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This page is run by volunteer contributors as a source of news for everyone interested in the birds of Lundy, in the Bristol Channel, UK.
If you have news to report, please consider signing up as a contributor or send in your sightings here.
See also the companion website The Birds of Lundy for comprehensive updates to the 2007 book of the same name.
Bird recording and ringing on Lundy are coordinated by the Lundy Field Society and general information about visiting the island can be found here.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

6th & 7th Feb – First singing Skylarks

A bright and breezy day on Wed 6th saw enough hazy sunshine to stimulate three Skylarks into song in Middle Park; wonderful to hear and the first of the spring, whilst the overall Skylark total of 7 was the highest of the year so far. There also appeared to be something of an arrival of Shags returning to the island, with 31 counted along the East Side, most showing resplendent breeding plumage. Other notable sightings included the Jackdaw, feeding with Crows around the Tillage/Brick Field pig sty (where there was also a flock of 200+ Starlings), two Chiffchaffs, two Goldcrests and the female Great Spotted Woodpecker in Millcombe, a single male Kestrel, and the Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay. The number of Fulmars visiting the Gannets’ Rock ledges had risen to 115 and we counted 42 Grey Seals hauled out at low tide along the East Side, mainly between Gannets’ Bay and Tibbetts Point, including 12 perched atop the inner Knoll Pin. Snowdrops are in full flower in Millcombe, with a few Primroses beginning to show.

Thu 7th was a blustery day with hefty showers passing close by on a stiff westerly, but for much of the morning the island itself was bathed in sunshine and it was actually very pleasant along the Lower East Side Path. The female Sparrowhawk reappeared, over Quarry Beach, after eluding us for a couple of days. There were again plenty of seabirds off the East Side, including an estimated 750 Kittiwakes, a tight flock of 23 feeding Shags, five Red-throated Divers and small numbers of auks. Passerines included a Goldcrest at Quarry Beach, a Chiffchaff in Millcombe and a Stonechat at the head of St John’s Valley. The Jackdaw was in with the pigs again and the Great Northern Diver was still in the Landing Bay.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

4th & 5th Feb – Record Kittiwake numbers

After heavy and prolonged overnight rain, Monday 4th saw a murky, misty dawn give way to sapphire skies and warm sunshine by the end of the morning. With just a gentle northerly breeze, the conditions were perfect for basking in the sun on the side of the Ugly and watching the huge gathering of Kittiwakes off the East Side, where an almost continuous flock stretched from off Tibbetts Point/Gull Rock, almost as far as Rat Island. Counts revealed over 3,000 birds – by far the highest number ever recorded from the island, as far as we are aware. The calm seas and clear light gave ideal viewing and with the flocks periodically taking flight and repositioning themselves to stay on the boundary between clear, slack water and the more turbid incoming tide, it was evident that less than 1% were juveniles. Among the Kittiwakes were a few tens of Herring Gulls, a couple of Great Black-backs, three Common Gulls, a Lesser Black-back and a single Harbour Porpoise. A bit further out still, were a group of feeding Shags and six Red-throated Divers, along with scattered rafts of auks. The Great Northern Diver was again in the Landing Bay.

Millcombe held 3 Song Thrushes, 8 Blackbirds, singing Robin and Wren, a Goldcrest and, zipping about after insects in Smelly Gully, a Chiffchaff. The female Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling from the very tops of the sycamores above the Casbah, as if doing everything possible to make contact with another of her kind, though the nearest potential mate must be at least 20 miles away! Further up the island, one Golden Plover remained on the Airfield, and we encountered single Snipe and Meadow Pipit near Quarter Wall.

The evening light on Jenny’s Cove, just before sunset was magical and there were several hundred Guillemots on the breeding ledges at just before 5pm, proving that it’s not always necessary to be up with the lark to catch an auk. We trudged back towards the Village along the main track accompanied by the calls of Carrion Crows gathering to  roost.

Tuesday 5th was something of a contrast, with the island draped in pulses of misty drizzle on and off all day, interspersed with brighter, dry periods and a stiff SW, which brought a band of heavy rain before dusk. Birding highlights included 12 Red-throated Divers off the East Side (somewhat distantly), a Kestrel around Lametor and Castle Hill, the female Great Spotted Woodpecker near the Casbah again, two Chiffchaffs in lower Millcombe, and the Jackdaw perched on the wall of Bull’s Paradise. The Kittiwake flock off the East Side had shrunk to a more typical 380.

