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Joseph Stockwellnoreply@blogger.comBlogger1660125
Updated: 40 min 19 sec ago

1st October

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 22:12
A fair spread of birds again today with a Hoopoe in the Moorfield Road horse paddocks stealing the show rarity-wise; yesterday's Turtle Dove was still at the Bill, with a second individual also dropping in at Moorfield Road, whilst among the less regulars there were 3 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Merlins and singles of Mallard, Golden Plover, Yellow-legged Gull and Great Spotted Woodpecker at the Bill and at least 1 more Great Spotted Woodpecker at Easton. The slight improvement in common migrant numbers detected yesterday was maintained, with both Blackcap and Chiffchaff around the 40 mark at the Bill.

Overnight immigrant moth interest included another Radford's Flame Shoulder at the Obs (the third there in recent nights) and the year's first Vestal at the Grove.

Searches for yesterday's Wryneck drew a blank on that front but did turn up this Hoopoe in an adjacent horse paddock:  

Linnet numbers are beginning to build and with any luck good-sized flocks should become a familiar sight around the island for the next few weeks; this group were some of the 100 in the Crown Estate Field and another 300 or more were knocking about around Helen's Fields:

It's been a good year for seeing Bottle-nosed Dolphins off the Bill: the crew of this plush yacht were treated to what must have been great views of today's party bow-riding alongside the vessel as it headed along East Cliffs this morning:

It's fortunate that Vestals have a highly characteristic jizz as last night's first for the year was somewhat scale-deficient:

Come the totting up for the year we'd be surprised if it isn't by far the best season ever for Gold Spot at Portland; the first for the year just sneaked in at the end of May so a single at the Grove last night was not only the first for several weeks but also ensured that we have records from six months of this year photos and video © Martin Cade:

Categories: Timeline, Twitter

30th September

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 23:34
Hardly a day to remember but there were encouraging hints of passage picking up just a little, most notably in the form a decent spread of Chiffchaffs just about everywhere. A Wryneck at Easton was as good as it got in the scarcity line although in this day and age a Turtle Dove at the Bill was of almost the same status. The Chiffchaff tally at the Bill reached a good 50, with plenty more in most areas of cover around the centre of the island; at least new Great Spotted Woodpeckers pitched in at the Bill but, bar the now ubiquitous flocks of off-passage Meadow Pipits, there were no other notable concentrations of grounded migrants. Visible passage of Meadow Pipits, Chaffinches and Siskins got off to a good start in the clear skies after dawn but fizzled out as soon as thick cloud rolled in from the north before mid-morning.

Although we're always quick to deride the national news services for putting out reports of the likes of single Black Redstarts and Firecrests from southern coastal headlands - since when have they been even faintly unexpected migrants anywhere other than at places that don't get any birds anyway? - we can certainly understand why every migrant Turtle Dove is now being reported. The writer of these notes dipped this one and still hasn't seen one at Portland this year - his memories of flushing flocks of 50 in Top Fields when he was a kid are also getting hazier by the year © Roger Hewitt: 

Considering the dearth of grounded migrants generally, Spotted Flycatchers have been surprisingly conspicuous at the Obs, albeit only in low numbers; this one was there a couple of days go © Dave Sawyer: 
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

29th September

Sat, 09/29/2018 - 22:51
Plenty more gripes about the general dearth of migrants today: visible passage continued to tick over although was hardly spectacular but it was island-wide paucity of the likes of Chiffchaffs that drew the most comment. A Cattle Egret that arrived in off the sea at the Bill and continued rapidly northwards was a nice island rarity, whilst a small flurry of Firecrests - including 4 at Avalanche Road - was a welcome event. Stonechats are beginning to feature in some quantity, with 35 scattered between the Bill and Barleycrates Lane, but few if any of the other grounded totals were worthy of a mention. Most of the usual suspects were represented overhead but numbers were on the low side for a seemingly suitable clear day and single Hobbys over the Bill and Avalanche Road were the only oddities. Additionally, 2 Brent Geese and an Arctic Skua passed through off the Bill and 2 Knot were at Ferrybridge.
Another Radford's Flame Shoulder was the pick of the immigrant moths trapped overnight at the Obs.
Categories: Timeline, Twitter

28th September

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 22:35
It'd be pushing it to say that there were high expectations for today but with a fresh north-easterly having sprung up overnight as a weak weather front arrived from the north there was at least some hope that grounded migrant numbers might pick up; in the event, cloud cover didn't arrive until well after dawn and it was as quiet on the ground as it had been for the rest of the week. A Common Rosefinch that dropped into a mist-net in the Crown Estate Field certainly wasn't to be sniffed at, but quality didn't otherwise get beyond an Osprey over Ferrybridge. A strong visible passage for the first few hours of the morning took place on such a broad front that it was tricky to quantify, but sample totals at the Obs included >1000 hirundines, 550 Meadow Pipits, 100 alba wagtails and 46 Siskins. Bitsy interest on the sea included singles of Manx Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Arctic Skua and Great Skua through off the Bill.

