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.

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.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

25th Dec – Season's Greetings!

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year from the Lundy Birds blog – happy festive birding!

© Ben Porter Wildlife Photography

Thursday, 20 December 2018

1st to 20th Dec – A pre-Christmas round-up

Lundy Warden Dean Jones provides an update covering the first 20 days of December:

"Unfortunately it has been super quiet bird-wise on the island bird since the last post. Unsurprisingly the weather hasn’t been the best with strong south-easterly winds dominating, then switching to the west, bringing with it some heavy downpours. There have been one or two really nice winter days in there though, which has allowed for better birding as well as a small night-time passage of thrushes, for example 35 Fieldfares on 12th Dec.

Birds of note through the period include:

A single Great Northern Diver busily feeding in the Landing Bay on most days up to 20th. Other than this beautiful bird there hasn’t been much else out at sea other than some distant auks, the odd Kittiwake, Gannet and a 1st-winter Common Gull on 12th. Grant Sherman has been out checking his Guillemot sites, resulting in some decent counts on the ledges at St Mark's and Jenny’s, along with good numbers of Fulmar arguing over ledges on a number of days. 

A female Sparrowhawk was present in Millcombe up until 16th at least (perhaps the same long-staying female from November). Other raptor sightings have included Merlin, Kestrel and Peregrine

There are still some Woodcock, Snipe and Water Rail skulking around the island (mainly in Millcombe and at Pondsbury), while on the passerine front the island has been graced with small numbers of Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, a number of glorious Goldcrests, a male Stonechat, a lone Chiffchaff in Millcombe on a number of dates, and a single Firecrest on 12th.

One highlight was the rediscovery of our lady Great Spotted Woodpecker in St Helen's Copse on  10th by Neil Trout. She has been heard/seen most days up until 19th when she was heard calling loudly in St Helen's Copse again.

We also had a rather special non-avian visitor in the form of a huge Basking Shark off Rat Island on  14th. This sighting came as quite a surprise to everyone on the island as observations of these leviathans through the hefty swell this late in the year are rather few and far between.

With me heading off home to the Emerald Isle on Saturday for some Christmas festivities, I am unsure if there will be any further updates until at least 29th Dec. Just in case there aren’t, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas from the island and to say thank you to everyone who has submitted sightings or photographs over the past year. It has been a truly special one with some fantastic birds and even better birders on the island.

Hope to see you all on the island in the New Year!"

And a big thank you to you, Dean, from all Lundybirds blog readers for all your updates through the year. A very Merry Christmas to you and Zoë from us all.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

27th to 30th Nov – rough weather for birding

Lundy Warden Dean Jones, currently off-island, has sent the following update for the period 27th to 30th Nov.

27th Nov
A rather dull, breezy day and very quiet bird-wise, most birds having left Lundy, perhaps anticipating the stormy weather which was due to hit us the following day. Thrush numbers have dropped away a bit, with only a scattering of Redwings (9) and Blackbirds (7), a single Fieldfare and two Song Thrushes, along with an obvious reduction in Chaffinch numbers (3) compared to 26th. Not much else in the way of landbirds of note other than singles of Goldcrest and Chiffchaff (very vocal) in Millcombe and good numbers of Starling in upper Lighthouse Field. Unfortunately there has been no further sign of our ‘lady’ Great Spotted Woodpecker, perhaps due to the fact that Sue has run out of peanuts for her feeder! A brief seawatch during the afternoon saw a re-emergence of feeding Kittiwakes (181) off the Landing Bay after a prolonged absence due to strong easterly winds. Amongst the Kittiwakes were small numbers of Gannet (27), Shag (6) and one Fulmar, as well as around 30 feeding auks (mostly Razorbills), a single adult winter-plumaged Black-headed Gull and, most surprisingly, two Manx Shearwaters doing what they do best, shearing effortlessly through the hefty swell.

