A day with maybe more about than met the eye but there again nothing that even approached being described as a good Portland mid-April fall. It was always dreary and misty enough that migrant activity was subdued at best, with the clearest idea of numbers coming from captures in the Obs garden mist-nets that suggested Blackcap
and Willow Warbler
reached about 50 each in the Bill area; Chiffchaff
got to half that number, with 6 Redwings
, 3 each of Tree Pipit
and Yellow Wagtail
, 2 Short-eared Owls
, 2 Ring Ouzels
, the first 2 Lesser Whitethroats
of the year and singles of Whimbrel
, Black Redstart
making up the rest of the tally there and additional singles of Ring Ouzel
and Black Redstart
at Barleycrates Lane and Black Redstart
at Blacknor of note elsewhere. A frequently invisible sea returned totals of 46 Manx Shearwaters
and 1 Red-throated Diver
through off the Bill.
In the immigrant moth line singles of Rusty-dot Pearl
at the Obs and Diamond-back Moth
at the Grove were both first records for the year.
Joe Stockwell had his recording gear deployed at the Obs overnight and has passed us a short report on the night's happenings: Despite what was clearly a nice still night for migration, things still weren't in the mood and only a small selection of birds were logged. Obvious highlights included 9 passes by Moorhen(s) over an hour between 11pm and midnight - whether or not this was actually 9 different Moorhens remains a mystery although at one point one flew so close to the microphone that its wing beats were audible. Fog set in around 1:30am which prompted a little burst of thrush passage - including 7 Redwing and 3 Song Thrush - as well as 2 Water Rail, Sandwich Tern, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Chiffchaff and Black-headed Gull.
A freshly arrived Tree Pipit that dropped out of the murk at the Bill this morning © Joe Stockwell:
Joe's early round of the Bill also turned up this Black Redstart that he duly trapped:
Conventionally, these grey 'cairii
' birds are unsexable and not necessarily even straightforward to age, although the heavily worn, brown tertials and primaries of this individual did at least allow it to be assigned as a second year rather than an adult. On close inspection it turned out that this bird had moulted a good deal more of its wings than would have been expected (generally only some of the coverts are moulted in the post-juvenile moult) and we took it that since the selection of new inner secondaries didn't have the broad white edges of a male then we were safe to assign it as being a female.
Since these 'cairii
'-type individuals could be of either sex and both age classes they're usually overwhelmingly the most frequently encountered Black Redstart at this time of year; adult males are less frequent, whilst 'paradoxus
' second year males are the scarcest of all - this one was Southwell in April 2006 all Black Redstart photos © Martin Cade: