The paths have been cleared, properties cleaned, sanitiser deployed and the boat set up to ensure social distancing guidelines are met – after a strange few months on the island due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Lundy is once again open for business – hooray!!!
Strong westerly winds have been the dominant weather feature as of late, with gusts of up to 46mph on a number of days since the evening of the 2nd.
|Heavy swell crashing into Aztec Bay on the west coast, 6 Jul © Dean Jones|
|Jenny's Cove bearing the brunt of the stormy weather, 6 Jul © Dean Jones|
Luckily for us, however, the wind dropped just enough to get the ship over to deliver the first two groups of staying visitors from the 4th.
|MS Oldenburg carrying happy visitors – and a foredeck full of sheep! 7 Jul © Dean Jones|
The strong Atlantic-born winds have in turn given rise to some huge swell and rolling waves along the west coast at times – a superb sight for those sure-footed individuals brave enough to venture out that way but troublesome for unlucky breeding seabirds positioned low down on the cliffs. This has been particularly evident with our Kittiwakes, another three nests having succumbed to the sea in the Threequarter Wall Bay colony, one of which was a re-build, complete with young chick from a prior wash out – our seabirds really do have it tough at times! Despite this, a total of 118 chicks are currently huddled within 86 guano-coated nests on either side of St Mark’s Stone – some growing very quickly, meaning that they should be ready for fledging in little over a week or so.
|Some of our Kittiwakes are not far off fledging, Jenny's Cove, 1 Jul © Dean Jones|
The winds have also brought some superb flocks and rafts of Manx Shearwaters along the east coast on a number of evenings – particularly on the 7th when three big rafts composed of 4,000+ birds put on a spectacular show throughout the course of the evening.
Other avian highlights include the first Pufflings of the year, bravely venturing out of their burrows for a bit of exercise on the 1st.
|The first 'Puffling' of the year outside its burrow, Jenny's Cove, 1 Jul © Dean Jones|
|A total of 405 Puffins were counted between Jenny's Cove & St Mark's Stone on 1 Jul © Dean Jones|
Fulmar chicks are also starting to appear around the island, with the first being spotted in Jenny’s Cove on the 6th. The Guillemot ledges are quickly emptying now that their breeding season is coming to a close; just where does the time go?! In fact, most of the sub-sections which make up the study area at St Mark’s Stone are now devoid of squeaking jumplings (only eight chicks left from the 218 pairs that attempted to breed in the plot this year). On a similar note, colour-ringed Skomer-born Guillemot 'red 0114', has managed to successfully raise and fledge a chick this season. Fingers crossed, all being well, we will see the parent bird back on the same ledge again next season.
|The last-remaining Guillemot chicks at St Mark's Stone, 6 Jul © Dean Jones|
|Not all the chicks make it out to sea – Great Black-backs also have hungry mouths to feed... © Dean Jones|
|One of the Swallow brood raised in the Church porch, sheltering in Millcombe, 4 Jul © Dean Jones|
Last – but by no means least! – the Kestrel pair that have been holding territory along the east coast this year managed to successfully raise two gorgeous young chicks, both of which fledged from their eyrie on the 6th. This is a particularly notable breeding record for Lundy as the last confirmed successful attempt for this species was back in 2005!
|Fresh from the nest – one of the two Kestrel chicks, 6 Jul © Dean Jones|
|Our 'autumn' Linnet flocks have continued to grow – this male part of a flock of 30 on 1 Jul © Dean Jones|
Non-avian highlights: Unfortunately, on the moth front, with the wind being so strong and evenings so wet, the trap has been kept under cover for the past few weeks. In spite of this hiatus, we have still managed to find three new species for the island – all of which were found on the same mature willow tree on the east coast! The first of these came in the form of the minute and expertly camouflaged micromoth Batrachedra praeangusta on the 5th. The next day, another species associated with mature willows, Anacampsis populella, was photographed resting among the smorgasbord of epiphytes which also make this tree their home.
|Batrachedra praeangusta – a new moth species for Lundy! 5 Jul © Dean Jones|
But the undoubted mothing highlight from this period came when photographing the second of the two 'micros' described above. Whilst waiting for one to settle, a cluster of weird-looking protrusions from the base of the old tree caught my eye. After closer inspection I realised I had found six larval cases belonging to the Lunar Hornet Moth!
|Another first! One of the six Lunar Hornet Moth (Sesia bembeciformis) larval cases found on 7 Jul © Dean Jones|
Although I haven't yet managed to find any adult moths at the site yet (I will keep a close eye over the next few weeks), this is still a fantastic and novel discovery for Lundy. Furthermore, upon closer inspection of the tree I managed to find dozens of other empty holes where the moths have erupted from their cases in the past, suggesting that this species has been resident on Lundy for quite some time but unseen to all until now. Exciting stuff!
|The rain held off on a few evenings which allowed for some spectacular, seabird-filled sunsets! 2 Jul © Dean Jones|