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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.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

24th Jun to 12th Jul – Storm Petrels on the rise, six new moth species and Lundy's first Black-tailed Skimmer

Dean Jones pens another mega-roundup of the latest goings-on in the summer whirl of Lundy birds and other wildlife.
 
A slightly quieter period compared to all the happenings of the last blog (we’re still buzzing on the seabird census results and the Sulphur-bellied Warbler) – that said, the period since has still been a very eventful and exciting one. The island is still exuding a midsummer splendour and is bustling with events and interesting wildlife sightings, such as jangling post-breeding flocks of Linnets which are now starting to form across the island and an eruption of Heath Spotted Orchids around Pondsbury (118 flowering plants counted on the 6th), while Rosechafers are plentiful, particularly on clumps of flowering honeysuckle on the east coast, and small numbers of Harbour Porpoise and Common Dolphin have been breaching from glass-like seas on a number of dates.
 
Linnet feeding on sorrel in Millcombe, 26 Jun © Dean Jones
 
Weather-wise, it has been mostly calm and bright, though the island has received a decent fall of rain since the last post – 97mm³ to be precise – all of which has been very welcome following what was a very dry June. The 6th and 12th July kicked this trend however, with some strong south-westerly winds and noticeably cooler temperatures which made the day feel much more autumn-like.
 
Birds of note through this period included small numbers of Swifts heading south over seven days (max 30 on the 30th), singles of Cuckoo on the 26th (east coast) and 30th (Threequarter Wall), a Turtle Dove in the Quarter Wall area on the 3rd, singles of Collared Dove on the 28th and 30th, a Ringed Plover over the North End on the 2nd, singles of Curlew on the 28th, 30th, 1st and 2nd (perhaps the same individual touring the island), a Sparrowhawk looking for a meal in the Camping Field on 29th, and two Grey Herons on the 2nd and a single bird on the 8th.
 
Cuckoo being mobbed by Meadow Pipits at Threequarter Wall, 30 Jun © Dean Jones

Collared Dove, High Street, 30 Jun © Dean Jones

One of two Grey Herons off the Terrace, 2 Jul © Dean Jones
 
Small numbers of hirundines have been logged too on a number of dates, namely House Martins (max two on the 1st) and Sand Martins (max 14 on the 30th) already on their way south. Two Willow Warblers have been singing most days from both Millcombe and St Helen’s Copse, and the Millcombe Song Thrush is still singing away from the treetops of Millcombe wood most days – though for much shorter periods of time compared to earlier in the year. Finches too are on the move, with a single Siskin on 4th and small numbers of Goldfinch (e.g. two south over Jenny’s Cove on the 30th). Finally, two Crossbills were seen and heard in Millcombe on the 28th.
 
Male Stonechat, Lower East Side Path, 26 Jun © Dean Jones

A fledgling Wheatear near Quarry Cottages, 28 Jun © Dean Jones
 
The seabird season has progressed at a rapid pace since the last post, with many of the island auks now out on the high seas. On the St Mark's Guillemot plot all but two young birds are left as of the 11th. Although the numbers still need to be properly worked through, it appears that productivity at this site is slightly down on last year. Even though we only get brief insights into this spectacular seabird's breeding season (we’d love to spend more time on the slopes but other duties beckon), we think this drop in productivity is due to a higher level of predation this year, the flooding of some of the ledges (e.g. we lost 13 eggs in sub-site three after two days of heavy rain at the end of May), and a handful of unfertile eggs which the parent birds were still starting to incubate right up until 2nd Jul – though more than likely there are other unseen factors also influencing these birds. Although it is always sad to see a drop in productivity, 232 breeding attempts took place in this plot this year, the highest number of attempts recorded here since these studies began in 2007.

The Jenny’s Cove Puffins are seemingly having a great year, with fish being delivered to 287 burrows over the course of just over five weeks (compared to 261 apparently active burrows in 2020)! Additionally, the first puffling of the year was seen on 30th Jun – one day earlier than the first of 2020 – and fewer and fewer burrows are being provisioned each day, meaning that some of the young birds have already made the jump out to sea! Others haven’t been that lucky, as a few loafing birds on the slopes have been taken by Great Black-backed Gulls. Despite this, there have been some super numbers of Puffins on the slope (well for Lundy anyway), particularly during the evenings, e.g. 242 birds on the productivity slope on the evening of 9th Jul.
 
