Friday 8 December 2023
Friday 3 November 2023
Fairly windy and a lot of rainfall throughout this period with very few birds around or moving on some days. A bit of respite on 30th saw a bit more passage before a series of storms blew in from the Atlantic, with named Storm Ciaran arriving in the evening of the 1st November.
After one previous record on 16th November 1956, just the second Lundy record of Surf Scoter was found off of the east coast on the 27th. The female type bird was initially picked beyond Rat Island but obligingly moved closer into the Landing Bay allowing better observation and confirmation of the ID. Unfortunately, a Great Northern Diver resurfaced beside the scoter and spooked it. The Surf Scoter flew straight back out to sea and was not seen again. An adult female Shelduck was present on census on the flooded ground beside the water tanks on the 3rd. Three Teal were seen over the sea from the east coast on the 1st and later sitting in the calm waters of the Landing Bay. By the 2nd they had joined our single bird up at Pondsbury, and on the 3rd another two birds had joined the flock making a total of six.
|Record shot of female type Surf Scoter in Landing Bay © Andy Jayne
|Adult female Shelduck near to the Water Tanks © Angus Croudace
A check of Brazen Ward on the 28th found a flock of 32 Oystercatcher which is the highest count since spring. A single Golden Plover overflew the airfield on 30th and was calling high over Millcombe on the 31st, and heard again over the water tanks on the 3rd.
Nocturnal survey effort continues, made somewhat easier by the changing clocks. Another three Woodcock were ringed on the 30th with two other birds seen and another single flushed in daylight on the Lower East Coast Path. Unfortunately one carcass was found in SW field on the 3rd; likely a Peregrine Falcon kill. Three Jack Snipe were found on the 30th with one ringed, and another was found near Quarter Wall in daylight hours on the 31st. The island is holding a large amount of surface water at the moment with plenty of excellent areas for snipe to roost or feed, so they're turning up all over the place, not just in a few key areas that were typically frequented earlier in the autumn. Barton Field has contained a Jack Snipe on every survey since mid October, but now we're encountering them in places such as the airfield too. High counts of six Common Snipe were recorded on the 30th and the 2nd with two separate observations of a bird being pursued by a Peregrine Falcon on the 29th and 30th.
The storms have seen seabirds gathering to feed in weather windows in the lee of the island towards the end of this period, with 500 Kittiwake on the 31st and over 1500 on the 1st November. Over 100 Gannet and 80 auks amongst them. Our long staying winter plumage Great Northern Diver was joined by another which retained much of its glorious summer plumage on the 28th. A third bird was also seen with them on the 30th. At least one has been seen daily since. A single Cormorant flew over the island on the 28th, 31st and 1st. A Grey Heron is still picked up occasionally and up to three Water Rail can still be heard calling in Millcombe Valley.
|Summer Plumage Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay © Angus Croudace
Up to seven Chiffchaff are recorded daily, although typically just three in Millcombe and a couple along the east coast. The long staying Yellow-browed Warbler showed very nicely at Quarter Wall on the 27th but has not been seen since. A little more movement on the 30th with 18 Blackcap new in after a couple of blank days in the log book. Similarly for Goldcrest with nine on the 30th and 12 on the 31st. A very showy Firecrest was easily seen and heard from the beach road at Windy Corner on the 29th and 30th, before two were then trapped and ringed on the 31st
|Firecrest, Beach Road © Angus Croudace
Another influx of at least 100 Starling joined our longer staying birds on the 30th, but had moved on again by the next day. A Ring Ouzel has been recorded everyday except for the 27th, with two males dropping in below the Timekeeper's Hut on the 30th amongst a small flock of Fieldfare. Fieldfare remained in single figures until the 30th when 70 were recorded in a couple of larger flocks. Around 20-30 have stuck around since, with some birds frequenting the Water Tanks and another flock around the top of Millcombe. We had the second highest count of Redwing for the autumn on the 30th at 110 (after 700 on their big arrival day on the 12th October). Half of these birds erupted out of the beer garden shrubbery and left the island shortly after sunrise. After a couple of blank days at the start of this period, we're recording between five to ten Song Thrush daily since the 30th A flock of ten Blackbird was seen along High Street on the 2nd. A Mistle Thrush was rattling about the village on the 30th and 31st. A single Woodpigeon has been seen in Millcombe on the 31st and 3rd, the first record since the 23rd.
