31st July

On a day where things didn't get going until past lunchtime the bird list grew quite rapidly, the garden and crop field were the only areas which received any coverage due to a bit of ringing, the first Willow Warbler to be trapped since spring was nice (I've got a bit of stick calling the end of July autumn) 10 Sedge Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler were noted also. The undoubted highlight on the sea was a Sub-adult Long-tailed Skua which flew east late afternoon, due to the fog the sea wasn't visible until around lunch again but westerly Balearic Shearwater passage continued and 24 had been seen by the evening. conversation popped up in the afternoon about what goes past when we're not looking, each 5 minute look at the sea in between net rounds later this afternoon seemed to produce a Balearic, with a flock of 4 at one stage, how many do we miss? I suppose it could drive you mad wondering! Other birds of note 12 Scoter, 7 Manx, and singles of Whimbrel, Curlew and Puffin. A Black-tailed Godwit was a Weston. Overnight moth immigration improved overnight with 5 Silver Y, 2 Dark sword Grass, 1 Xylostella and a Cream-bordered Green Pea and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth was on the east cliff.

All Photos ©Joe Stockwell.

A Day of two halves

Today dawned pretty soggy with light precipitation continuing until just after lunch, bouts of mist and fog hampered visibility throughout the morning which finally abated at around 1:30. This seemingly sparked a little bit of movement on the sea (although Judging by some of Devon's counts today we're a seriously poor relation) 12 Balearic Shearwater, 16 Manx Shearwater, 3 Oystercatcher and singles of Great Skua, Dunlin, Sanderling, Whimbrel and Turnstone, Past in a few hours before the mist rolled back in! The only migrant to note from the bill was a lowly Sedge Warbler. Ferrybridge again was the place to be locally for numbers of common waders with 250 Dunlin, 16 Sanderling, 9 Turnstone, 3 of Redshank and Curlew and a single Greenshank. Overnight mothing resulted in an amazing lack of migration with just 6 Silver Y

Balearic Shearwaters and Argyresthia albistria ©Joe Stockwell

The holiday makers are staring at the sea, as are the birders...

Judging by the faces of our hardy fieldworkers this morning it was less than rewarding to be out, 4 Sedge Warbler, 2 Yellow-legged Gull, and the semi-resident Cuckoo and Wheatear by mid afternoon was all they had to show. With the onset of some rather brisk south-westerlies in the last few days the sea was given even more attention, the first Sooty Shearwater of the year was logged late morning, a personal highlight for myself as it was a Portland tick, by 8pm 35 Manx Shearwater, 20 Balearic Shearwater, 9 Common Scoter, 2 Turnstone and singles of Ringed Plover, Mallard, Little Egret and Med Gull flew past, most species going west, except for the Mallard which shouldn't have been here in the first place... Ferrybridge wader numbers continue to build with 217 Dunlin, 36 Ringed Plover, 20 Sanderling, 7 Turnstone and 5 Sandwich Tern.

Cuckoo ©Joe Stockwell, Herring Gull and Wheatear ©Pete and Debby Saunders

A day of contrasting weather

Sunday 28th July

Though starting off rather bright and sunny the cries of gardeners everywhere now seem to have been well and truly heard, by mid afternoon some rather feisty showers were arriving in off the sea,  the first catching us out leading to an impromptu mopping of the communal lounge! Birding as always with this time of year was largely confined to the bill area where 12 Sedge Warbler, 6 Grasshopper Warbler, 5 Yellow-legged Gull, 2 each of Long-tailed Tit and Willow Warbler were noted. With what seemed like quite an enormous throng of visiting birders for July this morning, it was hardly any surprise that with each giving the sea a cursory glance here and there a reasonable tally was logged; 48 Common Scoter, 36 Manx Shearwater, 4 Balearic Shearwater, 3 Black-headed Gull, 2 Dunlin and singles of Redshank, Great Skua and Arctic Skua, the latter flew straight over the obs! At Ferrybridge this morning were 175 Dunlin, 28 Ringed Plover, 11 Sanderling, 8 Sandwich Tern and a Yellow-legged Gull. Moths again were quiet with just 19 Silver Y, 3 Dark Sword Grass, 2 Xylostella and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth.

More of the same...

27th July

With the way things have been going recently it came somewhat as a surprise when only one new bird was trapped this morning, admittedly it was a rather half-hearted effort but there were just far fewer birds present in the crop this morning. A little bit of coverage on the land returned 4 Willow Warblers in Culverwell this afternoon, and singles of Cuckoo and Sedge Warbler at the bill. The sea was given quite a bit of attention throughout the morning and early afternoon, although quiet at first things did pick up and returned totals of 55 Common Scoter, 52 Manx Shearwater, 13 Black-headed Gull, 5 Dunlin, 5 Balearic Shearwater, and 2 each of Med Gull, Yellow-legged Gull and Sandwich Tern. A Kestrel was also seen to fly out to sea.

 Sedge Warbler © Joe Stockwell

Bit of a sore bum... oh and some birds.

It’s amazing the influence music has on my writing style, the opening sentence of the this post was changed 3 times before I switched from Rammstien to Madeski, Martin and Wood, Quite extraordinary! It was so different in fact I scrapped the whole post and started over!  Anyway, Sunday afternoon I took to the road in the hope of putting 50km into my legs, I failed miserably because midway through the ride I realized it included the climb back up to Portland, not a heavy climb, only a cat 4 (one which you could do on a unicycle) but on a new bike, new saddle etc i didn't want find I couldn't do it, it's pretty embarrassing pushing your bike up a hill! I did find a decent I can hit 70kmh though, get 3 points and a £60 for that, shame there's not a speed camera! A nice ride in the end, but my word my arse is sore!

