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20th October

Portland Bird Observatory - Sat, 10/20/2018 - 23:11
It's not often that you get to moan that the weather was too nice during October but from the birding point of view that was likely the case today, with the cloudless sky and shirt-sleeves warmth hardly conducive to dropping migrants in quantity; that said, the trees were certainly busier with Chiffchaffs and 'crests than has been the case for a few days and the balmy conditions made it a pleasure to spend time working through them. The Chiffchaff tally from the centre and south of the island was well into three figures, whilst Goldcrests - that have hitherto been conspicuously thin on the ground throughout - reached an autumn peak to date of 30 at the Bill; other worthwhile totals included 15 Reed Buntings and 8 Long-tailed Tits at the Bill. Quality on the ground was sadly lacking, with Yellow-browed Warblers at Southwell School (2) and the Grove the best on offer; 4 Ring Ouzels were still scattered about the north of the island and 3 Black Redstarts were at the Bill/Southwell. Visible passage was a bit of an anti-climax - were they all too high or just taking a different route today? - with seasonable fare all represented but only sparsely at best.

The warmth of recent days has seen plenty of insects on the wing, amongst which today were at Red-veined Darter at the Verne and well into double figure totals of both Clouded Yellow and Painted Lady.

In places the purges of recent years on invasive cotoneaster maybe went a little too overboard and grubbed out swathes of the plant (whose berries are so loved by migrant thrushes) from traditional Ring Ouzel haunts; fortunately the inaccessible slopes of the Verne Citadel retain a fair bit of this pernicious alien and continue to be an ouzel hot-spot © Dave Foot:

The Obs after dark this evening © Martin King:
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20 Oct 18

Martin Adlam - Sat, 10/20/2018 - 14:13
Broadcroft Quarry Lane and Pools.

A very bright, sunny and warm afternoon. I wasn't expecting to see much and was surprised to come across a Redwing, 2 Song Thrushes and 4 Blackbirds in the lane. All 7 birds were feeding on Hawthorn berries which unbeknown to me were hidden behind a Sallow. Unfortunately as I stumbled upon them, they all took off and headed off towards the pool area.

Further up the lane were 6 Chiffchaffs and try as I could, I couldn't turn any of them into Yellow-browed or Pallas's Warblers. There's still time yet.

Around the pools were 2 more Chiffchaffs and close-by I could here the Redwing and Blackbirds calling.

As I headed back home a Siskin, Meadow Pipit and several Linnets flew over, whilst in the lower paddock brambles there were 2 more Blackbirds and a very conspicuous Song Thrush. Its not often you see a Song Thrush out in the open, so this was quite a treat.

The view from the pool across Broadcroft Quarry Lane and the lower horse paddocks.
In the lane were 6 Chiffchaffs. Here's one and.......
Quite a surprise to see a Song Thrush out in the open.
It was pretty wary about its surroundings, but didn't seem to bothered about me close by.
One of several Robins which have set up their winter quarters.
Birds Recorded: 1 Buzzard, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, 2 Skylark, 2 Swallow, 5
Meadow Pipit, Dunnock, Robin, 6 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 8 Chiffchaff, Wren, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, 1 Siskin and Goldfinch.

Also recorded: 2 Red Admiral
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19th October

Portland Bird Observatory - Fri, 10/19/2018 - 23:00
It looked today as though many of the migrants that had wanted to move on after the dreary start to the week did so at the first opportunity yesterday - today's even more glorious conditions tempted far fewer birds into the sky and certainly didn't prompt many to drop in. Visible passage was best recorded at the north of the island where 1222 Linnets topped an otherwise fairly undistinguished tally amongst which 90 Siskins were of most note; a Woodlark was the best on offer amongst the generally lower numbers logged over the Bill. It was never busy on the ground but interest came in the form of single Cetti's Warblers at the Bill and the north of the island, single Yellow-browed Warblers at Avalanche Road and Old Hill and totals of 7 Ring Ouzels, 4 Black Redstarts and 4 Firecrests dotted about.
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24 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Twenty Six: Bottlenose Dolphins At Ascension Island

