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, 17 September 2018

Pics of the Ortolan & Rosy Starling from early Sep

Below are photos of the juvenile/first-winter Ortolan Bunting seen on 2 Sep and the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling on 6 Sep – see the blogs for those dates for further details. Many thanks to Rich & Rebecca Taylor for providing these images.

Ortolan Bunting above Benjamin's Chair, 2 Sep 2018 © Richard Taylor
Juvenile Rose-coloured Starling, Quarters, 6 Sep 2018 © Richard Taylor
Juvenile Rose-coloured Starling, Quarters, 6 Sep 2018 © Richard Taylor

Friday, 14 September 2018

14th Sep – Something of a clear out

The latest news from David & Elisabeth Price, Peter Slader and Nik Ward, reported by David:

"Last night we trekked up to Pyramid Slope [to ring Manx Shearwaters] and with a lot of energy expenditure managed just 12 new juveniles and no adults. Most young had little or no down, and were ready to leave. Felt like it was getting towards the end of the season.

Nothing significant from us in the way of sightings today. Perhaps 15–20 Blackcaps in all, the bulk of yesterday's birds having moved on. Five Goldcrests and just 2–3 Chiffchaffs recorded. One Teal on Pondsbury, 120 Starlings and 80 Linnets noted on unsuccessful walk round to try and relocate the Pectoral Sandpiper. Nik had a single Sand Martin.

Looking a bit blowy for tonight – certainly too much wind for mist-netting Stormies."

The post for 11th & 12th Sep below has been updated with further details of the Buff-breasted Sandpipers, including photos.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

13th Sep – Pectoral Sandpiper still present; fall of Blackcaps

There was no sign of the Buff-breasted Sandpipers – perhaps not surprising after a fine, clear night with a gentle NW – but the Pectoral Sandpiper was seen at Quarter Wall Pond and Brick Field Pond during the late morning by David & Elisabeth Price. The bird subsequently disappeared for a while but was relocated on Quarters Pond by Andrew Jewels at around 2pm, where it remained feeding actively until at least the late afternoon.

The settled overnight conditions had clearly seen many birds on the move and Millcombe was alive with Blackcaps. Nik Ward reports that 39 were ringed, with an estimated 70 present in total, including few outside Millcombe. Other migrants included a small arrival of 5 Goldcrests, 10 Chiffchaffs and 8 Willow Warblers , along with at least 15 Wheatears, a Whinchat, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a Pied Flycatcher and a Tree Pipit. Diurnal passage included a modest movement of Swallows, a single Sand Martin, around 50 Meadow Pipits and 20 Skylarks. Pondsbury held 5 Snipe and a Teal, whilst at least one Kestrel ranged widely about the island.

Photos below of juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper at Quarters Pond  © Tim Jones







Wednesday, 12 September 2018

11th & 12th Sep – Buff-breasted & Pectoral Sandpipers

Updated

News came in late yesterday (via Birdguides and Rare Bird Alert) of two Buff-breasted Sandpipers on Lundy on Tuesday 11th seen by Gareth Bradbury who reports that, "On Tuesday around 1215 I was watching the linnet/meadow pipit flock around the livestock feeders south of where the main track goes through Quarter Wall when the two Buff-breasted Sands flew low in to land just 20m west of the track and 20m south of the Quarter Wall. They immediately started feeding in the grass and offered great views [see photo below]". A logbook entry by Tony & Celia Sawbridge, visitors staying on the island, indicates that both birds had been in the vicinity of the Airfield since Sunday 9th.

Peter Slader reports that the two Buff-breasted Sandpipers were still present this morning (Wednesday 12th), in the Brick Field near Quarter Wall gate and also on the Airfield. An added bonus was provided by a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper at Quarter Wall and Brick Field Ponds; quite the trio of Nearctic waders! [See additional photos by Nik Ward below.]

Buff-breasted Sandpipers, nr Quarter Wall, 11 Sep © Gareth Bradbury
Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Brick Field, 12 Sep © Nik Ward
Pectoral Sandpiper, Brick Field Pond, 12 Sep © Nik Ward

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

10th & 11th Sep – An influx of migrants ends badly for a Blackcap

David Price writes:

"Monday morning (10th) dawned fine with a small influx of warblers in Millcombe. Perhaps 30 Blackcaps, 12 Chiffchaffs, 6 Willow Warblers and a single Whitethroat were flitting around, most of them in Smelly Gully. Whilst Nik was watching them, a Sparrowhawk swept across and crashed into the bushes, emerging a few moments later with an unfortunate Blackcap. Two Tree Pipits recorded, a perky Redstart, a Pied Flycatcher and at least two Spotted Flyctachers. Water Rail calling regularly from the gully. Wind really got up in the afternoon and with rain interspersed it once again ruled out any shearwatering last night.

This morning (Tuesday 11th), wind and rain subdued everything, though probably yesterday's migrants had already headed off. The only significant sightings have been a Wheatear, one Spotted Flycatcher hanging on, at least 80 Starlings, and 75 Meadow Pipits feeding near the lambing shed, presumably recently arrived. Weather improving and should be OK for a visit to the Old Light shearwater colony tonight."

8th & 9th Sep – Relatively quiet as new shearwater team arrives

David & Elisabth Price, Peter Slader and Nik Ward arrived on Saturday 8th to continue the ringing of Manx Shearwaters, taking over from Team Taylor. David reports, "An uneventful crossing and quiet Saturday as most of the migrants had moved out." There was also "an inauspicious start for shearwatering, as wind and rain that night precluded any ringing!"

