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This page is run by volunteer contributors as a source of news for everyone interested in the birds of Lundy, in the Bristol Channel, UK.
If you have news to report, please consider signing up as a contributor or send in your sightings here.
See also the companion website The Birds of Lundy for comprehensive updates to the 2007 book of the same name.
Bird recording and ringing on Lundy are coordinated by the Lundy Field Society and general information about visiting the island can be found here.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

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

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

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

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

Squacco Heron, Rat Island, 31 May © Alex Sydenham

Squacco Heron, Rat Island, 28 May © Dean Jones

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

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

Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe, 05 Jun © Dean Jones

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

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

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

Peregrine kill remains 06 Jun © Simon Fletcher

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

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

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

DNA tree for Subalpine Warblers

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

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

28th May – Squacco Heron seen again!

Dean Jones reports that the Squacco Heron was seen again on Tuesday 28th, at around 10.00am, this time on Rat Island.

'Back of the camera' shot of Squacco Heron, Rat Island, 28 May © Dean Jones

Saturday, 25 May 2019

19th to 24th May – Summer shows its hand

Dean Jones writes:

"It has been a truly magical week on our beautiful little island; here on most days since the last post, Lundy has been graced with some stunning sunshine and noticeably warmer temperatures despite cool northerly winds. Now the migrant birds have slowed down to a trickle, it is starting to feel a lot more like summer on Lundy. As I write this post, nearly all of the island's seabirds are either now busy incubating eggs or feeding newly hatched chicks, including our charming little Puffins in Jenny's Cove. Up on the plateau newly emerged Raven, Blackbird and Stonechat fledglings are haphazardously navigating their strange new world and clouds of hundreds of newly emerged Cocksfoot moths are currently flittering around the sun-kissed foliage in Millcombe. 

Raven fledgling, Halfway Wall Bay, 24 May 2019 © Dean Jones

Other than the superb Squacco Heron on the 23rd, birds of note included: a Water Rail which has been calling most nights near Paradise Row, a single Golden Plover on the 23rd, one flyover Ringed Plover on the 23rd, a Dunlin near St Mark's on 22nd, 246 Kittiwake on the 20th (birds are busily building nests and incubating eggs now), the first Guillemot chick of the year on the 24th and the first Puffling of the year on the 20th, at least one Kestrel on most days, a Cuckoo just south of the Quarries on the 22nd, max 50 Swallow on the 23rd, max 24 House Martin on the 23rd, up to 3 Willow Warbler each day, along with up to 4 Chiffchaff, a single Sedge Warbler on the 24th, up to 3 Blackcap on days, Whitethroat (max 4 on the 21st), Spotted Flycatcher (max 7 on the 22nd), a single first calendar-year male Pied Flycatcher on the 22nd, flyover Yellow Wagtails on the 22nd & 24th and a Tree Pipit in Millcombe on the 19th."

Razorbill, 24 May 2019 © Dean Jones

Report composed of observations from Dave & Helen Boyer, Dean Jones, Alex Sydenham and Tony & Ann Taylor.

Friday, 24 May 2019

23rd May – Squacco Heron, a FIRST for Lundy!

Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones writes:

"Seb Loram, Luke Sutton and myself were just finishing up surveying Gannet's Combe, when I noticed five Oystercatchers mobbing a strange-looking bird at the north end of the bay. As soon as I put my bins up, I shouted "Squacco!!". Luke and Seb managed to both get on the bird. The heron then skulked around an area of boulder scree for about five minutes, before moving out of view under an overhang. We waited for ten minutes or so for the bird to reappear, when suddenly, again chased by a number of Oystercatcher, the bird flew out to sea around Gannets' Rock, continuing north and eventually out of sight. It was a seriously beautiful bird!"

This is the first record of Squacco Heron on Lundy; congratulations Dean on another excellent find!

Squacco Heron, Gannets' Bay, 23 May 2019 © Dean Jones

Saturday, 18 May 2019

16th to 18th May – Red-footed Falcon after a couple of quiet days

Thursday 16th May

A generally rather quiet day, with a stiff easterly wind again dropping away to virtually nothing during the late afternoon to give a jaw-droppingly gorgeous sunny and still spring evening. Among the rather few notable observations were a second calendar-year Black-headed Gull that flew through the Landing Bay first thing, nine Dunlins in Middle Park, a Collared Dove sitting on top of Lametor, and three Swifts.

Friday 17th May

A cloudy and at times quite raw-feeling day with some light rain for a time mid-morning, when the cold E or NE wind was quite strong, but backed NNE and became much lighter during the afternoon, though it remained heavily overcast, subduing insect and bird activity alike.

A Great Northern Diver flew north up the East Side of the island at plateau height at 06.45 and a pale-phase Arctic Skua was harrying Kittiwakes off Rat Island around midday. A Garden Warbler performed its rich song for prolonged periods, often at the same time as feeding in sycamores in Millcombe. Also of note were two flyover flava wagtails, and eight Spotted Flycatchers.

Saturday 18th May

A cloudy but virtually windless dawn, gave way to a stunningly beautiful spring day with warm sunshine breaking through by late morning.

Tim Davis and Tim Jones experienced one of their all-time highlights of decades of birding on Lundy when they were lucky enough to spend several hours in the company of a beautiful male Red-footed Falcon. Initially encountered in northbound flight over heathland near Pondsbury, the bird moved on rapidly to Middle Park and disappeared towards North End. The by-now very out-of-breath observers, having run in a seemingly vain attempt to keep up with the falcon, arrived at the vantage point offered by the mound near Threequarter Wall Gate in time to see it disappear towards Gannets' Combe. Resigned to the likelihood that the bird would simply continue moving north and off the island, it was almost unbelievable when it suddenly flew in and perched on a reasonably nearby granite outcrop. The falcon then took up residence for a good three hours on and over the slope between Tibbetts and Threequarter Wall Gate, where it pursued and consumed numerous (probably 50+) Emperor Moths, treating the Tims to a mind-blowing display of graceful aerobatics. A red-faced and sweaty Lundy Warden, Dean Woodfin Jones, hove into view having belatedly received a series of frantic WhatsApp messages, in time to join in the visual feast, along with two lucky day-visiting birders. There have been seven previous Lundy records of this delightful Eastern European raptor, the most recent in May 2003.

