11th November

Please note that there are unlikely to be any regular updates to the blog between now and 29th November; news, photos etc can still be emailed while we're away and if we get an internet connection we'll try and post occasional updates. The Obs will be open to day vistors on most mornings during this period and if you've got an expensive Christmas present in mind there's one event taking place later in the month to tempt you:

A reminder that there's an In Focus field event at the Obs between 10am and 4pm on Saturday, 25th November.

10th November

A very uneventful day with pre-dawn rain grounding next to nothing. A light trickle of Chaffinches and Goldfinches were still on the move at the Bill and 425 Starlings headed north over Blacknor but a single Redwing looked to be one of the only newcomers on the ground at the Bill. A lingering Bullfinch was still at the Obs and Firecrests were still about at several sites.

9th November

Overhead passage was again the order of the day, with the weak weather front that passed over in the late hours of the night producing neither rainfall nor grounded migrants. Passing Chaffinches and Goldfinches both topped 200 at the Bill, where 100 Linnets, 40 Bramblings, 19 each of Redwing and Redpoll, 16 Siskins, 7 Greenfinches, 3 Hawfinches (one of these - or another? - also passed over at Southwell), 2 Swallows, a Golden Plover and a Mistle Thrush made up the rest of the morning's tally. What relatively little there was on the ground at the Bill included 4 each of Chiffchaff and Firecrest (2 of the former and 1 of the latter were new arrivals), 3 Snipe, 2 Bullfinches and a Blackcap. Reports from elsewhere included a Ring Ouzel at Penn's Weare, 2 Hawfinches at Easton, 2 Black Redstarts at Chesil Cove and 2 Mute Swans and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose at Ferrybridge.

Another White-speck, along with singles of Rusty-dot Pearl and Pearly Underwing, constituted the overnight immigrant moth interest at the Obs.

Hawfinches keep showing up and Joe Stockwell managed another nice recording of one of them over the Obs this morning:

Long-tailed Tits also remain a feature, with this group in a garden at Southwell © Debby Saunders:

8th November

A nice day and some nice late autumn birding with a decent pulse of finches and other typical early November migrants trickling through into the light northerly breeze. Totals from the Bill included 100 Chaffinches, 60 Starlings, 33 Redpolls, 27 Bramblings, 12 Long-tailed Tits, 12 Reed Buntings, 10 Redwings and 10 Siskins, with 2 each of Greylag Goose, Merlin, Woodcock, Bullfinch and Hawfinch, and singles of Lapwing and Black Redstart amongst the lower totals. Scrutiny elsewhere came up with a Siberian Chiffchaff at Portland Castle, a few Firecrests lingering on a several sites and 2 Black Redstarts at Church Ope Cove. The only reports from the water were of 8 Black-necked Grebes in Portland Harbour and singles of Red-throated Diver and Great Skua through off the Bill.

A lone White-speck was the only immigrant moth trapped overnight at the Obs.

November's a great month of miscellaneous oddities, with this morning's Greylag Geese moments after a Hawfinch being rather typical © Martin Cade:

Despite what for the most part has been a very mild late autumn it's been noticeable that lingering summer migrants have been in short supply. Swallows are often sufficiently numerous here in early November that we've even trapped and ringed multiples of them on occasions; this year though they've been conspicuously few and far between, with this bird being one of just five logged today © Joe Stockwell:

In remarking yesterday about the infrequency with which Snipe are photographed at Portland we were reminded of an intriguing one that we trapped and ringed here many years ago - 31st July 2000 to be precise (this bird was in the pre-digital era of slide film and it took us quite a time to lay our hands on the slides today and then to take some ropey camera photos of the slides!). The bird was intriguing because it was a 16 tail-feathered Common Snipe; they usually have just 14 tail feathers - with Wilson's usually having 16 - but apparently the numbers do vary:

