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Joseph Stockwellnoreply@blogger.comBlogger1512125
Updated: 43 min 38 sec ago

6th May

Sun, 05/06/2018 - 23:19
Weather-wise, a repeat of yesterday whilst on the bird front there was less in the way of both numbers and interest. A Red Kite over Ferrybridge and a Continental Coal Tit at the Bill were easily the best of the day's oddities, with 3 Little Ringed Plovers over Chesil also a belated addition to the year list. Wheatears topped 40 at the Bill but the two routine phylloscs were the only other common migrants even managing double figure totals there; 3 White Wagtails, 2 Redpolls and a Hobby were of minor note at the Bill, with a late Merlin of further interest over Chesil. In almost millpond calm conditions 3 Red-throated Divers and singles of Great Skua and Arctic Skua passed through off the Bill, whilst 80 Whimbrel and 15 Sanderling were the best of a more varied passage off Chesil.

A single Brimstone butterfly flying north along West Cliffs at the Bill had all the look of being an immigrant.

A single Rusty-dot Pearl was the only immigrant moth trapped overnight at the Obs.

A window seat on a flight to Gibraltar provided a nice view of Portland bathed in sunshine today © Steve Copsey:

It's been a good spring for Coal Tits, with all those that have been sub-specifically identified - like today's bird on the Slopes at the Bill - proving to be ater Continental birds © Erin Taylor:

The warm sunshine has at last seen butterflies on the wing in some quantity, with Orange-tip and Holly Blue both featuring today © Ken Dolbear:

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5th May

Sat, 05/05/2018 - 22:51
Whilst holidaymakers were lapping up the glorious sunshine and warmth of the start of the bank holiday weekend birders were left scratching around with only meagre fare for entertainment. A brief Red-rumped Swallow at High Angle Battery would have been very popular had it lingered and none of the other oddities putting in appearances, including singles of Coal Tit and Marsh Harrier at the Bill, were any more obliging. Routine migrants weren't at all plentiful but did include 40 each of Wheatear and Willow Warbler, 30 Chiffchaffs and 12 Whinchats grounded at the Bill, where 11 Yellow Wagtails, 8 Tree Pipits and 3 White Wagtails were amongst the steady flow of visible migrants overhead. Less common interest came in the form of a Firecrest at the Bill and 4 Hobbys and a Cuckoo through at points northward. Seawatching was almost completely unrewarding, with 70 commic terns through off the Bill and 7 Bar-tailed Godwits and 4 Whimbrel through off Chesil.

Whimbrel at the Bill today © Dan Law:

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4th May

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 23:41
A something of nothing day with early cloud failing to drop migrants in any quantity at all; a rapid clearance saw hirundines get moving but even their passage was steady rather than spectacular. On the ground only Wheatear (50) and Willow Warbler (30) managed double figure totals at the Bill where Swallow sample counts got up to around 250/hour; Sand Martins were unexpectedly numerous, with 70 through along West Cliffs in 75 minutes, whilst Yellow Wagtails continued their good run with 7 more through at the Bill and others elsewhere. Very minor oddities included a Marsh Harrier over at the Bill and singles of Grasshopper Warbler and Bullfinch grounded there. The calm conditions were hardly conducive to rewarding seawatching, with 2 Great Skuas and singles of Red-throated Diver and Pomarine Skua through off the Bill and 137 commic terns, 27 Arctic Terns and singles of Great Skua and Arctic Skua through off Chesil.

A Harbour Porpoise was in Chesil Cove during the evening.

Three Clouded Yellows heading north at the Bill during the morning included one that was watched arriving in off the sea.

More for fun and to try and learn something new, just lately we've started tinkering around with remote nocturnal recording ourselves rather than always relying on the goodwill of Nick and Joe; our efforts aren't as diligent as these stalwarts in as much as we've rarely got enough time to do more than skim the recordings for the obvious close calls rather scour them in detail for all the faint distant stuff but it has been remarkably educational. Last night's nice overcast conditions saw plenty of wader passage overhead but also one slightly freaky thing when a Shelduck (a female if our reading of BWP is correct) passed over during the early hours:
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3rd May

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 23:08
Too nice a day for much of an arrival on the ground today and most of what did pitch up didn't linger long. Willow Warbler topped the numbers with around 50 at the Bill but it was the variety of less frequent migrants that provided most of the interest, with 18 Yellow Wagtails, 8 Redstarts, 6 Whinchats, 5 Whimbrel, 2 Hobbys, 2 Pied Flycatchers and singles of Purple Sandpiper, Grasshopper Warbler and White Wagtail at the Bill; a similar selection elsewhere included additional quality in the form of 2 Coal Tits at Pennsylvania Castle. In the rather benign conditions the only reports of note from the sea were of singles of Great Northern Diver and Pomarine Skua through off the Bill.

With the spring having hitherto been pretty dismal for Grasshopper Warblers it was nice to hear one singing well in Top Fields today:

Whimbrel at Ferrybridge © Debby Saunders...

...and Early Purple Orchid at the Bill © Joe Stockwell:

There can be few more agreeable spots for a vis-mig watch than the West Cliffs and this morning was no exception...

