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.

Monday, 30 November 2020

What the eagle did next...

As some readers will already have seen, the latest blog from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation is full of fascinating insights into the story of White-tailed Eagle 'G471' who graced Lundy with his presence (for we now now that G471 is a young male) on 16 October.
G471 left the Isle of Wight reintroduction area on 11 October and headed west along the south coast of mainland England, reaching east Devon on 13th. On 14th he flew steadily north-west, arriving on the north Cornish coast near Bude on 15th, the eve of his day-trip to Lundy. After leaving Lundy at around 13.00hrs on 16th, G471 crossed back to Hartland Point and roosted overnight in woodland near Clovelly, before spending two weeks in the upper Tamar valley, again close to Bude. On 4 November he flew further south-west, roosting close to Stithians and then overflying Penzance and on towards Land's End on 5th, before doing an about turn and roosting near Camborne on the night of 5th/6th. As of 10 November, G471 remained in Cornwall. All fingers and toes are firmly crossed for him and the other members of the "Class of 2020"!

Monday, 23 November 2020

12th to 22nd Nov – An array of late migrants and Lundy's second Goosander

Dean Jones reports on the latest avian goings-on from 'Lundy in Lockdown' – including an unexpected encounter with a Goosander.

Damp and blustery has been the theme for the majority of this period, with strong winds for the most part (gusting between 38mph and 56mph) apart from a few mornings and afternoons where the winds dropped to a moderate westerly/south-westerly – conditions which allowed for some more comfortable birding and of course, a trickle of migrants. Sunday the 22nd, however, was a glorious late-autumn day with barely a breeze throughout, warmer temperatures, some decent passage first thing and lots of very welcome sunshine.
Small gatherings of Rock Pipits have now formed in sheltered parts of the south and west coasts, flocks of hungry Herring Gulls are chasing the Farmer daily as he puts down supplementary feed for the sheep, and avian migration has slowed to a trickle. Winter on Lundy is well and truly just around the corner! 

Despite the foul weather and time of the year, there have been some real birding gems to behold throughout this period, one of which was a very unexpected Red-throated Pipit (not a bird you’d expect to find in a force 6/7 westerly) over Millcombe shortly after 08:00hrs on the 13th. Luckily the bird was very vocal as it flew overhead which, permitted a few wind-battered recordings as it made its way over the valley towards the South End. If accepted this will be the 12th record of this species for the island, the previous occurrence being one on 27 October 2017.  

Another star bird of the period was a female Goosander fishing for Mirror Carp on Rocket Pole Pond on the 22nd. This was only the second record of this saw-billed duck for Lundy, the first seen 86 years ago by Felix Gade on the 17th December 1934. Thus, a true Lundy mega! 

Lundy's second Goosander in flight from Rocket Pole Pond, 22 Nov © Dean Jones
Additional highlights included a juvenile Glaucous Gull roosting within a flock of 24 Lesser Black-backed Gulls in Lower Lighthouse Field on the 15th, a Yellow-browed Warbler busily searching each and every epiphyte for a meal in Quarter Wall Copse on the 12th, singles of Snow Bunting on the 13th, 21st and 22nd, and a scattering of Black Redstart throughout (max four birds on the 22nd). 
Male Black Redstart on the roof of Old House South,
22 Nov © Dean Jones

Offshore, birds of note were a drake Common Scoter past Rat Island on the 12th and six birds (two drakes and four ducks) on the 22nd, a Great Northern Diver sheltering and foraging in the Landing Bay from the 12th to the 15th (with a second bird passing Rat Island on the 15th), a Great Skua present offshore along the east on the 12th, two Mediterranean Gulls on the 13th and seven on the 22nd, three Common Gulls on the 13th and four on the 19th, a single Manx Shearwater on the 15th, and small numbers of Gannet, Shag and Kittiwake (max 70 birds on the 18th) along with auks offshore each day. Fulmar and Guillemot too have been periodically visiting their breeding ledges along the West Side.  

Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay, 15 Nov © Dean Jones
Up on top of the island, sightings included up to four Water Rail in Millcombe, a freshly predated Woodcock on the Lower East Side Path on the 22nd, the hibernicus type Coal Tit for its sixth week, singles of late-occurring Swallows on 13th, 16th and 22nd, a Black-headed Gull roosting in Tillage Field on the 12th, the Millcombe Woodpigeon, which remained in the Valley throughout this period, and up to three Firecrest logged daily – along with a handful of Goldcrest and singles of Blackcap and Chiffchaff.

Furthermore, there have been singles of Sparrowhawk, Merlin and Kestrel terrorising the Starling flocks on a near daily basis, and small numbers of larks, thrushes and finches have continued to move south during the fairer weather – with Skylark logged most days (max 21 on the 22nd), Redwing on six days (max 21 on the 13th and 22nd), Fieldfare on three days (max 19 on the 13th) and small numbers of Chaffinch each day, with the exception of the 22nd when 68 flew south. 

Merlin taking a rest from chasing passage Starlings near Pondsbury, 21 Nov © Dean Jones
Small numbers of Blackbird, Song Thrush, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Stonechat, Goldfinch and Siskin have also been logged most days, as well as five Linnet on the 22nd and singles of Brambling on the 13th and 22nd. 