Excitingly, an adult male Waxwing was picked up on census on the 28th and is still present, favouring the lower gardens in Millcombe, although it was also photographed by the Timekeeper's Hut above the Terrace. It evaded the mist nets at our first try, but another go on the 31st in calmer weather was successful, making this bird the first Waxwing ever to be ringed on Lundy! It is just the sixth record of this species for Lundy. They are an annual visitor to the UK in winter, but some years an 'irruption' sees a huge influx when food is scarce or the weather is unusually harsh in their preferred wintering grounds. It's looking like a Waxwing winter this year, with huge numbers already seen across the east coast of the UK, with a few odd records of smaller numbers or individuals making it as far west as Lundy or Ireland.
|Waxwing among the limited selection of berries currently on offer in Millcombe © Joe Parker
|Waxwing in Sycamores above the Battlements © Angus Croudace
|Waxwing in the hand © Luke Marriner
A couple of late Swallow with six on the 31st, some of which roosted overnight with three picked up again on the 1st. A single bird was recorded struggling in the gale force winds over the Airfield on the 2nd, and we were pleased to see that it had survived through into the 3rd, flying around the village. The biggest movement of Skylark was a flock of nine on the 30th with a couple of singles otherwise. A big contrast to Skokholm a bit further north who reported several hundred moving through on the 31st! A Woodlark was found sheltering from the 60mph gusts in the heather around Rocket Pole in the morning of the 2nd.
Stonechat numbers have been notably low this week, often in the low single figures. A late Northern Wheatear was in Brick Field on the 30th. Three days in this period have recorded no wagtails of any species, otherwise just a few single Alba/Pied Wagtails recorded with one Grey Wagtail on the 27th.
Chaffinch numbers have been around 225 throughout 27th-31st except for the 29th with 401. This was also likely an undercount as birds were moving in modest numbers but we lacked the coverage to monitor the full extent. Nearby, at Bull Point in excess of 5000 were recorded on the same morning, although we suspect that some showers out to sea to the north of Lundy meant that the birds moved up the Bristol Channel before making the crossing, hence lower numbers over us despite favourable winds. Passage had stopped by the 1st, with just a score or so found feeding on the tracks or in Millcombe. Just four records of Brambling this week, including a female ringed in Millcombe. We noted about 80 Siskin daily until Storm Ciaran after which just single figures were to be found. A small flock of 8 Linnet has been feeding in St Johns Valley this week, with a couple of singles picked up elsewhere. Two Lesser Redpoll on the 27th are currently the last record in the log book, and on the same day three Snow Bunting were seen on the wall around Tibbet's, although sadly have not been resighted.
|Male Brambling in Sycamores above Millcombe Pines © Angus Croudace
|Female Brambling ringed in Millcombe © Luke Marriner
Thursday 26 October 2023
|Juvenile Pallid Harrier © Eden Davies
|Initial Views of juvenile Pallid Harrier over Quarries © Tim Jones
|Juvenile Pallid Harrier © Eden Davies
|First-winter male Wigeon at Barton Field © Tim Jones
|Common Scoter off of North Light on the 19th © Tim Jones
|Jack Snipe Barton Field © Luke Marriner
|Yellow-Browed Warbler Quarter Wall Copse © Angus Croudace
|A stunning male Common Redstart at Stoneycroft © Angus Croudace
|Firecrest ringed in Millcombe © Luke Marriner
|Fieldfare Millcombe © Tim Jones
|Ringing station in Millcombe with (L-R) Luke Marriner, Joe Parker and Paul Morton © Tim Jones
Monday 16 October 2023
|Redshank Barton Field © Richard Campey
|Common Snipe flock over Airfield © Angus Croudace
|Common Snipe, Millcombe Drive © Angus Croudace
|Great Northern Diver Landing Bay © Angus Croudace
|Merlin Quarter Wall © Richard Campey
|Short-eared Owl Lighthouse Field © Tim Jones
|First-year Male Ring Ouzel in Millcombe (note the worn tail feathers) © Angus Croudace
|Ring Ouzel Jenny's Cove © Tim Jones
|Lesser Whitethroat Rocket Pole © Tim Jones
|White Wagtail Barton Field © Tim Jones
|Lesser Redpoll Lower Garden, Millcombe © Angus Croudace
|Reed Bunting Pondsbury © Richard Campey
|Small Copper butterfly at North Quarry © Tim Jones
|Pale Tussock Moth caterpillar meets a migrant Blackbird © Angus Croudace
|The race is on, Merlin vs Sika Doe Pondsbury © Angus Croudace
Tuesday 10 October 2023
The weather has been fairly consistent for 3-6th October, with moderate winds from the south-west limiting any passage on a large scale over Lundy. The tail end of this week featured much lighter winds and glorious sun on the 8th, with some extended periods of heavy fog on the 9th-10th.
Golden Plover records have been almost daily in this period, with an autumn high count thus far of nine over Millcombe on the 9th, with the flock interestingly led by a single Bar-tailed Godwit, and tailed by a single Snipe! A flock of 24 Oystercatchers was seen at Quarry Beach on the 4th.
