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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.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

19th Jun to 6th Jul – A Summery Summary from the Sun-kissed isle

The following comprehensive update has been prepared by Lundy Warden Dean Jones. Many thanks to Dean for fitting this in at one of the very busiest times of year.

"Sun kissed would be the phrase I would use if I were to describe this period on Lundy. Only 10.6ml of rain has fallen (all within four days) which has left the island rather parched. Although this has made evenings in the staff ‘nook’ that much nicer, the lack of rain is really starting to show across the island, resulting in it looking more like a mini-Serengeti than an island in the Bristol Channel, as the grass turns straw-like as it retreats from the sun.

It has been a magical period on Lundy for wildlife sightings as of late, with the logbook filling up with lots of interesting sightings from both above and below the waves. The star of the show bird-wise has to be the beautiful Rose-coloured Starling which remained on Lundy from the start of this period until 29 June at least. This bird put on quite the show, turning up in some very conspicuous areas of the Village to the delight of many visitors.

Rose-coloured Starling on the Black Shed, 19 June © Dean Jones

It has also been a great month for raptors: A lone female Marsh Harrier (numerous sightings of this bird from 28 June until 5 July), a Red Kite (1 cruising south near Tibbetts on 20th), a female Hen Harrier (quartering North of Quarter Wall on 16th), Kestrel (singles on 18, 20 & 25 June, 2 & 3 July) and a Sparrowhawk (1 on 20 & 24 June & 2 July) have all made appearances during the period.

The island’s seabirds have also been very busy with the first Kittiwake chicks making their arrival on 15 June. So far the birds in the Aztec Bay productivity site are doing OK with at least 48 nests still active. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for our Threequarter Wall Buttress site, with only 8 nests remaining out of an initial 44. Fingers crossed the remaining birds will be able to withstand the heat and constant pestering from the larger gulls and will manage to get a few chicks at least out this year. Only time will tell.

On a better note, our Puffins are doing well with the island’s long-term volunteers observing numerous adult Puffins taking fish into nesting burrows every day. From one auk to the others… and our Guillemots and Razorbills are nearly finished for the year (where does the time go?!), with the first ‘jumplings’ making the leap of faith on 27 June from St Mark’s Stone. This productivity site is now looking somewhat bare as the majority of birds have now disembarked and made their way out to sea."

Adult female and fledgling Wheatear, West Side near St Mark's Stone, 3 July © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note from 19 June to 6 July:

  • Mallard: 3 females with very young ducklings on 4th & 5th: 6 ducklings on Quarry Pond, 7 on Quarters Pond & 9 at Barton Pond.
  • Common Scoter: 2 in close to Gannets’ Rock on 20th.
  • Manx Shearwater: 421 moving north in 30 minutes, counted from near St Mark’s Stone on 2nd. 
  • Gannet: 50 birds in ‘feeding assemblage’ with gulls, auks, shags and shearwaters on 30th.
  • Grey Heron: One on 24th and 3 on 25th, flying past Aztec Bay.
  • Little Egret: The bird seen on 13th in Barton Field remained until the morning of 14th at least.
  • Curlew: One was heard calling over the Village at around 22:00 hrs on 28th and one was seen in Middle Park (possibly the same bird) on the morning of 29th.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull: The first fledglings on the wing were seen near the Church on 30th.
  • Turtle Dove: One flying over the Old Hospital on 2nd.
  • Woodpigeon: The first fledgling was noted in Millcombe on 20th.
  • Collared Dove: One on 30th and one on 2nd.
  • Puffin: A count of 243 birds on 2nd has been the highest number recorded of this hardy little seabird this year so far.
  • Cuckoo: One reported on 2nd (no further details entered in the log).
  • Swift: Birds have been logged on most days. The highest counts were 29 wheeling around the Church on 2 July and 29 birds quartering the East Side on 4th.  
  • Swallow: The first fledglings were perched on the fence in Brick Field on 1st. The highest count has been 11 on 21st.
  • House Martin: 2 on 21st and 4 on the 22nd.
  • Skylark: 21 on 22nd and 21 on 4th have been the highest counts of the period.
  • Stonechat: 2 males at Quarter Wall on 29th.
  • Spotted Flycatcher: One bird with a rather deformed bill was seen in Millcombe on 21st.
  • Blackcap: At least two males were recorded singing up until 23rd (no further records).
  • Chiffchaff: The first fledglings were seen in Millcombe on 20th.
  • Willow Warbler: One was calling loudly from the top of Millcombe on 20th.
  • Whitethroat: A single male has been singing at the top of Millcombe every day since 23rd.
  • Reed Warbler: One bird heard singing from within Smelly Gully on 19th.
  • Wren: The first fledglings were seen in Smelly Gully on 20th.
  • Grey Wagtail: One flying over Millcombe Gardens on 26th.
  • Linnet: Lots of youngsters around now; 50 birds on 4th was the highest count of the period.  
  • Lesser Redpoll: Single birds heard overhead on 3rd and 4th.