Observations by Tim Davis & Tim Jones

Monday, 4 February 2019

1st to 3rd February – More than 7,500 seabirds in one day!

Tim Davis & Tim Jones walked the whole island perimeter on Sunday 3 Feb, beginning from the Castle at just before 8am, walking along the South End and West Side to North Light lookout, then back along the East Side, getting back to the Castle at 4.30pm. An overnight change in wind direction from a biting northerly to a milder WSW seemed to have stimulated huge numbers of auks to come ashore to visit the breeding colonies. Visibility was good throughout, with some warm sunny spells and only a drizzly shower during the afternoon, which helped with counting, though the numbers of auks were almost overwhelming at times. Whilst the Tims were on the West Side during mid-late morning, Dean Jones was scanning the Landing Bay and East Side from the Ugly at the same time, giving combined totals of over 7,500 seabirds for the day!
  • Fulmar 227 (of which 93 on ledges on N-facing side of Gannets’ Rock)
  • Gannet 5 (off North Light)
  • Shag 22 (low numbers as usual in winter)
  • Oystercatcher 52 (an exceptionally high count for winter; no large flocks, but pairs and small groups scattered around the entire coastline)
  • Razorbill 2,159 (a minimum count and certainly an underestimate)
  • Guillemot 3,126 (including 1,790 on ledges at Jenny’s Cove, and hundreds ashore at St Philip’s Stone, St Mark’s Stone and Long Roost)
  • Kittiwake 2,556 (comprising 1,439 off the East Side and 1,117 off the West Side; birds visiting the breeding ledges at Jenny’s Cove and Three-quarter Wall colonies)
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull 14
  • Herring Gull 489
  • Great Black-backed Gull 118
  • Rock Pipit 19
There were 14 Red-throated Divers off the Landing Bay and a Great Northern Diver feeding close to the jetty, also two adult Mediterranean Gulls well out from the Ugly and a total of 20 Common Gulls.

Other notable records during the first three days of February have been: up to six Teal (mainly Pondsbury and Brick Field), the overwintering female Sparrowhawk on 1st & 2nd, a Lapwing on 1st & 2nd, two Golden Plovers on 2nd (one remaining on 3rd), two Snipe on 1st, a single Woodpigeon, the female Great Spotted Woodpecker on 1st & 2nd, a Jackdaw around the farm on 2nd & 3rd, up to two Chiffchaffs and two Goldcrests in Millcombe, one to three Skylarks daily, a Redwing on Ackland's Moor on 1st, a maximum of five Stonechats on 3rd, a female-type Black Redstart below Benjamin’s Chair on 2nd and a lone female Chaffinch in Smelly Gully on 3rd – apparently the only finch of any species on the entire island!

15th to 31st January – Divers and Chiffchaffs to the fore

The following is a round-up of records from the LFS Logbook for the period 15-31 January:

One of the features was Red-throated Divers, with records on nine dates, including a max 12 on 19th. A single Black-throated Diver was in the Landing Bay on 17th & 18th (Dean Jones). Also out at sea have been: a max of nine Gannets (25th), three Cormorants on Great Shutter Rock (19th), Shag max 11 (22nd), Kittiwake max 651 (25th), Common Gull max seven (23rd), Lesser Black-backed Gull max 12 (26th), and mixed auks species max 200 (23rd). On land, there were a male and female Teal (21st), a max of four Oystercatchers (26th), a female Sparrowhawk on three dates, single Water Rails on 17th & 21st, a lone Woodpigeon on three dates, a Kestrel on 16th & 20th, the overwintering female Great Spotted Woodpecker on three dates, one or two Skylarks on four dates, overwintering Chiffchaffs on nine dates, with a max of four on 16th & 17th, one or two Goldcrests on five dates, a single Song Thrush on three dates, one or two Robins on six dates, a male and female Stonechat on 19th, two Meadow Pipits on 19th, a max of 11 Rock Pipits on 19th, only a single Chaffinch on three dates to 25th, and a lone Goldfinch on 16th & 19th.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Cast your mind back to late October...

