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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.
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Friday, 4 December 2020

23 Nov to 3 Dec – A flurry of Siberian Chiffchaffs and a very late Swallow

After a breezy and chilly day on the 23rd, the rest of the month of November was blessed with some very pleasant and tranquil weather for most, accompanied by a number of truly awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets and, of course, a small trickle of migrants. Despite the sunny and clear days, the winter woollies have finally been hoaked out of storage as the temperature dropped throughout this period – with wind chill it’s felt close to 0°C some mornings and evenings – particularly on 1st December when the wind picked up to a stiff northerly throughout the afternoon. It has also been a relatively dry period with only a few squalls and spells of drizzle to top up the puddles and pools up on the plateau.
One of the many glorious sunrises over the Village this November, 24th Nov © Dean Jones

Avian highlights from the week included the female Goosander for her second day on Rocket Pole Pond – but there was no sign of her on the 24th – as well as a small flurry of Siberian Chiffchaffs on the 26th (four birds) across the island, and another vocal bird in Millcombe on 1st December. Furthermore, Black Redstarts are still moving through, with single birds on three dates and two together on the 25th up on the Marisco Tavern roof. Another star bird of the period was a stunning Great Northern Diver which spent three days scoffing various flatfish and rays close into the Landing Bay from the 25th.
Out at sea – due to the glorious, still conditions, seabirds have been feeding much further offshore throughout the majority of this period which made identifying any of the birds to species very difficult other than the more conspicuous adult Great Black-backed Gulls and Gannets (max 22 of the latter on the 30th). Currently there seems to be lots of food available for these birds offshore, particularly along the east coast, with some large concentrated gulls flocks on a number of dates, as well as a small pod of six Common Dolphin on the 25th and singles of Harbour Porpoise in the Southern Races on the 26th & 27th. Scarce gulls logged on days when birds were foraging much closer to shore include up to ten Common Gulls on three dates and a small number of adult Mediterranean Gulls (max six on the 27th).  

The calm before the Siberian Chiffchaff invasion, 26 Nov © Dean Jones

 One of the four Siberian Chiffchaffs, Millcombe, 26 Nov © Dean Jones
Up top, Common Snipe have been heard on a number of evenings flying over the Village. A search of the in-fields on the 1st revealed a decent count of 11 individuals, which would have been but a small proportion of birds around the island on this date. Woodcock too are still arriving and making use of the in-fields during the night, with three individuals sighted on the 1st and two on the 3rd. Other waders included singles of Golden Plover over on Village on the 30th and 1st, as well as the odd Oystercatcher calling from the east sidelands on a number of dates.
In Millcombe, up to three Water Rail have been screaming from the undergrowth most days and the Woodpigeon – which has been in the valley since 5th November – remained on the island until the 27th at least. Another bird which lingered was the male Sparrowhawk, seen daily in the valley up until the 28th – generally with an angry Carrion Crow or two in tow. Other raptors have included up to two female Peregrines on a number of dates, a single Kestrel on the 24th and a female/immature Merlin hunting Starlings in lower Lighthouse Field on the 28th and 29th.
The Millcombe Woodpigeon foraging in a clump of Lundy Cabbage, 25 Nov © Dean Jones
A portly Lundy Robin – one of the many island residents enjoying the beautiful late autumn weather, 28 Nov © Dean Jones
Passerines of note during the period were the long-staying hibernicus type Coal Tit – a bird which has been with us since 15th October. Additionally, there have been a few late Swallows – the most recent of which was on 30th November in lower Millcombe.
Other birds logged included single Blackcaps on the 26th and 30th, up to five Chiffchaffs (excluding the Siberian birds) on eight dates – among them a very pale and vocal abietinus type bird in Rüppell’s Quarry on the 26th. At least one Firecrest is still managing to find enough food in Millcombe each day, and small numbers of Goldcrest, Stonechat and Meadow Pipit have been trickling through the island, in addition to singles of Pied Wagtail (26th) and Grey Wagtail (30th).
More typical late November/early December migrant passerines like Blackbird, Song Thrush, Redwing and Fieldfare are also moving through in decent numbers on top of small numbers of Chaffinch (max 76 birds on the 26th), Goldfinch (max 11 on the 1st), singles of Siskin on the 26th, 30th and 1st, and up to six Linnet on three dates.
Report by Lundy Warden Dean Jones.
Sunset behind Old Light, 25 Nov © Dean Jones

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