Flock of Common Swifts inspecting the newly completed St Helen's Centre, 2 July © Dean Jones

Non-avian highlights:

We have had some great moth trapping sessions as of late. Highlights include Lundy rarities like Shoulder-striped Wainscot, two Nationally Scarce B species (Double Line & Thyme Pug) and a Nationally Scarce A species  (Devonshire Wainscot) along with a number of potential new species for the island.

The butterflies have also been benefiting from the dry, windless weather. The 4th saw a super day for Large Whites (100+ recorded) and Meadow Brown (426) as well as some of the island’s day-flying moths like Six-spot Burnets (272) and Silver Y (46).

Numerous damselflies have been noted (e.g. 25 Blue-tailed Damselflies and 10 Common Blue Damselflies on 4th) as well as two Emperor Dragonflies at Quarter Wall Pond during the period and a lovely female Common Darter on the Terrace on 4th.

Emperor Dragonfly, Quarter Wall Pond, 3 July © Dean Jones

To further the excitement, Helen Booker and other members of RSPB staff are over again this week, this time to try and survey the island for possible Storm Petrel sites following the discovery of burrows at North End last year. Watch this space!

Report composed of sightings from: Peter Lambden, Kirsty Neller, Grant Sherman, Kevin Welsh, John Hutchinson, Kevin Waterfall, Robert Andrew, Kathryn MacKinnon, Joshua Harris, Alan & Sandra Rowland, Zoë Barton and Dean Jones.

Friday, 15 June 2018

8th to 14th June – Young birds abound; another Rosy Starling sighting

Here is the latest round-up of bird news from Lundy Warden Dean Jones, covering 8th to 14th June:

"It has been a very busy period for both the birds (most are now looking after small chicks and young fledglings) as well as the conservation team who’ve been out most days to survey them. Millcombe has seen the arrival of some more youngsters in the past week, namely Dunnock, Pied Wagtail and House Sparrow, and the island’s plateau is now busy with the fluttering of young Skylarks, Wheatears and Meadow Pipits.

The island's Guillemots and Razorbills have all been very busy too, repeatedly heading out to sea in order to provision their adorable newly hatched chicks with a bounty of sandeels and sprat. Wednesday 13th saw the team head out to Jenny’s Cove for a dawn to dusk Puffin survey aimed at trying to identify all the burrows with pufflings in them by noting instances of feeding by parent birds. Unfortunately the last shift had to be cancelled due to the earlier-than-expected arrival of rain and strong winds, but despite this minor setback the team was able to identify at least 95 burrows which had fish delivered to them throughout the day.

Additionally the productivity slope in Jenny’s Cove swarmed with birds in the late afternoon, 164 in fact, which is the highest number reported yet for this site this season."

Other sightings of note:
  • A Rose-coloured Starling on 9th was seen initially with Common Starlings near the Old Light in the morning by one of the Manx Shearwater survey team, then by Frances Stuart and Rebecca & Richard Taylor in the afternoon, when it was wheeling around Millcombe (see photos below). Potentially one of the birds seen on 3rd, but perhaps more likely a new arrival given the exceptional 'invasion' of this species into western Europe this summer.
  • The Little Egret reported by Mark Kelly on 7th lingered around Barton Field pond until the afternoon of 8th at least.
  • A single Dunlin was seen next to Kistvaen Pond on 9th by Andrew Cleave and his Naturetrek group.
  • Swift: Small numbers recorded most days including two birds on 13th seemingly prospecting for a nest site on the church tower in the early morning.
  • Our beautiful Blackbirds have now started incubating their second load of eggs for the year in Millcombe and two of the Swallow pairs are now busily feeding small young (the other is still on eggs). 
  • Whitethroat: One on 13th.
  • Spotted Flycatcher: Three on 13th.
  • Lesser Redpoll: One flying over the High Street on 10th and one flying around Millcombe on  13th.
Rose-coloured Starling, Millcombe, 9th June © Richard Taylor
Rose-coloured Starling, Millcombe, 9th June © Richard Taylor

Details of colour-ringed Oystercatcher

Ringing details have come through for the colour-ringed Oystercatcher (right leg: orange ring with black digits 52; left leg: plain orange ring over metal ring) seen in Gannets’ Bay on 6th June and therefore presumed to be one of Lundy’s breeding population.

It was ringed on 17th February this year as a full adult (meaning that it was hatched in 2015 or earlier) on the Gann Estuary, Dale, Pembrokeshire. This is the first re-sighting of this individual, marked as part of a study that began in the autumn of 2015 and which has already shown that the Gann is a feeding and roosting site for many Oystercatchers that breed on Skomer and Skokholm.