The series of record shots below indicate that this bird was an immature, presumed second calendar year, given the extent of underwing barring. At close range some brownish smudging could be seen on the nape.

Male Red-footed Falcon and doomed Emperor Moth, Middle Park 18 May © Tim Jones

Other records during the day included a Cuckoo at Old Light, two Garden Warblers in Millcombe, strong Swallow and House Martin passage, a single Sand Martin, three Swifts and a few Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Common Whitethroats.

Compiled from observations by Tim Davis, Dean Jones, Tim Jones, Alan & Sandra Rowland, Trevor Dobie and members of the LFS Conservation Working Party.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

15th May – Hawfinch, Marsh Harrier & Lesser Whitethroat

Reflecting a subtle change in wind direction, there was a distinct southern and eastern componment to birding, with highlights including a vocal but typically wary Hawfinch flying around Millcombe from early morning until at least midday; a male Pied Flycatcher, a singing Lesser Whitethroat and calling Tree Pipit in and around Millcombe; a Cuckoo at North End (St James' Stream), and a female Marsh Harrier, which drifted over Millcombe at 08.55 and was later seen over South End, Tillage/Brick Field (being mobbed by crows), and quartering over Pondsbury. It was last seen flying north over Threequarter Wall at 14.55. Middle Park again held exceptionally high numbers of Dunlin, with probably over 30 present in all, including a single flock of 19, feeding actively on the grazed turf alongside three Ringed Plovers. There were also two Golden Plovers in the north of the island.

Record shot of Marsh Harrier near Pondsbury, 15 May © Tim Jones
Record shot of male Pied Flycatcher in Millcombe, 15 May © Tim Jones

Other sightings during the day included: three Teal, five Collared Doves, 11 Swifts, a male Kestrel, 100+ House Martins, 300+ Swallows, four Willow Warblers (including one feeding along Threequarter Wall), five Chiffchaffs, two Blackcaps, a Whitethroat, and eight Spotted Flycatchers.

Compiled from observations by Tim Davis, Trevor Dobie, Dean Jones, Tim Jones, and Alan & Sandra Rowland.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

14th May – A wader day

It was yet another sunny, bone-dry day with a keen ESE wind that fell light towards the end of the afternoon.

Unusually for Lundy, which has limited suitable habitat, waders were very much to the fore throughout the day, with a Redshank calling in flight over the Ugly early in the morning and the same or another flying along the East Side, calling and singing as it went, mid-afternoon; two Greenshanks in flight over Middle Park; a minimum of 20 Dunlins (but possibly up to 30) sporting a wide range of plumages and scattered in small groups of up to nine, across much of the island (including the Airfield, Pondsbury, Middle Park and North End, as well as two flying low over the sea off the West Side); groups of three and five Ringed Plovers in Middle Park, the larger group accompanied by two Dotterels; a single Whimbrel in Brick/Tillage Field; and a Common Sandpiper at the Devil's Kitchen.

Dunlins feeding in Middle Park, 15 May © Tim Jones

A Hen Harrier headed north over Tillage Field (mobbed by two crows as it went); another French-ringed Sedge Warbler was controlled in Millcombe (adding to the others trapped in recent weeks); there were two Spotted Flycatchers in Millcombe, plus a further two along the Terrace; two Whinchats in Middle Park; and two female-type Black Redstarts amongst the rocks at North End. Also recorded were three Collared Doves, a single Turtle Dove (Millcombe) nine Swifts, 55 House Martins, 150 Swallows, low single-digit counts of Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat and Blackcap, and two Grey Wagtails.

Turtle Dove, Millcombe pines, near Blue Bung, 15 May © Tim Jones

Compiled from observations by Tim Davis, Chris & Mandy Dee, Trevor Dobie, Merylyn Hedger, Dean Jones, Tim Jones, and Alan & Sandra Rowland.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

13th May – Dotterel at North End

Another day of unbroken sunshine and wind from an easterly quarter, beginning SE but backing more to the E or NE during the day. Given the clear conditions, tail wind and a waxing moon, numbers of grounded migrants were low, with two Willow Warblers, 10 Chiffchaffs, two Sedge Warblers, three Blackcaps, five Common Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler, a scattering of Greenland Wheatears, and three Spotted Flycatchers the best on offer.

North End yielded a veritable cavalcade of waders by Lundy standards, including 4 Dunlins, 2 Ringed Plovers, a Whimbrel and a Dotterel (the only one of the spring thus far). A further two Dunlins were seen elsewhere.

Dunlin and Ringed Plover near the top of the Devil's Slide, NW Lundy, 13 May © Tim Davis

Record shot of Dotterel, North End, 13 May © Tim Davis

Visible migration was much less impressive than 24 hours previously, with counts of Swallow and House Martin down to 160 and 68 respectively, just a single Swift, and one Yellow Wagtail.

Also noted were the female Sparrowhawk, a Collared Dove, the male Kestrel, two family parties of fledged Ravens, a pair of Stonechats feeding young, 98 Linnets, and a Lesser Redpoll.

Compiled from sightings by Tim Davis, Chris & Mandy Dee, Dean Jones, Tim Jones, and Alan & Sandra Rowland.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

10th to 12th May – Biggest Swallow and House Martin passage of the spring

Friday 10th May

Records included two Cuckoos, five Swifts, 500 House Martins, four Willow Warblers, 10 Chiffchaffs, 13 Blackcaps, two Garden Warblers, three Whitethroats and three Spotted Flycatchers.