Female Teal sheltering from the winds on Barton Pond © John Lambert

Friday, 20 November 2020

A November Hoopoe!

News came in a few days ago from Jonathan Williams of a Hoopoe that he and his wife Elizabeth were lucky enough to watch from the main window of Castle Cottage as the exotic avian visitor probed the short turf of Castle Parade during the late morning of 5th November. Jonathan writes: "My wife first noticed the bird and called me to see it as well. The most obvious features were the clearly delineated black and white stripes of its wings and back, its pinky/orange chest, neck and head, long, slightly downwardly curved beak and orange/pink & black spotted crest which was mainly in the ‘down’ position rather than ‘fanned’. It pecked at the grass and the stony margins of the 'walled garden' area for at least a minute and a half. With a flash of its black and white wings, it took off and flew over the back wall facing the South Lighthouse".
The great majority of Lundy Hoopoe records – as for Britain and Ireland in general – are in spring. This was only the seventh autumn record and by some way the latest ever, the others (in month order) being:
10 August 1967
28 August 1999
25-30 August 1967 (2 birds)
30 August 2004
15-17 September 1974
25 October 1981

Many thanks to Jonathan and Elizabeth for getting in touch; as the only ones to have seen the Hoopoe they have made an important contribution to the annals of Lundy bird recording!

Thursday, 12 November 2020

1st to 11th Nov – Autumn moves on… with a Grey Seal surprise!

Dean Jones describes the happenings of the first eleven days of November, as autumn gradually moves towards winter.
1st November

A blustery start with the south-westerly winds becoming progressively stronger throughout the day (peak gusts of 57mph in mid-afternoon) – dry for most other than a few short-lived spells of drizzle in mid-afternoon.
A very tricky day's birding due to the strong winds. Sightings of note included five Teal on Pondsbury, a Water Rail in Millcombe, 12 Gannet, 266 Kittiwake off the east coast, a dark morph Arctic Skua, singles of Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, the Coal Tit for its 18th day (perhaps the bird will overwinter on the island), two Swallow, a Chiffchaff, four Blackcap, six Goldcrest, one Firecrest (ringed), two Redwing, seven Blackbird, one Song Thrush, 16 Meadow Pipit, 15 Rock Pipit (which included a group of 13 at the North End), a Grey Wagtail in Millcombe Pond, one Pied Wagtail, seven Goldfinch, four Chaffinch, and singles of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin
Song Thrush, St Helen's Copse, 1 Nov © Dean Jones

2nd November

A wet and very windy start to the day – thick mist and drizzle first thing coupled with winds from the north gusting over 60mph – the winds dropped away throughout the afternoon and into the evening which allowed for a small passage of Redwing over the Village (around two calls per minute before the rain set in).

Other than this brief spell of nocturnal passage, not much had changed on the island bird-wise compared to the previous day. The only real highlight from this stormy day was the reappearance of the female Bullfinch in Millcombe – her seventh day on the island.  

Other birds logged included two Water Rail, eight Oystercatcher in flight past White Beach, a Snipe, 55 Kittiwake, one Black-headed Gull in the Landing Bay, singles of Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, a lone Swallow, the Coal Tit, four Blackcap, two Goldcrest, the ringed Firecrest, two Stonechat, ten Meadow Pipit, four Chaffinch, and three Goldfinch.  

Non-avian sightings included a single Red Admiral on the wing in Millcombe.  

3rd November

Light showers, drizzle and moderate northerly winds throughout the early hours, picking up rapidly to gale force once again by 09:00hrs – a few squalls in the afternoon as the wind dropped away, falling light by the evening.

A bit more variety today, highlights being the female Bullfinch in Millcombe, a Great Skua past Rat Island shortly after 07:30hrs, a female/immature type Black Redstart on the Upper East Side Path, a Reed Bunting at Quarter Wall and a small arrival of Redwing (52) and Fieldfare (30).  

Blackcap too were making their way through the island in decent numbers for early November, with 32 logged throughout the day (18 of which were trapped and ringed by Chris Dee). The biggest surprise of the day however came in the form of a late Whitethroat in Millcombe – only the second occurrence of this species on Lundy in the month of November, the first being on 5th Nov 1959 (the latest autumn date recorded). 

Other birds logged included a Water Rail, 45 Kittiwake, a first-year Black-headed Gull in St Helen’s Field, singles of Kestrel, Merlin and Sparrowhawk, a lone Swallow, four Skylark, the Coal Tit, six Chiffchaff, three Goldcrest, the ringed Firecrest, 10 Blackbird, nine Song Thrush, five Stonechat, a Grey Wagtail, 15 Meadow Pipit, three Rock Pipit, 25 Chaffinch, a single Brambling, five Siskin, two Linnet and singles of Lesser Redpoll and Goldfinch.
Record shot of the Whitethroat in Millcombe, 3 Nov © Dean Jones

Black-headed Gull, St Helen's Field, 3 Nov © Andy Jayne
Non-avian sightings included a single Silver Y flushed form the bracken on the Lower East Side Path.   