Although this was before the era when Wilson's Snipe was a vogue species we must have been vaguely aware of some of the features to look out for as we took the trouble to also photograph the upper and underwing patterns which seem to confirm that it was a Common Snipe, although it's quite interesting that, for example, at least one of the secondary tips has a rather narrow white rim to it on the underside © Martin Cade:

7th November

The return of wind and later rain saw plenty of attention given to the sea, with 31 Common Scoter, 4 Eider, 2 Brent Geese and singles of Red-throated Diver, Velvet Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser and Great Skua logged at the Bill. It was dry enough through the morning to be able to give the land a few looks but it appeared as though there had been few new arrivals, with 3 Redwings and singles of Fieldfare, Firecrest and Brambling at the Bill, 4 Bramblings and 2 Chiffchaffs at Southwell, a Black Redstart at Chesil Cove and 45 Oystercatchers, 6 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and singles of Snipe and Bar-tailed Godwit at Ferrybridge.

Several of the Southwell Bramblings remained in residence today © Pete Saunders:

It's not very often that anyone gets an opportunity to photograph a Snipe at Portland - at least not in anything other than a bitter cold spell - so this one at Ferrybridge was a minor novelty © Pete Saunders:

We've always had the impression that apparent northern aalge Guillemots are pretty uncommon off the Bill - the mass of wintering birds offshore usually look to comprise almost exclusively paler southern birds - but this 'black as the ace of spades' individual with pretty strong flank streaking stood out like a sore thumb this afternoon and looks to be an individual of distant origin © Martin Cade:

And finally we forgot yesterday to post Joe Stockwell's nice little recording of the dawn soundscape at the Obs when Bramblings were featuring well amongst the other finches:

6th November

A day of variety if not numbers, with the chief prize being Portland's first record of Mandarin Duck - a pair flying west past the Bill during the morning. With the first touch of frost of the season on the ground at dawn a fall of migrants hadn't looked to be on the cards but 17 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Bullfinches and singles of Merlin, Ring Ouzel and Yellowhammer were of note amongst the light scatter of new arrivals at the Bill; 3 Firecrests were still there, whilst elsewhere 5 Bramblings were settled at Southwell and a Black Redstart was still at Blacknor It was busier overhead, with 220 Wood Pigeons, 120 Chaffinches, 37 Skylarks, 32 Bramblings, 18 Redpolls, 10 Siskins, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Hawfinch through at the Bill, Singles of Great Northern Diver, Black-throated Diver and Pale-bellied Brent Goose passed through off the Bill.

Yesterday's remarks about expecting the unexpected in November proved to be rather prophetic, with the last of the faintly likely 'plastic' Category C species on the British List that hadn't yet made it onto the Portland list showing up in precisely the circumstances that had been envisaged, when this pair of Mandarin Ducks flew past the Bill during the morning. Fortunately, the attentiveness of their lone observer - who wasn't even actually seawatching at the time - ensured that there's a nice photographic record of the event to rub salt into the wounds of two well-known Portland listers who could easily have seen them had they not at that moment been otherwise engaged in earnest tittle-tattle on the Obs patio © Joe Stockwell:

Properly settled Bramblings aren't a frequent sight at Portland so this little group at Southwell were a nice surprise © Debby Saunders:

Merlin and Purple Sandpiper at the Bill this morning © Joe Stockwell:

5th November

It wasn't so long ago that we'd have had June and November firmly inked in as the months to expect the unexpected but both have lost their lustre a little in recent years, with today struggling to chip in with anything expected let alone something more exciting. The routine Chaffinches and Goldfinches aside, finches were in conspicuously short supply with a lone Hawfinch over Blacknor and just 4 each of Brambling and Redpoll over the Bill the best on offer. A new Firecrest turned up at the Obs but 2 Black Redstarts and a single Purple Sandpiper were the only other birds of note at the Bill; elsewhere, another Black Redstart at Blacknor, 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Grey Plover at Ferrybridge and a single Great Northern Diver in Portland Harbour made up the day's tally.

