just single calls these were most probably birds moving into the bay to feed at low tide.

The next two are both a series of calls the first is probably two different birds calling one flying slight further away and one a little closer to the microphone (second and third call).

This is what I call the 'Worry Call' this from a bird moving across over the bay.

My last sound for this blog was recorded a week ago and is a sign that the Sika Deer have started the annual rut. This was a stags screaming bellow presuming warning off lesser stags this was his patch. He wasn't to far from the microphone probably just a little way into the wood.

Now I have some new software for processing the recordings I'l try to do more regular blogs to include more of the sounds of Lytchett bays wildlife.

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Boating Around Poole Harbour

Two Owls Birding - Fri, 09/14/2018 - 20:37
On Friday 7th Jackie and I were invited out with the Birds of Poole Harbour on the Volunteers Osprey Boat.   Starting at Poole Quay at 8a.m. we set off to sail up the Wareham Channel with Mark and Paul giving us a commentary and updating us on the Osprey translocation project. As we passed the Barfluer dock we had a flyby Mediterranean Gull and then a Sandwich Tern or two.  We passed Rockley and I picked up a flight of thirty one Avocet flying towards the harbour they looked stunning with the blue sky as they flashed black and white as they jostled for position in the air.  When we were adjacent to Holton Lee Paul called Osprey but to be honest it was so far away it was hard to see it flying to our north. 
Avocet over the Wareham Channel © Nick HullWe continued on searching the skies and the water I managed to point out a Woodlark that flew along the Arne northern shore and disappeared into a pine tree out of sight. We then came across a large flock of Cormorant communally feeding Mark explained that this type of feeding was very typical of the sinensis subspecies which we find in the harbour every year and were probably Dutch breeding birds.  
Cormorant (possibly C. sinensis) - Wareham Channel © Nick HullAs we reached the mouth of the Frome and the Piddle, the two main rivers that feed the harbour, we had several Sandwich Tern and to the left of the boat a Common Seal surfaced as the boat turned we saw another in the mouth of the Piddle.
Harbour or Common Seal - Wareham Channel © Nick HullWe returned down the channel and then sailed across to the Wytch Channel past Shipstal to as far as Round Island, where we could observe the release pens off in the distance but no Osprey were on show.  In fact it appeared that most had already left toward the south and Africa.  As we headed back to across the harbour we had a distant view of thirteen Spoonbill on Shipstal Point.

As we crossed the Balls Lake shellfish beds I looked back toward Corfe Castle and there circling in the distance was an Osprey a tad closer than the previous view, so I called it and directed everyone on to it so there was at least two still around at least. 
We cruised on passing between Furzy and Brownsea Islands around to look over the sea wall into Brownsea Lagoon.  As we drifted along the lagoon edge we were able to pick out a number of wildfowl such as Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Dunlin and I must have been on form as I located a Little Stint feeding on one of the sand bars just over the wall.  We also add more Little Egrets and five more Spoonbill which decided to take off and fly around giving excellent views and a fitting end to a excellent trip around the harbour.

Spoonbill over Brownsea Lagoon © Nick Hull
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14 Sep 18

Martin Adlam - Fri, 09/14/2018 - 19:37

This evening a very late Swift heading east over Bumpers Lane. Also a few moths including my first Common Plume (Emmelina monodactyla) on Portland and an Ichneumon Wasp found.

Common Plume, Emmelina monodactyla
Common Plume, Emmelina monodactyla
A very worn pug, possibly a Grey Pug, Eupithecia subfuscata
Not sure what this is. One to ID later
A very striking looking Ichneumon Wasp. Just got to ID it now.
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

Another late afternoon walk in the Autumn sunshine. Not too much around with just 3 Chiffchaffs calling and a single Sand Martin making its way south. Overhead a Common Buzzard was calling and in a few areas along the walk you could just make out the sub-songs of at least 4 Robins.

At the top of Penns Wood a Harlequin Ladybird larvae but no sign of any adults.

Here are a few images from this afternoon, including a few plants again for my Portland Flora List Here.