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Fri, 10/19/2018 - 19:00
While we were around Boatswainbird Island as we were leaving Ascension Island, we saw our first pod of Bottlenose Dolphins for the Atlantic Odyssey. Even better they were in a playful mode & were keen to get involved in some bow-wave action. Unfortunately, we were hardly moving as we were close to the island. But they hung around & as a result, we enjoyed some close views of this widespread Dolphin species.
Bottlenose Dolphin: The water was very clear allowing us to follow them underwater. Bottlenose Dolphins are one of the larger Dolphins with relatively a uniform grey appearance, a short, stout beak and a tall & sharply curved dorsal finBottlenose Dolphin: Two more coming in to the PlanciusBottlenose Dolphin: The first of the two breaks the surfaceBottlenose Dolphin: This is the dorsal fin of the second individual which has distinctive vertical scars on it
Bottlenose Dolphin: A close crop of the vertical scars Bottlenose Dolphin: A clearer view of the short, stout beak and tall & sharply curved dorsal finBottlenose Dolphin: A better view of the short, stout beak & the distinctive crease between the beak & the headBottlenose Dolphin: There is a minimal blow as this individual breaks the surfaceBottlenose DolphinBottlenose Dolphin: It quickly starts to dive againBottlenose Dolphin: Cetaceans can be separated from Sharks, Tuna & other Fish by their tail fins which are horizontal on Cetaceans & vertical on species of FishBottlenose Dolphin: This individual has a distinctive curved dorsal fin
As we were heading towards Boatswainbird Island, we had a brief encounter with an Atlantic White Marlin. This is one of the Billfish & can reach up to 2.8 metres long, so it is a similar size to a Dolphin, but it is much slimmer with a distinctive long bill.
Atlantic White Marlin: It leapt out of the water on a few occasions showing its distinctive billSmall Clearwing: I saw at least 500 Small Clearwings during the afternoon as we left Ascension Island. The collective name for Small Clearwings should be a Confusion of Small Clearwings
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19 Oct 18

Martin Adlam - Fri, 10/19/2018 - 14:50
Lower Horse Paddock, Broadcroft Quarry lane, Pools, Bumpers Lane, The Cuttings, Rufus Castle, Penn's Weare, St Andrew's Church and Penns Wood.

An extended walk today in glorious sunshine. Talk about overdressed, when I left the cottage it was definitely jacket weather, but an hour later I just wished I was wearing a T-shirt.

My walk today took me through the lower horse paddock where there were a few Meadow Pipits, but no sign of any Stonechats or Wheatears. From here it was down Broadcroft Quarry Lane, where this was extremely quiet as well, with just 1 Chiffchaff, the "resident" Great Spotted Woodpecker and 5 Blackbirds.

I took a slight detour to the pools Here, before heading back down a very muddy Bumpers lane. By the pools were singles of Chiffchaff, Chaffinch and Greenfinch.

By the hump at Bumpers Lane Here, were 3 Chiffchaff and a Song Thrush feeding on the Cotoneasters and Buddleia.

Through The Cuttings a few Ivy Bees, but mainly wasps and Common Drone Flies. Looking down into Penns Weare there were 2 more Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap. The Ivy Bee nests here are virtual lifeless with just a handful of bees.

At Rufus Castle very much the same with just a couple of Ivy Bees and lots of wasps.

In the grounds of St Andrews Church a small flock of Long-tailed Tits and 2 Chiffchaffs with them. Also here 2 Goldcrests. The Ivy here had several Ivy Bees and Common Drone Flies, plus dozens of wasps, a Dead Head Hoverfly, Red Admiral, a Harlequin Ladybird and a 10-spot Ladybird.

In Penns Wood another Goldcrest and Chiffchaff at the top of the hill, where there were also 4 Harlequin Ladybirds.

By the Main Road the Ivy Bush here is covered in Ivy Bees and bumblebees.

