About this page...

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, 15 August 2019

11th to 14th August – A trickle of migrants amidst continuing unsettled conditions

Herewith the latest update from Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones, covering the period 11th to 14th August.

The unsettled weather theme has continued with rain, mist and strong winds dominating. There was, however, some lovely settled weather on the 12th which allowed for a small movement of birds and a chance to get the mist-nets up in Millcombe.

Birds of note included: the young Grey Heron that has continued to stay on the island, dining on Mirror Carp and Golden Orfe in Rocket Pole and Quarry Ponds. A Ringed Plover flew over the South End on the 11th, there was a lone Dunlin next to Brick Field Pond on the 14th, a juvenile Cuckoo in Millcombe on the 11th and small numbers of Whitethroat (peak 2 on the 11th), Willow  Warbler (peak 8 on the 12th), Blackcap (2 on the 13th), Sedge Warbler (4 on the 12th), Swallow (6 on the 13th) and a Tree Pipit over Millcombe on the 13th.

Dunlin, Brick Field Pond, 14 August © Dean Jones
Whitethroat mist-netted in Millcombe, 12 August © Dean Jones

Other than these, an adult Chiffchaff was seen feeding some very young fledglings in Smelly Gully on the 11th, possibly a second brood.

The second generation of Small Heath butterflies have started to appear around the island despite the breezy wet weather.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

7th to 10th August – Unseasonable wind and rain...

Warden Dean Woodfin Jones reports on a period that began quietly enough, but which later saw the island battered by some distinctly un-summery weather.

August 7th: A rather pleasant but very quiet day bird wise.

The only birds of note included a small morning arrival of Willow Warbler (12) and Sedge Warbler (4) in Millcombe.

August 8th: A beautiful sunny day for the most part, coupled with light winds from the south (the calm before the storm...).

Birds of note included a Curlew which flew in from the sea next to The Battery, a Water Rail calling from Quarters in the early morning, 4 Swallow, 6 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler and 2 Blackcap.

August 9th: The wild weather started!

Sea-watching from the Castle Parade and North End throughout the day resulted in 761 Manx Shearwater, 161 Gannet, 16 Fulmar and 3 Guillemot along with small numbers of assorted of gulls. Although I didn’t managed to see any unusual Procellariforms or skuas there were a few nice shorebirds battling through the strong oncoming winds, among them 8 Curlew (including a flock of 7 birds) flying south, low to the water past Rat Island. Shortly after, a lone Dunlin shadowing a Black-tailed Godwit (a Lundy rarity) flew south also and 2 Ringed Plover dropped onto the North End briefly in the afternoon.

Other sightings of note included a juvenile Grey Heron, 3 Willow Warbler, 4 Common Dolphin, 4 Harbour Porpoise and a Sunfish off the North End.

August 10th: A very wild and windy day with the occasional squall and heavy downpour (particularly in the morning).

A morning’s sea-watch from the Ugly revealed some good Manx Shearwater (2,991) and Gannet  (227) passage. Other birds of note included a Ringed Plover calling over the SE Point, 2 juvenile Turnstone hiding from the wind in the short heather at the North End, a Redshank next to Rocket Pole Pond in the evening, the juvenile Grey Heron at Quarry Pond, 10 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Stonechat and a total of 4 Harbour Porpoise (a mother and Calf in the Southern Races and 2 at the North End, one of which was fully breaching from the colossal swell).

Juvenile Turnstone in unusual habitat at North End, 10 Aug © Dean Jones

The turbulent seas off North Light on 10 Aug – no surprise that Oldenburg was cancelled... © Dean Jones

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

31st July to 6th August – Invertebrates and marine life to the fore, but some birds too!

Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones's latest update from the island covers the period 31st Jul to 6th August:

A somewhat quiet week for passage birds but very exciting with regards to a number of the island's non-avian inhabitants and visitors from afar...

On the bird front, Willow Warblers are still trickling through in small numbers most days, though the island was blessed once again with another small fall of birds (71) on August 1st.
Linnet numbers are also continuing to grow with 122 birds around the island on the 4th (which included a flock of 49 birds at Halfway Wall). The island has also seen some good Shag numbers dotted around the coast this week, with 172 recorded on the 4th.