Never a regular autumn visitor to the island, the Common Rosefinch was easily the day's bird highlight © Martin Cade: 

Moth-wise, there was a small increase in immigrant numbers and variety at the Obs were a Convolvulus Hawkmoth was the first to make it into a moth-trap for nearly a fortnight...

...whilst the battered Porter's Rustic was a less than spectacular rarity highlight © Martin Cade: 

Categories: Timeline, Twitter

27th September

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 22:36
This week's run of crystal clear, full moon nights and cloudless, increasingly hot days have been just what the migrants ordered for trouble-free departures from our shores but the birders have been left scratching around with no more than scraps of interest to keep them entertained. The first Woodlark of the autumn was today's highlight at the Bill, where Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail all featured in mid three figure totals overhead. The overwhelming bulk of the numbers of just about everything were overhead, with 50 Skylarks and 22 Siskins further noteworthy totals at the Bill, where 42 Blackcaps was the only worthwhile grounded total. Reports from elsewhere included a presumed Nightingale glimpsed briefly near Nichodemus Knob.

A Radford's Flame Shoulder was the pick of the overnight moth catch at the Obs.

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26th September

Wed, 09/26/2018 - 19:45
A blistering sunshine filled day saw a brief pause in the Meadow Pipit passage we have been experiencing but the Hirundines, wagtails and finches remained true to their usual form with the evening seeing a selection of Yellow, Grey, Pied (and White) Wagtails in one field. Siskins put in another decent showing with 42 over the obs in the morning. Reed Buntings are also becoming a frequent addition to the day tallies as the autumn draws on. A Tree Sparrow added some much needed variety to the proceedings but it was the Hirundines that stole the show with a monumental passage of Swallows and House Martins with a few Sand Martins tagging along for the ride.

The Buzzards always get a bit of stick when they enter the immediate vicinity of the lighthouse (the frequent haunt of the Jackdaw flock) and this cracking action shot sums up their usual reception © Martin King: 

The clear skies have been pretty useless for grounding birds but brilliant for sunsets... © Martin King: 

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25th September

Tue, 09/25/2018 - 22:56
Dawn offered up perfect migration conditions - crisp and clear in a gentle north-easterly - and four figure totals of Meadow Pipit and Swallow were racked up in very quick time; however, with the notable exception of yesterday's likely Monarch butterfly being fully confirmed and a typically out-of-the-blue Cetti's Warbler dropping into a mist-net the day otherwise proved to be a little bit of an anti-climax, with precious little grounded in any quantity. The Bill area Swallow and Meadow Pipit totals reached 5000 and 1000 respectively, with further reports of many thousands of the former from several sites around the north of the island. Most of the other mid-season visible migrants were well represented, with a new Great Spotted Woodpecker and an early-ish Mistle Thrush the best on offer at the Bill. Despite the benign conditions the sea came up with a few surprises including 72 Common Scoter, 4 Great Skuas, 2 Arctic Skuas and the first Dark-bellied Brent Goose of the season through off the Bill.

A small influx of immigrant lepidoptera included 6 Clouded Yellows and an obvious increase in Red Admirals around the south of the island, along with the first White-speck of the season from the Obs moth-traps; the first Convolvulus Hawkmoth for over a week was also visiting Nicotiana flowers at the Grove after dark.

Yesterday's presumed Monarch was fully confirmed once it surfaced for a while in the Obs garden as the temperature started to creep up from an overnight single figure low; sadly it hardly looked to be thriving - quite apart from being very battered - and after a few seemingly weak flights and the odd bit of basking it vanished © Martin Cade:

Clouded Yellow was another of the 12 butterfly species logged today, whilst a White-speck was hopefully a sign of moth immigration picking up a little © Roger Hewitt (Clouded Yellow) and Martin Cade (White-speck):

Scarcities don't get much more random in their appearances at Portland than Cetti's Warbler that's less than annual and liable to pop up just about any time during both migration periods © Martin Cade/Erin Taylor:

More usually an October/November visitor to the Bill, Mistle Thrushes are infrequent enough to always arouse interest when they do appear; they're also a bird of which we have absolutely no inkling as to their origins or destination © Martin Cade:
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