But 14 October transpired to be Firecrest Day on Portland. Within a mile of the Bill, some 150 of these bejazzled critters were estimated to be present. The Observatory caught 68 of them – more than had been ringed in the entirety of any year at Portland, ever. We don't know how many we saw: an absolute minimum of 40 birds, given that we encountered groups of 10 all over the place, and only two of the birds were saw bore rings. Absolute magic. Not a day any of us will ever forget.
With a week rarity-finding on Shetland cancelled due to parental responsibilities, I secured a green light for a weekend birding with fellow Norwichers Dave Farrow, Phil Saunders and Stuart White. We left our destination open until almost the last minute, variously discounting Spurn, Scilly and Shetland(!) before agreeing on Portland Bill Bird Observatory. In the end, we travelled to Dorset via the Welsh Rock Thrush, which proved a fine start to Saturday. It was Sunday, however, that blew our collective socks off. In a normal day's birding, finding Radde's Warbler (a long-awaited tick for Phil) would have been the highlight.