Other birds of note include a Grey Heron over the South East point on the 2nd, two adult Cuckoo on the 31st, the first southbound Tree Pipit of the year (1st), another Spotted Flycatcher on the Terrace on the 1st, a Sedge Warbler in Millcombe on the 1st, two young Kestrel together over Pondsbury on the 4th, as well as small numbers of Swallow (max 17 on the 2nd), singles of Blackcap, and up to five Pied Wagtail, four Stonechat and three Whitethroat each day.  There has also been a very noisy and often conspicuous Water Rail lurking in the long grass outside Paradise Row on a number of dates within this period.

Non-avian highlights:

Like elsewhere in the UK, Lundy saw a superb arrival of Painted Ladies come August 1st, with 284 recorded on this beautiful summer's day (most certainly a gross underestimate as there was a constant stream of these magnificent invertebrates coming off the sea for most of the day), 601 on the 2nd, 172 on the 3rd and 171 on the 4th.

Between the gatherings of Painted Ladies, Caitlin Worsey also managed to find a Clouded Yellow on her butterfly transect on August 1st, as well as increases in some of the island's other Lepidoptera species, including Red Admiral (max 32 on the 1st), Common Blue (4 on the 4th), Small Copper (7 on the 4th), Silver Y (29 on the 2nd), as well as a smattering of Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White and Hummingbird Hawkmoths.

The evening of August 2nd also saw a mass emergence of flying ants on the island, particularly along the south coast, Upper East Side Path and the North Lighthouse. Swarms of these spectacular winged beasties were seen swathing vegetation and granite boulders on the day as well as forming thick ant clouds in the air in parts. As always the birds were very happy with this mass emergence of food meaning visitors to the island were treated to some amazing views of House Sparrow, Starling, and Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gull “hawking” mouthfuls of ants whilst on the wing. A truly spectacular sight but difficult to converse about at the time without getting a mouthful of critters myself.

Flying ants emerged en masse on 2nd Aug, seen here along the Upper East Side Path © Dean Jones

An evening’s sea-watching on a beautifully still day at the North End revealed some decent-sized rafts of roosting and preening Manx Shearwater (c.3,000) offshore on the 2nd. Within and around these gatherings Zoë Barton and I were also treated to some super cetacean action on the glass-like sea. Here we found no less than 23 Common Dolphin (composed of two pods) and 8 Harbour Porpoise (one pod of 7 and a loner) but the obvious highlight of the evening had to be the titanic Minke Whale which approached the island from the north at around 20:30 allowing superb views for about 20 minutes before it moved off west as the sun neared the horizon, a perfect end to a perfect day's monitoring.

A tranquil sunset over North Light on 2nd Aug © Zoë Barton

Finally, a Sunfish was present right next to the Jetty on the 1st (Rob Waterfield & Mike Jones).

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

26th to 30th July – Migrants heading south already

'Hot and sweaty' would be the theme of this period but despite the beautiful summer-like weather, the birding on the island has had much more of an autumnal feel, with numerous species showing obvious southbound passage and birds becoming increasingly gregarious, feeding and moving around the island in small flocks, e.g. flocks of 33 Linnet at Quarter Wall on the 26th and 23 Goldfinch in Millcombe on the 30th. Come the 30th, however, the winds picked up from the west making birding conditions rather tricky.

The Common Buzzard was seen again on the 26th by multiple observers up until around 12:30 pm when it was seen gaining height over St Helen’s Copse before heading out to sea and out of sight. Additionally, a possible Yellowhammer was seen in a flock of Linnet along high street field wall by the Reds contractors as they made their way home from working on the North Lighthouse on the 27th. Unfortunately the bird was not relocated, despite searching.

Common Buzzard mobbed by Herring Gulls over East Side, 26 July © Alex Sydenham

The Willow Warbler fall on the morning of the 27th ended up with at least 95 birds scattered across the island along with four Sedge Warbler as stated in the previous post.

Other birds of note have included: a single Curlew over the Village on the 26th, a fly-over Dunlin on the 27th, four Stonechat on the 26th (an adult male and three juveniles), a pair of Pied Wagtails feeding chicks in Millcombe on the 26th, five Blackcap on the 28th, 19 Willow Warbler on the 28th and two Sand Martin past the Church on the 28th, a Swift off South West Point on the 30th and the first returning Spotted Flycatcher in the Terrace willows.

On the non-birding front, the Warden had yet another very productive night’s moth trapping on the 26th at Benjamin’s Chair, which resulted in yet another new moth species for the island: Aethes francillana, a gorgeous little moth which is rather localised in its distribution, being normally found in coastal habitats where its food plant, Wild Carrot, grows.