During an autumn rich in national, Devon and Lundy rarities, one particularly nice sighting that didn't make it onto the blog pages at the time concerned a flock of eight Greenland White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons flavirostris that dropped into the island on 27 Oct.

Dean Jones's logbook entry and two of a series of photos that he managed to fire off are reproduced below. This is one of the larger groups of White-fronts ever seen on the island, and by far the largest number of birds of the Greenland-breeding race.

Greenland White-fronted Geese, 27 Oct 2018 © Dean Jones
Greenland White-fronted Geese, Airfield, 27 Oct 2018 © Dean Jones

Intriguingly, Paul Holt saw a flock of distant grey geese flying along the East Side at 09.42 hrs on 27 Oct (see photo below). Were these also Greenland Whitefronts? And, if so, did they include the same birds seen by Dean a little earlier? To add further to the mix, Paul saw a flock of eight grey geese flying NE when he was at the Airfield at 15.50 hrs the same day!

Unidentified grey geese over the East Side, 27 Oct 2018 © Paul Holt

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

8th to 14th Jan – A beguiling whiff of spring...

Herewith the latest update from Dean: 

“We’ve been very lucky again weather wise as the mild winter conditions continued for the majority of last week. This lovely weather coupled with the first flowering Primrose below Quarter Wall Copse and a Red Admiral on the wing in Millcombe on 14th gave the island an early spring feel rather than a period in the middle of winter. The only exception to this mild weather was on the weekend, when we were hit with some burly westerlies and colder temperatures.

Again seawatching has provided most of the excitement, especially coming into the end of the week as the great visibility and flat-calm seas allowed fantastic views of hundreds of feeding Kittiwake (631 on the 10th) from the Ugly as well as near daily records of Common Gull (two on the 10th, three on the 11th, one on the 13th & 14th). I’ve also been treated to a number of Mediterranean Gulls this week (three on the 9th, singles on 10th & 14th), as well as six Common Scoter on the 8th, a pod of 10 Common Dolphin on the 10th and a few Harbour Porpoise (possibly the same mother and calf seen on a number of occasions). Unfortunately there have been no further sightings of the Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay since the 8th but there have been up to nine Red-throated Divers recorded every day since the last post.

Continuing the seabird theme, there has also been lots of Guillemot activity on ledges throughout the week (Grant Sherman) and lots of other auks (mostly Razorbill) feeding offshore from the Landing Bay every day (ca.800 auk spp on the 10th).

Other highlights away from the sea include 25 Lesser Black-backed Gulls roosting on Pondsbury along with seven Teal (three drakes & four ducks) on the 13th. 

A Kestrel has also been seen daily, hunting around the Castle Parade, and the Sparrowhawk was present in Millcombe until the 11th at least within the Millcombe area, as well as the single Woodpigeon on the 14th.

Up to three Chiffchaff have been recorded, including a good candidate for the Siberian race (see photos below), though the bird has been way too busy feeding to call yet, which would clinch the ID. There have also been some good numbers of wintering Goldcrest (max seven on the 13th) spread over the east sidelands and Millcombe.

The best of the rest include a single Pied Wagtail on the 11th, small numbers of Redwing (three on 10th) and Song Thrush (up to two daily) in Millcombe and not forgetting the female Great Spotted Woodpecker seen/heard right up until the 14th.”

Potential 'Siberian' Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis, Millcombe, 14 Jan 2019 © Dean Jones
Potential 'Siberian' Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis, Millcombe, 14 Jan 2019 © Dean Jones

Dean's updates so far this month have mentioned unusually high (though not entirely unprecedented) numbers of wintering Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs, perhaps as a result of the generally mild and quiet weather. It's also interesting that Red-throated Divers are being seen in some numbers again, as was the case from January onwards last winter. With colder conditions predicted over the next few weeks, will we see a change of cast?

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

9th Jan – A New Year round-up

Hello and Happy New Year! Below is a bumper update from Lundy Warden, Dean Woodfin Jones, bringing news of a host of quality winter birds:

"As always on Lundy, 2018 came to an end in a wonderful festive fashion and luckily for all the staff and visitors, was blessed with some beautiful mild winter weather (give or take one or two breezy days). This naturally provoked the perfect motivation to get out exploring in order to try and obtain a few more last-minute records for the island's 2018 logbook, and of course to kick off this year’s bird list.

