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Updated: 39 min 24 sec ago

29th November

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 01:52

PBO membership standing ordersAs Obs members will be aware, earlier this year our charitable status changed when we became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO); as part of this change we were required to open a new current bank account. We are in the process of closing our old bank account and request that members who have a membership subscription standing order in our favour transfer this to the new account. For those with online banking facilities this transfer may be readily accomplished via your banking app - our new account details are: Account name Portland Bird Observatory; Sort code 09-01-29; Account No. 19754723Those without online arrangements will require a new standing order form that can be requested from the Obs or downloaded here  - this form should be filled in and returned to us for forwarding to your bank or sent direct to your bank. Apologies for the inconvenience and many thanks for your help with this important matter.
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28th November

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 21:03
The final day of the season before the assistant warden heads off North to cooler climes and the Warden does the sensible thing and migrates South for a while saw little in the way of bird action. In fact, out list at the Bill consisted of just three birds: two Redwings and a Goldcrest. Thankfully we were spared by a Black Redstart at Reap Lane and by the Ferrybridge totals of one Goosander, a pair of Pale-bellied Brent Geese and a Bar-tailed Godwit
Last night saw the best nights 'mothing' for some time. The moths appeared in good numbers, presumably due to the relative warmth and calmness of the early parts of last night, and totals included: 37 Diamond-back Moths, 5 Rusty Dot Pearls, 3 Silver Y's, 2 Dark Sword Grasses, a pair of Turnips and a pair of White Specks
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27th November

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 20:14
Well that's nearly all folks, the end of the season is nigh and the weather was obviously feeling it too with torrential rain and gale force winds forcing us all inside. A frankly eerie drop in wind in the evening led to our daily tallies reaching four species for the obs area: a pair of Fieldfares, a pair of Redwings, 5 Goldcrests and a female Blackcap; whilst the harbour was harbouring the drake Goosander and the lingering Little Gull
Last nights immigrant moths consisted of 6 Diamond-back moths and a White-speck. Fingers crossed that the relaxed winds and relative warmth hold out long enough to catch something good for our last night for a while. 
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26th November

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 22:25
In unexpectedly benign conditions - the gentle north-easterly had lost all its raw edge of recent days - there was enough about to keep interest going all day. With the sky clearing as the morning went on few of the new arrivals dropped in for long but overhead there was quite a trickle of thrushes and finches heading through into the breeze; singles of Blackcap and Goldcrest were also new at the Obs, with another 2 Blackcaps featuring at Southwell. Further miscellaneous oddities included singles of Little Egret and Merlin at the Bill, a Great Northern Diver settled offshore there, a Black Redstart at Church Ope and 2 Slavonian Grebes in Portland Harbour.

Last night's immigrant moths: 2 each of Diamond-back Moth and Rusty-dot Pearl at the Obs.

Fieldfares are rather notorious for rarely dropping much lower than the tops of the tallest trees at the Obs so this one - seemingly an adult male - was a nice surprise in the mist-nets today © Martin Cade: 

Although we've received plenty of notifications of birds we've ringed being discovered elsewhere, this year has been one of the poorest we can remember for 'controls' in our nets so two foreign ringed birds - a Chiffchaff from France and a Blackbird from Holland - in the last few days have been very welcome © Martin Cade:  
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25th November

Sun, 11/25/2018 - 18:48
With the rain having finally relented some time in the early hours of the morning there was a little more life about than yesterday. The Bill saw a small movement of thrushes with double figures of Song Thrushes and Redwings plus a pair of Fieldfares in the Top Fields. The finches also put in a good display with the Serin being resighted and a Brambling among the Chaffinch flock. Wader-wise the flock of lingering Lapwings were still in the East Cliffs fields accompanied by a Jack Snipe in the huts. The sea was also back on form with a very late Manx Shearwater, a lone Velvet Scoter, 5 Common Scoter, 2 Red-throated Divers and a selection of gulls.

The Little Gull (that one us may or may not have forgotten to report yesterday-sorry!) was back at the Harbour accompanied by a Slavonian Grebe, 4 Black-necked Grebes and a fly-over Curlew. Ferrybridge was also productive with a drake Goosander, 150 Dunlin, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Redshank and a Sandwich Tern.

The adult Little Gull arrived below Portland Castle at 0710 this morning with just enough light to produce some pretty impressive pictures © Debby Saunders: 


The long staying drake Goosander at Ferrybridge © Debby Saunders: 

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24th November

Sat, 11/24/2018 - 21:17
A grey day of continuously drizzly showers saw the poorest species list for quite some time. None of yesterdays rarities (confirmed or otherwise) were relocated and, save for the usual flocks of finches within the Crown Estate Fields, the South end of the island was largely quiet. 17 Redwings, 5 Song Thrushes, a pair of Brambling, 3 Blackcaps, a Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff were all we had to offer.