Saturday 11th May

A moderate north or north-westerly wind blew throughout the day, making it feel cold in spite of the largely sunny skies. The crossing from Ilfracombe was unusually quiet for the time of year, with not a single Manx Shearwater seen, though a Cory's Shearwater was reported close to the North Devon mainland duing the return crossing in the evening. Rob Duncan and David Kightley came to the end of their three-week ringing trip, closing it out in style with the trapping in Millcombe of Lundy's fifth Subalpine Warbler of the spring, this one a female Eastern. Also of note were: the long-staying female Sparrowhawk, a calling Cuckoo, seven Woodpigeons, six Swifts, a Sand Martin, 30 House Martins, a singing Willow Warbler in Millcombe, three Chiffchaffs, a Sedge Warbler (Milllcombe), two Blackcaps, a Goldcrest, a Spotted Flycatcher, a female Common Redstart (on the wall of South West Field near the stonecrusher), a male Stonechat (carrying food next to the Beach Road), and a single Siskin (Millcombe/St John's Valley).

Female Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Millcombe, 11 May © Dean Jones

Tail of female Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Millcombe, 11 May © Dean Jones

Sunday 12th May

After a cold start, with a stiff NE breeze, the sun shone strongly all day and the wind fell away completely by dusk. There were few grounded migrants, but the strongest hirundine passage of the spring got going by mid-morning and lasted until around 17.30. Dean & Philip Jones made timed spot counts of between 101 and 141 Swallows per minute passing north along the West Side from 10.00 to 14.00 hrs, whilst Tim Davis & Tim Jones counted a minimum of 516 birds over the plateau and along the West Side, mainly later in the afternoon. Consolidated counts suggest a conservative estimate of 4,000-5,000 Swallows for the day. Also notable were: two Teal, flyover Ringed Plover (one) and Dunlin (two), a Snipe at Quarter Wall Pond, 62 Puffins (on the water at Jenny's Cove at about 15.30), a male Kestrel, an immature male Merlin, a single Sand Martin, several hundred House Martins, a Willow Warbler, four Chiffchaffs, a Sedge Warbler (Quarter Wall Pond), three Blackcaps, two Whitethroats, a pair of Stonechats, and two Yellow Wagtail (male at Threequarter Wall and female at South End).

Friday, 10 May 2019

8th & 9th May – Variable conditions but super birding

Lundy Warden Dean Jones reports on two very different days weather- and bird-wise.

8th May

Strong winds and heavy showers dominated the majority of the day, which unfortunately led to a very bumpy crossing from Bideford to the island and consequently, a number of very green-faced visitors hiding in the Tavern post arrival of the ship. Conditions did improve by the early evening however, which allowed Rob and David to get some of the nets open for an hour or so in Millcombe. Despite the very poor weather there were still some good migrants out there for those brave enough to venture out in the storm.

Birds of note included: a Turtle Dove in Millcombe, a Cuckoo ‘singing’ from within the Landing Bay in the evening, 15 Swallow, 20 House Martin, 1 Swift, 5 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, a Garden Warbler, 2 Blackcap, a Grasshopper Warbler and 4 Sedge Warbler.

Ringing totals: 12 Swallow, 1 Blackcap, 3 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff and 3 Sedge Warbler.

9th May – a super day's birding despite the strong westerly winds!

A beautiful, sunny yet windswept day, particularly for the first few hours of the morning. Despite the burly north-westerlies, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Meadow Pipit and Linnet have all been preparing nests today and some of the island-visiting migrants arrived in some impressive numbers, namely Spotted Flycatcher (80), Whitethroat (45) and Sedge Warbler (31).

Other birds of note included: a Whimbrel on the Upper East Side Path, a flyover Dunlin, a stunning Cuckoo in Millcombe Wood, 8 Woodpigeon, 50 Swallow, 54 House Martin, 7 Swift, a White Wagtail in Barton Field, a pair of Stonechat, a male Whinchat (see photo below) at Quarry Pond, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 6 Blackcap, 11 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 15 Goldfinch and 54 Linnet.

Ringing totals: 15 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Blackcap, 15 Whitethroat, 22 Sedge Warbler (including another French-ringed bird), 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 7 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldfinch and 1 Linnet.

Male Whinchat, Quarry Pond, 9th May © Dean Jones

Report composed of sightings by Zoë Barton, Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, David Kightley and Sue Waterfield.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

7th May – A good day's ringing

Rob Duncan and David Kightley report a busy day's ringing, with a total of 62 birds newly ringed, including a Wood Warbler, a northern 'acredula'-type Willow Warbler and three Spotted Flycatchers. In addition, they controlled three Sedge Warblers – two French-ringed birds and one British-ringed. Away from Millcombe and St John's Valley they encountered a male Whinchat near the stonecrusher, Whitethroats at Stoneycroft and the Rocket Pole area, plenty of Swallow and House Martin movement and two Swifts.

Wood Warbler, Millcombe, 7 May © Rob Duncan

Ringing totals: 15 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, 1 Wood Warbler, 6 Blackcap, 15 Sedge Warbler, 10 Whitethroat, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Goldfinch.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Details of recent ringing controls

Tony Taylor has provided the following details, just received from the BTO, for three recent 'controls' – captures on Lundy of birds that had been ringed elsewhere, including two birds that were originally ringed on the same day in August last year, at two different sites in Pembrokeshire. All three were controlled on Lundy by Rob Duncan and David Kightley within the last 10 days.

Willow Warbler ring number KYN356 – ringed as a first-year bird on Skokholm, Pembrokeshire, 30 August 2018. Controlled on Lundy, 29 April 2019 (time since ringing 242 days; distance between place of ringing and Lundy 74 km; direction SE, bearing 145°).

Lesser Whitethroat ring number AAC9100 – ringed as a first-year bird at Kilpaison Marsh, Rhoscrowther, Pembrokeshire, 30 August 2018. Controlled on Lundy, 23 April 2019 (time since ringing 236 days; distance between place of ringing and Lundy 62 km; bearing SSE, 155°).

Sedge Warbler ring number Paris 7447202 – ringed as an adult female at Le Bonhomme, St-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu, Loire-Atlantique, France, 5 August 2015. Controlled on Lundy, 30 April 2019 (time since ringing 1,364 days; distance between place of ringing and Lundy 505 km; NNW, 335°).

Note that the entry below for 2nd May has been updated to include a sound recording of the Continental Coal Tit singing.