Starlings over Lighthouse Field, 27th Nov © Dean Jones

28th Nov
The rain and wind picked up tremendously as forecast, making it extremely difficult to even stay on my feet in parts of the island, never mind record sheltering birds. I did manage to get out for a brief seawatch though the seabirds were much scarcer today than yesterday. In about an hour of recording I managed to see six Gannets, six Razorbills, seven Kittiwakes, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, four Herring Gulls, two Great Black-backed Gulls and, again to my surprise, three Manx Shearwaters!

29th Nov
Another very wet and windy day but slightly less so than the day previous. It is starting to feel much more like winter now, with very few birds on and around the island. Despite the weather I did manage to find a few thrushes hiding in sheltered areas on the east: eight Redwings, seven Fieldfares and five Blackbirds, along with five Goldcrests, four Chaffinches, a single Linnet, and a Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay.

30th Nov
The horrible weather theme and lack of birds continued. The Great Northern Diver was again in the Landing Bay, two Pied Wagtails were busily feeding outside the Tavern in the early morning, and small numbers of Chaffinch (4) alng with one Linnet and a single Redwing were the only real birds of note.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

26th Nov – Hen Harrier & Snow Bunting the highlights

Dean Jones reports: "A much nicer day weather- and bird-wise yesterday" (Monday 26th Nov):

Most of the thrushes, in particular Fieldfares, had seemingly cleared out on the night of 25th in the clear, calm evening conditions. Despite this, there were still some Redwings (22) and Blackbirds (16) still kicking about the following morning scattered around various areas of the island. The calm conditions throughout the day also allowed for some diurnal passage, which included small numbers of Chaffinches (31), Goldfinches (5) and Starlings (313) overhead as well as a few Lundy scarcities such as Reed Bunting (one in Windy’s Pig Pen and one at Quarter Wall), Brambling (two in Millcombe) and a beautiful, noisy Snow Bunting (Quarter Wall).

There were also a lone male Blackcap, six Goldcrests and a beautiful Mistle Thrush in Millcombe in the early morning, the latter very showy for five minutes or so before flying south over Castle Parade. In and around Pondsbury there were at least three Snipe and singles of both Teal and Woodcock sulking around the Molinia tussocks.

It was a good day for raptors yesterday too, with Sparrowhawk, Merlin and Kestrel all making an appearance throughout the day, as well as a stunning female Hen Harrier looking for a meal around Tibbetts in the late morning.

Finally, the female Great Spotted Woodpecker was again seen in Millcombe Wood and a Great Northern Diver was busily feeding in the Landing Bay in the early afternoon.

Monday, 26 November 2018

20th to 25th November – Biting easterlies continue

The following update from Lundy Warden Dean Jones covers the period Monday 20th to Sunday 25th November:

"The strong, bitterly cold easterly winds continued for the remainder of the week which unfortunately stymied most attempts to get out for a good look about.

There have been noticeably fewer finches on the island compared to last week, with only a few Goldfinches and Linnets hanging on in the Village area along with reduced numbers of Chaffinches (highest count for the period was 47 on the 21st). On the passerine front, there have been no further sightings of Blackcap since Tony and Rebecca's visit but there have been a small number of Goldcrests present on most days calling conspicuously from sheltered areas of scrub in Millcombe and along the Lower East Side Path (max 6 on the 21st). Thrush passage has continued, resulting in good numbers of Redwings, Blackbirds and Fieldfares being recorded on most days.

The long-staying female Sparrowhawk and Great Spotted Woodpecker have also been seen periodically, either from the Village area or the now wind-torn Millcombe Valley. Other birds of note within the period included a single Golden Plover heard over the village on 24th; singles of Woodcock (Village) and Snipe (Pondsbury) on 21st; three Water Rails on 21st (two in Smelly Gully and one at Quarters Pond); two second-year Common Gulls in the Landing Bay on 21st; a single Woodpigeon in Millcombe on 25th and an adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose – a Lundy rarity – next to Quarters on 20th."

Fieldfare, Quarter Wall, 25 Nov © Dean Jones
Adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, lower aerogenerator field, 20 Nov © Dean Jones

Entries below for 13th, 16th & 17th Nov have been updated with photos from Martin Thorne.