4th November

Not quite the day that had been hoped for: overnight rain heralded a change from the quiet, mild conditions of recent days to a cooler, blustery airstream but dropped far fewer late migrants than had looked to be on the cards. The north of the island was favoured with what numbers there were: 2 Hawfinches left to the north from Verne Common and 3 Ring Ouzels were at Penn's Weare, whilst 70 Redwings made up the bulk of a flurry of thrushes and finches at High Angle Battery. Another Hawfinch passed over the Bill, where a Short-eared Owl arrived in off the sea and 2 Wheatears and a Merlin were of note amongst the small numbers of routine migrants. There was still a scatter of Firecrests everywhere and a single Black Redstart was at Reap Lane. Two Great Skuas and an Arctic Skua passed through off the Bill.

The first Gem for a while and another Cosmopolitan were of note amongst a small overnight catch of immigrant moths at the Obs.

3rd November

Portland largely escaped the fog that looked to be blanketing the mainland but the hole of clear sky over the island didn't look to be large enough to entice many late migrants to get moving. A new Yellow-browed Warbler dropped in at the Obs but the numbers of most of the commoner migrants were less than impressive, with 17 Siskins, 15 Brambling, 12 Reed Buntings, 8 Redpoll, 6 Fieldfare, 2 Mistle Thrushes and singles of Golden Plover, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Bullfinch providing the best of the other interest at the Bill; elsewhere a Black Redstart was at Blacknor. The Black Brant was again amongst the brents at Ferrybridge.

Singles of Vestal and Delicate were the only immigrant moths of note at the Obs.

The Yellow-browed Warbler at the Obs © Martin Cade: 

The Black Brant showed up again this morning at Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders (still) and Debby Saunders (video): 

2nd November

Once early fog had burnt off today was as nice a November day as it's possible to get, with a millpond calm sea and shirt-sleeves warmth. Sadly, the weather mix wasn't up to much when it came to producing birds: a few new Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests dropped in and another light trickle of finches and a few thrushes passed over but there were was precious little by way of a surprise. The numbers were again overhead, with 26 Siskins, 24 Redpolls, 14 Bramblings, 5 Little Egrets, 3 Fieldfares and a Golden Plover the best over the Bill, where at least 4 Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackcaps and 2 Goldcrests were new and 4 Firecrests lingered on. Ferrybridge totals included 1900 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 5 Pale-bellied Brents and a Sanderling.

Butterflies featured well in the warm sunshine: Red Admirals were relatively numerous everywhere and Clouded Yellow, Green-veined White, Large White, Speckled Wood and Small Tortoiseshell were all logged at the Bill.

The immigrant moth tally at the Obs consisted of 12 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Silver Y and a Cosmopolitan.

One of several Clouded Yellows on the wing at the Bill today © Geoff Orton: 

1st November

Mild, quiet conditions were the order of the day and late migrants continued to trickle through. Although a few flocks of incoming Starlings passed through - totalling 350 at the Bill - it was really finches that featured best at the Bill, where 60 Siskins, 14 Bramblings, 12 Redpolls and 2 Bullfinches were amongst the steady little movement of Chaffinches; 15 Reed Buntings, 2 Fieldfares and singles of Woodlark, Mistle Thrush and Yellowhammer also passed through but the commoner thrushes were hardly represented at all. At least 2 new Firecrests joined the double-figure total of lingerers still present there but it otherwise looked as though warblers and 'crests were fewer everywhere than has been the case lately. The only other up-island reports were of single Yellow-browed Warblers at Broadcroft Quarry and Pennsylvania  Castle, and 2 Hawfinches at Coombefield Quarry.

A Vagrant Emperor was watched for a short while at Wallsend but couldn't be found during later searches.

Eleven Rusty-dot Pearl and a Cosmopolitan were the only immigrant moths trapped overnight at the Obs; elsewhere, a Radford's Flame Shoulder was caught at Blacknor.