This is the first Oystercatcher ringing movement involving Lundy for many years and it will be fascinating to see if there are any further exchanges involving the Pembrokeshire colour-marking scheme, perhaps shedding light on where those birds that leave the island – for at least part of the winter – go to.

Thanks to Paddy Jenks of Pembrokeshire Ringing Group and to Tim Frayling of Natural England for making this information available so promptly.

Map showing location of Gann Est, Dale, Pembs.

Friday, 8 June 2018

7th June – Little Egret

During the late morning of 7th June, island engineer Mark Kelly found a Little Egret – still a scarce species on Lundy – in the pond outside Barton Cottages. It took a short flight over the Village, including the Tavern garden, before returning to the same pond, though it was later seen from the Jetty, flying up the East Side. Hopefully, if it sticks around, it will quickly figure out that Lundy's numerous low-tide rock pools offer much better feeding than the freshwater ponds on the island itself. Lundy's ornithological history is punctuated with the corpses of herons and egrets that did not discover this fact...

Mark also saw what sounded very much like an adult Roseate Tern about halfway across to the island during the morning crossing of MS Oldenburg from Ilfracombe.

Other sightings during the day included 89 Puffins in Jenny's Cove, a feeding flock of 100 adult Kittiwakes off the West Side (though it seems Kittiwakes are having a very poor year breeding-wise), five Collared Doves, two Swifts heading north-east over the Tent Field, and a Whitethroat in Millcombe.

Little Egret, Barton Pond, 7 Jun 2018 © Tim Davis

Thursday, 7 June 2018

5th & 6th June – Mass fledging from the 'Starling Factory'

The continued fine, dry weather and light, predominantly north-easterly winds have been ideal for enabling the surveys of Manx Shearwater burrows and nesting large gulls to continue apace. One of the team members found a colour-ringed Oystercatcher on 6th; it will be fascinating to see what the ringing details reveal, once available.

Migration has pretty much come to an end, with just a single Swift on 5th and none at all on 6th, whilst Spotted Flycatchers were only present in ones and twos, contrasting with double digits at the start of the month. A dozen-or-so late Swallows, a singing Chiffchaff on the western sidelands at the Old Light Shearwater colony, and two House Martins heading north off North Light, provided the only evidence of ongoing movement.

The Lundy 'Starling Factory' has been in full swing, with a mass fledging from nests around the village, farm and Old Light, particularly on 6th, when 22 fledglings were lined up on the Lambing Shed door. A survey a few days ago revealed 39 active nests, but as a couple of broods had already fledged, it's safe to say that this year's population was in excess of 40 breeding pairs – the highest of recent times.

Two female Cuckoos were seen on 6th – one staking out Meadow Pipit nests at Quarter Wall and one at Threequarter Wall. Finally, there was a female Teal with a brood of six small ducklings on Pondsbury on 6th.

The Starling Factory production line – 6th June © Tim Jones

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

4th June – Hobby & Mistle Thrush; surveys continue

During a very warm and sunny day, with just a light NE wind, the surveys of breeding Manx Shearwaters and large gulls continued, with good coverage achieved in both. Rich & Rebecca Taylor also continued their work on colour-ringed Wheatears.

There was no sign of the Rose-coloured Starlings seen on 3rd (although there was no particularly thorough searching for them).

A Hobby drifted north over Millcombe early in the morning, whilst a Mistle Thrush at Halfway Wall in the afternoon was probably more unusual in Lundy terms – particularly at this time of year. Also surprising was a singing Chiffchaff in Gannets' Combe! A handful of Swallows, House Martins and Swifts continued to trickle north.

Monday, 4 June 2018

3rd June – Rose-coloured Starlings, shearwater and gull surveys

Two adult Rose-coloured Starlings (presumed m & f, as one a distinctly brighter, sharper bird) were seen at Quarter Wall gate by Tim Jones at 06.15 hrs. At 08.30 they were flying down St John's Valley and then perched on the Church before dropping down into the Tent Field, where they were still present 09.40–10.00, though by 10.00 the two birds appeared to have split up, with only the (presumed) female seen later in the day (e.g. Tilllage Field pig sty at 18.30).

Other sightings included further light northbound passage of Swallows, House Martins, a Sand Martin and five Swifts. 1 Reed Warbler was along the Terrace and one Turtle Dove in Millcombe.

Teams from RSPB and Natural England began all-island censuses of Manx Shearwater burrows and large gulls – Herring, Lesser Black-back, Great Black-back.

Record shot of one of the Rose-coloured Starlings on the Church, with Common Starling © Tim Jones