4th November

At last a change in winds! Instead of the relentless westerly gales, today the island was blessed with clear skies and a slight north-easterly wind which allowed for some superb passage during the first few hours of daylight.

A glorious autumn sunrise from Millcombe, 4 Nov © Dean Jones

Chaffinches in particular were moving in very good numbers, with a conservative estimate of 950 birds logged throughout the day. Starlings too were present in large numbers, with some 4,000 logged overhead throughout the day – a count which included a single flock of around 3,000 birds out over the sea to the east in the early morning.

The title of star bird however went to a first-winter Iceland Gull which flew over Quarry Beach with two first-winter Herring Gulls in mid-afternoon. Additional highlights included a Woodlark (the fourth to be recorded this year) over Millcombe, a Lesser Whitethroat at Quarter Wall, a Garden Warbler trapped and ringed in Millcombe, a Lapland Bunting on Ackland’s Moor, a Reed Bunting at Pondsbury, a total of four Mistle Thrush, at least six Brambling and 10 Mediterranean Gulls offshore.
One of the hundreds of Chaffinch logged on the island in Millcombe, 4 Nov © Dean Jones
Other sightings of note were 12 Mallard, nine Teal, six Cormorant over the Village, a Grey Heron in the Landing Bay, two each of Water Rail and Snipe, a Collared Dove, a male Sparrowhawk, one Kestrel, a Merlin, four Guillemot, 14 Razorbill plus c.100 other distant auks, seven Kittiwake, three Common Gull, 176 Herring Gull, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 29 Skylark, four Swallow and House Martin, six Blackcap, two Chiffchaff, four Goldcrest, two Firecrest, the Coal Tit, 102 Redwing, 33 Blackbird, 22 Fieldfare, 24 Song Thrush, 15 Robin, eight Stonechat, 24 Meadow Pipit, twelve Rock Pipit, singles of Pied and Grey Wagtail, 18 Goldfinch, a Greenfinch, 10 Siskin, two Lesser Redpoll and two Linnet.
Mistle Thrush, Barton Field, 4 Nov © Dean Jones

Collared Dove in the morning light, Millcombe, 4 Nov © Dean Jones
Birds trapped and ringed by Chris Dee were two each of Blackbird, Song Thrush and Redwing, five Blackcap, the Garden Warbler and singles of Wren, Linnet and Chaffinch.  

5th November

Another spectacular late autumn day complete with clear skies, warm temperatures, a slight easterly wind and, of course, some superb visual migration!
Jenny's Cove on a glorious afternoon out west, 5 Nov © Dean Jones
Come dawn there was a steady arrival of birds, particularly Chaffinch (400) and Blackbird (128), some of which dropped into Millcombe for a quick rest whilst others passed high overhead and on towards the mainland. Redwing (234), Song Thrush (35) and Fieldfare (69) were also moving in decent numbers, and yet another huge flock of c.4,000 Starling was seen flying north over the Village shortly after dawn – a truly spectacular sight!

Additional highlights were a male Great Spotted Woodpecker making his way along the fence posts in Barton Field, a Lapland Bunting near Pondsbury, a single Ring Ouzel in with the Blackbirds first thing, at least seven Woodcock flushed in various places around the island throughout the morning, the female Bullfinch again in Millcombe, and two Reed Bunting south of Pondsbury.
One of the many Redwing logged today, Barton Field, 5 Nov © Dean Jones

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Barton Field, 5 Nov © Dean Jones
The title of star bird however went to a stunning ringtail Hen Harrier which was initially spotted over Quarter Wall by Andy Janye in mid-morning. The bird was then seen a few times throughout the afternoon up until dusk when it was quartering around Pondsbury looking for a cosy spot to roost.  

Other sightings of note included three Teal, two Snipe, a Merlin, two each of Water Rail, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, one Woodpigeon, three Common Gull, one Mediterranean Gull, 22 Skylark, four Swallow and House Martin, 11 Blackcap, one Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, two Firecrest, the Coal Tit, 4,750 Starling, 10 Robin, four Stonechat, 21 Meadow Pipit, five Pied Wagtail, one fly-over Grey Wagtail, five Brambling, 17 Goldfinch, four Lesser Redpoll and three Linnet.

Birds trapped and ringed were 33 Redwing , six Blackbird, seven Blackcap, one Lesser Redpoll, two Goldcrest and a Goldfinch.

6th November

A dry day with clear skies throughout and moderate easterly winds first thing, picking up to a strong and chilly east/south-east wind by noon – a sad day all-in-all as the island went into a second lockdown which will continue for a least four weeks.  

Despite the easterly winds there wasn’t much in the way of visual migration first thing other than a small number of thrushes, namely Redwing (66), Fieldfare (15), Song Thrush (10) and a handful of Blackbird.

A Lapwing on Ackland's Moor was a nice treat but disappointingly only the second to be recorded this year. Three Woodcock were also logged – two of which were trapped and ringed in St John’s Valley first thing. The male Great Spotted Woodpecker remained for his second day and a Mistle Thrush was logged in Millcombe in the morning.  

