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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.
If you have news to report, please consider signing up as a contributor or send in your sightings here.
See also the companion website The Birds of Lundy for comprehensive updates to the 2007 book of the same name.
Bird recording and ringing on Lundy are coordinated by the Lundy Field Society and general information about visiting the island can be found here.

Monday, 12 April 2021

2nd to 10th Apr – First Ring Ouzel, Sedge Warbler & Pied Flycatcher and a close encounter with a whale!

Amidst busy preparations for the island's much-anticipated reopening to visitors from 13th April, Warden Dean Jones updates us on the avian and other natural history highlights from a distinctly chilly month so far:

2nd April

A chilly and breezy start to the day (max gusts of 37mph from the north-east) which warmed later on as the wind dropped – lovely clear skies throughout. Max temperature 10°C.
Birding highlights included the first Ring Ouzel of the year – a stonking male by the Lambing Shed, and two Jackdaws were seen foraging in Brick Field later in the afternoon – the long-staying bird from the last post has found a friend!
Additional sightings of note included a single Snipe, five Woodpigeon, 21 Skylark, one Sand Martin, 20 Swallow, four House Martin, two Willow Warbler, five Chiffchaff, six Blackcap, two Goldcrest, a Fieldfare just north of the Battery, 19 Wheatear, a White Wagtail in Tillage Field, 66 Meadow Pipit, three Chaffinch, 10 Goldfinch and 62 Linnet.
This male Wheatear came to check I was counting the passing Linnets properly, 2 Apr © Dean Jones

Chiffchaff hiding from the burly easterlies along the West Side cliffs, 2 Apr © Dean Jones

3rd April
Clear and sunny for the most – light/moderate easterly winds throughout. Max temperature 8°C.

Highlights included a female Bullfinch feeding on the newly emerged Blackthorn blossom (the first of the year) in Millcombe, and two male Ring Ouzels along the west coast (one at Quarter Wall and the other at Jenny’s Cove).
Other birds logged included a Cormorant over the Village in the evening, the two Jackdaw – this time circling high over the Village before leaving the island eastward, a young Peregrine hunting over Middle Park, a Woodcock flushed from a small patch of heather in Middle Park, five Woodpigeon, 120 Kittiwake rafting offshore from Jenny’s Cove, 23 Skylark, one House Martin, 24 Swallow, a single Willow Warbler, five Chiffchaff, six Blackcap, two Goldcrest, a Redwing at the site of the Forgotten Heinkel, a single Stonechat, 32 Wheatear, 98 Meadow Pipit, four Chaffinch, seven Goldfinch, three Siskin and 33 Linnet.
The Highland Cattle have also been keeping out of the chilly easterlies, 3 Apr © Dean Jones
4th April
Overcast and light easterly winds first thing, brightening later – the wind picked up as the day went on – chilly again, particularly first thing. Max temperature 10°C.
Today’s undoubted highlight was a very unexpected Minke Whale close into Quarry Beach shortly after noon (it was so close in fact that it was first picked up by Zoë Barton from the sound of it exhaling!). From here it then cruised south down the east coast and into the Landing Bay – again very close in – where it was then seen by a number of other lucky Lundy staff before heading around Rat Island and out of sight. This is the fourth Minke to have been seen from the island in the last four years – hopefully the first of many this year!
Minke Whale surfacing off Quarry Beach, 4 Apr © Dean Jones
Additional avian highlights included a fly-over (presumed Lesser) redpoll in the late morning – the first of the year – and two Red-throated Divers doing what they do best – diving for a meal offshore from Quarry Beach. Other birds logged included two Snipe overhead before dawn, five Woodpigeon, 17 Skylark, eight Sand Martin, four Swallow, one House Martin, 14 Chiffchaff, seven Blackcap, four Goldcrest, two Song Thrush, three Stonechat, 16 Wheatear, 40 Meadow Pipit along the South End, four Chaffinch, two Siskin and 15 Linnet.

Finally, five Barrel Jellyfish were counted close into the east coast between the Landing Bay and Halfway Wall Bay.