Sunday 9th was again relatively quiet. The best counts for migrants were 6 Willow Warblers, 12 Chiffchaffs, a Whitethroat, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Pied Flycatcher and a Wheatear. Other notable sightings included a female Sparrowhawk and more than 100 Linnets. On Sunday night (9th/10th) the team "scrambled up and down the steep slopes of Pilot's Quay" catching and ringing a creditable 20 shearwaters (18 young and 2 adults). Most of the young had no down and were ready to fledge. David adds that, "Interestingly, whilst sitting quietly on the slopes waiting for it to get dark properly, we saw the silhouettes of at least three Storm Petrels flitter overhead."

Sunday, 9 September 2018

7th & 8th Sep – Modest Blackcap influx

Tony Taylor reports that the main feature of 7th was the arrival of at least 18 Blackcaps. Other migrants included 6 House Martins, 4 Goldcrests, 5 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, a Pied Flycatcher and a Tree Pipit calling over Millcombe.

There were no notable observations on the island itself on 8th, amidst damp and breezy conditions, but the return crossing to Ilfracombe brought two Common Terns soon after departure from Lundy, along with a single Storm Petrel and a scattering of Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Manx Shearwaters (one being chased by a Great Black-backed Gull) and Gannets.

Reflecting on the past two weeks, Tony comments, "The sea has looked very empty from the island throughout our visit. No significant feeding flocks, just the occasional Gannet. Shearwaters weren’t passing or gathering offshore: presumably having to travel some distance for food."

Friday, 7 September 2018

6th Sep – Rose-coloured Starling

A juvenile Rose-coloured Starling was in the chicken run outside Quarters, but things were generally a lot quieter on the migrant front. A female Sparrowhawk was terrorising the Starlings around the Village, a Ringed Plover flew over, whilst warblers and flycatchers were represented by just three Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff, five Blackcaps, a Whitethroat and a Spotted Flycatcher.

The shearwater and petrel ringers took a well-deserved night off!

Thursday, 6 September 2018

5th Sep – Golden Oriole still present

The Golden Oriole (a female or immature bird) first seen on 4th was still present on Wednesday 5th.

Other sightings included: single Whimbrel, Dunlin and Snipe, 10 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs,  a Wood Warbler, 20 Blackcaps, a Whitethroat, 8 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Whinchats and a Tree Pipit.

Manx Shearwater ringing at the Old Light colony on the night of 5th/6th yielded 55 new chicks, two new adults, plus a few retraps.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

4th Sep – Golden Oriole in Millcombe

Rich & Rebecca Taylor found a Golden Oriole in Millcombe at lunchtime. This is only the second autumn record for the Lundy, the first dating back just over half-a-century to 11 Oct 1967!

The supporting cast included: 13 Willow Warblers, 4 Chiffchaffs, 33 Blackcaps, 10 Whitethroats, a Whinchat, 3 White Wagtails, a Tree Pipit and a Greenfinch.

The ringing team visited an area a little to the south of the main Old Light colony (the gully north of Sunset Butress) during the night of 3rd/4th and ringed 40 Manx Shearwaters (33 chicks and 7 adults).

Sightings collated from multiple observers by Tony Taylor.

Whinchat, Quarter Wall, 4 Sep © Dean Jones

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

3rd Sep – Signs of a good year for shearwater productivity

Migrants on Monday 3rd included: 12 Spotted Flycatchers, 7 Pied Flycatchers, a Redstart, 4 Whinchats, and a White Wagtail.

Ringing at the Old Light Manx Shearwater colony on the night of 2nd/3rd produced 50 new and 9 retrap chicks, and 3 new and 6 retrap adults. Tony Taylor comments "chicks clearly more numerous than in previous years".

Pied Flycatcher, Millcombe, 31 Aug © Dean Jones
Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe, 2 Sep © Dean Jones
Willow Warbler, Aug 2018 © Martin Thorne
Migrating Cormorants over South West Field, Aug 2018 © Martin Thorne

Monday, 3 September 2018

1st & 2nd Sep – Ortolan Bunting among a good range of migrants

Saturday 1st September

A successful visit to the Old Light Manx Shearwater colony on the night of 31st/1st saw 84 shearwaters handled, of which 67 were chicks (59 newly ringed, 8 retraps) and 17 adults (11 new, 6 retraps, the latter including individuals ringed in 2008, 2010, 2011 & 2012). 

Other migrants included: single Grey Heron, Curlew and Dunlin, three Swifts, a Garden Warbler (ringed), a Goldcrest and four Pied Flycatchers.

Sunday 2nd September

At North Light on the night of 1st/2nd September six new Storm Petrels were ringed (and one retrapped), together with two adult and three young Manx Shearwaters. A Common Sandpiper was heard calling.

During the morning of 2nd, Rich Taylor found an Ortolan Bunting on the track near QuartersHe relocated it on the track above Benjamin's Chair in the afternoon and managed to grab a photo before the bird was unwittingly disturbed by daytrippers from the Waverley. Among other notable records were: a Dunlin, two first-winter Black-headed Gulls, two Swifts, the first Firecrest of the autumn (Quarter Wall Copse), a Goldcrest, 15 Pied Flycatchers, two Whinchats, a Yellow Wagtail and two Tree Pipits.

Maximum counts for other migrants across the two days were: 20 Sand Martins, 20 Swallows, two House Martins, two Willow Warblers, two Chiffchaffs, two Sedge Warblers, three Spotted Flycatchers and six Wheatears.