Saturday night I found myself cold and alone at the bottom of a quarry, no I didn’t fall in, It seemed a good idea in the morning to take out a Moth trap to the north of the island. My catch was very varied, so much so that all 11 moths were different species, It was so terrible I was tucked up in bed by midnight! Lesson learned? No, I’m back out tonight… Sunday morning I had a little hunch that there would be some birds in the crop field, I proved myself right (for a change) returning with the first migrant Sedge Warbler of the autumn on my first round, the second round proved even more productive with a Grasshopper Warbler, Exciting stuff! Yesterday was fairly rubbish in terms of weather, after an awesome thunderstorm the night before the air was very muggy and it wasn’t long before the mist rolled in, which still hasn’t left. I did however pop to Ferrybridge, there held a Ringed Plover which had been reported to us in the morning with a Red Flag on it’s leg, turns out that it was ringed as a nestling in May over 1000Km away in Sweden! I’ll post some more pictures of moths tomorrow, hopefully something new in the trap for me tonight!

Okay just one, Aethes Cnicana Because it's gold...

Sun, Sea and a serious lack of birds...

What could we expect? The weather is just blisteringly hot, birding is seemingly limited to very early morning, and the ringing is stopping at around 11:30 each day, though this morning again we had quite a few Balearic Shearwater again, now seen 40 in 2 days! The upside of this belting weather is a lot of moths, not much of quality but beggars can't be choosers, at least there is something to go through in the morning. Today's catch included;
 Brussels Lace
 Dusky Sallow
Rosy Footman

All rather splendid, there's a rather dandy looking Mirco too but I can't remember it's name so It's awaiting re-identification, Being that It was hot today chances were Chalkhill Blue would be on the wing, a trip up to the high angle battery landed me this little scorcher!

This one's actually about birds! Well one anyway...

The day dawned clear, bright and sunny but the temperature at 5:30 was already rising. I don't mind prolonged periods of nice weather, in fact it beats wearing a jumper by quite some considerable margin, it's downside however is the lethargy which seems to accompany it! Ringing activity came to an abrupt halt shortly after the 4th bird was ringed, the effort it takes to walk round the garden in 23C is surprising! Once lunch was out of the way the continual effort that is autumn preparation began and again both Martin and myself made good progress in the garden and crop field. Fast forward 90 minutes and we're stood at Lodmoor watching a White-rumped Sandpiper!

The White-rump, an Adult, was feeding with 4 Dunlin along the edge of the Tern pool, although hazy at first a breeze picked up and excellent scope views were obtained, unfortunately my photos don't really do it justice, A little further exploration of Lodmoor revealed good numbers of Mediterranean Gulls and two Greenshank. 

Microscopic marvels from a microscopic world.

 When I first decided to take the plunge with Moths I vowed never to get involved with Micros, the Macro families seemed more than enough to tackle, however when someone showed me Crambus Lathoniellus through a magnifying glass I began to see the attraction. During my weekend at home I collected up a few Micros for later identification, being honest I did only pot up the funky looking moths as I've got to start slowly... just too many are small and brown!
 Catopria Pinella
Argyresthia Goedartella
 Coleophora Trifollii

Just ultimate punk moths and far more interesting than Heart and Dart! Although in the trap this morning were a couple of new macros for me, Lesser Broad bordered Yellow Underwing and Scalloped Oak (I know, I know, I only started this year!)

On another note, having followed Gavin Haig's excellent Not Quite Scilly I noticed his use of a web program called Strava, I'll not bore you but in short it's an excellent tool for you and your bike should you have a GPS device. A quick ride this afternoon led me to a section called The Decent Of Fortune, It's basically a who dares wins decent from The heights Hotel to Chiswell, now being my first attempt on a new bike a change of underwear was needed at the bottom but still finished a whole 37 seconds slower than the fastest time, not only do you get cars in the way but it's twisty, lumpy and a little like doing Le col du Tormalet backwards! In places you can hit 70kmh... I didn't however. Another attempt when it's cool tomorrow morning, remembering that I have to go back up! 

So it all starts again

It seems a while since I shut down my old blog, although now when I think about it, it was only a month ago, and updates were pretty sparse if I'm honest, but due to a bit of nagging I'm giving it a second shot. The difficulty is trying to come up with something new and exciting, so difficult in fact I haven't bothered, instead I'll stick with the basic layout of words and hopefully a few decent images, it'll keep the family happy if you know what I mean ;)

I'm in a rather fortunate position since my last blog, I very recently became the Assistant Warden at Portland Bird Obs, of which i am hugely grateful to everyone involved in that process, so I couldn't be in a better place, or want to be for that matter! With this in mind I hope this blog will be of interest to those who stumble across it, but you know, I can't please everyone!

The weekend just gone was spent back up in Hampshire for my sisters birthday, with it being so hot and muggy I took a Moth trap with me in the hope of catching a few different species to which I see day to day on Portland, although only really concentrating on Macros I managed a rather impressive Haul on the first night, Just over 200 of 62 Species, although the wasn't too much of interest to start with, the second tray revealed 3 Leopard Moth, a stunning looking creature which was a first for me and probably the highlight of the weekend. Last night landed me with 300+ moths in and around the trap, This included Buff-tip, Beautiful Golden Y, Blackneck, Peach Blossom, Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing Burnished Brass, 4 Species of Hawkmoth and plenty of other really stonking moths! below are just a few images from the weekend, also Right at the bottom is a Lulworth Skipper which was seen in good numbers this afternoon.

Beautiful Golden Y
Burnished Brass
Leopard Moth