Ferrybridge had slightly more success with 2 Pale-bellied Brents, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Redshank, 160 Dunlin and the Merlin.

Thankfully Pete and Debby are diligent in their Ferrybridge vigils, otherwise our days totals would have looked awfully sad © Pete Saunders: 

The unrelenting moisture didn't deter the Ferrybridge Merlin © Pete Saunders:

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23rd November

Fri, 11/23/2018 - 22:03
A day of mixed feelings with as many birds giving us the slip as were clinched. The first bird of the morning proved to be the highlight as a Serin left the garden roost with the usual Goldfinches. This set the tone for a very 'finchy' day with a total of seven species including good numbers of Chaffinches, Goldfinches, and Linnets; plus small numbers of Greenfinches, Bramblings, a Siskin and the Serin. There was also a noticeable increase in House Sparrows with multiple flocks making the island total in the triple figures. Other passerines trickled through including double figures of Redwings and a couple of Song Thrushes. The real gut-wrencher came from a missed opportunity of a Richard's Pipit with two possible sightings never being fully confirmed. The sea was quiet with counts of just 4 Red-throated Divers, 3 Common Scoter and the first 3 returning Fulmars since their late summer departure. Elsewhere on the island, Ferrybridge produced 4 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and a Merlin (presumably a loitering individual following the pipits and larks).

So often a straightforward Portland banker, Serin had been surprise omission from the year list before today - sadly, our photographic efforts were sufficiently inept that it'd take a combination of half-a-dozen frames to be able to see the whole bird © Martin Cade:
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22nd November

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 01:20

A reminder that there's an In Focus field event at the Obs between 10am and 4pm this Saturday, 24th November.
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21st November

Wed, 11/21/2018 - 19:45
Swift, sharp showers interspersed with clear skies and a cool wind didn't quite drop the late rarity we were hoping for, but a good variety of species across the recording area kept the day interesting. The sea saw a big reduction in numbers with just 29 Common Scoter, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Wigeon and 2 Brent Geese. The highlight from the garden came from a French controlled Chiffchaff, a lone Siskin and a small influx of Robins.

Ferrybridge was back on form today with 1175 Brent Geese (plus 8 pale-bellied), 7 Little Grebes, a Goosander, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Curlew. 136 Dunlin, a lone Merlin and a Black Redstart.

Given its pedigree in conditions similar to those we have been experiencing over the last few day the harbour was a tad disappointing, although it still produced a good bird for Portland in the form of a Pochard plus: a fly-over Golden Plover, 2 Common Scoters, a Red-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver and several Black-necked Grebes.

As the numbers of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks have increased in the salt marsh at Ferrybridge it was inevitable that an opportunist would follow and, thankfully for us, it was this showy Merlin © Pete Saunders:


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20th November

Tue, 11/20/2018 - 22:21
Another day for the sea watchers with strong cold winds hampering the coverage of the land. The Bill produced a couple of nice highlights including 4 Velvet Scoters in amongst the 48 Common Scoters, 11 Eiders (of which 4 were stonking males), 3 Teal, 2 Wigeon, 12 Black-headed Gulls, 4 Red-throated Divers, and a male Red-breasted Merganser. A furtive Long-eared Owl roosting in the Obs garden was the highlight from the land; 3 new Goldcrests also showed up there, with further variety in the form of 7 Redwings, a Lapwing, 2 Redshanks, 4 Turnstones and a Brambling at the Bill and a Black Redstart at Reap Lane.

Ferrybridge saw a small increase in waders with 5 Curlew, a lone Lapwing, a pair of Bar-tailed Godwits and 22 Oystercatchers; one of the Black Brants also showed up there along with a Goosander, 3 Pale-bellied Brents and a large flock of 13 Shelducks.

We're well aware from previous experience that Long-eared Owls are past masters at escaping detection in the Obs garden and today's bird was only given away by the fuss it elicited from the local Magpies and Jackdaws once they'd discovered it. After a couple of fleeting flight views it was lost for several hours before we completely fluked it after peering into an umpteenth hole in a hedge and finding it staring right back at us at point blank range © Martin Cade:

We're not sure what the highest ever count of Shelducks at Ferrybridge has been but today's 13 must run it pretty close if it's any higher © Pete Saunders:



Record shots from the Obs lounge were the order of the day with the scarcer wildfowl - these Eider settled off East Cliffs were the second group of the day, whilst the Velvet Scoters passed by along with what proved to be the best movement of Common Scoters of the month to date © Martin Cade: 

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