Monday, 6 May 2019

6th May – Influx of warblers, including yet another Eastern Subalpine Warbler

The flags on top of the Church and on the Ugly hung limp for much of the morning, with a very light NE veering all the way round to NW and strengthening slightly in the afternoon, whilst hazy sunshine took the edge off the continuing underlying cold, making it feel postively warm at times.

There was a noticeable influx of warblers, with singing Grasshopper and Garden Warblers in Millcombe at first light and numbers of Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats also up. As well as in Millcombe, Grasshopper and Sedge Warblers were seen at Stoneycroft, and Quarters hosted a Sedge Warbler.

A Cuckoo flew north near Quarters soon after dawn, whilst other migrants included a Dunlin, two Golden Plovers, a male and female Common Redstart, a female Black Redstart, more than a dozen Swifts and at least three Spotted Flycatchers. The Turtle Dove of the last few days was still present in Millcombe and around the farmyard, but there was no sign of the Continental Coal Tit, which seems to have left the island during the day yesterday, 5th May.

The biggest surprise of the day was another male Eastern Subalpine Warbler (Lundy's fourth Subalpine Warbler and third Eastern since 22nd April) found feeding among Sycamore flowers near Brambles, mid-afternoon. It flew across the valley towards the slopes of the Ugly and later turned up in a mist-net – see photos below. It was aged as a second calendar-year bird and though the tail is heavily worn, white extending along the shaft is discernible on the second outermost tail feather on the right-hand side (though see the cautionary note about reliance on this feature alone in this month's British Birds magazine). Other features are also consistent with Eastern Subalpine Warbler of the race albistriata. The wing-length of this individual was 65mm.

Male Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Millcombe, 6th May © Rob Duncan

Male Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Millcombe, 6th May © Rob Duncan

Ringing totals: 43 birds, of which, Willow Warbler 5, Chiffchaff 6, Sedge Warbler 10, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Blackcap 5,  Garden Warbler 1, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Whitethroat 4, Eastern Subalpine Warbler 1, Meadow Pipit 1, Linnet 2, Goldfinch 2.

Compiled from observations by Sam Bosanquet, Tim Davis, Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, Tim Jones and David Kightley.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

5th May – Swifts increase, Hooded Crow and Western Subalpine Warbler

Much lighter winds – though still from a chilly direction backing from NE to NW during the day – and long spells of unbroken sunshine meant that today was somewhat more springlike for birds and birders alike.

Starlings were once again prospecting for nest sites around the Village, farm and Old Light, having joined together in a single large flock for much of the last week; there was a modest overnight influx of warblers; and the island recorded by far its highest Swift count of the year so far, with at least 15 passing north.

Other migrant totals included: 9 Sand Martin, 150 Swallow, 100 House Martin, 30 Willow Warbler, 9 Sedge Warbler, 7 Whitethroat, 30 Blackcap, a Garden Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher. The single Turtle Dove and Collared Dove continued to feed together near the Lambing Shed, whilst the Continental Coal Tit was still singing in Millcombe during the morning, but observed flying high to the East several times, making a curious shrill call, and was not seen or heard later in the day; has it left the island?

A Hooded Crow flew NW with six Carrion Crows early in the morning, and a likely hybrid hirundine, showing some characteristics of Red-rumped Swallow, was seen around the head of Millcombe and the Village during the afternoon. Most surprising of all, the male Western Subalpine Warbler ringed in Millcombe on 1st May reappeared in Millcombe during the late afternoon.

The female Sparrowhawk was soaring off the East Side, where a male Kestrel and single Merlin were also seen, and a Cormorant flew south.

Ringing totals: 40 birds ringed, of which, Woodpigeon 1, Willow Warbler 10, Chiffchaff 4, Sedge Warbler 6, Blackcap 14, Garden Warbler 1, Whitethroat 3, Wren 1, Blackbird 1.

In spite of the chilly breeze, the sunshine seemed to trigger an emergence of male Emperor Moths, with at least 28 over the heathland between Quarter and Halfway Walls. In Middle Park, a sample transect recorded more than 1,200 plants of Small Adder's-tongue Fern Ophioglossum azoricum.

Compiled from observations by Zoë Barton, Sam Bosanquet, Tim Davis, Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, Tim Jones and David Kightley.

4th May – Winter makes a late comeback

A strong, bitingly cold NE wind, leaden skies and a squally early-morning shower made it feel decidedly more like mid-winter than late spring for a time. The underlying temperature remained unseasonably low all day, but the cloud gave way to blue skies and almost unbroken sunshine from late-morning onwards, and it felt pleasantly warm in any shelter, notably on the west sidelands. Given the Arctic origins of the air, migration had slowed to little more than a trickle of hirundines (100 Swallows, 15 House Martins and 2 Sand Martins logged), and single-digit counts of warblers, including Willow Warbler (4), Chiffchaff (2), Blackcap (4) and Whitethroat (1). The Continental Coal Tit continued to sing in Millcombe, the Turtle Dove was still around the Village and upper Millcombe and a Tree Pipit in Millcombe was also thought to be an individual lingering from previous days. A Spotted Flycatcher was feeding well in shelter on the northern side of upper Millcombe. Other sightings included 1 Whimbrel, 5 Pied Wagtails and a Lesser Redpoll. There was no ringing due to the direction and strength of the wind, which made the mist-net sites in lower Millcombe and St John's Valley unuseable. On the non-avian front, there were 13 Green-veined Whites (flying in sheltered sunny corners here and there), 2 Red Admirals, a male Emperor Moth and a Green Tiger-beetle.

Turtle Dove, farmyard, May 2019 © Richard Campey

Compiled from observations by Richard Campey, Tim Davis, Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, Tim Jones and David Kightley.

Friday, 3 May 2019

3rd May – Yellow Wagtail & Jackdaw in a chilly northerly

Today saw a chilly NW wind veering more northerly by the end of the afternoon, with largely overcast skies, but some welcome sunny spells later on. Hirundine passage was again a feature, with another early peak in Swallow movements, in particular, during the first two or three hours of daylight. Logged estimates were 500 Swallows and 200 House Martins, plus five Sand Martins. There were only small numbers of warblers in evidence, with 20 Willow Warblers (including several very 'washed out', grey, acredula-type birds of presumed north-eastern origin), 12 Chiffchaffs, 5 Blackcaps, and single Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler.