One of a dozen or more Common Wasps on the Ivy along Penns Weare
In the usual spot a Harlequin Ladybird larvae, no adults seen today.
A Sycamore to add to the plant list.........
Sycamore leaf.
Hawthorn berries
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13th September

Portland Bird Observatory - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 21:41
A vast improvement on the bird free zone we have been experiencing (although probably equivalent to an average Portland autumn day). A solid start to the day with a good passage of the early morning migrants: 40 Grey Wagtails, 42 Yellow Wagtails and 15 Tree Pipits were joined by nearly 500 Meadow Pipits. The first passage of Phylloscopus warblers for some time also occurred with a 50:50 split of Willow Warblers to Chiffchaffs at around 60 apiece; Wheatears were also well represented, reaching a good 100. A smattering of other migrants were also recorded with: 2 Redstarts, Reed Bunting, 5 Whinchats, 1 Pied Flycatcher and a late Swift.  
The biggest news of the day came from Ferrybridge with a fly-by group of 11 Avocets - one of the largest group logged for the island. These were accompanied by 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Sanderling, 50 Dunlin, 50 Ringed Plovers and a Knot
Although not ideal for dropping quantities of grounded migrants, the beautiful clear skies have been perfect for a spot of night time photography ©Paula Redmond

Wheatears were conspicuous today, with at least 90 scattered about the Bill area © Roy Norris:  

It wasn't only the birds moving through today with a minimum of 5 Clouded Yellows recorded across the island © Matt Ames: 
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Sightings - Thursday 13th September 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 21:28
Wigeon - 25 Stanpit
Bittern - 1 Radipole
Cattle Egret - 3 Ogber
Spoonbill - 1 Middlebere
Marsh Harrier - 1 Stanpit, 1 Middlebere, 1 West Harbour, Poole
Ringed Plover - 50 Ferrybridge
Grey Plover - 5 Middlebere
Knot - 16 Middlebere, 8 over Hengistbury Head, 1 Ferrybridge
Sanderling - 6 Stanpit, 5 Ferrybridge, 1 Lytchett Fields
Dunlin - 65 Hengistbury Head, 50 Ferrybridge
Curlew Sandpiper - 1 Stanpit
Green Sandpiper - 1 Middlebere
Spotted Redshank - 1 Stanpit
Greenshank - 2 Hengistbury Head, Holloways Dock
Short-eared Owl - 1 yesterday Portland
Tree Pipit - 2 Abbotsbury Swannery
Yellow Wagtail - 4 Hengistbury Head
Redstart - 4 Hengistbury Head, 1 Abbotsbury Swannery
Whinchat - 1 Stanpit, 1 Abbotsbury Swannery
Fieldfare - 4 Arne
Grasshopper Warbler - 1 Durlston
Spotted Flycatcher - 5 Hengistbury Head, 1 Portland
Pied Flycatcher - 1 PC World drain, Holes Bay
Tree Sparrow - 1 Hengistbury Head

Good numbers of Willow Warblers recorded today.

Other news - Second male Osprey S1 has made it to Gambia.

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13 Sep 18

Martin Adlam - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 20:21
Broadcroft Quarry Pool, The Cuttings and Mermaid Track

A slightly different route this afternoon to see what was about. There were a few Chiffchaffs down in Penn's Weare & The Cuttings, and a Blackcap in the bushes along the Mermaid Track.

Not too many butterflies about, and apart from a few Large & Small Whites, I did find a Small Heath by Broadcroft Quarry Pools

Here are a few images from today and a video of the Chiffchaff.

A Small Heath
A Chiffchaff

One of the few Chiffchaffs making their way down Portland.

A few easy plants for my flora list here - Bramble
Rock Cotoneaster 
Possibly Wild Clary

Ships Today
This the Vehicles Carrier the Cougar Ace flying the flag of Singapore. It's on its way from Barcelona, Spain to Zeebrugge, Belgium. More on this vessel Here.
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Autumn 2018 at Longham Lakes

Bird Words - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 13:44
11th September In a very blustery southwesterly breeze there were plenty of Swallows, House Martins and also 2-3 Sand Martins.  A nice female Blackcap and a Redstart were in the coppice on the western side of the South Lake were … Continue reading →
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Sightings - Wednesday 12th September 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 22:32
Spoonbill - 19 from Shipstal Hide, Arne
Osprey - 1 Lytchett Bay, 1 Middlebere
Avocet - 85 Brownsea
Sanderling - 4 Ferrybridge
Curlew Sandpiper - 3 juvs Brownsea
Dunlin - 87 Brownsea, 70 Ferrybridge, 60 Hengistbury Head
Knot - 4 Ferrybridge
Green Sandpiper - 1 Lytchett Fields
Greenshank - 9 Brownsea, 2 Hengistbury Head
Spotted Redshank - 1 Lytchett Fields
Yellow-legged Gull - 2 first winters Portland Bill, 2 first winters Mudeford Quay
Redstart - 1 Badbury Rings