The micro-moth Aethes francillana trapped at Benjamin's Chair, 26 July © Dean Jones

An Emperor Dragonfly was seen ovipositing in Quarter Wall Pond on the 28th and no fewer than 12 Giant Tachinid Flies (Tachina grossa) were present along the East Side and Millcombe on the 28th, out on the hunt for Fox Moth and Oak Eggar caterpillars on which to lay their eggs.

Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator ovipositing in Quarter Wall Pond, 28 July © Dean Jones

Giant Tachinid Fly Tachina grossa Upper East Side Path, 11 July © Dean Jones

Saturday, 27 July 2019

5th to 27th July – Summer eases into ornithological autumn

Below is the latest update from Lundy Warden, Dean Woodfin Jones, covering the period 5th to 25th July.  In addition, a stop-press message from Dean this morning, 27th July, brought news of a fall of at least 73 Willow Warblers (the first wave of autumn passage) and four Sedge Warblers, as well as a second brood of Whitethroat fledglings (to add to the one mentioned below).

5th to 25th July: "The avian highlight from this lengthy stint came in the form of a beautiful Common Buzzard which soared in off the sea from Rat Island tailed by a mob of angry Herring Gulls on the 25th. Another highlight was the discovery of an adult Chiffchaff feeding young in the sycamores near The Battlements on the 24th.

Volunteer Assistant Warden Caitlin has been working hard with this year’s seabird productivity monitoring, with the Fulmars and remaining Kittiwakes getting most of the attention now that the Guillemots and Razorbills have left their ledges for the high seas. Additionally Caitlin has been keeping an eye on the few remaining Puffins which are feeding young in burrows in Jenny’s Cove. Puffin counts throughout the period before the main bulk of birds departed include 468 birds (from South West Point to St James’s Stone) on the 7th, and 410 within Jenny’s Cove on the 11th.

Other sightings of note: 37 Oystercatcher on the 5th, most of which were together at Brazen Ward, Swift on five days from the 5th with a maximum of 25 on the 5th, two returning Sand Martin on the 10th and one on the 24th, small numbers of Swallow (Lundy’s breeders were incubating a second brood), singles of House Martin on 5th and 10th, a singing male Willow Warbler on the 5th and a maximum count of five Whitethroat, which includes the Lundy born fledglings."

Whitethroat fledgling, Millcombe, 7 July © Dean Jones

Non-avian highlights:

"The Conservation Team have had a few productive nights trapping moths throughout July and amazingly we’ve managed to catch a few more new species for the island including two Small Marbled and a single Caryocolum vicinella in the trap on the 7th at Benjamin’s Chair. Other migrants on that perfect moth night included a lone Small Mottled Willow, two L-album Wainscot, and a single White Point."

Small Marbled, Benjamin's Chair, 7 July © Dean Jones

"Emperor Dragonflies have also been seen on a number of days throughout the period at Quarter Wall Pond, Quarry Pond, Quarters Pond and the Terrace (munching on a Ringlet butterfly)."

Emperor Dragonfly eating Ringlet, Terrace, 7 July © Dean Jones

Thursday, 4 July 2019

9th June to 4th July – Golden Oriole & nearly a Roller!

Lundy Warden Dean Jones reports on yet another very busy but wonderful period on Lundy.

The obvious birding highlight of this period came in the form of a stunning male Golden Oriole in full song at the top of Millcombe on 21st June. Shortly after the bird's beautiful but brief serenade, the Oriole was then seen periodically for about an hour or so mostly in flight as he made his way to and from either side of the valley. The bird stayed until the mid-afternoon at least and was heard calling again by some of the islanders, shortly after which it unfortunately disappeared.

Another smashing observation that must be mentioned was the amazing occurrence of a European Roller which dropped onto the rigging of David Milledge’s boat as he sailed from Milford Haven to the island on 30th June. From David’s email (sent on 4th July) he quotes: “It stayed with us for about two hours, mainly perched on the cross trees high on the mast. He took a few short flights and returned to perch in this period and as we approached Lundy, about 3 miles off, he disappeared presumably to go to the island.” Despite the possibility of this bird making its way to Lundy there were unfortunately no observations of this beautiful bird on the island.