Here are a few images from today:

One of the many House Sparrows on Portland, this is a male sat on the wall by the old Stone Firms office.
On the wires by the office a juvenile Wood Pigeon minus its white collar.
A Close-up view.
Nearly caught me out this bird. Not sure what I thought it could be, but its just a Meadow Pipit on the brambles.
Two winter plumaged Starlings soak up the Autumn sun.
On the left a juvenile Goldfinch with an adult bird.
A Dunnock in the lane.......
.........where there at least 4 Blackbirds feeding on the Hawthorns.
By the Bumpers Lane Hump a couple of Chiffchaffs.........
......and another.
By The Cuttings a 7-spot Ladybird on the Ivy.
As I was trying to photograph the last remaining Ivy Bees at their nest site, this Grasshopper hopped into view.
A family of Wall Lizards
A close-up of one of the adults.
A Red Admiral and to the right a Harlequin Ladybird.
A Dead Head Hoverfly
This is a 10-spot Ladybird......
.......whilst this is another colour and pattern variant of a Harlequin Ladybird
As you turn into the path for Penn's Wood the Ivy Bush here s swarming with Ivy Bees.
One of 50+ Ivy Bees on the Ivy flowers.
Also here a Buff-tailed Bumblebee
Birds Recorded: 2 Cormorant, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Blackcap, 10 Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Long-tailed TitGreat Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Rook, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, 1 Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, 1 Siskin, Goldfinch and 1 Greenfinch.

Butterflies Recorded: 6 Red Admiral and 5 Large White.

Also Recorded: 15 Wall Lizards, 1 Common Darter, 50+ Ivy Bees (Colletes hederae), 1 Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), 20+ Common Drone Flies, 2 Dead Head Hoverflies (Myathropa florea), 100+ wasps sp., 5 Harlequin Ladybirds, 1 10-spot Ladybird and 1 7-spot Ladybird

Ships Today
This is the American Vehicles Carrier "Green Bay" on its way from Antwerp, Belgium to Savona, Italy. More on this Cargo vessel Here.

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18th October

Portland Bird Observatory - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 21:51
A complete change in the weather saw crystal clear skies greet the expectant dawn risers and it was quickly apparent that, not unexpectedly, overhead passage would feature prominently. The usual late autumn suspects - Wood Pigeons, Skylarks, Swallows, Meadow Pipits and a variety of thrushes and finches - dominated and were at times tricky to full quantify since movement was taking place over such a broad front; cumulatively, the most numerous constituents amounted to a nearly five figure total, whilst quality was provided by a minimum of 3 Woodlarks and a Hawfinch. It was noticeably quieter on the ground than it had been on the drearier days earlier in the week but a/the Little Bunting was spotted briefly in Top Fields, a Yellow-browed Warbler was at Southwell, 4 Ring Ouzels, 3 Black Redstarts, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Firecrest and a Corn Bunting were scattered about and there was a decent late-ish total of 50 Wheatears at the Bill.

One of the Woodlarks over the Bill this morning © Martin Cade:

Just for a bit of fun we combined last night's 5 new Radford's Flame Shoulders from the Obs moth-traps (the highest ever single night total there) with the 5 we already had potted from previous nights for a double-figure assemblage photo - and to think that as recently as ten years ago the all-time British total had only just crept over 20 © Martin Cade:
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Sightings - Thursday 18th October 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 20:06
Great Egret - 5 past Abbotsbury, Charmouth and West Bexington, 1 past West Bay, 1 Lodmoor
Cattle Egret - 2 Frome floodplain Wareham, 1 Abbotsbury Swannery 
Spoonbill - 66 from Shipstal Arne
Osprey - 1 Langton Herring
Merlin - 3 Hengistbury Head
Hen Harrier - 1 Milborne St Andrew
Lesser Yellowlegs - 1 Lodmoor
Water Pipit - 1 Stanpit Marsh
Skylark - 2000 over Abbotsbury Swannery, 2230 over West Bay
Siberian Chiffchaff - 1 Kinson Sewage Works
Yellow-browed Warbler - 3 Ringstead Bay, 1 Reap Lane Portland
Ring Ouzel - 1 Ringstead Bay, 1 Top Fields Portland, 1 Blacknor
Lapland Bunting - 1 Hengistbury Head, 1 Abbotsbury Swannery 