Information collated by Tony Taylor from multiple observers.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

31st Aug – A high count of Pied Flycatchers

Friday 31st was generally a quieter day, but for an unusually high count of 20 Pied Flycatchers, which were spread all along the East Side, with many in the Millcombe/St John's area. This is the highest total for many years, but a long way short of the all-time maximum of 100 on 2 Sep 1990.

Combined observations of other migrants included: two Cormorants, a Ringed Plover, three Swifts, 7 Willow Warblers, 3 Chiffchaffs, 7 Spotted Flycatchers, 3 Tree Pipits and a Yellow Wagtail.

During the night of 31st/1st the ringing team focused on Storm Petrels at North End, where they  caught 23 new birds, two Lundy-ringed retraps, two birds ringed elsewhere in Britain and two French-ringed birds, including the individual trapped on the night of 27th/28th.

Friday, 31 August 2018

30th Aug – A good variety of migrants, including a late(ish) Swift

Tony Taylor sums up Thursday 30th as "a pleasant day with birds on the move". His own sightings combined with those by Rebecca & Rich Taylor and Dean Jones included:

Two Whimbrels, a lone Swift (the last of the year?), 25 Sand Martins, 135 Swallows, 15 House Martins, 20 Willow Warblers, 5 Sedge Warblers, one Blackcap, 9 Whitethroats,  3 Goldcrests, 15 Spotted Flycatchers, 10 Wheatears, one Grey Wagtail, a flock of 7 alba wagtails including at least two White Wagtails, and 4 Tree Pipits. The remains of a Knot were found in South West Field.

During the night of 30th/31st the impressive total of 43 Manx Shearwaters (of which 36 were chicks) were caught at the Old Light colony, in spite of clear skies with a rising moon. Tony reports "lots of chicks out exercising wings".

Thursday, 30 August 2018

29th Aug – A quieter day but more shearwaters ringed at night

There were fewer migrants around by day, with the more notable sightings comprising two Whimbrel and a Yellow Wagtail (Dean Jones), plus a Teal and several Sedge Warblers at Pondsbury (Rich & Rebecca Taylor).

During the night of 29th/30th the Manx Shearwater team ringed a further nine birds in the vicinity of Benjamin's Chair, including a chick from a burrow at Benjamin's Chair itself.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

28th Aug – Spotted Flycatcher influx

Tony Taylor, who arrived with reinforcements for shearwater ringing, reports a quiet crossing to the island, with a handful of Manx Shearwaters and two Storm Petrels about halfway across, though a Bonxie flew over the jetty as passengers disembarked.

Combined sightings for the day included: 3 Water Rails, a Sand Martin, 9 Swallows, a House Martin, 22 Willow Warblers, 8 Whitethroats, 2 Sedge Warblers and 24 Spotted Flycatchers. Rebecca Taylor writes: "The top of Millcombe, from the Blue Bung to St Helen's Field fence was hopping with Spot Flys and Willow Warblers, with several Whitethroats thrown in."

During the night of 28th/29th a further 13 Manx Shearwater chicks were ringed at the Old Light colony. Of 15 adults handled, seven were new birds and duly ringed, whilst eight were retraps, the oldest of these from 2012.


Tuesday, 28 August 2018

26th & 27th Aug – Jack Snipe and a Storm Petrel with a French accent

Rich & Rebecca Taylor report that during a very wet, misty and rainy day on Sunday 26th they "mostly played Spot the Sea and, at times, Spot Brambles – from Little St John's!" However, they did manage to make it to Pondsbury, where they found a Sedge Warbler and a Jack Snipe – the latter an unusual record for late August. Other bits and bobs included a Dunlin heard over Castle Hill and five Teal, which settled briefly on Brick Field Pond before heading off in the direction of Pondsbury.

With a late improvement in the weather, they were able to ring 10 Manx Shearwater chicks on the night of 26th/27th.

Bank Holiday Monday, 27th, was another quiet day for birding, with the best of the bunch being single Teal, (Common) Snipe, Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler at Pondsbury and a second Willow Warbler in St Helen's Field.

The night of 27th/28th saw them heading up north to trap Storm Petrels. They ringed six new birds and retrapped one that was ringed on Lundy last year. They also caught one bird that had probably been ringed elsewhere in Britain (to be confirmed) and, amazingly, one wearing a French ring!

Monday, 27 August 2018

Pallid Swift – a new species for Lundy

Over the summer news broke via Twitter that the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC) has accepted the record of Pallid Swift on Lundy on 25th October 2016, representing not only the first for the island, but also the first accepted record for Devon.


Below are excerpts from the vivid accounts written by Justin Zantboer and Chris Baillie, along with one of Simon Slade's photos. Congratulations to all involved for their presence of mind and diligent observation; this is not an easy species to clinch!

"Whilst counting migrants passing overhead during an indoor break, I noted a Swift descending rapidly from above Redwing and Chaffinch flocks. It was briefly holding its wings in a strong “V” as do Common Swifts in similar descent. It levelled out and I went outside to record what I assumed to be a very late Common Swift. I quickly realised it was not that species, discounted North American vagrants and realised it was a Pallid Swift. It was separately observed by other birders, who idependently reached the same identification, and Simon Slade’s photos support this. I observed it intermittently between c15.00 and c15.30." Chris Baillie