Other sightings were two Sparrowhawk, singles of Kestrel and Woodpigeon, 10 Kittiwake, one Mediterranean Gull, six Skylark, one Swallow, two Chiffchaff (including one pale abietinus type bird), two Goldcrest, one Firecrest, 13 Chaffinch, one Siskin and two each of Goldfinch and Linnet.

A Kestrel resting after a meal, Millcombe, 6 Nov © Dean Jones
Birds ringed included the two Woodcock, seven Redwing and a Blackbird.  

7th November

Strong east/south-east winds in the morning gradually dropped away throughout the day – clear with sunny spells for most of the morning – becoming overcast later in the day.  

A slightly quieter day with most of the birds hiding away from the stiff and chilly easterlies. Highlights included the Lapwing for its second day on Ackland's Moor, a single Woodcock in Millcombe and a nice scattering of Redwing (123) and Fieldfare (17) across the in-fields.
Additional sightings were the Millcombe Woodpigeon, singles of Kestrel, Merlin and Snipe, a single Chiffchaff, four Goldcrest and a lone Firecrest, the Coal Tit, 14 Blackbird, four Song Thrush, 140 Starling, three Stonechat, 30 Chaffinch and nine Goldfinch.    

Other excitement was news of three tagged Atlantic Grey Seals (animals that had been rescued, rehabilitated and released, each with a flipper tag) which were photographed on the island last year. Two were local animals which were picked up in Newquay, Cornwall and Dyfed, Wales and released in Cornwall and North Devon respectively after rehabilitation. The third seal however (orange flipper tag 083), photographed by both Dean Jones and Martin Thorne on the 27th Sep 2019 in the Devil’s Kitchen, had travelled much further. In fact, this animal was found injured and picked up in north-west France on 5th Mar 2016 and sent to the Océanopolis rehab centre in Brest, before being released in an area of Plouarzel on the 4th May 2016! Who knew that some of Lundy’s seals were coming from areas of mainland Europe? Incredible stuff! Special thanks to Kate Williams and the Cornwall Seal Group and Research Trust for sending on this amazing recovery. 
Orange taggie 083, photographed in the Devil's Kitchen (Landing Bay) on 27 Sep 2019

The origins of orange taggie 083
8th November

A day of light south/south-easterly winds which picked up to a stiff SE by the evening – low sea mist surrounded the island first thing, enveloping us for a short period around 09:00hrs before clearing but remaining overcast for the rest of the day.

Sightings from a lovely day of Lundy birding included 22 Gannet,  four Manx Shearwater offshore from the Landing Bay, three Golden Plover in Brick Field, two Lapwing together over Ackland's Moor, three Oystercatcher in the Devil’s Kitchen, two Woodcock, four Water Rail in Millcombe, 250 Kittiwake, eight Mediterranean Gulls, 15 Common Gull, 80 Herring Gulls, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a lone adult Black-headed Gull, 300 distant auks, the Millcombe Woodpigeon, singles of Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, one Skylark, 28 Redwing, 10 Blackbird, 28 Fieldfare, three Rock Pipit, two Blackcap, six Goldcrest, two Firecrest, the Coal Tit, four Stonechat, 72 Chaffinch, seven Goldfinch, two Siskin, a Lesser Redpoll, two Brambling, and a Reed Bunting next to the Old Hospital.    

Golden Plover in Brick Field, 8 Nov © Dean Jones
Non-avian sightings included six Portuguese Man o' War washed up in the Landing Bay.

9th November

Light/moderate south-easterly winds in the morning which swung around to the SW by late afternoon – a wet start to the day with numerous light showers and spells of drizzle – becoming dry but overcast in the afternoon.  

With a mass exodus of birds overnight, today's birding had a distinctly wintery feel to it, with only a handful of migrants logged. These included a female Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel, the Millcombe Woodpigeon, four Common Gull and an adult Mediterranean Gull offshore, 32 Kittiwake, just 11 Redwing, eight Blackbird, three Song Thrush, singles of Blackcap and Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, one Firecrest, the Coal Tit still, 38 Chaffinch, three Goldfinch and a Brambling.  

10th November

A beautiful November day with sunshine, clear skies and a light WSW wind for most – becoming overcast by mid-afternoon as the winds picked up.

An even quieter day with a further exodus of migrants overnight (no Redwing or Fieldfare on the island today). Not much of note bird-wise unfortunately, though the fine autumn weather more than made up for the lack of birds. Sightings included a Firecrest in Millcombe, a lone Common Gull offshore, 30 Chaffinch and a scattering of Goldcrest, Goldfinch and Siskin.  

11th  November

A day of strong southerly winds which reached gale force by mid-morning – overcast for the most part give or take a few brief sunny spells and a few bouts of rain in mid-afternoon.  
Due to the stormy weather not much in the way of birds up top, other than a handful of Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin and a Firecrest in Millcombe . Offshore however there was a bit more going on, with a Great Skua harassing good numbers of Kittiwake (180), 43 Gannet, two Mediterranean Gull, 110 Herring Gull, six Lesser Black-backed Gull, a single Common Gull and a handful of distant auks.   