On top of the island, the Turtle Dove and Collared Dove were still around the farmyard and Bull's Paradise, whilst a calling Jackdaw flew over South West Field in the late afternoon. A female Yellow Wagtail spent much of the day in Brick Field, associating with the Highland Cattle and showing brilliantly well in the clear late afternoon sunshine.

Female Yellow Wagtail, Brick Field, 3 May © Richard Campey

Female Yellow Wagtail, Brick Field, 3 May © Richard Campey

A real highlight was confirmation of the return of a colour-ringed Wheatear to its breeding territory on the sidelands just south of Quarter Wall Copse, for its eighth successive year, having originally been ringed as a a second calendar-year bird in 2012!

Other sightings included 6 Teal, 10 Mallards (with a total of 30 ducklings in three broods in Lighthouse Field, Millcombe and Pondsbury), mating Great Black-backed Gulls (Shutter Point), 2 Collared Doves, 9 Woodpigeons, 2 Kestrels, a male Stonechat (at Pondsbury), and mating Chaffinches in Millcombe.

Male Stonechat, Pondsbury, 3 May © Richard Campey

Ringing totals: 24 birds ringed including Willow Warbler 7, Chiffchaff 4, Sedge Warbler 1, Reed Warbler 1, Blackcap 1, Wren 1, Robin 1, Goldfinch 8.

Compiled from observations by Richard Campey, Tim Davis, Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, Tim Jones and David Kightley.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

2nd May – Woodlark the highlight of a generally quieter day

With the change of wind direction to a distinctly chilly northwesterly, there was something of a hiatus in Lundy's purple patch... The Continental Coal Tit was still present, feeding actively and singing frequently in Millcombe, where it was trapped and ringed in the late morning (play video clip below, with sound on, for samples of its two main song types – the bird itself is hidden from view throughout as I was concentrating on getting decent sound quality).

A southern flavour was also still discernible in Lundy's first Woodlark in a decade, when one was seen and heard in flight near the Church by Rob Duncan and David Kightley, and later seen briefly on Castle Hill by Richard Campey.

There were small numbers of warblers around, including 35 Willow Warblers, 20 Chiffchaffs, 5 Sedge Warblers, 10 Blackcaps, 2 Whitethroats and single Grasshopper Warbler and Reed Warbler, along with a female Pied Flycatcher. After an early-morning pulse of strong hirundine migration, movements slowed to a trickle, to give day totals of 250 Swallows, 80 House Martins and two Sand Martins. Other records included two Goldcrests, 35 Wheatears and a female Siskin.

Tim Davis & Tim Jones walked the length of the Lower East Side Path from Millcombe to North End, counting a total of 27 Wrens, most of which were singing males, 27 Oystercatchers, as well as the very modest totals, for the time of year, of 91 Herring Gulls and 100 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, with very few active nests as yet. They also saw eight stonking breeding-plumaged Golden Plovers at North End, whilst Richard Campey witnessed seven Ravens engaged in aerial combat at Jenny's Cove.

Ringing totals: Willow Warbler 10, Chiffchaff 7, Sedge Warbler 5, Blackcap 4, Goldfinch 3, Whitethroat 2, Coal Tit 1, Blackbird 1, Pied Flycatcher 1.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

1st May – Western Subalpine Warbler & Continental Coal Tit

Astonishingly, Lundy's third Subalpine Warbler in less than 10 days was trapped and ringed in Millcombe today – this time a superb second-year male Western Subalpine Warbler.

The day's other highlight was a Continental Coal Tit, which was singing strongly, and highly mobile around Millcombe, from mid-morning. The excellent photos by Richard Campey below show clearly the contrast between the paler, outer two, unmoulted greater coverts and the darker, inner, moulted greater coverts, indicating that this is a second calendar-year bird.

A Lundy scarcity these days, sadly, was a Turtle Dove around the farmyard.

Consolidated totals from all observers for the day included: 1 Teal, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Dunlin, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Swift, 1 Kestrel, 1 Merlin (female near Pondsbury), 10 Sand Martin, 1,000 Swallow, 150 House Martin, 30 Willow Warbler, 6 Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 15 Blackcap, 25 Wheatear, 1 Black Redstart (female-type, Brick Field), 1 White Wagtail (St Helen's Field),  1 Grey Wagtail, 4 Tree Pipit, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 150 Linnet, 1 Siskin, 40 Goldfinch.

Second calendar-year male Western Subalpine Warbler, Millcombe, 1 May 2019 © Tim Davis

Tail pattern of the Western Subalpine Warbler © Tim Jones

Record shot of Continental Coal Tit, 1 May © Tim Jones

Continental Coal Tit, Millcombe, 1 May © Richard Campey

Continental Coal Tit, Millcombe, 1 May © Richard Campey

Ringing totals: Blackcap 7, Willow Warbler 5, Sedge Warbler 4, Goldfinch 4, Goldcrest 1, Chiffchaff 1, Reed Warbler 1, Western Subalpine Warbler 1, Tree Pipit 1.

Compiled from observations by: Richard Campey, Tim Davis, Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, Tim Jones and David Kightley.

Some recent ringing totals

Below are totals for some of the migrants ringed on 29th & 30th April; data from Rob Duncan and David Kightley:

Mon 29th April: Blackcap 21, Willow Warbler 94, Chiffchaff 17, Sedge Warbler 3, Whitethroat 2, Grasshopper Warbler 3, Garden Warbler 2, Goldcrest 2.

Tue 30th April: Blackcap 30, Willow Warbler 22, Chiffchaff 10, Sedge Warbler 11, Reed Warbler 3, Whitethroat 7, Goldcrest 1, Pied Flycatcher 1(f). In addition, a French-ringed Sedge Warbler control (and the Eastern Subalpine Warbler, of course...).

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

30th Apr – Another Eastern Subalpine Warbler!

The highlight today was another Eastern Subalpine Warbler, the second in just over a week, and this time a second calendar-year female, first seen in the field on the lower flanks of the Ugly, near Millcombe House at about 12.50 by Richard Campey, Tim Davis, Rob Duncan & Tim Jones, then trapped in a mist-net in the 'Secret Garden' area of lower Millcombe a few minutes later and ringed by Dean Jones. Photos below; others from Richard Campey to follow.