"Whilst ringing in Millcombe Valley with Ellie Zantboer at approximately 1500hrs, we were talking with James McCarthy who was on a day trip, when we noticed a swift overhead with House Martins! We were all hopeful that it was going to be something good but it was quite high and against the cloud, appeared to be dark! We all agreed though that it appeared to have broader and blunter wings and a more relaxed flight than would be expected of a Common Swift. It was obvious that we needed better views! It passed overhead a couple more times but again, we couldn’t see any plumage details. We were joined by Gavin Bennett and Rob Duncan but as time was pressing, James had to leave to catch the boat. We picked the swift up again some ten minutes later and this time, it made several passes, both level with and below us, at times only 30 metres away, enabling us to note some key features and identify it as a PALLID SWIFT! It spent about an hour over the Island and was seen well in good light around Millcombe Valley, sometimes flying close to the ground and the cliff faces as it fed. It was also seen well flying around the church, where I assumed that it was going to roost but then at about 1630hrs, the skies cleared and it disappeared and was unfortunately not seen again. However, during its stay, it was also seen well by Chris Baillie and his wife Carol, and by Simon Slade, who managed to get a photo which I have included with this submission. Both Chris and Simon identified it as a Pallid Swift before they had spoken to me and we were all more than happy with our verdict." Justin Zantboer

Pallid Swift, Lundy 25 Oct 2016 © Simon Slade

Description (from JZ's submission):
  • Underparts greyish brown, being paler than Common Swift, with pale edgings to many feathers on the breast, belly and flanks, giving the classic scaling effect. When seen close, the throat was noticeably much paler than the rest of the underparts but this feature was surprisingly difficult to see at even mid-range. The face and forehead was also paler, except for a darker eye patch, giving a slightly masked impression. The underwing showed much contrast when seen well, with the darker underwing coverts contrasting with the paler secondaries and the bases of the inner primaries. The outer primaries and the tips of the inner primaries appeared darker, creating a darker wedge, this again contrasting with the paler inner wing. Upperparts appeared mostly brownish, again paler than a Common Swift. The upperwing coverts were a few shades darker than the secondaries and inner primaries but the outer primaries were noticeable darker still so when seen against a darker background, there was a distinct contrast in the upperwing. The mantle was also darker, being a similar shade to the upperwing coverts but not quite as dark as the outer primaries so this also added to the contrasting effect. The rump appeared to be slightly paler than the mantle so with the contrast in the upperwing, gave the classic ‘saddled’ look.
  • Shape and size as Common Swift, with a short, forked tail and long, scythe-like wings. The wings appeared very slightly broader, heavier and blunter than Common Swift. It also appeared to have subtly heavier look about it than a Common Swift. When feeding, it flew with much more gliding than normally seen in a Common Swift, with slightly slower wingbeats and at a slightly slower speed. It gave the impression of being much more relaxed.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

25th Aug – The class of 2018: ringing of shearwater chicks gets underway

Rich & Rebecca Taylor arrived on Lundy on Saturday 25th, hoping to ring as many Manx Shearwater chicks as possible over the next couple of weeks. The highlight of their crossing over was a dark-phase Arctic Skua about 10 minutes out from the island (see Martin Thorne's photo here). On land they recorded three Sand Martins, two Willow Warblers, two Blackcaps, a Spotted Flycatcher and two Pied Flycatchers. The night of 25th/26th was rather too bright to be ideal for shearwater ringing, but Rich & Rebecca nevertheless managed to find three chicks, so are off the mark already!

Saturday, 25 August 2018

11th to 24th Aug – The first 'fall' of autumn migration

The following comprehensive roundup of recent sightings, covering the period 11 to 24 August, has been compiled by Lundy Warden Dean Jones:

Not much has changed here weather-wise since my last post. Strong westerly winds and prolonged bouts of mist have dominated this period, meaning that most of the birding attention had been focused on the sea rather than within the mobile soggy clag that had been cloaking the island's plateau. Things were looking great for a potential Lundy seabird rarity but unfortunately these seawatch sessions all ended in a bit of an anti-climax, as despite the effort made, the island was only rewarded with a small number of passing Manx Shearwater, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Gannet throughout (unlike other areas in the UK during this period) as well as good numbers of Harbour Porpoise on some days foraging close to the island.

There was one morning however, Thursday 23rd, that stood out from the rest, following an evening of clear skies coupled with sporadic rainfall and a light NW breeze. These conditions provided the island with a fantastic fall of migrants come daybreak, particularly Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatcher, which were all grounded in decent numbers. It’s mornings like this that all birders yearn for, possibly even more so for island birders, marooned on their little rocks unable to jaunt down the road or over to the next county to follow news of a decent twitch!