April 5th
A day of overcast and a stiff northerly wind which frequently swung around, blowing from both the NE and NW – very cold with wind-chill temperatures dropping to -1°C. Max temperature 5°C.
The drop in temperature and burly winds saw very little in the way of new arrivals to the island. Birds of note included small numbers of Manx Shearwater (40) and Kittiwakes (50) foraging offshore from the Landing Bay, a Merlin having a rest along the main track after chasing Meadow Pipits in Brick Field, a Sparrowhawk in Millcombe, just 10 Skylark, three Chiffchaff, one Blackcap, 23 Meadow Pipit along the South End, one Stonechat, 10 Wheatear, a Song Thrush singing in Millcombe for most of the day, 20 Goldfinch, two Siskin and four Linnet.
Merlin, High Street, 5 Apr © Dean Jones
6th April
Beautiful blue skies first thing though still very cold and blustery, with the strong northerly winds creating wind-chill temperatures of -2°C – a few heavy but brief periods of hail around 10:30 hrs and again at 15:30 hrs but otherwise sunny and bright. Max temperature 7°C.
A beautiful but chilly day, looking out over the Landing Bay, 6 Apr © Dean Jones

After the hail storm! 6 Apr © Ash Garfoot

It was very quiet again, with few migrants showing face. Migrants logged included singles of Blackcap and Swallow, a handful of Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Siskin in Millcombe, and small numbers of Wheatear in sheltered spots along the south-west.
Male Siskin, Paradise Row, 6 Apr © Dean Jones
It was however protected enough in upper Millcombe for the first Chaffinch and Goldfinch to start building nests in the Valley and the first Mallard ducklings to appear at Quarters Pond (12 little fluff balls in total!).
7th April 
A noticeably warmer day, though temperatures were still low – overcast first thing, becoming mostly clear and sunny other than a period of light rain in the mid-morning – light to moderate northerly winds throughout. Max temperature 7°C.
Another very quiet day of birds with the only real sighting of note – from a busy day handballing cargo off the Oldenburg and flagging Rhododendron seedlings along the east – being a strikingly pale Common Buzzard, the first of the year, low over Brick Field in the afternoon! (See entry below for 9th April for a photo of the Buzzard.)
Song Thrush, Millcombe, 7 Apr © Dean Jones
8th April
Damp underfoot first thing due to a spell of heavy rain during the early hours – overcast throughout the morning becoming progressively brighter – light south-westerlies initially, which then veered round to the north again by mid-morning. Max temperature 9°C.
The light winds and noticeably warmer temperatures saw a small arrival of Willow Warbler (eight), Chiffchaff (eight), Blackcap (five) and Goldcrest (four) in Millcombe first thing. Swallows were pushing through in good numbers throughout the day too, with a total of 232 birds logged by the evening. The star bird however was another Ring Ouzel, this time in VC Quarry in the afternoon.
Ring Ouzel, VC Quarry, 8 Apr © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note included the Buzzard from yesterday in Barton Field (John Lambert), 190 Kittiwake on the water offshore from Jenny’s Cove and St Mark's Stone, 167 Puffins (of which 121 were ashore), four Woodpigeon, 17 Wheatear, three House Martin, four fly-over alba-type wagtails, nine Blackbird (including one female collecting nest material in Millcombe), a Fieldfare in Barton Field, the male Song Thrush, 45 Linnet, 12 Goldfinch, five Chaffinch and two Siskin.
There were some very crowded ledges in Jenny's Cove on 8 Apr © Dean Jones

There were also lots of Puffins prospecting and loitering around burrows! 8 Apr © Dean Jones

9th April
Light to moderate northerly winds in the morning which gradually dropped away as the day went on – cloudy with sunny spells throughout other than a small period of light drizzle in the late morning. Max temperature 10°C.
A superb day of Lundy birding with a great range of species and good numbers of some common migrants. Highlights included the first Pied Flycatcher and Sedge Warbler of the year at 'Ruppell’s Quarry' (the quarry south of VC Quarry, named by Lundy birders for the occurrence there in 1979 of a Rüppell's Warbler, one of the island's most iconic rarities) and Millcombe respectively, a Grasshopper Warbler caught and ringed first thing, and a female Ring Ouzel that dropped into the Paradise Row allotments in the late morning and another found at Jenny’s Cove later in the day.
The Grasshopper Warbler ringed in Millcombe, 9 Apr © Dean Jones

The male Pied Flycatcher at 'Rüppell's Quarry', 9 Apr © Dean Jones

Willow Warblers had also arrived in good numbers (56 birds logged) and hirundines were again trickling through steadily throughout the course of the day, with 122 Swallow, 15 House Martin and two Sand Martin logged.
Other sightings included a small arrival of 10 Woodpigeon, the Buzzard again over Millcombe and St John’s, a Merlin above White Beach, 113 Puffin, 38 Blackcap, 15 Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, 11 Blackbird, three Song Thrush, a White Wagtail in Barton Field with five Pied Wagtails, 42 Meadow Pipit, two Stonechat, 22 Wheatear, 36 Linnet, 16 Goldfinch, four Chaffinch, a single Siskin, two Lesser Redpoll on Sue Waterfield’s feeders and a Reed Bunting briefly in the treetops in Millcombe.
The pale Common Buzzard in St John's Valley, 8 Apr © Dean Jones