Female Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Millcombe, 30 Apr © Tim Jones
Tail pattern of Eastern Subalpine Warbler; note that 2nd outermost feather on right side is unmoulted © Tim Jones

Most of yesterday's huge fall of Willow Warblers had moved on overnight, leaving just 50 today, whilst Swallows were also much less numerous, though an estimated 500 still passed through. Notable records during a busy day included: a ringtail Hen Harrier, a male Sparrowhawk, three Golden Plover, a Ringed Plover, three Whimbrel, three Dunlin, 102 Puffin (Jenny's Cove), a Cuckoo (calling at dusk from the Rocket Pole area), 7 Woodpigeon, a Collared Dove, a Swift (South West Point), two Kestrel, 14 Sand Martin, 30 House Martin, 30 Chiffchaff, 15 Sedge Warbler, three Reed Warbler (ringed), 50 Blackcap, a Garden Warbler, 15 Whitethroat, three Goldcrest, a Fieldfare, single Pied Flycatcher (f) and Spotted Flycatcher (both Millcombe), two male Whinchats (Quarter Wall), 30 Wheatear, two Tree Pipit, a Siskin and two Lesser Redpoll.

Compiled from observations by Richard Campey, Tim Davis, Mandy Dee, Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, Tim Jones and David Kightley.

29th Apr – Rush of Willow Warblers and Swallows, first Swift

Richard Campey reports that Millcombe was "heaving" first thing, with a major fall of Willow Warblers (including one acredula type), a Wood Warbler (seen by Dean Jones), singing Sedge Warbler, three Grasshopper Warblers (ringed), about 20 Blackcaps, at least two Tree Pipits and a Cuckoo. 30 unringed Wheatears south of Halfway Wall were all males, whilst a further 30, north of Threequarter Wall, were mostly females. Other notable species included the first Swift of the year, a Black Redstart along the Terrace, four Teal, five Dunlin, four Whimbrel, a Greenfinch and two Lesser Redpolls. A review of estimated totals at the end of the day came up with 1,000+ Willow Warblers and over 2,000 Swallows – at last!

Observations from Richard Campey, Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, David Kightley and visiting staff and students from the University of Exeter.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

25th to 28th Apr – Storm Hannah followed by improving Swallow numbers and a Nightingale...

An update from Dean Woodfin Jones for the end of last week and the start of the weekend, followed by news from Richard Campey of yesterday, after a weather-delayed arrival on the island:

Thursday 25th April

A wet start to the day followed by sporadic sunny spells and light showers and of course strong winds by the end of the afternoon as Storm Hannah rolls in.

The female Sparrowhawk, a male Kestrel, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Dunlin, 4 Woodpigeon, 3 Sand Martin, only 11 Swallow, 18 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, the first Reed Warbler of the year, 28 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Common Redstart (both females), the first Whinchat of the year near the Stonecrusher, 3 Pied Wagtails, 1 White Wagtail, 6 Chaffinch, the female Brambling, 8 Goldfinch and 40 Linnet.

Friday 26th April – Hannah picking up steam.

Birds of note: The female Sparrowhawk, 1 Whimbrel, the first Common Sandpiper of the year in the Landing Bay, 1 Collared Dove, 4 Woodpigeon, 3 Swallow, 4 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 7 Blackcap, 12 Blackbird, 1 White Wagtail, 3 Chaffinch, 10 Goldfinch and 43 Linnet.

Saturday 27th April – Storm Hannah at her peak! 

The birding was very difficult today unsurprisingly but there were a few good birds on the island for those brave enough to venture out of their properties. Birds of note: 6 Whimbrel, 8 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 1 White Wagtail, a male Common Redstart, 2 Chaffinch, 10 Goldfinch and 20 Linnet. 

Sunday 28th April

Richard Campey, arriving 24 hours late after Storm Hannah caused cancellation of all transport to the island on Saturday, writes:

"Arrived to light drizzle and a fairly quiet Millcombe for warblers, but 27 Goldfinches and at least seven Siskins. Cormorant overhead going south, along with four Curlew (one calling in flight), an hour later, also going south. Already light wind steadily dropped mid pm, but also still some drizzle. 40 Swallows feeding over Airfield and on wires. One House Martin and one Sand Martin. A single Whimbrel in Brick Field. Merlin shot over Pondsbury late afternoon, where there were at least seven Mallard ducklings. Several singing and displaying Wheatears. Another 15 Swallows this evening as I walk back along Lower East Side Path, with hardly a breath of wind, Tavern bound!"

Dean Jones saw 60 Swallows go through and heard a Tree Pipit before the drizzle set in during the late morning, but the best bird of the day was a Nightingale trapped in the afternoon by Rob Duncan and David Kightley – a rare bird for both Lundy and Devon.

Common Nightingale, Millcombe, 28 Apr 2019 © Dean Jones

Reports composed of sightings from Rebecca Healey, Neil & Andy Trout, Rob Duncan, David Kightley, Richard Campey, and Dean Woodfin Jones.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

23rd & 24th Apr – Migration in full swing but where are the Swallows?

The latest instalment of Lundy bird news, hot off the kyboard from island Warden Dean Woodfin Jones, covers a typically wide variety of late-April migrants, but hirundine numbers – and those of Swallow in particular – remain stubbornly low, perhaps reflecting challenging conditions further south:

Tuesday 23rd April

A rather pleasant day, with warm temperatures, blue skies and a light easterly breeze. Birds of note included 3 Whimbrel (2 above the Battery and 1 in the Devil’s Kitchen), 7 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, only 4 Swallow, 20 Willow Warbler, 10 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 27 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat (a control bird, ringed elsewhere in the UK – news of its place and date of ringing is eagerly awaited!), a female Goldcrest, a Black Redstart, 3 Pied Wagtails, 2 White Wagtails, 3 Yellow Wagtails (2 male and 1 female flavissima types), the female Brambling, 21 Goldfinch, 63 Linnet and a single Lesser Redpoll.