Highlights of the period include:
  • The first of the Fulmar chicks have now fledged from the island leaving all but a few reluctant birds hanging on in a few areas. The highest count of the period involved 56 birds on 23rd, most of which were sheltering together on the water just off from North East Point.
  • Storm Petrel: 2 seen from MS Oldenburg during the crossing on 11th.
  • Cormorant: A lone bird was seen perched on Gull Rock on 17th.
  • Shag: 108 on 13th (all juvenile birds resting on the Landing Bay beach), 132 on 14th, and 138 on 19th were the highest counts of the period.
  • Grey Heron: A lone bird was seen flying low over the Village on 20th and another on 21st (more than likely the same bird).
  • Water Rail: 2 on 20th, 21st & 24th, calling loudly from Quarters Pond and Smelly Gully. 3 on  23rd (one calling from Quarters Pond and 2 calling to each other in Smelly Gully).
  • Common Sandpiper: 1 calling from below the Ugly on 24th.
  • Pomarine Skua: 1 spotted by MarineLife surveyors from MS Oldenburg on 11th.
  • Woodpigeon: 2 or 3 recorded most days from the Millcombe/Quarter Wall Copse areas. A small arrival of 10 birds on 23rd.
  • Kestrel: 2 on 13th, 19th & 23rd and singles on 12th, 14th and 21st. 
  • Peregrine: Only 1 record submitted for this period of a bird hunting Wheatears in South West Field on 23rd.
  • Goldcrest: 5 on 20th were the first of the autumn, followed by 4 on 21st, 1 on 23rd and 4 on  24th.
  • White Wagtail: The first of the autumn was an adult male bird feeding in Barton Field on  23rd.
  • Tree Pipit: 3 on 13th, singles on 17th, 20th & 24th, 7 over on 21st and 2 on 23rd (all seen/heard over Millcombe/the Village). 
  • Stonechat: Successful breeding confirmed with a pair of birds feeding chicks just North of St Helen's Copse. 
  • Sand Martin: A single bird was quartering in Millcombe on the afternoon of 23rd.
  • Swallow: The first obvious south-bound passage was recorded on 21st with 10 birds heading south past Lamentor.
  • Cuckoo: A single bird was present in and around the Terrace on 19th.
  • Chiffchaff: 1 or 2 birds recorded most days. Highest count of the period was 4 birds on 23rd.
  • Willow Warbler: Between 1 and 14 birds have been recorded most days. Highest count of the period by far was 128 on that magical migrant morning (23rd).
  • Blackcap: Between 1 and 3 birds recorded most days.
  • Garden Warbler: 3 on 23rd were the first of the autumn.
  • Whitethroat: 1 on 21st and 9 on 23rd (Millcombe & Lower East Path).
  • Sedge Warbler: Singles on 21st, 22nd & 23rd, all from the Millcombe area.
  • Song Thrush: A very noisy youngster was calling from the top of Smelly Gully on 19th.
  • Spotted Flycatcher: The first of the autumn was at Quarter Wall on 13th, closely followed by a second on 14th along the Terrace, 2 on 19th in Millcombe and 14 on 24th – Millcombe/Lower East Path/Quarries.
  • Pied Flycatcher: One on 13th and 14th (possibly the same bird), busily catching bugs at the top of Smelly Gully.
  • Wheatear: Small numbers recorded on most days. Highest count was 14 on 23rd.
  • Some lovely mixed finch flocks are still flittering around the island. These gatherings have been predominantly composed of Linnet (highest count 78 birds on 17th) along with small numbers of Goldfinch (highest count 25 on 14th).
 
Willow Warbler, Millcombe, 13th August © Dean Jones

Non-avian highlights:

A total of 5 Convolvulus Hawkmoths have been recorded on the island since the night of the 11th. The first of these spectacular beasts was seen nectaring from flowers outside Paradise Row on what was a rather wet and windy night. This was then followed by two feeding together in the same place the following evening and another at the Tavern, which flew into Ash Garfoot, the barman, giving him one heck of a fright! Ten days later (22nd) another of these monster moths turned up again in the Tavern, beingh caught and released by Ash after a few quick photos.
 
Convolvulus Hawkmoth, Marisco Tavern, 21st August © Ash Garfoot

Moth trapping continued as usual; highlights included one specimen of the very odd looking Pale Prominent, a Tawny Speckled Pug, along with the first Small Phoenix, Frosted Orange and Copper Underwing of the year.

A Migrant Hawker dragonfly was also recorded on the 23rd narrowly escaping the beak of a hungry Spotted Flycatcher.

Finally, from the cliff-tops to the sea... During the night of 21st a small select band of brave Lundy staff headed down to the jetty for a late-night swim (at 22:00 hrs) after rumours of bioluminescent algae putting on a show the night before near Brazen Ward. The team were treated to a spell-binding aquatic light display as the waters of the bay were thick with these remarkable little glowing  organisms. As Zoë Barton put it, “It was like swimming through the Milky Way”; definitely a contender for the best night yet on Lundy 2018!

Report composed of sightings from: Zoë Barton, Jenny Clark, Esther Fritzel-Armitage, Maggie Gamble, Ash Garfoot, Joshua Harris, Amanda Jones, Dean Woodfin Jones, Katherine MacKinnon & Emily Trapnell.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Lundy Warden rings a Jay...

...on the mainland! Lundy Warden Dean Jones, on his way back from a week's holiday with his partner Zoë Barton from their native Northern Ireland, stopped off at the North Devon home of Lundy bird recorders Tim Jones and Tim Davis. Whilst there, regular Lundy visitor and bird ringer Chris Dee put up mist-nets and, amongst several garden species, caught a female Jay and a juvenile Marsh Tit. A very happy Dean, currently training for a general bird-ringing licence, ringed both. 

Dean Jones with a female Jay © Tim Davis

On the subject of ringed birds, more specifically colour-ringed birds, on 27th July, whilst waiting to take part in a Snorkel Safari in the Landing Bay, Tim Davis noticed that one of two Oystercatchers that flew in to land on the rocky intertidal area was wearing colour-rings, a plain yellow ring over a blue ring engraved in white with an alpha-numeric code, sadly unreadable through binoculars at the distance involved. Subsequently it turned out to be the first sighting from Lundy or North Devon of one of 150 Oystercatchers colour-ringed as part of an Exe Estuary Oystercatcher Project.