It's been a shame that the current crop of Vagrant Emperors have been less than obliging, with most of the sightings being very brief and few permitting even a record photo - today's individual at Wallsend maintained that pattern © Joe Stockwell:

Late butterflies were a feature today, with a Small Copper at Wallsend © Joe Stockwell: 

...and a Green-veined White in the Crown Estate Field © Martin Cade: 

Firecrests continue to entertain, with new individuals still turning up - this one was in the Obs garden at dawn © Martin King:

For looks at this time of year it's hard to beat some of the male finches; Brambling and Siskin were both trapped and ringed at the Obs today © Martin Cade:

31st October

A relatively quiet end to the month with the veil of high cloud that drifted in after dawn coming too late to drop much in the way of grounded migrants, whilst overhead passage was unexpectedly slow. The first appearance this winter at Ferrybridge of what's likely to be a returning Black Brant was of note but the only other scarcity reported was the lingering Yellow-browed Warbler at Broadcroft Quarry. Most of the expected late autumn migrants did get on the day list but only a handful of the less frequent thrushes and finches managed even double figure totals, with at least 3 Bullfinches and a Mistle Thrush the best that could be mustered at the Bill. On the ground there was little better on offer than a good scatter of ones and twos of Firecrests, many of which have now been around for a while and look as though they're settling in for winter; other likely winterers of interest included the first Black-necked Grebe back in Portland Harbour, 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Ferrybridge, a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Avalanche Road and 5 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill. Two Pomarine Skuas passed through on the sea at the Bill.

The handful of immigrant moths trapped overnight at the Obs did include singles of Cosmopolitan and Radford's Flame Shoulder.

Black Brants have become quite a winter staple at Ferrybridge so today's new arrival will likely prove to be a long-stayer © Pete Saunders:

Long-tailed Tits were putting on a good show at Southwell again today © Debby Saunders: 

30th October

A rather typical end of the autumn clear day with a trickle of visible passage but not very much grounded. The pick of the visible migrants over the Bill were 50 Redpolls, 20 Siskins, 15 Bramblings, 5 Fieldfares, 3 Golden Plover, 3 Snipe and 3 Hawfinches amongst the lightish passage of Wood Pigeons and commoner thrushes and finches. On the ground the Yellow-browed Warbler remained at Broadcroft Quarry, at least 7 Bullfinches were at the Bill and single Siberian Chiffchaffs were at the Bill and Sweethill but there were no great numbers or variety of more routine migrants. Odds and ends through off the Bill included 3 Brent Geese, 2 Wigeon and a Red-throated Diver.

We're sure the regularly reappearing one-footed Grey Plover at Ferrybridge would rather have a full foot complement but it seems to be getting by perfectly well © Pete Saunders:

29th October

Overnight cloud didn't do the trick today and for the most part it was noticeably quiet both overhead and on the ground. Apart for the almost expected spread of Yellow-browed Warblers - 2 were at Broadcroft and singles at Blacknor and Church Ope Cove - the main feature of the day was an arrival of shorter distance wanderers, with 11 Long-tailed Tits, 5 Bullfinches and a Treecreeper at the Bill and several more parties of Long-tailed Tits and single Bullfinches scattered widely elsewhere. Other oddities included at least 14 Firecrests dotted about the island, single Hawfinches at East Weare and Reforne, single Ring Ouzels at Pennsylvania Castle and East Weare, a Siberian Chiffchaff at Bottomcombe, singles of Black Redstart and Mistle Thrush at the Bill and a late Sand Martin at Bumpers Lane. A notable concentration of 70 Goldcrests and 20 Chiffchaffs was discovered at East Weare, but for the most part commoner migrants weren't particularly plentiful anywhere.

On a cold and windy night the immigrant moth tally dropped to just 6 Silver Y, 2 Vestal and singles of Rusty-dot Pearl and Delicate.

