August 2020

Monday 31st

A mostly cloudy morning with a light NW breeze brought a rather tedious month to a familiar conclusion, with nothing moving over except for one or two Siskins and a Snipe over the farm and very little in the bushes.

Friday 28th

A couple of hours or so was possible in between showers before heavy thundery showers set in for the afternoon. It appeared that numbers were well down on yesterday – 20 Blackcaps, 11 Whitethroats and 7 Willow Warblers in the main – but still nothing is moving along the cliffs.

Thursday 27th

A calm, dull morning that became sunny after a couple of hours had a distinct feel of September about it, due mainly to a significant arrival of 55 Blackcaps, well outnumbering totals of 17 Willow Warblers, 10 Whitethroats, 9 Lesser Whitethroats, 4 Chiffchaffs and 2 Reed Warblers. 5 Wheatears were hopping about along the cliffs, 16 Swallows and 2 Yellow Wagtails flew SW and a Goldcrest was the first of autumn.

Tuesday 25th

On a grey and windy morning with frequent squalls a two and a half hour seawatch produced a SW movement of 5 Arctic Skuas, a Sooty Shearwater, 210 Dunlin, 17 Knot, 84 Gannets, 41 Sandwich Terns, 5 Common Terns, 35 Common Scoter and 2 Whimbrel.

Monday 24th

During a pleasant interlude in some fractious weather, the morning began with the bizarre sight of 2 Grey Herons flinging themselves from the cliff near Fan Bay, presumably having found somewhere to roost overnight. There was a noticeable arrival of 26 Willow Warblers and for the first time this autumn Robins were conspicuous everywhere. 7 Whinchats, 4 Wheatears and a Redstart were on the farm and the supporting cast included 14 Whitethroats, 7 Lesser Whitethroats, a Sedge Warbler and 3 Yellow Wagtails.

Thursday 20th

Some frantic overnight weather had more or less gone away by dawn and it turned into a lovely sunny and warm morning. It was again pretty quiet, but 4 Whinchats and a Wheatear were on the farm and 9 Crossbills were flying rather aimlessly over the top of the valley. 4 Clouded Yellows were on the farm and the weekly transect featured 47 Chalkhill Blues, 6 Brown Argus, 3 Silver-spotted Skippers and enough of the rest to elevate the year’s total thus far to 26% down on the same time last year which is not good but an improvement on the previous week.

Wednesday 19th

The fact that 2 Ringed Plovers flying over the lighthouse was the high point of this morning’s visible migration says it all. Migrants in the bushes were much the same as yesterday, so it was left to a Peregrine chasing a party of Swallows as they flew along the cliffs and a Sparrowhawk winding up the local Jackdaws over Fan Bay to provide the entertainment. One Clouded Yellow was on the farm before it clouded over.

Tuesday 18th

A bright morning with a frisky SW breeze brought something of a clear night clear-out, with warbler numbers well reduced, the best on offer being 9 each of Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat. However, 2 Whinchats were on the farm, a Redstart was in the valley and 4 Yellow Wagtails flew SW.

Monday 17th

Bright with a S breeze there was little flying over, except for a Sparrowhawk and a Turnstone along the cliffs and a party of 21 Swallows SW across the farm. Nevertheless, some migrants included a Spotted Flycatcher and a Pied Flycatcher on the farm, 23 Lesser Whitethroats, 22 Whitethroats, 8 Willow Warblers and 3 Reed Warblers, while the Linnet flock at Fan Bay had increased to 120.

Saturday 15th

Overcast, warm and humid with the threat of rain never far away this morning’s migrants included 3 Spotted Flycatchers in the valley and 2 Whinchats and a Wheatear on the farm, where 4 Clouded Yellows were still present. 3 Pied Flycatchers and a Garden Warbler were among the birds trapped.

Friday 14th

Our week in Dorset over, it was a relief to find the heat and humidity much reduced and replaced by overcast and misty conditions. Migrants appeared to be few and far between, although 5 Whinchats were on the farm and a few pockets of activity amounted to totals of 19 Whitethroats and small numbers of everything else, including single Garden and Reed Warblers, while a Golden Plover was forlornly circling the fields.

Friday 7th

Scorchio. In cloud-free and very hot conditions the weekly butterfly transect was the best so far this year and, for some species at least, there were signs of a welcome improvement from a poor position earlier in the season. Most numerous species were Chalkhill Blue (78), Common Blue (23) and Wall (16), while 3 Small Tortoiseshells, it is sad to say, was a notably good count by recent standards. A Clouded Yellow was seen on Lighthouse Down and 4 Silver-spotted Skippers were the first this year.

Thursday 6th

Overcast last night and consequently a bit busier, even though it should be more so at this time of year. Still, 4 Whinchats and a Wheatear were on the farm and 3 Garden Warblers were fiddling about among the elderberries at the top of the valley. There was also a noticeable influx of Migrant Hawkers.

Tuesday 4th

A bit chilly to start with it soon warmed up and turned out to be a good deal better than the last couple of days, with warblers including 29 Whitethroats, 16 Willow Warblers, 9 Blackcaps, 2 Reed Warblers and a Sedge Warbler. Butterflies were also much improved, with 21 Walls scattered about, at least 84 Chalkhill Blues along Lighthouse Down, 2 Clouded Yellows on the farm and 2 Dingy Skippers in the valley.

Monday 3rd

With the wind in the NW and feeling a good deal fresher after the heat of the weekend it was again almost eerily quiet, though a Hobby was hunting over the farm and one Clouded Yellow appeared when the sun came out.

Sunday 2nd

Noticeably fresher and quieter than yesterday, the bushes were fairly quiet, though of local interest were 33 Corn Buntings and 130 Linnets on the farm, while 3 Siskins flew over.

Saturday 1st

A late start was enforced by a beetle-infested moth trap at home that would have amounted to even worse carnage had it been left. Still, a few good bits were seen, including a Hobby, at least 5 Kestrels, a Ringed Plover flying N over the farm and an excellent count of 6 Clouded Yellows on Wanstone.

Clouded Yellow by Ian Hodgson