...all the better when the rewards include a Hobby and numerous Yellow Wagtails photos © Joe Stockwell:

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2nd May

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 22:16
The proverbial day of two halves, with a horribly wet morning giving way to a gloriously sunny afternoon. The rain had begun relatively early in the night and looked to have put the block on most migration with only a relatively thin spread of new arrivals evident once the clearance arrived: the 2 Golden Orioles remained in Top Fields but 10 Redstarts was the only worthwhile migrant total logged at the Bill where a single passing Hobby was of additional note. An almost instant switch from a promising southeasterly to a hopeless northwesterly as the rain cleared restricted sea passage to little more than an hour of action when 124 commic terns, 3 Great Skuas, 2 each of Great Northern Diver and Arctic Skua, and singles of Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver and Pomarine Skua passed through off the Bill and 510 commic terns pulsed through at Chesil; later, 2 Pomarine Skuas and 2 Arctic Terns were off Chesil Cove.
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1st May

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 23:54
A cool, breezy start to May but with enough on land and sea to keep visitors entertained. The 2 lingering Golden Orioles at the Bill attracted a steady trickle of admirers and although there was nothing else by way of a scarcity the spread of routine migrants included most of what might be expected at this stage of the season, with a Turtle Dove at Tout Quarry, a Pied Flycatcher at Wakeham and 6 Redstarts, 6 Whinchats, 4 Yellow Wagtails and singles of Hobby, Common Sandpiper and White Wagtail at Southwell/the Bill of note. Offshore, Manx Shearwaters dominated the numbers: sample counts suggested as many as 10000 passed the Bill through the day as a whole but with movement taking place in both directions it seems unlikely that there wasn't huge duplication; proper passage of other seabirds only really got going once the wind backed out of the north after midday, with 51 commic terns, 40 Bar-tailed Godwits, 11 Great Skuas, 9 Arctic Skuas, 2 Black-throated Divers, 2 Pomarine Skuas and singles of Red-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver eventually logged at the Bill.

Redstart at Southwell © Debby Saunders...


...and Great Northern Diver off the Bill © Ken King:



The Golden Orioles were rarely particularly close but at times they were showing really quite nicely © Martin Cade:

Maybe through having been around too long we can remember the times when evening seawatching at the obelisk used to be a popular activity at the Bill; sadly, interest's dwindled these days which is a shame since there's often just as much on the move as in the mornings © Martin Cade:
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30th April

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 23:22
For the most part it was back down to earth with a bump today with the migrant tap reduced to little more than a drip; however, the 2 Golden Orioles remained in Top Fields and a/the Hoopoe seen at the Bill in almost identically subliminal circumstances to yesterday did introduce some quality to proceedings. There were pockets of action on the migrant front - for instance, Pennsylvania Castle was described as laden with Willow Warblers - but in most areas exposed to the full force of the raw northerly it was almost lifeless in comparison with yesterday's excesses: among the new arrivals at the Bill only Redstart, Wheatear, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff managed double figure totals on the ground, with 2 Black Redstarts and singles of Hobby, Turtle Dove, Firecrest (the long stayer resurfacing again) providing the only additional quality there; another Hobby also passed through at Blacknor.
Same time, same place, same circumstances as yesterday; it's hard to believe that the two Hoopoe sightings don't relate to the same individual but if that is the case then it's proving to be a remarkably elusive bird that vanishes into oblivion after flashing through the Crown Estate Field soon after dawn © Martin Cade:

Redstart and Chiffchaff at the Bill today © Simon Kidner:

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29th April

Sun, 04/29/2018 - 23:38
This spring's migrant avalanche had got so delayed that it was probably always going to be a really big one when it did strike and today's conditions - heavily overcast with a brisk, cold northeasterly - were just the catalyst needed. The movement through was both rapid and on a very broad front but from point counts and the ringing efforts at the Obs it would seem that (probably conservative) estimates for the Bill area were something of the order of 2000 Willow Warblers, 750 Swallows, 300 Wheatears, 200 each of Blackcap, Whitethroat and Garden Warbler, 60 Redstarts, 50 each of Yellow Wagtail and Chiffchaff, 40 Spotted Flycatchers, 30 Tree Pipits, 25 each of Swift and Whinchat, 20 Reed Warblers, 15 each of Sedge Warbler and Pied Flycatcher, 5 Lesser Whitethroats, 4 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 each of Short-eared Owl, Golden Oriole and Siskin and singles of Merlin and Hoopoe; with most of these birds patently moving rapidly northward it seems pointless mentioning the often excellent totals of a similar range of birds elsewhere since there must have been huge duplication, but singles of Hoopoe and Golden Oriole in the Grove area were the only scarcities reported. Although conditions were far from ideal for the sea there were a few odds and ends on the move off the Bill, including 80 Bar-tailed Godwits, 41 Common Scoter, 40 commic terns, 7 Great Northern Divers, 2 Red-throated Divers and singles of Great Skua, Pomarine Skua and Arctic Skua.

A few nice little videos that really give a feel for the events of the day © Dave Foot:




...and another one of the Golden Orioles © Martin Cade:

And some stills: Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat and Greenland Wheatear © Pete Saunders (Pied Fly), Debby Saunders (Whinchat) and Nick Hopper (Greenland Wheatear):



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