Report composed of sightings from Chris & Mandy Dee, Rosie Ellis, Andy Jayne, Dean Jones, Saeed Rashid and Matt Stritch.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

26th to 31st Oct – High winds, heavy showers and (maybe) the last hurrah of the White's Thrush

Dean Jones reports on a "super quiet" last six days for birds during what, generally, has been an outstanding month of Lundy birding.

26th October

The winds rage on! A day of strong northerly winds gusting 40mph throughout – heavy rain in the early morning giving way to overcast and the odd sunny spell.

Swell rolling into Lametry Bay, 26 Oct © Dean Jones
A very quiet bird day due to the wet and breezy weather. Highlights included the White’s Thrush, which was seen again near the Casbah by Rob Duncan as he made his way to the Village in the mid-morning.

Other birds of note were the hibernicus type Coal Tit, singles of Swallow, Chiffchaff and Firecrest, seven Goldcrest, nine Blackbird, one Fieldfare, four Song Thrush and six Redwing, two each of Grey and Pied Wagtail, 30 Chaffinch and two Siskin.

27th October

Another wet start to the day with frequent squalls in the morning and one or two heavy showers up until the afternoon – strong southerly winds first thing turning north by 09:00hrs – peak gusts 43mph.

Highlights from another reasonably quiet bird day were a male and female Bullfinch (it is incredible that some birds are still moving in these storms), the lingering Yellow-browed Warbler in Millcombe and a Great Northern Diver (the third to be logged so far this autumn) in the Landing Bay.

Other birds noted included four Teal on Pondsbury, two Manx Shearwater, a female Sparrowhawk, two Snipe, c1,000 Kittiwake offshore from the Landing Bay in the afternoon, two Razorbill and 20 other distant auks, the Coal Tit, three Swallow, four Firecrest, eight Goldcrest, 11 Blackbird, two Fieldfare, three Song Thrush, 10 Redwing, 14 Robin, eight Dunnock, one Grey Wagtail, four Meadow Pipit, 31 Chaffinch, and singles of both Brambling and Siskin.

28th October

Bouts of heavy rain throughout the morning, turning cloudy with the odd sunny spell by the afternoon – strong north/westerly winds throughout, peaking at 57mph just before noon.

The hefty winds and frequent downpours made for another tricky day's birding up top, therefore the sea got most of the attention today. Highlights were a first-winter Iceland Gull, a bird which was spotted flying past Rat Island by Justin Zantboer from his cosy sea-watch window in Hamners. Also offshore from the Landing Bay were two Great Skua, three Mediterranean Gulls and two fly-by drake Common Scoters. The lingering Yellow-browed Warbler was still present in Millcombe.

Additional birds logged included a single Manx Shearwater, two Cormorant, a female Sparrowhawk, singles of Water Rail and Oystercatcher, 500 Kittiwake, two Lesser Black-backed Gull, ten Razorbill and 50 other distant auks, singles of both Kestrel and Merlin, the hibernicus type Coal Tit for a 14th day, two Swallow, two Chiffchaff, a lone Firecrest, five Goldcrest, seven Blackbird, one Song Thrush, four Redwing, 11 Robin, one Stonechat, nine Dunnock, two Grey Wagtail, 15 Meadow Pipit, four Rock Pipit, 20 Chaffinch, a male Greenfinch, four Siskin, and singles of Lesser Redpoll and Reed Bunting.

Stonechat, Lower East Side Path, 28 Oct © Dean Jones
29th October

40mph winds from the north first thing which switched WSW and steadily gathered pace in the afternoon until the evening – peak gusts 50mph at 22:00hrs – a drier day with the odd spell of drizzle.

Highlights included two Lapland Bunting feeding outside Paradise Row briefly in the morning, a Snow Bunting at the North End, a lone Black Redstart in the Landing Bay and a Great Northern Diver offshore.

Other sightings were a female Sparrowhawk, a Water Rail in Smelly Gully, two Oystercatcher, two Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Merlin, singles of Swallow, Stonechat and Chiffchaff, two Goldcrest, seven Blackbird, a Grey Wagtail, 25 Chaffinch, one Goldfinch and 16 Siskin.

30th October

Strong south-westerly/westerly winds first thing – peak gusts of 44mph – dropping away to a very light breeze come the afternoon which spurred on a brief spell of finch and pipit passage. Drizzle and thick mist until 11:30hrs – becoming overcast but dry up until 16:00hrs when the rains returned – heavy downpours throughout the evening.

Highlights included a female Bullfinch in Millcombe (no sign of the male) and a fly-over Snow Bunting at Halfway Wall (more than likely the same bird noted by Dave Fairhurst at the North End the previous day).

Other birds logged: two Water Rail, 21 Kittiwake, two Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Merlin, one Skylark, three Chiffchaff, seven Blackcap, 11 Goldcrest, nine Blackbird, two Song Thrush, 30 Redwing, 25 Robin, two Stonechat, 14 Dunnock, one Grey Wagtail, 20 Meadow Pipit, 40 Chaffinch, 20 Goldfinch, 46 Siskin, six Linnet and singles of both Brambling and Lesser Redpoll.