Unfortunately there was no further sign of the Pied Crow after about 16.00 hrs on 23rd; where will he/she turn up next? Only time will tell...

Post-script: The Pied Crow cofounded predictions of an onward trip to South Wales, or even a return to East Yorkshire, instead choosing to return to the North Devon mainland, where it was seen in Mortehoe on 25th, then neighbouring Woolacombe on 26th, where it was still present on 29th, affording excellent views along the sea front.

Wednesday 24th April

A rather soggy and blustery day. Lots of food off the east coast in the afternoon attracted some nice numbers of seabirds, including 19 Gannet, 53 Shag, 109 Manx Shearwater, 11 Kittiwake and c30 Razorbill.

Other birds of note include a Whimbrel over the Village in the afternoon, 8 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, the female Sparrowhawk, 2 Cuckoo (male & female), 4 Swallow, 14 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 10 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Goldcrest (both female), a Fieldfare, a female Stonechat, 23 Goldfinch, 56 Linnet and a single Lesser Redpoll.

Cuckoo, Millcombe, 24 Apr 2019 © Dean Jones

Late news: A Wood Warbler was found near the Quarries by Viate, L’Amie, Charlotte Gillard, Rachel Pettit and Vicky McKenzie on 21st April.

Report composed of sightings from Rob Duncan, David Kightley, Neil & Andy Trout, Kevin Welsh and Dean Woodfin Jones.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

23rd Apr – Pied Crow!

A WhatsApp message from Dean Jones brought news that the Pied Crow, which has been wandering extensively around England and Wales for the last 10 months and which popped up eating sardines in a Clovelly garden yesterday after a 12-day sojourn in Cornwall, had made it to Lundy! Below, a great photo and short video clip from Dean, who said of his subject: "Amazing beast; it's blooming huge!!":

Pied Crow atop the Lundy General Stores, aka 'the Shop', 23 Apr © Dean Jones

Said amazing beast first appeared in East Yorkshire in June 2018, since when it has been in Licolnshire, Norfolk, Essex, East Sussex, North Somerset, Pembrokeshire, Cornwall and the Devon mainland – though not in that order – see map from BirdGuides below:

Pied Crow has an extensive sub-Saharan breeding distribution, as shown in the map below from HBW Alive:

Native range of Pied Crow Corvus albus Source: HBW Alive

Records north of the Sahara, including those in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, are generally considered to be either the result of escapes from captivity, or due to birds hitching a ride on a passing ship. A December 2018 BirdGuides article about the individual that has now paid a visit to Lundy, concluded that the bird's origins "are still clearly up in the air. Showing no obvious signs of plumage wear, and slight peachy feather discolouration when it first appeared consistent with sand-blasting in the Sahara (or further south), it seems worthy of consideration as a ship-assisted or even migrant bird, despite the high escape risk. That said, its confiding nature suggests past affiliation with humans, and it seems unlikely that this long-staying and widely wandering bird will get anywhere near the British list. However, this bird's presence has been widely discussed both in literature and online, and it's arguably surprising that an owner hasn't yet come forward to claim it. Perhaps its origins don't lie in Britain after all..." It will be interesting to see where its next port of call is. Back to Wales, perhaps?

Post-script: The Pied Crow quickly moved on from Lundy and was not seen after about 4pm on the day that it arrived (23 Apr). It cofounded predictions of an onward trip to South Wales, instead choosing to return to the North Devon mainland, where it was seen in Mortehoe on 25th, then neighbouring Woolacombe on 26th, where it was still present on 29th, affording excellent views along the sea front. Photos here and here.

Monday, 22 April 2019

20th to 22nd Apr – Yellow-browed and Eastern Subalpine Warblers

Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones rounds up all the news from three eventful days on the island:

Saturday 20th April

A beautiful sunny, warm day brought with it the first full ship of the season as well as a superb array of migrant birds. Highlights include the female Sparrowhawk, 12 Woodpigeon, only 4 Swallow, 20 Willow Warbler, 15 Chiffchaff, 7 Sedge Warbler, a reeling Grasshopper Warbler in Millcombe, 300+ Blackcap (though this is probably a gross underestimate), 2 Whitethroats, 2 Pied Flycatcher, the first Spotted Flycatcher of the year, a Grey Wagtail in the Devil's Kitchen, 1 White Wagtail in Barton Field, the first Yellow Wagtail of the year at Pondsbury, a Tree Pipit over Millcombe, 5 Chaffinch, 10 Goldfinch and a single Lesser Redpoll over the Village in the evening. The bird of the day, however, came in the form of a Yellow-browed Warbler which was found by Andy Trout in the Sycamores at the top of Millcombe in the mid-afternoon. This is the first spring record for this hardy little Siberian warbler on Lundy, a superb find!

Sunday 21st April

Another sunny and very warm day saw another arrival of migrants including a Merlin, the female Sparrowhawk again, 19 Swallow, a single House Martin, 60 Willow Warbler, 15 Chiffchaff, 5 Sedge Warbler, 6 Grasshopper Warbler, 150 Blackcap, 4 Whitethroat and 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Black Redstart, a female Common Redstart, 4 Pied Wagtails, 1 White Wagtail again in Barton Field, along with a stonking male Yellow Wagtail, 4 Chaffinch, 10 Goldfinch, a single male Greenfinch, 1 Siskin, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 22 Linnet and a female Brambling feeding with the Chaffinch in Barton Field.

Ringing totals = 138 birds: 79 Blackcap, 31 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, 5 Sedge Warbler, 3 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 House Sparrow, 1 Wren, 4 Goldfinch and 1 Greenfinch. 

Monday 22nd April

Slightly cooler day today compared to the weekend due to the strong easterly winds, though all in all, still very sunny and pleasant. The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the presence of an Eastern Subalpine Warbler which turned up in a shelf of a mist-net in Millcombe and was subsequently ringed by David Kightley. The bird turned out to be a first calendar year male and was in good health and carrying a small amount of fat. This is the 19th record of Subalpine Warbler for the island.

Other birds of note included the female Sparrowhawk hunting Woodpigeon in Quarter Wall Copse, a male Kestrel, a Dunlin on South West Point, a Collared Dove in the Village, the first Cuckoo of the year, only 8 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 22 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, the first Garden Warbler of the year, 53 Blackcap, 5 Whitethroat, 2 Yellow Wagtail, a Tree Pipit over Millcombe in the early morning, a female Stonechat at Quarter Wall, 3 Chaffinch, 14 Goldfinch, a Siskin, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 51 Linnet and the female Brambling.

Ringing totals = 54 birds: 30 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 10 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Meadow Pipit and singles of Goldcrest, Woodpigeon, Whitethroat and of course the Eastern Subalpine Warbler.

Unsurprisingly with all this sunny weather we have also had some nice diurnal Lepidoptera sightings this weekend, with Peacock butterflies, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Green-veined White, Small White, Orange-tip, Painted Lady, Silver Y and Emperor Moth all on the wing.

Report composed from sightings from Chris & Mandy Dee, Rob Duncan, David Kightley, Neil & Andy Trout and Dean Woodfin Jones.

1st calendar-year male Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Millcombe, 22 Apr 2019 © Dean Jones
Female Brambling, Millcombe, 22 Apr 2019 © Dean Jones
Male Orange-tip on Bluebell, Millcombe, 22 Apr 2019 © Dean Jones

Saturday, 20 April 2019

14th to 20th Apr – More firsts for the year and a decent warbler fall

After a slow start to the week, when a fresh and chilly easterly no doubt hampered both ringing and observation, Chris & Mandy Dee report an improvement over the last couple of days or so as the wind eased and backed more to the SE, importing much warmer air. Highlights earlier in the week included a Whimbrel at North End on Wednesday 16th, two Ring Ouzels, a Sedge Warbler and a Siskin on Thursday 17th, when Dean Jones also saw a male Redstart. The 17th also saw a moderate arrival of Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps, and 58 birds were ringed. Friday 18th was a better day still, with new arrivals including a Lesser Whitethroat, two Common Whitethroats, three Sedge Warblers, a Tree Pipit and another Ring Ouzel, along with excellent numbers of Blackcaps (69 ringed) and Willow Warblers (21 ringed) and smaller numbers of Chiffchaffs. Lundy staff member Pete Lambden saw an Osprey along the East Side during the morning.

Dean adds that other sightings during the week have included:
  • A reeling Grasshopper Warbler outside Government House on the 15th and another outside Old School/Blue Bung on the 16th.
  • Tree Pipits on the 17th & 19th (both over Millcombe).
  • Collared Dove in the Village on the 18th and another (more than likely the same bird) was heard singing in Millcombe on the morning of the 19th.
  • A female Merlin looking for a meal around Pondsbury on the afternoon of the 14th.
  • Small numbers of hirundines on most days, max 7 Sand Martins, 59 Swallows and 3 House Martins on the 17th.
  • A female Whitethroat in the ivy next to Government House on the 17th (with a very shiny ring on it but not one of Chris Dee's).
  • Female Goldcrest on the 17th.
  • Song Thrush on the Terrace on the 19th (showing continental characteristics – perhaps the same bird Philip Lymbery saw a few days ago)?
  • Linnet, max 51 on the 19th
Saturday 20th saw a further (and even bigger) fall of Blackcaps and a total of 130 birds (all species) were ringed.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Chiffchaff ringing movement

Tony Taylor has recently received notification from the BTO of the following control (meaning recapture and release) of a Lundy-ringed Chiffchaff, showing fairly rapid onward movement to the coast of Co. Wexford during spring migration almost exactly a year ago. What's more the bird was actually ringed by a son of the island of Ireland, none other than Lundy's Warden, Dean Jones!

In summary, it was ringed on 20 April and recaptured on Great Saltee, some 171 km NW of Lundy, just over a week later on 28 April. When ringed, examination of the bird's plumage indicated that it had been hatched in 2017, so was undertaking its first spring migration. At 55mm the bird's wing length suggests that it was most likely a female.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Wheatear colour-ringing update

Freshly returned from a week's fieldwork from 6th to 13th April, Tony Taylor reports on the latest instalment of the long-term study of Lundy's breeding Northern Wheatears

"Ann and I spent five or six hours each day looking for Wheatears from what shelter we could find in the cold east winds, mainly on the West Side but with some shorter spells on the south coast. We recorded 28 different colour-ringed birds, as well as seeing several others too briefly or distantly for individual identification. They tended to be feeding out of sight on the lower slopes and cliffs, and plenty of patience was needed for reasonable views.

We saw several birds we know well from past seasons, including the male at Benjamin's Chair and the ‘Dad of the year 2018’ near Montagu Steps. Of the 28 seen, one bird was originally ringed in 2015, seven in 2016, eight in 2017 and twelve in 2018. The jump in numbers between ’15 and ’16 ties in with the unusually low winter survival rate we recorded that year. We hope there will be plenty more colour-ringed birds arriving soon, for us and others to find later in the season. Please do send us your sightings!

In general the established pairs seemed settled on their territories and busy feeding, but we saw several spectacular bouts of displaying, chasing and fighting, including one which involved two males and three females that were all within a couple of metres of each other.

Up to about 20 unringed birds were around the fringes of the plateau in our study area (south of Halfway Wall). They seemed to be a mix of potential Lundy breeders and migrants heading further north."

How to report sightings of colour-ringed Wheatears on Lundy: Each bird has a standard BTO metal ring plus a striped ring (which signifies the Lundy project) on one leg, and two colour rings on the other leg. Please take care to note which rings are on which leg and make sure you specify the order of rings on each leg. The bird in the photo below, for example, would be recorded as: "Left leg, striped over metal; Right leg, yellow over green". Please record sightings in the  LFS Logbook in the Tavern, via the Lundy Wheatear Study Facebook page, or email them directly to Tony Taylor using the link here. In addition to the ring sequence, date, time and specific location, the bird's sex and any notable activity (e.g. singing, mating, nest-building, feeding young) would also be useful. Photos are particularly welcome.

Lundy colour-ringed Wheatear © Elisabeth Price