                                            Osprey at Middlebere copyright Phyl England

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12th September

Portland Bird Observatory - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 20:09
Migration slowly ground its way into first gear with a slight improvement on previous days totals. The only birds to appear in any numbers included: 24 Grey Wagtails, 6 Alba Wagtails, 27 Yellow Wagtails. Birds appearing in singles or low figures included: Short-eared Owl, Common Sandpiper, Tree Pipit, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler. The sea produced a small selection of 10 Balearic Shearwaters, 9 Black-headed Gulls, 4 Mediterranean Gulls, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Great Skua and 5 Common Scoters.

Ferrybridge totals amounted to: 4 Knot, 4 Sanderling, 70 Dunlin and 32 Ringed Plovers.

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12 Sep 18

Martin Adlam - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 18:57
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

Not a nice day, with showers on and off until around 4:00pm. Did manage a walk late afternoon, but there was very little to see. Main highlight was the small influx of Meadow Pipits coming up the island, with two parties of 16 and then 8 heading north. No doubt others passed by unnoticed in the rain during the day.

No sign of any Ivy Bees or Hornet Mimic Hoverflies, in fact I only found one bee a Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) at the top of Penn's Wood where there was just the one visible Harlequin Ladybird.

The rain did encourage a few Bloody-nosed Beetles to venture out and I came across a pair mating.

I have new venture now and that is to photograph the flora on Portland. When there are times when there is little to write about, I shall endeavour to add a few images to the blog and on a new set of pages titled Portland Flora Here

Here are a few images from this afternoon.

A pair of Bloody-nosed Beetles.
Just the one Harlequin Ladybird seen today.
Hart's-tongue Fern, Asplenium scolopendrium
Here are the fronds of the Harts-tongue Fern. This fern also goes by the name of Burnt Weed, Buttonhole, Christ's Hair and Horse Tongue.

Cyclamen, Cyclamen
Old Man’s Beard, Clematis vitalba (Also known as Travellers’ Joy & Wild Clematis)
Ships Today
This the General cargo vessel Sea Kestrel flying the flag of the Cayman Island. Its on its way from Terneuzen, Holland to Avonmouth. More on this vessel Here.

This the vehicles carrier Schelde Highway flying the flag of Panama. Its on its way from Dublin to Zeebrugge, Belgium. More on this vessel Here.

This the British Cargo vessel Celtic Endeavour on its way from Groveport, near Scunthorpe to Plymouth. More on this vessel Here.
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Sightings - Tuesday 11th September 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 21:02
Common Scoter - off Mudeford Quay
Manx Shearwater - 1 Portland
Balearic Shearwater - 1 off Mudeford Quay
Great White Egret - 1 - Lodmoor RSPB, 1 Portland
Spoonbill - 1 Stanpit
Marsh Harrier - 1 Middlebere, 2 Lodmoor RSPB
Hobby - 1 Middlebere, 1 Stanpit
Yellow-legged Gull - 1 Mudeford
Little Gull - 1 off Mudeford Quay
Black Tern - 1 off Mudeford Quay
Sandwich Tern - 57 off Mudeford Quay
Knot - 1 Stanpit
Curlew Sandpiper - 13 Brownsea, 1 Middlebere
Common Sandpiper - 1 Lodmoor RSPB
Greenshank - 2 Middlebere
Spotted Redshank - 1 Lytchett Bay, 1 Middlebere
Black-tailed Godwit - 540 Middlebere
Ruff - 1 Lodmoor RSPB
Dunlin - 30 Hengistbury Head sandspit
Sanderling - 4 Hengistbury Head sandspit

                             Sanderling at Hengistbury Head sandspit copyright Clinton Whale

                          Black-tailed Godwit at Lodmoor RSPB copyright David Wareham

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11th September

Portland Bird Observatory - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 20:26
Some kind of sacrificial offering may have to be made in order to bring some avian life to Portland. With the exception of a Hobby over the Bill Hill, a Common Sandpiper on the rocks at the Bill and a Reed Warbler in the obs quarry the migratory life on Portland was sadly lacking. We can only hope that the change in the weather, forecast for the next couple of days brings a change in our fortunes.
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11 Sep 18

Martin Adlam - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 19:45
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

The moment I have been waiting for this Autumn and today was the day that the Ivy Bees appeared. This is truly an autumnal bee only appearing between September and into November.