Peregrine looking out for a meal in the gloomy afternoon light, East Side, 30 Oct © Dean Jones
31st October

Heavy rain first thing giving way to drizzle up until 9:00hrs – sunshine becoming overcast by the mid-afternoon – very strong south-westerly winds in the morning gusting 55mph which shifted to the west and dropped slightly by late morning.

Highlights were the lingering Snow Bunting, this time on the main track near the Old Hospital, and the reappearance of the hibernicus type Coal Tit in Millcombe.

Other birds logged included singles of Merlin and Sparrowhawk, 110 Kittiwake offshore, three Lesser Black-backed Gull, two Swallow, four Blackcap, one Chiffchaff, four Goldcrest, a Firecrest on the Terrace, two Stonechat, the Millcombe Pond Grey Wagtail, 13 Chaffinch and singles of Siskin and Linnet.

Report composed of sightings from Rob Duncan, Dave Fairhurst, Dean Jones and Dan, Ellie & Justin Zantboer.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Moorhen & Manx Shearwater recorded at night

MS Oldenburg departs a sun-kissed Landing Bay with her final passengers of 2020, 23 Oct © Dean Jones
With the last passenger sailing of the year marking the turning of Lundy's seasons once more, Tim Jones looks back through night-time recordings he made of birds overflying the Castle a bit earlier in the month. There were some interesting results, although the buffeting easterly winds made it a challenge to pick out quieter calls, even in the relative shelter of those high Castle walls.

Night of 14th – 15th October (20.08–06.42 hrs)
Redwing 104 calls
Song Thrush 5 calls
Skylark 2 calls
Grey Heron 2 calls
Blackbird 1 call
Robin 1 call
Manx Shearwater 1 bout of calling at 23.36 hrs
Oystercatcher 1 call
Night of 15th – 16th October (20.29–06.43 hrs)
Redwing 62 calls
Song Thrush 2 calls
Blackbird 1 call
Sika Deer (this animal was probably not overflying the Castle, given that there were still more than two months to go before Christmas)
Night of 16th – 17th October (20.11–07.11 hrs)
Redwing 13 calls only (in line with the much-reduced numbers of Redwings seen by day on 17th)
Skylark 6 calls (just before first light at 06.55 hrs)
Blackbird 2 calls
Manx Shearwater 1 bout of calling at 01.30 hrs
MOORHEN 1 call at 21.40 hrs (see spectrogram below) – very much a Lundy rarity, being the first for the island since 2009! No doubt others fly through at night completely undetected...
Sika Deer (very vocal, giving their strange, wailing, diver-like call)


The distinctive spectrogram of a calling Moorhen, 16-17 Oct

Monday, 26 October 2020

18th to 25th Oct – A rich and diverse array of autumn migrants

Dean Jones brings us up to date with an eight-day roundup of all that's been happening on Lundy.

18th October

A glorious autumnal day! Light south-easterlies and beautiful sunshine for most – becoming overcast for a few hours in the late afternoon but clearing again in the evening – conditions which allowed for some superb star-gazing!  

A rich and diverse day of Lundy birding with numerous star birds including a very vocal first-year Red-breasted Flycatcher at the back of Quarter Wall Copse in the afternoon – the second record of this species for 2020 following a bird found by Paul Holt in the same area on 6th October.

Red-breasted Flycatcher, Quarter Wall Copse, 18 Oct © Dean Jones
Another very exciting find was a Cetti’s Warbler which was trapped and ringed in Millcombe first thing – the 6th record for the island. Additionally, a total of four Yellow-browed Warblers were logged, including two which were trapped and ringed in Millcombe throughout the course of the day (one of the others was an unringed bird busily feeding in the canopy in Quarter Wall Copse).

Cetti's Warbler, Millcombe, 18 Oct © Dean Jones
Lots of excitement offshore too with good numbers of Herring Gull foraging along the east coast (385 logged) accompanied by 18 Mediterranean Gull, one adult Black-headed Gull and 93 Common Gull, the latter being the second highest count ever recorded for this species on Lundy.

The male and female Great Spotted Woodpeckers remained for their fourth day and a total of four Firecrest were scattered across Millcombe and the east coast.

Other birds logged included eight Mallard, ten Gannet, two Water Rail, a male Sparrowhawk, two Kestrel, a single Merlin, six Kittiwake, eight Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 44 Swallow, seven House Martin, five Chiffchaff, 17 Blackcap, six Goldcrest, 180 Starling, 19 Blackbird, 33 Redwing, 14 Song Thrush, 66 Fieldfare, 180 Starling, 22 Robin, three Stonechat, 12 Dunnock, two Coal Tit (including the lingering hiburnicus type), singles of Grey Wagtail and alba wagtail, ten Meadow Pipit, 83 Chaffinch, seven Siskin, six Goldfinch, two each of Linnet and Greenfinch and a single Lesser Redpoll.

Ringing totals: one Cetti’s Warbler, two Yellow-browed Warbler, 15 Blackcap, six Chiffchaff, one Firecrest, two Goldcrest, one Wren, two Redwing, two Blackbird, three Robin, one Greenfinch (36 birds of 11 species).

