Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones charts the progress of early spring migration and the first stirrings of the 2021 breeding season:
After a wet and mizzly start on the 25th, the weather improved stupendously, with the island receiving some beautiful sunshine and blue skies by mid-morning – conditions which sparked further movements of Meadow Pipit (88 birds overhead on this date) as well as the first Chaffinch to break into song in lower Millcombe. From the 27th the winds then shifted from the south-west to the east, albeit only a light breeze, though it did bring with it a stark drop in temperature (wind-chill temps between -1°C and +1°C), and subsequently some thick blankets of sea fog that rolled in periodically. In fact, it was so still on this date that you could hear the eerie wails of a number of Red-throated Divers from the mist-cloaked sea very clearly along the east coast. From here, the weather remained fairly settled (though at times bitterly cold due to the easterlies), sunny and mostly dry, other than on the 3rd when there was drizzle first thing that merged into heavy rain before transforming into thick mist and fog for the rest of the day.
|A big swell and sea-mist at Jenny's Cove, 27 Feb © Dean Jones|
Birding highlights from this period included a very dapper Woodlark in Barton Field on 27th – only the second February record for this species on Lundy (the previous occasion in 1952!).
|Woodlark, Barton Field, 27 Feb © Dean Jones|
Additional star birds included the first Sand Martin of the year at Pondsbury on the 26th – the second-earliest record for this species following a single bird on 24th February 2019 during that memorable but unusually mild mid-February. The first Jackdaw of the year flew over the Village on 1st and has lingered on till now, mostly in the High Street/Ackland's Moor area. Close by, the three Lapland Bunting also remained (though dropping from three to two birds since the 3rd) and have once again provided some superb views from High Street Field and track. Finally, the Old Lighthouse Snow Bunting lingered on for another day (25th) after the last blog post but unfortunately hasn’t been seen since.
|Lapland Bunting, High Street Field, 28 Feb © Dean Jones|
|The cold weather made them even more confiding! 1 Mar © Dean Jones|
Other than these star birds, migration of more common Lundy species has continued, albeit lightly, on days of suitable weather. In addition to the Meadow Pipits mentioned above, these have included some small flurries of Skylark (max 40 on the 28th) and Stonechat (max 13 on the 25th), as well as a small handful of Pied Wagtail, Linnet, Chaffinch and Goldfinch on a few days. The island has also seen the first two Chiffchaff of the spring, one of which was a single bird feeding within a flock of Meadow Pipits in Tillage Field on the 3rd (the other, more typically, was feeding around Millcombe Pond on the same date). Another Goldcrest dropped into Millcombe on the 27th, as did two Grey Wagtails, one of which then lingered on at Millcombe Pond until the 3rd. Two Reed Buntings were also noted, jumping about the Molinia tussocks just north of Pondsbury on 26th.
|Meadow Pipits have been moving in small numbers most days, 1 Mar © Dean Jones|
|Stonechat in the morning light, South West Field, 26 Feb © Dean Jones|
Other birds of note included up to three Water Rails over four days, including a calling bird at Pondsbury on the 26th, suggesting birds are now moving north. Out east, seven Common Gulls and a lone Mediterranean Gull were logged offshore on the 5th within a spectacular feeding flock of mixed gulls. Kittiwakes have been few and far between other than a handful of birds logged near to their breeding sites on days when the visibility has been good enough for seawatching. Guillemots too have been on their ledges in good numbers periodically and were joined by the first decent arrival of Razorbills (400) ashore in Jenny’s Cove on the 27th. A few more of the island's Peregrines have now arrived, with at least four birds flying around in two pairs along the south and west coasts on the 28th. Last, but by no means least, the long-staying Coal Tit has been logged periodically up until the 3rd and the male Firecrest has continued to serenade the Warden each morning from his (i.e. the Firecrest's!) favoured pine at the top of the valley.
|More and more Razorbills have been coming ashore, joining the Guillemots in Jenny's Cove, 27 Feb © Dean Jones|
|Peregrine at the Earthquake, 27 Feb © Dean Jones|
Non-avian sightings included a pod of c.50 Common Dolphin offshore from the east coast on the morning of the 25th.
|The turn of the month also saw some really big tides – perfect for a rockpool ramble, 1 Mar © Dean Jones|