Last year I saw my first (courtesy of Steve Covey) on the 19 Sep and I'm pretty sure I overlooked them earlier in the month. This year I've been paying particular attention to any Ivy in flower and though the Ivy on Penn's Weare was in bloom, the Ivy Bees were nowhere to be seen.

However today I came across several on the steps down to Church Ope Cove from Rufus Castle, on the corner here. This is a very small bee and only appeared on our shores here in Dorset in 2001. Since then it has moved further north and can be found along Southern England and Wales. More on Ivy Bees Here

Also about was just one Green-veined White, 3 Hornet Mimic Hoverflies, 20+ Common Wasps, several Common Drone Flies & Marmalade Hoverflies, and in Penn's Wood at least 5 Harlequin Ladybirds and 1 pupae.

Here are a few images from this afternoon:

My first Ivy Bee of the Autumn
Just love these bees, so wonderful to watch. In fact I was drawn to them by their "unusual" flight movement which is reminiscent of a hoverfly.

As I was watching them, there was definitely a behaviour pattern showing. When I arrived at the spot where they were gathered, there was quite a bit of activity. And then they all disappeared only to return a minute or so later. As I recall, this happened last year when I was watching them. It appears that they collect pollen, and then collectively fly back to their colony, before returning to the Ivy flowers together.

A busy bee the Ivy Bee.
Just as a comparison here is a Honeybee. Slightly larger and lacking that "black & yellow" wasp like abdomen.

Not a bee but a Common Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax).
And here a Hornet Mimic Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria)............
...........and its smaller cousin a Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)
A Harlequin Ladybird
And another with a slightly different pattern and colouration.
This is the pupae of the Harlequin Ladybird. Its upright position is a defensive posture which helps to discourage parasitic wasps.

This is the Orange Muscid Fly (Phaonia pallida)
Very similar to Snapdragons, this lovely yellow flower is Common Toadflax" (Linaria vulgaris) and also goes by the names of "Yellow Toadflax" and "Butter-and-eggs".
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Twitching Longham & visit to Middlebere

Two Owls Birding - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 19:11
Jackie and I had a quick twitching visit to Longham Lakes for a Juvenile Black Tern in late August and had good views but when we returned with the group a couple days later it had left.  Though we still saw a good number of birds on the water and in the hedgerows around the lakes.  The highlights for most were watching Yellow Wagtails dodging around the feet of the cattle as they fed on the various diptera and Pauline picked up a high gliding Hobby that carried on south obviously starting its migration.
Juvenile Black Tern - Longham Lakes © Nick HullJuvenile Black Tern - Longham Lakes © Nick HullThough our walks are primarily for birds we never walk past anything that might catch our eyes and one of such things was a beautiful Hoverfly which was found sun bathing. So a quick photo shoot and  I id'ed it later as Myathropa florea a wasp mimic.  Hoverfly - Myathropa florea © Nick HullWe had almost completed our walk when Jackie called "Swift"and hawking above us with the Swallows and martins was a single Swift we took great care, as it was a late individual, that it wasn't something more rare but alas it wasn't but nice to see none-the-less.Sand Martin over Longham Lakes © Nick HullOur Two Owls walk at Middlebere on the 5th September was successful in that we saw all the usual common species one would expect and added a handful of migrants.  Our highlights here were again Yellow Wagtails, which Chris saw first flitting around the cattle out in the bog on Hartland Moor as we were looking for Marsh Gentian.Marsh Gentian - Hartland Moor © Nick HullAs we walked down to the hide along the track we had a brief view of a female Bullfinch crossing the track and then heard more Yellow Wagtail calls, we all looked up and a group of 28 flew over heading south.  We also had a splattering of Meadow Pipits, a real sign that autumn is here when the pipits are starting to move. A family group of Mistle Thrush were in the Rowan a species that aren't common in the harbour area but one that likes Sika copse at Middlebere.  From the NT hide we were able to get distant views of a young Osprey sat in one of the favoured dead trees, tucking into a fish, unfortunately too far away to get a photograph.
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