The one that got away! European Roller perched on a yacht 3 miles off Lundy, 30 June © David Milledge

If this exotic visitor had been seen on the island, it would have been the first since August 1949! © David Milledge

On the seabird front, the island’s Guillemots and Razorbills are now disappearing quickly from their breeding ledges, making my west coast walks that little bit quieter. Once again it is looking like another mixed season for our two Kittiwake monitoring sites. At the moment Aztec Bay has lots of fluffy chicks huddled in nests (the first chicks was recorded on 12th June), some of which are starting to obtain their beautiful juvenile markings. Unfortunately once again numbers of nesting birds within our Threequarter Wall site have more than halved since last year. This is a truly sad sight, especially considering the numbers which used to breed on this remarkable chunk of rock. Fingers crossed the few remaining birds will fare better this year and all manage to fledge multiple chicks (only 1 chick fledged from 41 nests at this site in 2018). Only time will tell!

I also managed to get out for a complete wrap around the island’s coast on 9th June. Results from this rather soggy day revealed 113 Shag, 247 Kittiwake, 46 Great Black-backed Gulls, 781 Herring Gull, 243 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 6,415 Guillemot, 1,955 Razorbill and 196 Puffin. Additional to these counts, the Conservation Team also carried out a number of other Puffin counts throughout the period, during which we managed high counts (well, for Lundy standards) of 337 birds on 19th June and 390 on 3rd July. 

On the breeding bird front, successful breeding has now been confirmed for a few more species this year, including Woodpigeon (fledglings in Millcombe on 10th June), Robin (12th June), Pied Wagtail (a pair delivering food to chicks on 3rd July), Blackcap (2 pairs feeding chicks in Millcombe on 29th June) and Goldfinch (19th June). Furthermore a survey of active Starling nests around the Village area and the Old Lighthouse revealed a total of 56 nests, most of which have now fledged numerous noisy chicks from 22nd June.

Fledgling Starling in Millcombe, 24 June © Dean Jones

Additionally, our new Island Ambassador, David Lindo (also known as the Urban Birder), managed to find a pair of Whitethroat feeding chicks at the top of Millcombe on 29th June,  the first confirmed breeding for this species since 1978! Though there have been observations suggesting successful breeding since 1978, none were 100% confirmed, so well done David!

Lundy's newly appointed Ambassador, David Lindo, pictured alongside Warden Dean Woodfin Jones

Other birds of note from the period include: 42 Oystercatcher on 9th June, a single juvenile Grey Heron which arrived on the island on 19th June and has remained until 3rd July at least, singles of Water Rail on 16th & 18th June, a fly-over Dunlin on 2nd July, a Collared Dove on 19th & 23rd June, singles of Cuckoo of seven dates up to 3rd July, small numbers of Swift (max 35 on 3rd July), Swallow (max 10 on 18th June) and House Martin (max 4 on 23rd June), a single Sand Martin (on  2nd July), lone Spotted Flycatchers in Millcombe on seven dates up to 21st June, and 3 Stonechat on 24th.

Juvenile Grey Heron at Pondsbury, searching in vain for fish or amphibians, 24 June © Dean Jones

Like elsewhere in the UK, Lundy was also blessed with a glorious invasion of Painted Lady butterflies come 24th June – 189 (certainly a gross underestimate) of these beautiful beasties were counted in various parts of the island throughout the day. Meadow Browns are also becoming more prevalent on the island with surveys along the east coast revealing good numbers (max 151 on 3rd July). We’ve also seen a number of Odonata appear over the past few days, with Common Darter, Red-veined Darter and Southern Migrant Hawker all making an appearance on the island.

Report composed of sightings from Chris & Carol Baillie, Tom Dickens, Dean Jones, David Lindo, Kirsty Neller, Alan & Sandra Rowland and Caitlin Worsey.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

25th May to 8th June – A bumper round-up of news

Lundy Warden Dean Jones has provided the following comprehensive update for the period 25th May to 8th June:

"As you can probably tell by the lack of blog updates over the past few weeks (sincere apologies), the busy summer season of visiting school groups, working parties and of course, the monitoring of Lundy’s beautiful and unique assortment of wildlife has now arrived.

Luckily for us the island has continued to provide us with some truly spectacular birds during this period including the Squacco Heron, which lingered around Rat Island until May 31st (allowing some superb views for disembarking visitors) after being re-discovered in this area on April 28th. The island has also had two very brief but exciting visits from two other special birds; a female Red-backed Shrike near St Helen’s Copse on June 6th and a stonking Alpine Swift on June 8th (both found by Chris and Carol Baille).

Squacco Heron, Rat Island, 31 May © Alex Sydenham

Squacco Heron, Rat Island, 28 May © Dean Jones

Other than these rarities, more and more young birds are appearing around the island. For example, in the last few weeks we’ve seen the first Wheatear, Skylark, Dunnock and Linnet fledglings of the year as well as lots of food being delivered to chicks in nests for species such as Chaffinch, Starling, Robin, and Meadow Pipit (some of which should be fledging any day now). We have also been treated to at least one very noisy Water Rail chick in the evenings near Paradise Row, the first confirmed breeding since 2015.