A single Great Northern Diver was in the Landing Bay on the morning of the 7th. On an island-wide seal survey on the 4th two Arctic Skuas were picked up, a pale morph from North Light and a dark morph causing havoc in a Gannet feeding flock east of the Landing Bay. A Mediterranean Gull was picked up in the Landing Bay on the 5th and another off of the east with 115 Kittiwake on the 7th. A first-winter Yellow-Legged Gull was present in the Landing Bay on the 10th. After the fog cleared on the 9th and 10th the seabirds started feeding in earnest, with a lot of Gannet activity - 120 recorded off of the east feeding on the 9th. Our second autumn flock of presumably dispersed, roving Grey Heron was picked up on the 10th, with 17 east of the Landing Bay shortly after dawn making quite the spectacle, albeit at a distance!
|Golden Plover, Airfield © Angus Croudace
Whilst it was too windy to ring in Millcombe early in the week we were out dazzling every night, with great success. Seven Common Snipe have been ringed. Using the thermal has been invaluable in helping us record how many snipe we actually have, with daytime records typically of single birds. Now that quite a few are ringed, with further effort across the autumn and winter, we'll be able to get a better handle on how many birds stick around for a while, or whether there is much turnover of individuals. We're also looking forward to mid-October, when we should begin to pick up Jack Snipe, which are two thirds the size of Common Snipe and flush much much later, and are thus very tricky to find! Another 6 Wheatear as well as over 20 Skylarks have also been ringed in these sessions, which have focused on SW Field, Brick Field and the Airfield, with one foray north to Middle Park. Notably a Common Redstart was also caught near to the Stonecrusher on the evening on 4th, two days after it was first found on a morning census.
In the light winds at the end of the week we could open the nets in Millcombe. The most productive session was on the 9th, when we caught 51 Siskin and a dozen other common migrants, as well as another Red-eyed Vireo which had been picked up in the field by Luke in the morning. This bird weighed 20.3g, a lot more than the previously ringed bird at 15.6g. It's clearly been feeding well since arriving (presumably) among the large UK influx two weeks ago, before arriving in Millcombe.
|Red-eyed Vireo caught and ringed in Millcombe © Angus Croudace
|Male Siskin caught and ringed in Millcombe © Luke Marriner
Unsurprisingly, the Pied Flycatcher caught in Millcombe on the 2nd with very low fat and muscle scores stuck around until the 6th, selecting to feed up around the Oak below the Beach Road. Spotted Flycatchers can also still be seen feeding from the tops of the Sycamores in Millcombe daily, with a max count of five on the 9th. At least one Firecrest has picked up in Quarter Wall Copse and or Millcombe daily, with a high count of 7 on the 7th. The first Black Redstart of the season appeared in the Lodge garden on the 8th.
A late Tree Pipit was heard calling from the Terrace as it moved south on the 6th, and two Siskin were picked up on the 4th and the 6th. As the winds changed later in the week Siskin numbers increased dramatically with at least 60 each day 8th-10th. As the east coast of the UK witnessed a huge autumn fall after favourable strong easterly winds, we also received our first thrushes, although in somewhat more modest quantities with five Fieldfare, three Redwing and a Song Thrush arrived on the 9th. A single Greenfinch arrived into Millcombe on the 9th too, and has remained present on the 10th.
|Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe © Angus Croudace
|Firecrest in lower Millcombe © Angus Croudace
Our first Merlin of the autumn also finally arrived on the 4th October, a month later than last year's first on the 5th September. The third first year Osprey of the autumn headed south on the 7th, seen along the east coast, and fortuitously flying directly over the M.S. Oldenberg as it was boarding, allowing all of our visitors excellent views too.
|Merlin, Three-quarter Wall © Luke Marriner
A second Ortolan Bunting of the autumn was picked up in Millcombe on the 7th behaving as if it had just arrived, moving about the valley a lot and associating with various other finches. It was found again feeding with Meadow Pipits around Acklands Moor on the 8th in the morning. It showed very well on both occasions, and was calling frequently. A Snow Bunting was found around the west end of Three-quarter Wall on the 4th, and offered only two very brief flight views. Reed Bunting singles were in Millcombe on the 5th and above Benjamin's Chair on the 10th. A ringed Wryneck was seen in Millcombe on the 8th as well, the first sighting since the 29th.
|Ortolan Bunting, © Angus Croudace
|Ringed Wryneck below Millcombe House © Luke Marriner
In terms of other common migrants, Water Rail continue to call in Millcombe daily, with three recorded on the 10th. We're still picking up good numbers of Skylark with a high count of 54 on the 8th. A couple of Chiffchaff were picked up each day until the winds changed when they numbered around 15 each day from the 8th. Goldcrest numbers have declined in two stages - the week started with an influx of 41 after which we tended to record about 20, and finishing with just four on the 10th. A few late Reed Warblers arrived at the end of the week, with a high count of three on both the 8th and 9th, two of which were caught and ringed. Swallow counts are typically about 60 each day all week, with a few bunches of House Martin, including 44 on the 8th. No Sand Martin since two on the 4th. Wheatear numbers are much reduced, with just four on the 10th.
