1. 7th August

    Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre

    When the predicted south easterlies failed to materialize (instead a straight northerly at dawn, that moved to the east through the morning), we gave up on our hopes of a mega in the Crown Field. With the temperature rapidly climbing, it was unsurprising that there was very little evidence of any movement (in fact of the four Willow Warblers trapped in the garden, two were recent re-traps and a third has been moulting here since the 14th July). Two new Skylarks, one shabby adult and a pristine juvenile, brought the summer trapping total to 14, but the nets were otherwise unperturbed by their avian quarry. The sea added little to the days excitement with a virtually impenetrable heat haze developing by around 9o'clock; highlights included two Balearic Shearwaters and a lone Bonxie. Elsewhere, Ferrybridge saw just one addition to the usual small wader flocks of a Wheatear and a lonesome Shelduck.

    The day's highlight was without doubt Debby Saunders' overnight catch at Sweethill of Britain's first Eupithecia breviculata - more to follow on this before long © Martin Cade/Debby Saunders:


    Wednesday night's Pale Shoulder from Weston, the fifth for the island © Duncan Walbridge:


    Despite the Shelduck seeming to be alone, its encouraging to see one get to this size. It seems everyone has stories of watching the poor black and white balls of fluff being picked off by every predator under the sun, but very few recollections of families of larger juveniles © Pete Saunders:


  2. 8th August

    Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre

    A bit of a frustrating day with a pretty raging wind making it hard to get amongst what looked to be a decent little flurry of new grounded migrants at dawn, whilst the intensity of the heat once the wind died down meant that activity fizzled out quite quickly (...in fact it became so hot by midday - more than 30°C which is truly exceptional for the Bill - that we thought it circumspect to shut the mist-nets in even the shadiest parts of the Obs garden). Willow Warblers made up the bulk of the numbers, with 40 or more at the Bill where a light scatter of Wheatears, a handful of Sedge Warblers and a Garden Warbler were also logged. Hirundines, Swifts, Black-headed Gulls and a couple of Grey Herons were on the move overhead - with both Sand Martin and Swallow getting into three figure totals at the Bill alone. Ferrybridge stole the show rarity-wise, with a Rosy Starling dropping in with the Starlings for a short while before it relocated to fields near the Bridging Camp later in the day; 43 Ringed Plover, 31 Dunlin, a Sanderling and a Knot were the best of the waders there.

    We'd thought our good summer for Rosy Starlings was over but then up popped this fine specimen on the roof of the Chesil Beach Centre © Angela Thomas:



    Little Terns, Sandwich Terns and a Knot were also amongst the Ferrybridge ensemble today...




    ...whilst Priti Patel would be horrified to discover that both Polish and Serbian seagulls had snuck through and pitched up on our shores © Pete Saunders:



    Moth-wise, it would have been difficult to match the excitement of the last couple of nights even if, for sheer quantity of catch alone, it was by far the best night of the year to date. Dispersal was very evident, as much in the form of enormous numbers of beetles and hoverflies as it was for moths, with this Chevron perhaps the most infrequently caught species making it onto the night's list -  it's a simple pleasure at a place as inhospitable for many 'inland' moths as Portland is that we get almost as excited to trap something like this as we do to catch all manner of rare immigrants that we're lucky enough to see rather often! © Martin Cade:

  3. 9th August

    Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre

    It can't be very often that we've reported it so hot as to spoil the enjoyment of being out birding much beyond the first couple of hours of the morning - and to do so for the second day on the trot really takes some beating. Dawn saw the strength of the breeze an issue again but sheltered spots were still busy with Willow Warblers - perhaps getting up towards 50 at the Bill - with the first 2 Redstarts of the autumn also a noteworthy arrival; 25 Wheatears was also a fair total at the Bill. Overhead movement included 3 Tree Pipits, 2 Grey Herons, 2 Curlews and singles of Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Yellow Wagtail and Siskin at the Bill, whilst a very light trickle of Manx Shearwaters accounted for the bulk of the numbers on the sea there. Waders totals - including 78 Ringed Plovers - increased a little at Ferrybridge.

    Common Tern through at Ferrybridge this morning © Pete Saunders:


  4. 10th August

    Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre

    Hot news of rather more significant migration events on the East Coast dampened our enjoyment of another small arrival of common migrants even if it did provide some anticipation of a trickle down to look forward to. From being notable absentees Pied Flycatchers were elevated in one fell swoop to being one of the day's most conspicuous arrivals with 6 at the Bill and at least another 3 around the centre of the island; Willow Warbler and Wheatear maintained top spot for numbers, reaching 40 apiece at the Bill, with 2 Spotted Flycatchers the best of the rest on the ground there. Overhead, Tree Pipits totalled 7 at the Bill, with the likes of 2 Kestrels, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Siskin providing additional vis-mig interest there. A Greenshank was the pick of the waders at Ferrybridge.

  5. 12th August

    Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre

    Passage is struggling to get beyond the routine at the moment with daily small flurries of departing summer migrants but not a hint of birds of more distant origin. Today's samey tally at the Bill included 40 Willow Warblers, 9 Tree Pipits, 3 Yellow Wagtails, a Garden Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher, with another couple of Pied Flycatchers in the middle of the island. At Ferrybridge, a Marsh Harrier passed over and later departed to the south from the Bill, whilst wader totals increased a little and included 133 Ringed Plover, 82 Dunlin, 5 Sanderling and 3 Common Sandpipers.

    This morning's Marsh Harrier over Ferrybridge © Pete Saunders:


    After a slow start, Wheatears have been getting a little more numerous in recent days © Geoff Orton:


    We're struggling to cope with the bug numbers during the current hot spell: the moth-traps have been rammed and take an age to work through, whilst by day there seems to be just so much about that we're getting the feel that we're missing things amongst the numbers - surely there'll be the odd Southern Migrant Hawker or Long-tailed Blue tucked away somewhere? Splashes of colour are everywhere - Jersey Tiger © Roy Norris...


    ...Brimstone and Painted Lady © Geoff Orton:


  6. 11th August

    Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre

    Portland Bill: Willow Warbler 40, Wheatear 30, Pied Flycatcher 6, Sedge Warbler 5, Tree Pipit 4, Golden Plover 1, Whimbrel 1, Redshank 1, Dunlin 1, Common Sandpiper 1, Green Sandpiper 1, Black Redstart 1.

    Southwell: Pied Flycatcher 2.

    Blacknor: Little Ringed Plover 1, Pied Flycatcher 1.

    Ferrybridge: Ringed Plover 119, Dunlin 61, Sanderling 6, Common Sandpiper 5, Shelduck 3, Golden Plover 1.

  7. 13th August

    Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre

    Today's only change was in the wrong direction, with apparently promising-looking conditions dropping the fewest new arrivals of the week; something else that dropped was a substantial quantity of rain out of a cloudburst late in the afternoon and this did at least prompt a late flurry of wader activity. Passerines were noticeably thin on the ground, with singles of Whinchat, Reed Warbler and Garden Warbler the pick of the bunch at the Bill. It was a tad busier overhead, with 40 Swifts, 19 Tree Pipits, 5 Ringed Plovers, 4 Yellow Wagtails and a Golden Plover over the Bill. Waders were on the up all day, with well into three figure totals of Dunlin and Ringed Plover at Ferrybridge by the evening; a Little Ringed Plover also dropped in at this time, whilst soon after dark a good little passage of waders developed over the Bill. The only other report was of a total of 7 Balearic Shearwaters through off the Bill.