Non-avian sightings included a Humming-bird Hawkmoth in Millcombe.

19th October

Light south-easterly wind first thing, picking up to a strong SSE wind by the evening – peak gusts 46mph – clear skies and sunshine for most of the day, becoming overcast in mid-afternoon – heavy rain just before midnight.

A much quieter bird day, with the light winds and clear skies on the night of the 18th allowing for a mass exodus of migrants overnight. Despite the reasonably birdless start to the day, Rob Duncan continued to man the mist-nets in Millcombe. Thankfully he did, as by the late morning Rob was rewarded with a superb Little Bunting in one of the Secret Garden nets. This is the 21st record of Little Bunting for the island (of which eight now have been trapped and ringed), with the last being found on 23rd October 2019. Bravo Rob!

Little Bunting, Millcombe, 19 Oct © Dean Jones
Other highlights included a single Yellow-browed Warbler in Millcombe, the first Black Redstart of the autumn outside Bramble Villas, and ten Mediterranean Gull, a Great Skua and 15 Common Gull offshore.

Additional birds logged were 20 Gannet, a male and female Sparrowhawk, one Water Rail, a single Kittiwake, a single Lesser Black-backed Gull, 410 Razorbill, two Kestrel, a single Merlin, five Skylark, singles of Chiffchaff and Blackcap, three Firecrest, six Goldcrest, eight Blackbird, five Fieldfare, three Song Thrush, just one Redwing, 100 Starling, seven Robin, one alba wagtail, 57 Chaffinch, 11 Goldfinch, two Siskin and three Linnet.

Ringing totals: one Little Bunting, one Blackcap, one Chiffchaff, four Goldcrest, one Dunnock, six Chaffinch and one Goldfinch (15 birds of seven species).

20th October

A day of overcast skies, brief sunny spells and a strong SSW wind throughout.

Unsurprisingly the strong winds made birding rather difficult and had most of the birds on the island hidden out of sight in vegetation.

Highlights from this wild day included the male Great-spotted Woodpecker in Millcombe (no sign of the female), a Black Redstart in the Landing Bay and more scarce gull excitement along the east with a total of 29 Mediterranean Gull logged – the highest single count for Lundy on what is becoming an increasingly common species around the island.

Other birds logged included a single Kestrel, 14 Common Gull, 30 Herring Gull, six Lesser Black-backed Gull, three Kittiwake, singles of Chiffchaff and Blackcap, five Goldcrest, one Firecrest, 13 Chaffinch, two Goldfinch, four Siskin and one Linnet.
21st October

A light westerly breeze in the morning, picking up slightly around 13:00hrs, swinging WNW – drizzle first thing, clearing up for a few hours in mid-morning, then drizzle for the rest of the day – heavy showers in late afternoon.

Today’s highlight was the reappearance of the White’s Thrush in Millcombe after remaining hidden in the Valley for three days! The bird was seen by Rob Duncan at around 14:00hrs flying up from the path just below the Casbah, perching briefly on a low branch in a tree before flying up the Valley. The other highpoint included yet another Yellow-browed Warbler trapped and ringed.

Yellow-browed Warbler, Millcombe, 21 Oct © Dean Jones
Other birds recorded were a Golden Plover over the Village, the second Woodcock of the autumn flushed from the Terrace, a single Manx Shearwater offshore, two Water Rail, an adult male Sparrowhawk, a Merlin, ten Kittiwake, a single adult Mediterranean Gull, seven Blackcap, four Chiffchaff, two Firecrest, six Goldcrest, the hiburnicus type Coal Tit, six Swallow, 16 Robin, six Wheatear, four each of Redwing and Fieldfare, 13 Blackbird, two Song Thrush, 10 Dunnock, seven Grey Wagtail flying over after the rain, two Pied Wagtail, 43 Meadow Pipit, 19 Goldfinch, 94 Chaffinch, 14 Siskin, and a single Reed Bunting by Blue Bung.

Ringing totals included the Yellow-browed Warbler, six Blackcap, one Robin, one Redwing, 12 Chaffinch, three Siskin and one Goldfinch (25 birds of seven species).
22nd October

Another glorious, sunny autumn day on Lundy – light north-westerly winds first thing, slacking off to a light westerly breeze by late morning.

A superb day full of migrants! As dawn approached, the calls of Redwing and Chaffinch filled the air, with multiple small flocks moving south overhead up until 10:15hrs or so. Blackcap and Stonechat too were passing in decent numbers, with 59 and 26 birds logged throughout the day respectively.

The day's highlight however was once again the White’s Thrush which, instead of lurking in the undergrowth like it usually does, spent much of the morning feeding on the more open paths, for example next to Government House, and flying around the Valley, allowing multiple superb in-flight views.

Other notable birds included a very showy Woodlark above Benjamin’s Chair, a total of five Yellow-browed Warbler in Millcombe and along the east coast, a female Crossbill which dropped into the pines at the top of Millcombe in the afternoon, a Short-eared Owl which was flushed by the culling team next to Pondsbury in the afternoon, two Mistle Thrush south over the Valley first thing and a late Reed Warbler was trapped and ringed in Millcombe.