A couple of nice little video clips of the Broadcroft Yellow-browed Warbler and the Bottomcombe Siberian Chiffchaff © Dave Foot:

One of a party of Long-tailed Tits at Southwell © Debby Saunders:

And one of the wintering Purple Sandpipers back at the Bill tip © Roger Hewitt:

28th October

Once an early pulse of visible passage had fizzled out an unwelcome end of the season feel begun to descend on proceedings: the clear, cold night had seen to it that grounded arrivals were in short supply, whilst the impressive off-passage gatherings of the likes of Meadow Pipits and Linnets that have been a feature for so long are gradually dwindling away. It was overhead passage that accounted for all the numbers today, with 2000 Wood Pigeons, 46 Redpolls, 45 Redwings, 16 Fieldfares, 11 Bramblings and a Mistle Thrush amongst the pulse of movement over the Bill in the morning. Goldcrests looked to account for the bulk of the new arrivals on the ground, with 25 at the Bill and a fair spread elsewhere; 8 Firecrests, 4 Purple Sandpipers, 3 Bullfinches, 2 Black Redstarts and a Woodlark were the best of the scarce migrants at the Bill, with a Yellow-browed Warbler also remaining at Avalanche Road.

Nor surprisingly, moth numbers took a tumble overnight with 9 Silver Y, 5 Rusty-dot Pearl, 4 Pearly Underwing, 4 Cosmopolitan, 3 Delicate, 2 Vestal, 2 Dark Sword Grass and a White-speck constituting the immigrant tally at the Obs.

Redpolls have begun to feature quite well in the morning flurries of finches - it'll be interesting to discover where the two birds that were trapped at the Bill yesterday and found to be bearing rings from elsewhere hailed from. This bird today dropped in at Southwell © Debby Saunders:

And back to yesterday for a photo we quite liked but didn't notice it time to include on the blog posting - these Ring Ouzels were in Top Fields © Simon Colenutt thedeskboundbirder:

27th October

Overcast conditions overnight had seen plenty more migrants audible over the Bill but by dawn the sky had cleared and numbers were well down on yesterday. That said, there was still plenty about both overhead and on the ground, with single Yellow-browed Warblers at Sweethill and Bumpers Lane, 2 Lapland Buntings over the Bill, a Siberian Chiffchaff still around at the Obs and a Hawfinch over Verne Common providing the best of the interest, whilst less frequent migrants at the Bill included 14 Long-tailed Tits, 10 Firecrests, 6 Ring Ouzels, 6 Bearded Tits, 4 Black Redstarts and singles of Dartford Warbler, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting. Visible passage over the Bill included another 1200 Wood Pigeons, 35 Redpolls, 15 Bramblings and the first 2 Fieldfares of the autumn amongst the usual late October suspects, whilst on the ground there a decent little arrival included the likes of 30 each of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, and 25 Blackcaps.

A female Vagrant Emperor showed up several times during the afternoon in the Bumpers Lane area.

The overnight immigrant moth list at the Obs included 36 Rusty-dot Pearl, 27 Silver Y, 5 Delicate, 3 each of Dark Sword Grass and Radford's Flame Shoulder, 2 each of Spanish Dot, Rush Veneer, Olive-tree Pearl, Pearly Underwing and White-speck, and singles of Diamond-back Moth, Vestal and Red Admiral butterfly.

An event that ended up taking up rather more time and attention today than it perhaps deserved was the eventual identification of this Reed Warbler at Culverwell  © Ted Pressey:

When first discovered it was thought possibly to be a Marsh Warbler but by the time we arrived to have a look the gathering crowd had Blyth's Reed in mind: tacking calls were believed to have been heard, tail cocking had apparently been frequently observed and the ID was most of the way there. We can't say we were overly impressed with the plumage as there looked to be obvious Blyth's Reed anomalies such as the warmth of the flanks and the lack of rusty edges to the primaries; however, with nets to keep an eye on elsewhere we weren't able to give the bird much time and were confident that before long it would be netted anyway (there'd been a ringing session going on at Culverwell throughout the unfolding event but somehow the bird had thus far managed to avoid being caught). Considering that the ID was far from certain we certainly weren't going to put any news out about the bird and so were very surprised when - long after the nets had been closed with the bird still untrapped - the news services begun to report it as a probable Blyth's Reed. Another trapping tactic was clearly necessary to resolve the issue and this time it didn't take too long before it was in the hand where it was immediately apparent that it was a pretty ordinary-looking Reed Warbler © Martin Cade::

We're guessing the sequence of events here mirrored those that occurred recently on the Isles of Scilly with a Reed/Blyth's Reed: once a seed has been sown it's very easy to get carried along and see what you want to see rather than what's actually in front of your eyes.

