The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Branting and Vismigging

No wildly special sightings to report on in the last 9 days, just solid autumn birding.

Ferrybridge has been decent, with one day producing a fly-through Merlin, plus two Great Northern Diver which headed off over Portland Harbour.

The Black Brant has also returned with over a thousand Brents.

There are a number of summer migrants still hanging on with a Garden Warbler associating with a loose group of Blackcap at Suckthumb Quarry on one day, and a House Martin over the windmills on another, both my latest ever.

A Lesser Whitethroat next to the former Weston craft centre a few days ago had a brownish nape, and was therefore probably one of the eastern subspecies.

A few Swallow are still passing through (including a bird with entirely pale flight-feathers, similar to the effect you sometimes see in Crows), and Sandwich Tern are still around of course.

A bit of a blow on a few days increased hopes of some storm-driven birds, but a bit of seawatching has so far only produced a single immature Pomarine Skua, and a moribund juvenile Gannet.  I first saw this bird with its bill tucked away, and it took a while for me to realise what it was.  It looked very odd!

Chesil Cove was as atmospheric as ever though.

The Yellow-browed Warbler has remained at the Avalanche Rd hump throughout, but I've rarely seen it.  Just a few calls. 

I did however find a new bird at the top of Tilleycombe associating with a large roving mixed flock of birds that also included a very pale Chiffchaff.  A closer look at it yesterday revealed it not to be a classic Siberian, so probably of another eastern cline.

There are a decent number of typical autumn migrants around, such as Grey Wagtail.

Yesterday was particularly good for migration, with clear skies producing some nice visible migration (vismig) overhead.  This included a southerly movement of Woodpigeon totalling 900 birds in an hour, the largest flock of 200 birds.

Also yesterday, I found at least 3 Firecrest and 2 calling Water Rail at Verne Common, and witnessed a Peregrine continually stooping on a Kestrel.  These two really don't get on round here, as they nest close to each other on the cliffs.

An amusing observation was witnessing a Robin washing by rubbing itself on dew-covered leaves.  Not seen that behaviour before!

Definitely a feeling about the place at the moment that the potential for autumn rarities is largely over. But, you never know I suppose!

1 comment:

  1. You're right - it does feel like it's all but over in terms of autumn rares. But you never know... and there's always winter rares!