Hengistbury Head vis mig
1 Hawfinch, 730 Chaffinch, 35 Redpoll, 730 Chaffinch, 750 Siskin, 2800 Linnet, 3200 Goldfinch, 530 albaWagtail, 1700 Meadow Pipit, 435 Skylark, 111 Starling

West Bay vis mig 5 GW Egret, Merlin, 3 Woodlark, 2 Corn Bunting, 5 Brambling, Lapwing, 3 Bullfinch, 2230 Skylark, 1525 Chaffinch, 1230 Wood Pig, 20 Stock D 1355 Linnet, 560 Goldfinch, 510 Starling, 88 M Pipit, 46 alba, 34 Siskin, 21 Reed Bunt, 13 Greenfinch, 3 Redpoll, 2 Swallow
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24 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Twenty Six: Boatswainbird Island Revised

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 19:00
There was a final treat for our prompt departure from Ascension Island & that was another stop at Boatswainbird Island. All the decks were crammed with people enjoying the spectacle around the island.
Boatswainbird Island: Named using the old sailors name for the breeding TropicbirdsVolcanic rock There are two species of breeding Boatswainbird or Bosunbird: White-tailed Tropicbird & Red-billed Tropicbird.
White-tailed Tropicbird: AdultWhite-tailed Tropicbird: AdultWhite-tailed Tropicbird: AdultWhite-tailed Tropicbird: AdultRed-billed Tropicbird: Adult. Note, the heavier, red bill, lack of a black secondary band, more extensive black leading edge to the primaries, scaly mantle & lesser wing coverts in separating it from White-tailed TropicbirdMasked Booby: Adult
Masked Booby: Subadult Brown Booby: Adult
Brown Booby: Juvenile Red-footed Booby: AdultRed-footed Booby: This juvenile briefly appeared right next to the Plancius
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18 Oct 18

Martin Adlam - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 14:25
Broadcroft Quarry Lane and Horse Paddocks

On the way back from the Obs I walked along the lane and lower horse paddock. Just the one Chiffchaff in a very windy lane, whilst in the lower horse paddock there were several Meadow Pipits and singles of Stonechat and Wheatear.

The lone Chiffchaff in the lane.
Meadow Pipit
Also in the lower paddock a lone Wheatear.
Portland Bird Observatory and Crown Estate Fields

The Little Bunting looked as if it might be a long-stayer, certainly as it was seen on Tuesday and then Wednesday. Sadly by the time I got there this morning it was no longer about.

What was noticeable though were the flocks of Skylarks streaming up over the Obs and Crown Estate Fields. Earlier this morning I had noted 30 over Weymouth Railway Station. Here though there wasn't the odd flock of 30, but dozens.

Still plenty of Meadow Pipits around and I also had a Yellow Wagtail and at least 2 Reed Buntings. A couple of Wood Larks had been seen, but yet again another good bird was missed by me.

Other birds of note were 1 Grey Heron, several Stonechats, a Wheatear and 2 Chiffchaffs.

Here are a few images from this morning:

One of the many Meadow Pipits in and around the Crown Estate Fields
Also here a few Stonechats........
.......which are continually flitting about in the fields.
One of the few Wheatears still lingering.
A Skylark makes its way north along with hundreds of others.
An unusual sight on Portland a Grey Heron just west of the Crown Estate Fields.
.......absolutely hundreds in the Crown Estate Fields.
A trio of Goldfinches outside the Obs Garden wall.
And a charm.
One of two Kestrels keeping their eye open for lunch. This one is on a mist net post.
Alas not the Little Bunting but a female Reed Bunting.
Birds Recorded: 1 Grey Heron, 2 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 1 Pheasant, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, 100+ Skylark, 5 Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, 1 Yellow Wagtail,  Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, 1 Wheatear, Blackbird, 3 Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Magpie, Rook, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, 800+ Linnet, 1 Siskin, Goldfinch and 2 Reed Bunting.
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