Other avian delights throughout this period include small numbers of Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, Swallow, House Martin, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap each day, as well as two Cormorant flying south over the Ugly on the 6th, a Golden Plover on the 26th, a lone Whimbrel on White Beach on the 3rd, a Storm Petrel at the Old Light Manx Shearwater colony on the 27th, at least 1 Kestrel most days, a Merlin on June 1st & 2nd, a Turtle Dove on the Terrace on the 31st and again on the 2nd (where it narrowly avoided the clutches of a Peregrine), a Cuckoo on four dates from various areas of the island including Millcombe, Halfway Wall and Montagu Steps, singles of Collared Dove on three dates from the 1st, a Sand Martin on the 5th, a Garden Warbler on the 26th, a Sedge Warbler on the 25th, a fly-over Yellow Wagtail on the 4th, a Tree Pipit on June 1st, and four Swift on the 31st.

Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe, 05 Jun © Dean Jones

Visiting ringers Tony, Ann, Rich and Rebecca Taylor have all been keeping themselves very busy re-sighting and colour ringing some of the island’s Northern Wheatears. So far the gang have managed to catch and re-sight good numbers of the island breeding birds and although the final numbers have yet to be crunched, it’s looking like a relatively good year for this iconic Lundy bird. Hiding within the island’s breeding population, Rich and Rebecca also managed to catch and ring a rather late passage Greenland bird (Oenanthe oenanthe leucorhoa) on the 6th, just south of the Forgotten Heinkel bomber on the West Coast. Somehow the gang also managed to conjure up energy for a few late evenings out on the west sidelands catching Manx Shearwaters too. Here the team have managed (so far) to catch and ring 40 new birds and retrap another 44 birds birds which had been ringed on Lundy in previous years, including some ringed here as chicks in 2013 & 2015.

Calling male Wheatear, north of Jenny's Cove, Jun 2019 © Dean Jones

June 6th was a very special day for me as Warden and for the island, as we managed to get out for an afternoon colour ringing Peregrine Falcons, the first ever for the island! If all goes well in the upcoming years, we may be lucky enough to  see these birds return one day to the breed on the island themselves. Visiting this nest site also allowed us to get a better understanding of what this particular pair have been feeding their young on. As you can see from the photo below, seabirds – including Puffin and Manx Shearwater have been the main source of food… as well as the odd Wheatear. A huge huge thank you to Luke Sutton, Seb Loram, Dan Donovan, Simon Fletcher and Carlo Fiori for this unforgettable experience.

Peregrine kill remains 06 Jun © Simon Fletcher

Alan and Sandra Rowland (Lundy Field Society) and Janet Lister (National Trust) also managed a trip out to the island this month in order to count a very special resident on the island, our endemic Lundy Cabbage. Although numbers have yet to be finalised, this year seems to be a super year for flowering plants, particularly on the East Side cliffs! Full results for this year’s cabbage counts will be available in the near future.

Alan Rowland & Dean Jones cabbage counting, 03 Jun © Siân Cann

And last but by no means least, we’ve received DNA results regarding feather samples from this springs unbelievable run of no less than five Subalpine Warblers! The DNA sequencing that was very kindly carried out by Thomas Shannon and Martin Collinson from the University of Aberdeen now shows that we managed to catch an amazing haul of three sub-species of Subalpine Warbler this spring! Unreal! These consisted of three birds of the Eastern race Sylvia cantillans albistriata (which breed in areas within Trieste, Balkans, Greece, Bulgaria, western Turkey), one Sylvia cantillans cantillans Eastern raced bird (breeds in Central and south Italy except Sardinia) and a Western raced bird Sylvia inornata inornata (which breed in Iberia, southern France, extreme north-west Italy). Special thanks to Thomas and Martin for all their help and enthusiasm with regards to these samples.
Lundy has truly delivered the goods this spring, fingers crossed we have some more super birds to come during the next few weeks!

DNA tree for Subalpine Warblers

Report composed of sightings from Chris & Carol Baillie, Andrew Cleave, Dan Donovan, Carlo Fiori, Simon Fletcher, Paddy Keith, Dean Jones, Seb Loram, Luke Sutton, Alex Sydenham, Tony & Ann Taylor, Richard & Rebecca Taylor, Lucy Winder and Caitlin Worsey."