26th October

The murk and drizzle that quickly reappeared overnight resulted in some seriously strong overhead passage and at dawn it was quickly apparent that the island was awash with downed and overflying migrants. As usual, the Bill area got the most extensive coverage and returned totals that included 1300 Linnets, 300 Song Thrushes, 250 Skylarks, 200 Blackbirds, 150 each of Redwing and Chaffinch, 100 Goldcrests, 75 each of Stonechat and Siskin, 70 Chiffchaffs, 50 each of Blackcap and Redpoll, 35 Bramblings, 30 Reed Buntings, 12 Ring Ouzels, 12 Firecrests and 10 Wheatears, with 4 Siberian Chiffchaffs, 3 Woodlarks, 2 each of Merlin, Black Redstart and Mistle Thrush, and singles of Richard's Pipit, Bearded Tit, Hawfinch and Yellowhammer amongst the miscellany of lower totals. Yesterday's Radde's Warblers was still at Bumpers Lane at dawn but couldn't be found thereafter, whilst coverage of other sites around the centre of the island turned up a good selection of scarcer migrants that included 7 Yellow-browed Warblers, 4 Hawfinches, 3 Ring Ouzels, 2 more Siberian Chiffchaffs, the same or another Richard's Pipit (over Avalanche Road) and another Bearded Tit.

The immigrant moth highlight was a Crimson Speckled discovered by day on the Slopes at the Bill; overnight trapping was a tad less exciting than had been anticipated given the mild, murky conditions, with the Obs totals consisting of 18 Rusty-dot Pearl, 9 Red Admiral butterlies, 8 Silver Y, 2 Rush Veneer and singles of Diamond-back Moth, Vestal, Hummingbird Hawkmoth, Dark Sword Grass, Pearly Underwing, Delicate, Cosmopolitan and Radford's Flame Shoulder.

As already mentioned, overnight audible passage was at times prodigiously strong and we were fortunate that Joe Stockwell had recording equipment deployed all night at the Obs. Joe's totals (of calls logged) were 4600 Song Thrushes, 3342 Redwings, 370 Blackbirds, 155 Robins, 8 Ring Ouzels, 7 Meadow Pipits, 5 Dunlin, 4 Golden Plover, 2 Redshanks, 1 Woodcock, 1 Skylark and 1 Reed Bunting, with this little sample recording giving some idea of the volume of passage at its peak after midnight:

...and here's one of the Ring Ouzels calling just before midnight:

Amongst the host of birds about today only the Richard's Pipit was actually new for the year - it flew over the Bill a couple of times where it was both photographed and sound recorded and it or another later flew over at Avalanche Road © Joe Stockwell:

Yellow-browed Warblers were showing nicely at Southwell © Debby Saunders (upper photo) and Pete Saunders (lower photo):

Ring Ouzels were quite numerous for the first time this autumn - this one was in the beach hut fields at the Bill © Roger Hewitt:

Redpolls also returned their highest total of the autumn to date - this one was at Culverwell © Debby Saunders:

As a sad reflection on their demise at Portland this Yellowhammer was one of the most appreciated in-hand birds of the day © Martin Cade:

In the pretty stakes there could only be one winner - the Crimson Speckled found on the Slopes at the Bill © Martin Cade:

And finally, we don't really want to get mired in the slightly tiresome subject of what constitutes a Siberian Chiffchaff but are we right in understanding that the latest thoughts are that something that looks more or less like this 'Common' Chiffchaff from today...