Male and female Wheatear at the Terrace, 9 Apr © Dean Jones

10th April
A chilly start with wind-chill temperatures of -2°C – the stiff north-easterly wind in the morning dropped gradually as the day went on – beautiful blue skies and sunshine throughout. Max temperature 8°C.
Despite the strong north-easterly wind, Linnet were on the move in good numbers first thing (118 logged). Other highlights included a Grasshopper Warbler flushed from brambles en route to the Ugly early on.
Other sightings included 20 Manx Shearwater rafting offshore from South West Point, the Buzzard again for its fourth day, four Woodpigeon, 40 Kittiwake, 25 Puffin (very few auks in Jenny’s this afternoon compared to the last two days), 17 displaying Skylark, 25 Swallow, three House Martin, four Sand Martin, 18 Blackcap, eight Willow Warbler, five Chiffchaff, two Goldcrest, 22 Wheatear, six Siskin, 24 Goldfinch, four Chaffinch and singles of Lesser Redpoll and Reed Bunting.
Reed Bunting, Quarter Wall, 10 Apr © Dean Jones

The paths in Millcombe are now laden with Blackthorn and Gorse blossom, 10 Apr © Dean Jones

Friday, 2 April 2021

30th Mar to 1st Apr – Earliest Grasshopper Warbler on record and first Tree Pipit – plus cup corals galore!

30th March
Light easterly winds and clear skies first thing – remaining clear and sunny for most other than the odd spell of low cloud and sea-mist – the wind then picked up slightly in the evening and swung round to the west/south west. The warmest day so far this year with temperatures reaching 18°C by the afternoon.
The island was treated to yet another spectacular sunrise over North Devon on 30 Mar © Dean Jones

Highlights from the morning census included two Rooks foraging with the Carrion Crow gang in South West Field, the lingering Long-tailed Tit which was caught and ringed in Millcombe in the early morning, and a small fall of 10 Willow Warblers (a number of which were bursting into brief bouts of song) and 35 Blackcap – all in the Millcombe area.
One of the two Rooks in South West Field, 30 Mar © Dean Jones

The highlight of the morning's ringing session, a Long-tailed Tit, Millcombe, 30 Mar © Dean Jones

With the tides being exceptionally low (0.25m below chart datum), the Conservation Team took the opportunity to get the wellies on and carry out the first rockpool community surveys of the year, as well the annual cup-coral counts in the Devil’s Kitchen.
Matt and Rosie getting a wellie full counting anenomes in Rockpool A © Dean Jones
Two cup-coral species occur in the lower littoral of the Devil’s Kitchen, the vibrant Scarlet and Gold Cup Coral Balanophyllia regia and the Devonshire Cup Coral Caryophyllia smithii. Surveys of these stunning invertebrates over two sites have been carried out on Lundy ad hoc since 1984 (though the first counts from Site 1 occurred in 1970 upon initial discovery), providing us with fascinating insights into the health of these small intertidal colonies and how they alter over the years.
Scarlet and Gold Cup Corals Balanophyllia regia, Devil's Kitchen, 30 Mar © Dean Jones
Results from this year’s survey showed a substantial increase in the number of Scarlet and Gold Cup Corals – 33 more than in 2020 in fact! Here, a grand total of 232 individuals were counted alongside nine Devonshire Cup Corals over both sites – the former being the highest number of this species to be counted in both sites since those first surveys in 1984. The Devonshire Cup Corals were much the same as in 2020 (9 individuals again) and have remained pretty stable over these sites since those first surveys.

Again, the communities were made up of good numbers of large individuals, but this year there were also numerous small pin-head-sized corals, which weren’t seen in 2020. This could mean that last year was good for recruitment of new, young corals to these sites – though perhaps the extent of algal growth and siltation could also have hidden a number of the smaller corals last year.

Two other sites containing small Scarlet and Gold Cup Corals colonies were also counted and were found to be pretty much the same as last year: Site 3 was only down one coral and Site 4 (found by Rosie last year) was up by a single animal. Additionally, the Conservation Team also found some cup corals in one of the rockpool community sites (rockpool E) which are new to this pool; the first of these surveys was also carried out in 1984. So it looks like Lundy corals are at present thriving in the Devil’s Kitchen!