There have been small numbers of wagtails recorded, with a single Grey Wagtail on the 8th and 10th. A couple of Pied Wagtail most days and a couple of small groups of Alba (Pied/White) Wagtails in flight, totalling 13 birds moving on the 8th. Chaffinch numbers remain below ten. Two Grey Heron and female Sparrowhawk are still present, and one Teal has been seen on Pondsbury on the 4th and 9th.
|A misty west coast on the 9th as the island appeared above the fog © Angus Croudace
Monday 2 October 2023
The 28th was a fine, sunny day, but strong winds have continued this week. They have mostly been southerly meaning that even Millcombe Valley, typically sheltered from the prevailing winds, was blustery with limited activity much of the time. The island was cloaked in a clingy mist for the entirety of 1st October. Come the 2nd, the mist lifted, revealing an eerily still morning where finally ringing in Millcombe could resume before the mist returned late afternoon.
60 Blackcaps, 20 Goldcrests and a rather late Pied Flycatcher were all ringed on the 2nd. The flycatcher was scored low on fat and muscle, which is perhaps telling of it's late arrival. Conditions here are still very mild with a lot of insects still very active so there should be plenty of food to allow this bird to feed up and improve it's condition for the onwards journey.
Throughout this week two Water Rail continue to call in Millcombe and a Grey Heron is seen daily moving between waterbodies. A Golden Plover was heard around the airfield on the 29th-30th. On the 29th a single Ringed Plover was on the ground at the north end, along with a Dunlin. Another Ringed Plover was heard flying over Millcombe on both the 29th and 30th.
Three Cormorants were seen out to sea on the 28th, and another three flew south over the airfield on the 29th - could these be the same individuals? Interestingly earlier in the month 12 Cormorants were seen flying south off of Rat Island, whilst four days later another 12 were picked up. It's difficult to know if these are again repeat sightings of this fairly scarce Lundy visitor, or just coincidences! A seawatch on the still morning of the 2nd produced quality if not quantity, with two Arctic Skua heading north as well as Great Northern Diver.
|Three Cormorant heading south, seen from the Airfield. © Angus Croudace
A high count of 40 Rock Pipit was recorded on the 28th, with a few around the village but most picked up on the west coast on the plateau above Brazen Ward. This could be a mixture of migrant birds dropping onto the plateau, or perhaps a more local movement of our local breeders seeking more shelter for the winter. We had high counts of 566 Meadow Pipit and 39 Skylark on the 29th in this period. An evening dazzling on the 29th caught 11 Skylark, along with one of the 21 Wheatear recorded on the same date.
Four buntings have been added to the Lundy year list in just over a week, with an Ortolan Bunting picked up on census near the Stonecrusher on 30th. Much alike the Little and Yellow-breasted Buntings from earlier in the week, despite concerted efforts it was not refound later in the day. Reed Bunting singles were recorded both in Millcombe and at Pondsbury on the 2nd.
|Reed Bunting, Pondsbury © Angus Croudace
The 29th saw another push of hirundines including 594 Swallow and 132 House Martin. Among them Chris Baillie picked up a juvenile American Cliff Swallow, a vagrant visitor that, if accepted, will be the first record of this species for Lundy. This record is part of a major influx to the Western Palaearctic this autumn after they were initially displaced by strong winds on the North American continent in late August.
We've had another two waves of Blackcaps this week after just seven being left on the 28th; 78 on the 30th and 100 on the 2nd. A second young Barred Warbler of the autumn was seen around the top of Millcombe on the 29th. Luke also managed to catch and ring our long-staying Whinchat, which never strays far from Barton's Fields. On the 2nd two Common Crossbills were observed coming into Millcombe and feeding in the pines for ten minutes before departing as quickly as they arrived.
|Common Crossbill, Millcombe Pines © Angus Croudace
|First winter female Whinchat © Nicola Dunkin
The first Lesser Whitethroat of Autumn was picked up in the willows on the Terrace on the 28th and refound at Quarter Wall on the 29th. A Sedge Warbler was present at Pondsbury on the 28th and a Reed Warbler on the 2nd. A couple of Spotted Flycatchers have been hanging on in Millcombe, with a high count of three on the 29th. Two Tree Pipit were seen on the 29th, one on the ground in SW field, and the other calling around Millcombe. On the 30th six Siskin were bombing around Millcombe first thing, with another two singles picked up later in the day. Another single Song Thrush was seen in Millcombe on the 29th and a Firecrest was in Smelly Gully on the 1st, the first since the 22nd.
|Lesser Whitethroat, Quarter Wall © Joe Parker
|Wheatear, Stonecrusher © Joe Parker