On 4th February this year, a catch of 190 Oystercatchers took place at Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve. 150 of them were fitted with colour-rings on the right leg, as in the photo below, with a metal BTO ring on the left leg. If you see one of these birds, on Lundy or elsewhere, please note information on date, time, location (as precisely as possible with a grid reference) and its behaviour (feeding or roosting, in a flock or on its own). Details of sightings should be sent to: exeoystercatchers@gmail.com

For more information about the project visit: www.dawlishwarren.co.uk/oystercatchers.html


 

Saturday, 11 August 2018

7th Jul to 10th Aug – a much-delayed report from another busy stint on the island

With the onset of the school holidays, things have been all go on the island. By mid-July Lundy receives an additional Wednesday sailing which transports an extra day’s worth of visitors to the island every week until the end of August. Despite the increased numbers of guests (nearly every boat since the middle of July has been close to full) the island has a rather eerie stillness about it now that most of the seabirds have left us for another season. Young Kittiwakes, gulls, Shag and auks have fledged from their natal sites, leaving only a scattering of very portly Fulmar chicks perched on turf-covered ledges, along with their tubenose cousins hidden away from sight in their burrows and rock crevices.

Weather-wise, Lundy is starting to feel a bit more Lundy like (misty and windy) and now emits an early autumnal feel. We have also had a number of much-needed rainy days in this period which has transformed the straw-coloured meadows and lawns back to a healthy emerald glow in parts. Beasties like the Dor Beetle have also reappeared along the well-trodden paths after a rather prolonged absence, most definitely due to the drought like conditions that the island was subjected to this summer.

The birding highlight of the period has to be the beautiful though rather tatty looking female Marsh Harrier that has been seen periodically through this stint, right up until 8th August at least. That’s at least 32 days she has been quartering the island, probably feeding on the plentiful passerine fledglings which are still haphazardly flittering their way around the island.

Female Marsh Harrier, 8th July © Josh Harris

The other highlight came from a brief seawatch on 26th July from the North Lighthouse where a beautiful and rather early Balearic Shearwater was seen resting and feeding in and around the minimal swell and raucous rafts of departing auks.

Other sightings of note from the period:

Manx Shearwater: A brief seawatch from the Ugly on the morning of 10th August produced 514 birds past Rat Island in just under an hour of observations.
Storm Petrel: On the evening of 6th July whilst out with Helen Booker and her team from the RSPB, we caught sight of ~20 Stormies under torch beam at the North End. An additional five days of Stormy monitoring was carried out from 5th–10th July. A short report will be produced in due time to highlight the team’s finds. The only other sighting of the charismatic little seabird came from MS Oldenburg on 28th July when a bird was seen foraging off SE Point, 10 minutes after departure from the Jetty.
Shag: Numerous young birds have started to arrive/loiter around the island now. The first fledgling birds to brave the inky deep were recorded on 9th July near Long Roost. A short trip on Obsession II along the east coast produced 205 birds, the highest count of the period.

Shags, Landing Bay, 10th August © Dean Jones



Teal: 2 females and 3 immatures were seen on Pondsbury 24th July.
Grey Heron: Observations of up to three birds were recorded most days between 14th & 27th July. These amazing Ardea were seen pretty much everywhere on the island at times, e.g. over the Village, Tibbetts, the Castle, Pondsbury, Tillage Field, eating newly fledged Mallard ducklings in Barton Field and Mirror Carp in Rocket Pole Pond within this stint.

Grey Heron, Barton Field, 26th July © Dean Jones

Buzzard: 2 birds were seen flying over Pondsbury on 22nd July and a lone bird on the 31st (no supporting info).
Water Rail: A very noisy bird has been calling from Quarters Pond on 10 dates within this period.
Whimbrel: 2 calling over Rat Island on 18th.
Curlew: 3 over the Village area on 26th.
Turnstone: 2 on 24th along the South End (seen from kayak).
Common Sandpiper: Recorded on five dates through this period, with 5 birds perched behind the Sentinels in the Landing Bay on 20th being the highest count of the period.
Puffin: Recorded on most days throughout July with 250 on 27th being the highest count. Last record for this species was on 4th August.
Black-headed Gull: 1 adult was seen foraging off Rat Island on 22nd and another on 25th from the North End, accompanied by a juvenile bird.
Common Gull: 1 juvenile was observed in the Landing Bay on 23rd and another over the Hen & Chickens on 25th.
Cuckoo: A single bird was seen flying over Millcombe by the RSPB team as they made their way to the Oldenburg on 10th July. Single rufous type birds were also recorded every day from 19th to 26th July (possibly the same bird) from varying locations on the island.
Swift: Small numbers recorded on five days in the period, max of 4 on 18th.
Kestrel: Recorded on most days throughout this period with 3 on 25th (two juvs and an adult male).
Merlin: 2 birds were seen together just north of Mousehole & Trap on 2nd August, the first of the autumn.
Peregrine: Very few records submitted for this species. The sparse records mostly involved single birds, though there was a count of 3 on 25th July.
Sand Martin: The first two birds of the autumn were recorded on 31st July near Pondsbury.
Swallow: Small numbers recorded most days; 9 on 23rd July 23rd the highest count of the period.
Chiffchaff: Recorded on 11 dates with the highest count being 6 on 25th July. One bird was in full song in St Helens Copse on 20th July.
Willow Warbler: Small numbers of birds have been moving through the island since 19th July. A super early autumn fall of birds was recorded on 25th with a total of 117 birds recorded – mostly from the Millcombe area, some of which were in song.
Blackcap: Recorded on 11 days within this period, of which the highest count was 3 on 9th August. Successful breeding has been confirmed this year with at least one chick being fed by his/her mother in the Secret Garden on 17th July.
Whitethroat: singles on 31st July & 9th August.
Sedge Warbler: Singles on 30th & 31st July and 9th August.
Song Thrush: A juvenile bird was seen in Millcombe on 23rd July.
Pied Flycatcher: Singles on 8th & 10th August, both within the Millcombe area.
Robin: Elusive at times. Successful breeding recorded from two pairs in Millcombe – first fledglings seen on 24th July.
Stonechat: Recorded on nine dates. Highest count was 3 birds chasing one another near Castle Copse on 22nd July.
Pied Wagtail: 3 on 15th & 22nd July and 9th August were the highest counts of the period.
Meadow Pipit: 79 on 25th July was the highest count of the period.
Chaffinch: Recorded on six days; all records involved 1 or 2 birds.
Goldfinch: Some recently fledged young (see photo below) were observed in Millcombe on 10th August. Highest count from this period was 15 birds on 25th July.
Linnet: 99 on 25th July was the highest count; nice post breeding flocks have now started to form around the island.