Results on the community rockpool surveys are still a work in progress (we’ve still a few algal species to examine under the microscope), but at a glance things appear to be very similar to the last surveys done in 2015 – including, thankfully, very low numbers of invasive algae. So all in all a very successful and enjoyable day on the shore!
In addition to all the coral excitement, the team was treated to such underwater gems as the slimy Montagu’s Sea Snail Liparis montagui – which is in fact an unusual scaleless fish – numerous cushion stars, including three colourful Asterina phylactica, vivid Jewel and Snakelocks Anemones, shape-shifting Platyhelminthes and, of course, a multitude of beautifully coloured algal compositions, particularly in the mid-shore pools which are dominated by the coral weed Corallina officinalis, as well as an assortment of other encrusting reds in every shade of magenta imaginable.
There were good numbers of the cushion stars Asterina gibbosa (L) and A. phylactica (R)
in rockpool E, 30 Mar © Dean Jones

The title of weirdest invertebrate of the day went to this alien-like flatworm Leptoplana tremellaris,
30 Mar © Dean Jones

Back to birds... and other notable sightings from this magical day included a number of Manx Shearwaters heard calling across the island in the evening, seven Woodpigeon, a Snipe calling overhead in the early morning before dawn, five Sand Martin, one Swallow, 13 Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, 40 Meadow Pipit along the South End, singles of both Pied and White Wagtails and five other fly-over un-raced alba wagtails, two Redwing, three Song Thrush, five Wheatear in South West Field, three Stonechat, a possible migrant Dunnock trapped and ringed (it was carrying quite a bit of fat), 11 Linnet, 15 Goldfinch and two Siskin.
Finally, the first Silver Y of the year was on the wing in Millcombe Valley.
31st March 
Cool and cloudy first thing becoming clear, warm and sunny by the mid-morning – winds slight and from the south-west initially, swinging to the east by noon – by late morning, bouts of thick sea-mist started to roll in and out, mostly staying low down on the cliffs giving the impression that the island was floating in the clouds. Max temperature 15 C.
Jenny's Cove was alive with the calls of auks, though they remained unseen due to the
thick sea mist, 31 Mar © Dean Jones

The sea-mist came and went throughout the course of the day and occasionally came off the cliffs to engulf the island,
site of the 'Forgotten Heinkel', West Side © Dean Jones

Not the kind of shell you would normally find on the shore – a discarded ammunition shell from the HMS Montagu wreck
that can only be seen on really low tides, 31 Mar © Dean Jones

Today saw a superb fall of migrant warblers, the main bulk coming in the form of Blackcaps with at least 144 birds scattered across the island, mostly within Millcombe and along the east coast but also the west cliffs, fly-catching from drystone walls and in various nooks and crannies in the Village. Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were well represented too with 36 and 23 birds logged respectively.
Twelve Willow Warblers were ringed on the morning of the 31st, along with 45 Blackcaps and a handful of Chiffchaff,
Linnet and Goldfinch © Dean Jones

Down the hatch! Blackcap feeding on Ivy in Millcombe, 31 Mar © Dean Jones

Chiffchaff, Millcombe, 31 Mar © Dean Jones
The biggest surprise of the day though was the first Grasshopper Warbler of the year reeling from the thick scrub below the Ugly around 10:30 hrs. This is the earliest ever record of this species for Lundy – nine days earlier than the joint previous record of 9th April 1981 & 1990.

Other star birds included the first Tree Pipit of the year, over Millcombe mid-morning. Also in the Valley was a single Firecrest and the Long-tailed Tit for its tenth day, and two White Wagtails were feeding on the track outside Old Lighthouse in the afternoon.
Other birds logged were 15 Oystercatcher, three Golden Plover in High Street Field, the lingering Jackdaw, a male Sparrowhawk, a Merlin at Threequarter Wall, nine Woodpigeon, eight Swallow, 20 Sand Martin, a single House Martin, 21 Skylark, eight Goldcrest, 72 Meadow Pipit, a single Pied Wagtail and two fly-over alba wagtail types, 18 Blackbird, two Song Thrush, 27 Wheatear, four Stonechat, 17 Linnet, nine Goldfinch, two Chaffinch and three Siskin.
Golden Plover, High Street Field, 31 Mar © Dean Jones
The warm weather also enticed a number of butterflies to take wing, with two Peacocks, four Red Admirals and two Small Tortoiseshells logged throughout the day.
1st April

A mostly overcast day with a cool and strong north-easterly/easterly wind throughout (peaking at 35mph by noon). Max temperature 10°C.

It was a day of strong easterly winds, 1 Apr © Dean Jones

A much quieter bird day, unsurprisingly due to the stiff and chilly winds – though there was a small but noticeable movement of hirundines and finches hugging the west coast first thing.
Birds of note included a Reed Bunting in the Laundry Garden, the long-staying Jackdaw, three Sand Martin, seven Swallow, 31 Blackcap (including a number of birds down on the west cliffs), seven Willow Warbler, six Chiffchaff, singles of Redwing and Song Thrush, 46 Meadow Pipit along the south, 13 Wheatear – including another colour-ringed female, this time on the South West Point, 22 Linnet, 21 Goldfinch and three Chaffinch.

This male Northern Wheatear had found a nice sheltered spot along the west to do a bit of singing, 1 Apr © Dean Jones

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

23rd to 29th Mar – Record Swallow count and first returning colour-ringed Wheatear

Tuesday 23rd March
A gloomy and overcast start to the morning, becoming progressively brighter as the day went on – light SSW winds first thing picking up to a stiff SW by the afternoon. Max temperature 11°C.

What a difference a lick of paint makes! Stoneycroft gleaming in the sun, 23 Mar © Dean Jones
Highlights from the day included the Long-tailed Tit which has remained in Millcombe from the last post (arriving 21st March). A Black Redstart dropped into the allotments at Paradise Row briefly in the mid-morning, a Jackdaw was foraging in High Street Field later in the day – possibly the same bird from earlier in the month – a single White Wagtail was in Barton Field, and nearby a lone Firecrest was in Millcombe. Three Cormorants circled high over Landing Bay shortly after daybreak – the first of the year!
Long-tailed Tit, Millcombe, 25 Mar © Dean Jones

Other birds logged included a number of Shag starting to build nests along the east coast, five Woodpigeon, 19 Skylark, seven Chiffchaff, one Blackcap, 14 Goldcrest, four Redwing, two Stonechat, two Wheatear, three Pied Wagtail, three un-raced alba wagtail, small numbers of Meadow Pipit, four Chaffinch, six Goldfinch, three Linnet and a single Siskin.
Wednesday 24th March 
A calm and cloudy morning, the cloud quickly clearing, resulting in some beautiful sunshine and blue skies for the majority of the morning – the cloud then rolled in again in the afternoon bringing with it a brief shower around 14:00 hrs. Winds were blowing but a breeze from the SW first thing, picking up gradually to a light wind throughout the day. Max temperature 10°C.  
A better day for visible migration with the first Merlin of the year flushed from Quarter Wall in the afternoon. A total of eight Sand Martin flew north in small groups throughout the morning and a nice arrival of Chiffchaff (18), Blackcap (three – all trapped and ringed) and Goldcrest (12) were scattered in Millcombe and along the lower east.
One of the three male Blackcaps ringed in Millcombe, 24 Mar © Dean Jones

Lingering scarcities included the Jackdaw, again in High Street Field, the Long-tailed Tit in Millcombe and a White Wagtail in Barton Field – presumably the same bird logged yesterday.  
Other sightings included four Woodpigeon, a single Water Rail calling from Smelly Gully, 14 Skylark, two Stonechat, three Wheatear, five Pied Wagtail, one Redwing, two Chaffinch, five Goldfinch and a Linnet.

Non-avian sightings included a Peacock butterfly on the Terrace and a Barrel Jellyfish offshore from Quarry Beach.  
Thursday 25th March 
A wet and overcast start to the day, which dried and brightened up by 07:30 hrs – low WSW winds first thing, gradually picking up to gale force by the late evening. Max temperatures 10°C.
Birds of note today included a Black Redstart briefly in Barton Field in mid-morning, two fly-over Sand Martin, a small arrival of six Wheatear along the south-west part of the island (still no colour-ringed breeders though), seven Cormorant that flew over the Jetty in the afternoon, and the Long-tailed Tit, Merlin and Jackdaw all remained for another day.
The Jackdaw resting near the water tanks, 25 Mar © Dean Jones

Other sightings included four Woodpigeon, a single Water Rail calling from Smelly Gully, a Common Snipe flushed from South West Point, nine Skylark, four Chiffchaff, three Goldcrest, one Redwing, five Stonechat, two Pied Wagtail, 30 Meadow Pipit, four Chaffinch, two Goldfinch and a single Linnet.   
Friday 26th March 
A rather driech start to the day with bouts of drizzle, low cloud and a stiff SW wind first thing. Things then brightened up somewhat by the late morning, though there were a few scattered showers and one bout of heavy hail in the afternoon. The winds then picked up to gale force again, gusting up to 48mph by the late afternoon. Max temperature 11°C.
Unsurprisingly due to the wet and wild weather, there wasn’t much in the way of migrants other than a small but steady movement of Manx Shearwater past Rat Island first thing. Some 222 birds passed through in about 30 minutes of observations before the low cloud rolled in.  
Other birds of note included the Long-tailed Tit, singles of Firecrest and Chiffchaff and six Goldcrest all in Millcombe, and small numbers of Stonechat, Chaffinch and Linnet scattered around the Village and the South End.    
Saturday 27th March 
A gorgeous sunny morning give or take a few brief spells of thick cloud – moderate/strong westerly winds in the morning, picking up to a chilly, gale-force northerly by the afternoon. Max temperature 9°C.
There wasn’t much in the way of birds overhead, so it was the island residents which provided much of the entertainment – be it the small gangs of frisky male Dunnocks, flicking wings and calling seductively to a number of female birds in the valley, the electric song of two singing male Goldfinches from breezy treetops, or the South End Ravens giving chase to passing Peregrines in the strong onshore winds.  
As the day went on, a few migrants showed face whilst exploring the breezy west coast. These included a Black Redstart flying down Punchbowl Valley and at least 11 Northern Wheatear scattered along the west coast from South West Point to Jenny’s Cove (the highest count so far this year), a total which included the first returning colour-ringed bird of the year – a female in Jenny’s Cove!
It was a day of strong winds along the West Side, 27 Mar © Dean Jones
One of the 11 Wheatears logged on 27th, this one along the Terrace... © Dean Jones

...and this the colour-ringed female 'yellow over black, right leg' at Jenny's Cove © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note included a Swallow foraging along the Terrace in the afternoon, the Long-tailed Tit and Jackdaw in their usual haunts, four Woodpigeon, two Chiffchaff, four Goldcrest, two Pied Wagtail, 47 Meadow Pipit, two Redwing, two Stonechat, three Goldfinch and two Chaffinch.

This chipping male House Sparrow was one of many resident birds showing signs
of breeding behaviour in Millcombe, 27 Mar © Dean Jones

Sunday 28th March 
Spells of drizzle, low cloud and mist throughout, coupled with gale-force SW winds in the morning – peaking at 53mph – swinging to the north by the afternoon. Max temperature 9°C.
A rather tricky day's birding due to the strong winds and poor visibility. The Lower East Side Path was much more pleasant to walk between the squalls, though birds here were few and far between and mostly hiding away in thick scrub or behind walls, rocks and grassy tussocks – and thus out of sight from any waterproof-clad birders.   
Much the same bird-wise to the 27th. Sightings included a Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay, the remaining Long-tailed Tit in Millcombe, the Jackdaw in the Camping Field, a single Firecrest  that provided a nice splash of colour in a rather driech Millcombe first thing, seven Woodpigeon, a calling Water Rail in Millcombe, 18 Skylark, 22 Meadow Pipit, four each of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, a single Stonechat, two Chaffinch and three Goldfinch.

Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay near Miller's Cake, 28 Mar © Dean  Jones

Monday 29th March
Another driech start with low cloud, drizzle and strong SW winds in the morning up until around 13:30 hrs. From here the mist gave way to some beautiful sunshine and blue skies, as well as a gradual drop in the wind to a SW breeze. Max temperature 11°C.

Well, what a day! Unsurprisingly, due to the very poor visibility first thing, there wasn’t much about migrant-wise throughout the morning. In fact, other than two Goldcrest and a single Chiffchaff in Millcombe, it was another morning of counting and enjoying the ongoing antics of the island's resident birds.  
Then, as the low cloud and mist dissipated in the early afternoon, there was a small eruption of birds moving north, particularly hirundines along the more sheltered east coast. By the end of the day a very unexpected 162 Swallows were counted moving north, either as single birds or in small groups of up to four birds. Sand Martins too were moving in big numbers, with a total of 212 logged northbound by the evening – most of which were moving together in small numbers, though two tight flocks of 16 and 19 birds were also noted! This is the highest number of Swallows yet to be counted in the month of March, albeit the end of the month, and although breathtaking to watch, the experience of seeing so many of these spectacular migrants so early in the spring was a rather unnerving one – one which has most definitely come about due to a changing climate.
Other birds of note included a Great Northern Diver offshore from White Beach, the Jackdaw again in High Street Field, four Woodpigeon, 28 Skylark, 84 Meadow Pipit, 10 Wheatear, six Pied Wagtail, a White Wagtail in South West Field, five Goldfinch, nine Linnet, three Siskin and a Reed Bunting at Quarter Wall.

Skylark taking a well-deserved rest from singing all day, 29 Mar © Dean Jones

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

16th to 22nd Mar – First falls of spring migrants

Lundy Warden Dean Jones pens another colourful walk on Lundy's wild side…
Tuesday 16th March 

A slight and chilly westerly breeze first thing, which brought some brief spells of sea-mist and fog in throughout the morning. The rest of the day saw glorious blue skies and sunshine, with the winds remaining low and swinging to a northerly orientation by the late morning. Max temperature 11°C.   
Birding highlights included the first Swallow of the year, low over the Village around 15:00 hrs and the Pink-footed Goose, which has remained in and around Ackland's Moor marsh since the last blog post.  
Other birds of note included a Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay, 15 Teal on Pondsbury, small numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls moving north offshore in the afternoon (40), a single Puffin on the water in Jenny’s Cove – along with small numbers of both Guillemot and Razorbill onshore, two Woodpigeons, 96 Meadow Pipit, three each of Pied Wagtail, un-raced alba wagtail and Grey Wagtail, 17 Skylark, the Millcombe Firecrest, three Goldcrest, nine Blackbird, six Redwing, 13 Chaffinch and a single Goldfinch.
Blackbird – Millcombe Valley came alive with bird song post sea-mist, 16 Feb © Dean Jones

There was no sign of the long-staying hibernicus-type Coal Tit despite searching for it. Fingers crossed the bird has managed to get back to the Emerald Isle safe and sound.
Wednesday 17th March 
Blue skies and sunshine first thing with a light northerly wind – mostly overcast for the remainder of the day and a slight increase in wind speed by the evening. Max temperature 10°C.   
Highlights included two each of Swallow and House Martin overhead late morning, the latter being the first of the year. The first Puffin to make landfall this year was also spotted amongst the Guillemots and Razorbills in Jenny’s Cove by 'Team Cargo' – Peter Hayes and Matt Scantlebury – in the afternoon, with a handful of others rafting together on the water also. Nearby, a Black Redstart was busily bobbing around Pyramid Slope, a single Great Northern Diver was again offshore along the east coast and the Pink-footed Goose remained on Ackland's Moor for its 12th day.   
Other migrants of note included: two Golden Plover, eight Snipe (all flushed from the Pondsbury area), three Woodpigeon, 23 Skylark, 138 Meadow Pipit, two Pied and six un-raced alba wagtails, a single Grey Wagtail, two Chiffchaff, seven Goldcrest, the Firecrest still, 16 Blackbird, three Redwing, nine Stonechat, two Wheatear, six Chaffinch, five Goldfinch and four Linnet

There's been lots of Peregrine action, with at least four pairs now defending territories across the island, 17 Mar © Dean Jones

Non-avian sightings included the first Peacock butterfly of the year at St Helen’s Copse.  
Thursday 18th March
A bright start with a chilly northerly breeze, which quickly turned murky with bouts of sea-fog rolling in periodically for the first few hours. The sun then re-emerged briefly by the late morning, before becoming overcast by the mid-afternoon as the wind picked up. Max temperature 9°C.   
The morning saw the first decent fall of early spring migrants, the bulk of which came in the form of 22 Chiffchaff scattered around the island – some sporting conspicuous 'pollen horns'. Surprisingly, a rather early Willow Warbler also made landfall in St Helen’s Copse, six days earlier than the first of 2020, though six days behind the earliest ever record for this species on 10th Mar 1994. Other firsts for the year included a male Blackcap singing in Millcombe and a single White Wagtail above Benjamin’s Chair.

Although it is always a thrill to see the first Willow Warbler and Blackcap of the year, the day's star birds actually came in the form of two Long-tailed Tits in Quarter Wall Copse – only the fifth March occurrence of this species for Lundy. Here the birds were seen foraging through the smorgasbord of epiphytes covering the still-dormant trees in the copse before they headed north towards the Terrace and out of sight.
Record shot of one of the Long-tailed Tits in Quarter Wall Copse, 18 Mar © Dean Jones

Other migrants logged included the Pink-footed Goose on Ackland's Moor for its 13th day, nine Teal on Pondsbury (including a number of displaying drakes), five Woodpigeon, 20 Skylark, a single Sand Martin over South West Field, 116 Meadow Pipit, four Grey Wagtail, six Pied Wagtails and two other un-raced alba wagtails, eight Goldcrest, the Firecrest again, eight Blackbird, singles of Redwing and Song Thrush, four Stonechat, eight Chaffinch, 19 Goldfinch (the highest count so far this year) and three Linnet.  

Love is in the air at Pondsbury – courting Teal, 18 Mar © Dean Jones
18th Mar saw the highest count of Goldfinch so far this year, including this gorgeous
individual fresh in off the sea at Benjamin's Chair © Dean Jones

Friday 19th March 
After a misty sunrise, cloudy conditions set in for the rest of the day, though the sun did shine periodically throughout the afternoon. Moderate northerly wind in the morning dropping away gradually throughout the day. Max temperature 10°C.
The morning mist made for a spooky sunrise on 19 Mar © Dean Jones

19th Mar was certainly a day of awesome skies and seascapes, with Old Light reflected in Ackland's Moor marsh © Dean Jones

A much quieter day for northbound migrants. Sightings of note included two Red-throated Divers behind Rat Island, a second-year Common Gull offshore along the east, eight Woodpigeon, 14 Skylark, 141 Meadow Pipit, two fly-over alba wagtails, eight Redwing, two Chiffchaff, the Millcombe Firecrest, eight Goldcrest, two Stonechat, four Chaffinch and six Goldfinch. There was no-sign of the Pink-footed Goose.  
Saturday 20th March 
The morning started off with barely a breath of wind, glass-like seas and mostly overcast conditions which became progressively brighter and slightly breezier as the day went on. Max temperature 9°C.    
The day kicked off with a decent fall (for spring) of Goldcrest along the South End (41 birds in total by the end of the day), as well as two very handsome male Firecrests that found their way into the mist-nets in Millcombe first thing. Another was found flitting round Quarry Pond in the afternoon, resulting in a total of three birds for the day).

One of the two Firecrests caught and ringed in Millcombe on 20 Mar © Dean Jones

Other early spring migrants logged included four Sand Martin together over Jenny’s Cove, a Blackcap on the Terrace, 11 Chiffchaff, the second White Wagtail of the year in Barton Field, a female Sparrowhawk in Millcombe (the first of the year), and 11 Fieldfare, 19 Redwing and a single Song Thrush spread between Barton and Helicopter Fields.  
Additional highlights included the first Great Skua of the year past South West Point in the late morning, along with some small rafts of Manx Shearwater totalling 160 birds. The Great Northern Diver was once again in the Landing Bay and an excellent count of 29 Harbour Porpoise was spread along the west coast in the afternoon!

Other birds of note included small numbers of Kittiwake ashore in Jenny’s Cove, two Water Rail in Smelly Gully, seven Woodpigeon, 13 Skylark, 243 Meadow Pipit (including a flock of 82 birds in Brick Field), singles of Pied and Grey Wagtail, four Stonechat, eight Chaffinch and five Goldfinch.   
Ringing totals: 15 Goldcrest, two Firecrest, three Chiffchaff, a single Chaffinch and three Robin.  

The first Soay lambs have been born – here's one particularly adorable individual resting at Halfway Wall, 20 Mar © Dean Jones

Sunday 21st March 
A chilly, breezy and overcast start becoming sunny and warm by the early afternoon. The northerly winds also dropped away as the day went on. Max temperature 11°C. 
A glorious spring afternoon looking across the Landing Bay, 21 Mar © Dean Jones

Highlights included a Treecreeper – the first to be logged this year and only the third to be recorded in the month of March – foraging on a sycamore in Millcombe next to another Long-tailed Tit.
The first Treecreeper of the year, Millcombe, 21 Mar © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note included singles of Manx Shearwater, Red-throated and Great Northern Diver offshore, 13 Teal on Pondsbury, five Woodpigeon, 75 Puffin in Jenny’s Cove (of which 25 were ashore), 24 Skylark, 167 Meadow Pipit, three Pied and one alba wagtail, a single Grey Wagtail, 17 Goldcrest, one Firecrest, four Chiffchaff, 26 Redwing, four Wheatear (including the first female bird of the year at Jenny’s Cove), four Stonechat, six Chaffinch, four Goldfinch and two Linnet.

More and more Puffins are starting to arrive at Jenny's Cove in preparation for a busy breeding season, 21 Mar © Dean Jones

A male Wheatear between bursts of song in Jenny's Cove, 21 Mar © Dean Jones
Tibby the Lundy Pony trying to get in on the Wheatear-watching action in Middle Park, 21 Mar © Dean Jones
Monday 22nd March 
Another windless start to the day, picking up to a gentle (and at times nippy) breeze by the afternoon. Mostly overcast first thing, giving way to sunshine and partially blue skies for the remainder of the day. Max temperature 11°C. 
A brief hello from the sun between mist-net checks before it disappeared into the clouds, 22 Mar © Dean Jones
A slightly quieter day for migrants, though Chiffchaff (23) and Goldcrest (20) were in decent numbers in Millcombe first thing. A singing Collared Dove near the gas store was the first of the year and the Long-tailed Tit from yesterday remained in Millcombe throughout the day. 

Long-tailed Tit in Millcombe – the second record so far this spring! 22 Mar © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note from a busy day painting Stoneycroft included five Carrion Crows leaving the island on a northward trajectory mid-morning (whilst at the same time others remained and were seen building nests along the east coast), a single Water Rail calling from the Secret Garden, four Woodpigeons, two fly-over alba wagtails and a handful of Meadow Pipits. Four Fieldfare and a single Redwing were foraging in Barton Field, four Linnet went overhead first thing, 10 Goldfinch dropped into Millcombe in mid-morning, and a single Siskin was calling from a pine tree in the valley later in the day.

Ringing totals: seven Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, one Robin and a House Sparrow (the first to be colour-ringed this year). 
Stoneycroft half painted by lunch time, 22 Mar © Dean Jones

Finished! Just the windows to do now. Well done gang (l-r): Rosie, Pete and Matt from the Conservation Team © Dean Jones