As the turn of 2019 came and went and the New Year cobwebs were wafted on, all minds were focused on a very important period for the island, 'Shut down', the only time within the year in which we say goodbye to all of our visitors. Flashes of blue from staff attire are now whizzing about the island as they administer some well-deserved T.L.C. to all the properties, potholed tracks, squeaky gates and rickety fences in anticipation of this year’s guests. The Conservation Team have also been keeping themselves very busy finishing reports, planting trees in Millcombe and preparing all the special visitor events for the sailing season ahead.

Unsurprisingly it is still rather quiet here on the bird front but lucky for us there have been some really nice Lundy rarities dotted witihin the limited numbers of common winter birds to help us through the short winter days.

Small scatterings of Goldcrest (up to five logged), Chiffchaff (one or two on most days), Pied Wagtail, Meadow and Rock Pipit are still hanging on in parts, along with a beautiful female Reed Bunting that has been sheltering in the Molinia tussocks around Pondsbury since January 2nd. Furthermore we’ve had single Skylarks on a number of dates (one of which was in full song on January 1st), as well as a small arrival of thrushes on the night of 5th, traversing their world from afar to join the wintering birds already on the island (13 Blackbirds were noted on this date, most of which were feeding together at Quarter Wall with two Redwings).

Female Reed Bunting, Pondsbury, 6 Jan 2019 © Dean Jones

The best of the passerine bunch however has to be a stunning male Bullfinch, which was seen briefly checking out the newly planted blackthorn scrub in Millcombe by Nick the Ranger and myself on the 5th before disappearing south.

Non-passerine highlights have also been aplenty, with two Lapwings being sighted on the 31st, one of which was still present on the 2nd flying over Ackland's Moor, and again on the 6th. A single Woodpigeon was also found in Millcombe on the 5th and a lovely night’s walk on the 4th produced a total of 3 Woodcock and 8 Snipe from both Tillage and Brick fields.

Raptor wise there have been up to four Peregrines (two pairs) on some days, mostly recorded from the Jenny’s Cove & Halfway Wall areas, as well as a gorgeous female Kestrel who has been hovering outside the St Helen's Centre and Castle Parade periodically. The long-staying female Sparrowhawk has continued to terrorise the Village area, providing some superb views at times, especially for the housekeeping team (their Laundry Garden bird list is off to a good start) as she chases House Sparrows and Blackbirds through the Laundry yard.

Contenders for 'best birds' of the period have to be the two Wigeon (a drake and a duck) on Pondsbury, found by Alan & Sandra Rowland on New Year’s Day. Luckily for me the drake was still present the following day (but no sign of the female), paddling alongside a number of Mallard and Teal at the far end of the pond. Unfortunately there were no further sightings of this stunning bird after this date.
Drake Wigeon, Pondsbury, 2 Jan 2019 © Dean Jones

Other than this beautiful quacker, seawatching has probably provided most of the excitement over the past few days. Highlights include good numbers of Kittiwake (487 on 6th), Razorbill and Guillemot (450 auk sp. on 30th) and Herring Gull on some days as well as. Also present between the minimal swell at times have been some of the scarcer Lundy gulls, including Common Gull (an adult and two 1st-winter birds on 31st), Black-headed Gull (two on 30th) and Mediterranean Gull (an adult on 2nd).

Between these Larid lunacies, a lone Great Northern Diver has also been present at times, often seen foraging for flatfish just off the Sugar Loaf, along with numerous Red-throated Divers which have started to arrive along the East Side coast now that temperatures up north have started to drop. Here between two (Jan 7th) and nine birds (Jan 4th) have been recorded, all of which have been showing off their pristine winter plumage as they preen and rest on the water’s surface between bouts of feeding – stunning birds!

Finally, our lady Great Spotted Woodpecker has continued to be been seen periodically, most recently on 5th, mainly from the Millcombe area. At the moment she looks to be in very good condition so is obviously finding plenty of food in Millcombe and its adjacent copses.

Fingers crossed this run of Lundy rarities continues into spring!

Happy New Year from Lundy."

Report comprised of sightings from Alan & Sandra Rowland, Robert Pell, Grant Sherman, Zoe Barton & Dean Jones.