Juvenile Goldfinch, Millcombe, 9th August © Dean Jones

Non-avian highlights:

Moth trapping has continued on days of appropriate weather. Highlights include the first Scarce and Rosy Footman of the year. Beauties like Common Emerald, Purple Thorn, Swallowtails and Twenty Plume Moths have also been recorded, along with some nice numbers of species like Dark Arches (62 on the evening of 18th July), Crescent Dart (49 on 18th July) and Lesser Yellow Underwing (25 on 20th July). Other invertebrate highlights include a lone Emperor Dragonfly on Quarter Wall Pond on 10th July, Migrant Hawkers on 24th & 26th July and no less than 346 Common Blue Damselflies and 60 Blue-tailed Damselflies on 24th July, all of which were counted by Tim Davis around the vicinity of Pondsbury.

Report composed of sightings from: Tim Davis, Chris & Sharron Blackmore, J Wilson, Warren Shipman, Joshua Harris, Ian Laird, Helen Booker, Toby Taylor, Andrea Ayres, Mark Bolton, Susannah Bolton, Dean Jones and Zoë Barton.

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

Saturday, 2 June 2018

2nd June – Montagu's Harrier, Hawfinch, Yellow Wagtail

Tim Davis & Tim Jones watched a ringtail Montagu's Harrier circling over North End before it headed off north and out to sea, at about 14.20 hrs.

Other sightings included the male Hawfinch, male Pied Flycatcher, Reed Warbler, Turtle Dove and female Bullfinch – all still in the Millcombe area – and a stonking male Yellow Wagtail feeding around a Lundy Pony in St Helen's Field during the evening (plus the same or another heard in flight over Pondsbury).

A steady northward trickle of Swallows totalled 45 by the end of the day, along with 21 House Martins and 3 Swifts. Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and a Willow Warbler continued to sing in Millcombe and St Helen's Copse and there were at least 7 Spotted Flycatchers, including one at Puffin Slope (North End).

Observations by Ann & Tony Taylor, Ivan Lakin, Tim Davis & Tim Jones.

Friday, 1 June 2018

1st June – Plenty of late migrants still in evidence

The plateau was blanketed in sea fog for much of the day, which restricted birding to the sidings and shoreline, though a clearance eventually arrived during the afternoon.

Good numbers of Spotted Flycatchers were still evident with a minimum of six in Millcombe, two in St Helen's Combe and three along the West Side, but quite a few others must have been missed elsewhere. An unusually late male Pied Flycatcher was in Millcombe, along with the female Bullfinch, the Turtle Dove and the singing Reed Warbler and Willow Warbler. A Sedge Warbler also put in an appearance. Other migrants included four singing Blackcaps (two Millcombe, one St Helen's, one Hanmers Copse), four Chiffchaffs (of which three singing – two Millcombe, one at the Rocket Pole), 17 Swallows, three House Martins, two Siskins and a Redpoll.

Migrant lepidoptera included Red Admirals, Painted Ladies, Silver Ys and Diamondback Moths.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

31st May – Golden Oriole, Hawfinch, Bullfinch & Spotted Flycatchers

Tony Taylor discovered a first-year male Golden Oriole singing in Millcombe first thing. It afforded good views and was seen flying north over the valley at 10.30 hrs, but not subsequently.

The Hawfinch and singing Reed Warbler were still in Millcombe. At least 12 Spotted Flycatchers were present, including three together near the Terrrace Trap. A female Bullfinch in Millcombe flew a circuit high over the Village, calling constantly, during the late afternoon, before landing again in Millcombe.

There was a singing Willow Warbler in Millcombe. Singing Chiffchaffs were heard in Millcombe (two), Quarter Wall Copse, and above Quarry Beach. Single Blackcaps were singing in Millcombe and at Quarter Wall Copse. Other records included a female Sparrowhawk (East Side), six Collared Doves, two Swifts, 10 Swallows, 3 House Martins and single Redpoll (East Side) and Siskin (Millcombe).

Observations by Ann & Tony Taylor, Rebecca & Richard Taylor, Dean Jones, Tim Davis & Tim Jones.

29th & 30th May – Hobby, Turtle Dove

On 29th Richard & Rebecca Taylor saw a Hobby at South End and the Reed Warbler was still singing in Millcombe.

On 30th there was a Siskin over Millcombe and the Turtle Dove was seen again. The second adult bird at the occupied Manx Shearwater nest box in the Old Light colony was also confirmed as a returning individiual from 2017.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

28th May – A quiet day

Tony Taylor reports that during an otherwise quiet day there was a Reed Warbler singing in upper Millcombe and a late Tree Pipit flew north.