...is not with certainty distinguishable from these (two of the four) 'Siberian' Chiffchaffs also from today?

We think we're reading the research rightly and it seems that either just might have a few genes from the other in its system so we might as well forget about trying to identify them for certain without recourse to taking a blood sample (feathers alone aren't good enough). We did have a little meander about in the Ural Mountains a few years ago and despite paying close attention to the vocalisations and appearance of a lot of Siberian Chiffchaffs there we didn't hear a mixed singer or see anything that looked much different to our birds today so we must have been unlucky in not tapping into the host of genetically intermediate birds there that just might be making a B line for Britain every autumn.

25th October

An absolutely ripping day to be out and about around the island with bags of visible migration, a decent rarity and a nice selection of island scarcities...oh, and good dragonflies to boot. Once again, the weather forecast was well wide of the mark and although a dreary gloom continued to envelope the island through the morning, by the afternoon blazing sun had broken through and it was feeling positively hot. The rarity of the day was the autumn's second Radde's Warbler that showed up off Bumpers Lane, but a nice supporting cast included at least 8 Bearded Tits, 7 Hawfinches and a Siberian Chiffchaff at the Bill, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers and 3 Hawfinches dotted around Southwell and a Siberian Chiffchaff at Bumpers Lane. Overhead passage accounted for the bulk of the numbers, with a strong southbound passage over the Bill that included 1700 Wood Pigeons, 1000 each of Linnet and Goldfinch, 450 Chaffinches, 150 Skylarks, 110 Siskins, 100 Reed Buntings, 25 Greenfinches, 12 Bramblings, 8 Redpolls and 3 Merlins. It was considerably quieter on the ground although there were again several decent concentrations of Chiffchaffs in particular in areas of cover; the Firecrest tally at the Bill crept back up into double figures, with 3 Bullfinches, 2 Black Redstarts and a Great Spotted Woodpecker of note there, whilst elsewhere 2 Ring Ouzels were at Kingbarrow Quarry. The sea got very little attention but 4 Great Skuas and an Arctic Tern did make the list at the Bill; the very long staying Eider was also still in Portland Harbour.

In the insect line, Vagrant Emperor dragonflies at Bumpers Lane (a female) and Shepherd's Dinner (a male) were a fine highlight; additionally, there were inconclusive brief sightings of large dragonflies presumed to Vagrant Emperors at Wallsend and Southwell Business Park. In the afternoon sunshine a good deal of butterfly emigration was evident, with a steady southbound procession of Red Admirals everywhere and 2 Clouded Yellows through south at the Bill. It had remained very windy overnight and immigrant moth interest didn't get beyond the level of singles of Convolvulus Hawkmoth and Cosmopolitan trapped by visitors at Freshwater Bay.

Seven of Portland's ten previous Radde's Warblers have been first found in a mist-net so today's Bumpers Lane bird was a nice in-field discovery © Joe Stockwell:

The Bearded Tits did their usual Portland thing of dropping into unlikely habitat...

...although it wasn't long before they moved into one of the maize strips - our nearest reedbed equivalent - where six of them were duly trapped; five of the six were metal- and colour-ringed and we understand they originate from RSPB Radipole (as did also the ringed bird we controlled earlier in the month) © Martin Cade:

Black Redstarts have been a bit slow to get going this month but are beginning to become a feature around the Bill tip © Mark Eggleton:

It was a source of some frustration that not one of the series of Vagrant Emperor sightings back in the early spring was supported by a photograph so it very pleasing that both of today's insects obliged; the male at Shepherd's Dinner stayed just long enough for both settled and flying images:

...although the Bumpers Lane female was less obliging © Joe Stockwell: 

And finally, back to gulls again. We were interested to see the difference in state of moult between our 'black-and-white' Lesser Black-backed Gull from a couple of days ago and the next two intermedius that we had a look at below Culverwell: both these were far more advanced and already had streaky winter heads and plenty of newly moulted primaries © Martin Cade: