Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones sums up a truly spectacular day of early-autumn birding:
Another beautiful summer’s day with next to no wind in the morning, cloudless skies, pleasant temperatures and a fantastic number and diversity of common migrants, mixed in with some truly magnificent rarities.
The day started off well with a very busy morning manning mist-nets, as a superb movement of Willow Warblers made their way through the Valley from about 06:30 to 10:00. Here an estimated 250 birds were thought to have been dotted across the island throughout the day; they were literally everywhere you looked! Within this flurry of Willow Warbler, the Icterine Warbler that has been on the island since the 23rd finally ended up in the shelf of a mist-net in Millcombe Valley in the early morning – the 19th Icterine Warbler to be ringed on the island.
|Icterine Warbler, Millcombe, 26 August © Dean Jones|
Then, post late-breakfast, I was making my way to pick up and empty the moth trap when I noticed an odd bird perched upon the roof of Paradise Row at around 11:45... As soon as I put my binoculars up, my eyes were graced with a superb male Black-headed Bunting!! This then led to a very quick and panicked rush home to grab my camera (luckily I only live two doors down from where the bird was perched), and managed to fire off a few quick record shots before the bird disappeared off the roof and down towards the allotments outside Paradise Row. Fortunately, Zoë Barton and I were able to relocate the bird perched on one the end of a raised bed full of Red Onions where it allowed for some smashing close up views before flying off to a nearby dry-stone wall to get a bit of shut eye – obviously knackered from its long journey. Whilst the bird was resting I managed to herd most of the birders on the island up to the allotments where they all managed some decent but somewhat brief views of the bird before it disappeared down towards Millcombe at around 13:00. By this time the bird was looking much more alert and well rested so fingers crossed he’ll manage to find his way to his wintering grounds in western/central India. This is the fourth record of this stunning bunting for Lundy, with the last bird being seen 22 years ago on the 15th July 1997. A very exciting bird to top off what was a truly superb day of Lundy birding!
|The male Black-headed Bunting perched on the roof of Paradise Row, 26 August © Dean Jones|
|The bird stayed in the same general area for over an hour, enabling others to see it © Grant Sherman|
|The bunting spent time foraging in the allotments outside Paradise Row © Dean Jones|
But that wasn’t all... Later on in the afternoon Nicola Saunders (a previous Lundy Warden) managed to find another Wryneck in Jenny’s Cove and between all the birders on the island we managed to find the first Whinchat (a total of six birds in various locations), Collared Dove (one ‘singing’ in Millcombe), Grey Wagtail (a single fly-over) and White Wagtails (five in Tent Field) of the autumn.
It was also a great day for wader passage with singles of fly-over Golden Plover, Ringed Plover and Whimbrel, 9 fly-over Curlew (a flock of 7 over the Old Light in the morning followed by another 2), at least two fly-over Greenshank, a Redshank calling from the Landing Bay and a fly-over Black-tailed Godwit.
Other observations of note includes: 9 Mallard, a lone Grey Heron, 3 southbound Cormorant, 2 Sparrowhawk, a Guillemot in the Landing Bay, 11 Sand Martin, 40 Swallow, 4 Chiffchaff, 7 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler trapped and ringed in Millcombe, 8 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 14 Whitethroat, 4 Goldcrest, 12 Spotted Flycatcher, 70 Wheatear, 10 Pied Flycatcher, 5 Pied Wagtails and 2 Tree Pipit.
Report composed of observations from Zoë Barton, Dean Jones, Patrick Keith, Nicola Saunders, Rebecca Taylor, Richard Taylor, Tony Taylor and Martin Thorne.