Woodlark, Benjamin's Chair, 22 Oct © Dean Jones
Yellow-browed Warbler foraging in ivy in Millcombe's Walled Gardens, 22 Oct © Dean Jones

Other sightings included four Cormorant, three Water Rail, a Golden Plover, singles of Merlin and Kestrel, ten Kittiwake, eight Common Gull, ten Mediterranean Gull, four Lesser Black-backed Gull, 200 Herring Gull, 18 Skylark, 36 Swallow, two House Martin, seven Chiffchaff, 16 Goldcrest, three Firecrest, the hibernicus type Coal Tit, two each of Pied and Grey Wagtail, 19 Meadow Pipit, 17 Blackbird, a Ring Ouzel, 12 Song Thrush, 26 Fieldfare, 278 Redwing,  21 Robin, 13 Dunnock, 300 Chaffinch, 17 Siskin, 37 Goldfinch, 23 Linnet, a single Brambling and two Lesser Redpoll.

Female Chaffinch on Tillage Field wall – one of the many logged on the island today, 22 Oct © Dean Jones
Ringing totals: a Yellow-browed Warbler, one Reed Warbler, 37 Blackcap, one Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, two Firecrest, one Wren, three Blackbird, two Song Thrush, two Redwing, one Dunnock, two Robin, one Goldfinch, eight Chaffinch, four Siskin, two House Sparrow (73 birds of 16 species).

Non-avian sightings included a Harbour Porpoise off South West Point, a Small Copper butterfly on the Lower East Side Path and a Silver Y in Millcombe.

23rd October

Strong northerly winds in the morning dropping away by 11:00hrs – in mid-afternoon the winds slowly gathered pace again, blowing a gale by late evening – dry and cloudy for the most part other than a bout of heavy rain for around an hour or so shortly after 09:00hrs.

A much quieter day compared to the 22nd, though there were still some great birds to be enjoyed by the last of the season’s day-trippers.

Highlights were another unringed Yellow-browed Warbler in Millcombe, a good candidate for Siberian (tristis) Chiffchaff and a Garden Warbler, both of which were tapped and ringed in the afternoon.

Other birds logged included a young Cormorant on Rocket Pole Pond, singles of Merlin and Kestrel, two Skylark, seven Swallow, one House Martin, 32 Blackcap, two Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, a lone Firecrest, the hiburnicus type Coal Tit, 69 Redwing, 11 Blackbird, three Song Thrush, five Fieldfare, nine Robin, four Stonechat, the feathered remains of a Common Redstart next to the Quarries, five Dunnock, 12 Meadow Pipit, a Grey Wagtail, 37 Chaffinch, 27 Siskin and ten Goldfinch.

A Merlin looking for some lunch in Barton Field, 23 Oct © Dean Jones
Ringing totals: one Garden Warbler, 20 Blackcap, the Chiffchaff, one Goldcrest, two Blackbird, one each of Robin and Dunnock, six Chaffinch, four Goldfinch and a single Siskin (38 birds of 10 species).

A beautiful thrush-filled sunset to end a superb day's birding, Quarter Wall, 23 Oct © Dean Jones
24th October

Strong westerly/north westerly winds throughout – thick cloud and frequent downpours throughout the day.

Another quiet day on the bird front which wasn’t unexpected due to the wet and very windy weather. Highlights included the White’s Thrush again near the Casbah in Millcombe in the early evening.

Other birds logged were the Cormorant, again on Rocket Pole Pond, singles of Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Merlin, 67 Kittiwake, ten Mediterranean Gull and one Common Gull offshore, four Swallow, a single Blackcap, four Goldcrest, 20 Robin, a Black Redstart in the Landing Bay area, three Stonechat, seven Dunnock, three Grey Wagtail, four Redwing, seven Blackbird, two Song Thrush, 27 Chaffinch, 23 Linnet and two Siskin.
25th October

The strong north-westerly winds continued – cloudy with sunny spells and a number of heavy downpours and hailstorms – conditions which produced some beautiful cloud formations and rainbows.

A rainbow shines through a hailstorm over the Village, 25 Oct © Dean Jones
Another quiet bird day due to the weather, with a very similar cast of migrants as for the previous day. Highlights included the White’s Thrush showing well in Millcombe again, a ringed Yellow-browed Warbler in Millcombe Wood, and a Great Skua and two adult Mediterranean Gulls offshore.

Other birds noted were the Cormorant, again on Rocket Pole Pond, two Water Rail, two Snipe (one of which was trapped and ringed in Brick Field in the evening), 60 Kittiwake, two each of Skylark and Swallow, a single Blackcap, two Firecrest and a handful of Goldcrest, the hiburnicus type Coal Tit, 10 Robin, three Grey Wagtail, four Redwing, five Blackbird, two Song Thrush, 20 Chaffinch, three Goldfinch and three Siskin.

Report composed of sightings from Ed & Vick Crane, Rob Duncan, Dave Fairhurst, Hugo Fletcher, Dean Jones and Ali Sheppard.