Monday, 28 May 2018

27th May – Woodchat Shrike relocated

The Woodchat Shrike, first reported on 24th, was relocated at the western end of Quarter Wall on Sunday 27th, where it was on view for much of the day. Also on 27th a Dunlin flew north, there were two Cuckoos in the St Helen's Combe/Millcombe/St John's Valley area, a Turtle Dove near the Lodge, a Whitethroat and singing Reed Warbler in Millcombe, and a singing Sedge Warbler at the Rocket Pole, whilst Richard & Rebecca Taylor found an unseasonal Black Redstart at The Battery.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

26th May – No sign of the rosefinch

Tony Taylor reports that there was no sign of the Common Rosefinch and Millcombe (along with the rest of the East Side) was exposed to a fresh easterly wind, which made birding difficult. The only observation of note was the Hawfinch, which was seen again by Dean Jones.

Friday, 25 May 2018

25th May – Singing male Common Rosefinch in Millcombe

Earlier this morning Tony Taylor discovered that yesterday's report from another visitor, of brief views of a singing male Redpoll, in fact referred to a "stunning red male Common Rosefinch shouting out his presence" at the top of Millcombe, near to the start of the Upper East Side Path. It was seen later in Millcombe by Lundy Warden Dean Jones and others.

Tony has also confirmed successful breeding by Teal for the fourth successive year, whilst other records for the day included: 7 Collared Doves, a reported Turtle Dove, 18 House Martins, 12 Swallows, 2 Whitethroats, a Blackcap, 4 Spotted Flycatchers and Manx Shearwaters flying north off the East Side during the evening at a rate of nearly 20 per minute. Update: The Woodchat Shrike was photographed by Jo Alexander.

Male Common Rosefinch, Millcombe, 25 May 2018 © Dean Jones

Thursday, 24 May 2018

24th May – Woodchat Shrike & good news from the Wheatear colour-ringing project

In his latest bulletin, for 24th May, Tony Taylor advises that other observers saw a Woodchat Shrike (see photos below) on the eastern end of Quarter Wall during the afternoon and a Redpoll singing in Millcombe [Update: this bird was seen only briefly on 24th, but Tony caught up with it on 25th and was able to confirm it as a male Common Rosefinch – see above]. Single Curlew and Ringed Plover flew north up the West Side.

In an excellent development, given the often difficult conditions for birds and birdwatchers alike earlier this spring, Tony confirms that resightings of Wheatears colour-ringed on Lundy in previous years have now reached the target of 30 required under the BTO's Retrapping Adults for Survival scheme.

Woodchat Shrike, 24 May © Martin Thorne
Woodchat Shrike, 24 May © Martin Thorne
Woodchat Shrike, 24 May © Martin Thorne

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

22nd & 23rd May – A late(ish) Osprey

Tony Taylor sums up Tuesday 22nd with that most telling of birding adjectives: "quiet".

Today, 23rd, brought sightings (by others) of an Osprey flying north past Millcombe and up the East Side and the Hawfinch was seen again. Other observations included a female Sparrowhawk, a Golden Plover in South West Field, a female Kestrel, a Yellow Wagtail flying north over Benjamin's Chair, and a Dunlin that Tony advises, "narrowly escaped capture by a male Peregrine".

A check of the nestboxes in the Old Light Manx Shearwater colony revealed that one of last year's successful pair was incubating a fresh-looking egg.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

21st May – News of the Old Light shearwater colony

Tony Taylor reports that the Old Light Manx Shearwater colony was surprisingly busy on the night of 20th/21st (Sunday/Monday) in spite of the bright light cast by a waxing moon. There were many calling birds and 21 individuals were captured, including eight ringed in previous years, of which two were ringed as chicks in the same colony in 2014.

During the day on Monday 21st there was a calling Cuckoo in Millcombe. Other migrants included two singing Blackcaps, a Sedge Warbler and five Spotted Flycatchers. The Dotterel and Hawfinch were both still present.

In other news, the record of the Red-throated Pipit found by Andy Jayne in October 2017 has recently been accepted by the British Birds Rarities Committee.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Mary Gade 1933 – 2018

We learnt with much sadness of the death yesterday (a few days short of her 85th birthday) of Mary Gade, daughter of Felix and Rene Gade, who grew up on Lundy having made her first crossing from Bideford at the tender age of just 18 days, and spent much of her adult life living and working on the island. She inherited her father's love of birds and over the years amassed what may very well remain the longest list of species seen on Lundy by any one person, among them numerous rarities, such as Great Spotted Cuckoo, American Robin and Common Yellowthroat. For a whole generation of Lundy birdwatchers and ringers (whose plumage may be a little more greyish and abraded these days) Mary was an island fixture and someone to whom the maxim "once met, never forgotten" surely applies. She will be remembered with deep fondness by those in the Lundy birding community that knew her (not to mention the many birdwatchers that will have met her more recently on Cape Clear, off the coast of County Cork). Our thoughts are with Mary's partner Steve and Annie, her daughter.

Mary pictured on Lundy in October 2015 © Tim Davis


Sunday, 20 May 2018

20th May – Iceland Gull, Turtle Dove, Dotterel & Hawfinch

The annual Devon Birds day-trip charter of MS Oldenburg took place today and among the birds on offer were an adult Iceland Gull (off the West Side) and a Turtle Dove (Millcombe), in addition to the Dotterel, singing Firecrest and Hawfinch, all of which were still present (see Jon Turner's report on Devon Bird Sightings here and photos on Bri Thompson's and Cliff Smith's Twitter feeds). Tony Taylor, back on the island for Wheatear and Manx Shearwater ringing studies, reports that the supporting cast included Whimbrel, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and a male Redstart. There were some hirundines and Swifts on the move but numbers were lower than on 18th & 19th. Tony notes that the Wheatear breeding season is significantly later this year than in 2017 and that there are still Greenland Wheatears passing through.

Dotterel, South West Point © Jon Turner