Record shot of one of the four pufflings seen in Jenny's Cove, 9 Jul © Dean Jones
 
Unfortunately, our Kittiwakes are having a poor season productivity-wise, with 68 of the original 124 nests failing so far over the two sites. Again, like the Guillemots, there is seemingly a higher level of predation at both sites this year by Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls. However, unlike the auks, there have also been a number of dead chicks found in nests, as well as multiple instances of siblicide noted, which is perhaps indicative that some birds are struggling to find enough food this year. Saying that, numerous other unseen factors are more than likely to be influencing the breeding season. Let’s hope the remaining chicks manage to fledge safely over the next few weeks.
 
The Conservation Team also managed a trip to the North End on the 2nd to look for occupied Storm Petrel burrows. Here the team set out for a morning of playing recordings of Storm Petrel calls down suitable burrows. A total of 13 birds responded across a small section of the North End, though there were definitely more birds present, hinted by the presence of lots of distinctively smelly burrows. Excitingly, some of these responses came from areas where birds have not been found in the past, including some of the old walls built by Trinity House in the late 1800s/early 1900s.
 
Assistant Warden Ben in search of Storm Petrel burrows, 2 Jul © Dean Jones
 
As not all breeding Storm Petrels respond to calls played down their burrows, an adjustment is needed in order to get a better population estimate. The published conversion factor applied to Storm Petrel colonies without calibrations of their own is 2.4, based on the median response rate of 0.42 (Mitchell et al. 2004). In surveys conducted by the RSPB in 2018, the team managed to elicit seven responses from the same site, which after applying the conversion factor gave an estimate of around 11 apparently occupied sites (AOS). Applying the same conversion factor to this year’s responses produces an average of 31 AOS – nearly triple the numbers estimated just three years ago!If you’d like to read the 2018 Storm Petrel report, you can do so via the following Lundy Field Society link: http://lfs-resources.s3.amazonaws.com/ar68/LFS_Annual_Report_Vol_68_Part_17.pdf
 
Also on 2nd Jul, long-standing Lundy birder Chris Baillie (whose first visit dates back to 1968!) made another exciting discovery whilst spending part of the day exploring an area of boulder scree below the Battery. Here Chris found a number of 'Stormie' burrows in a site that we always thought birds would turn up in but where none had been confirmed until now. Bravo, Chris!
 
Following the RSPB's discovery of a new site along the east coast in early June (see last blog post), Lundy is now home to around 50 pairs of Storm Petrels – truly inspiring stuff, particularly as this recovery has come about in a relatively short space of time. Extensive surveys carried out for Stormies in 2010 failed to find any birds at all.
 
A curious Razorbill checking in on the team during the Storm Petrel search, 2 Jul © Dean Jones
 
Finally on the seabird front, the Gannets' Rock Fulmars are progressing, with chicks arriving in the study plot on 27th Jun and joined by many more since (15 active sites as of 5th Jul).
 
Other breeding bird highlights away from the cliffs included a pair of Whitethroat feeding fledglings near the Steps of Doom on the 24th – the third consecutive year this species has successfully bred on the island. At least one pair of Blackcaps has also managed to fledge young this year, with adults feeding young birds in the Secret Garden on 1st Jul. One of the two confirmed Chiffchaff pairs fledged young on the 8th, the first Woodpigeon chick fledged on the 11th, and three of the five Peregrine pairs now have fledged young (six in all), as from the 26th Jun.
 
Male Blackcap delivering food to fledglings in the Secret Garden, 5 Jul © Dean Jones

Peregrine fledglings on Tent Field wall, 7 Jul © Dean Jones

One of many young Meadow Pipits currently scattered across the island, 7 Jul © Dean Jones
 
Singing Wren, Millcombe, 6 Jul © Joanne Wilby
 
Following on from the last blog post, it has been yet another spectacular period for invertebrates. Emperor Dragonflies are seemingly having a very good year, with numerous insects on the wing on days of suitable weather, e.g. three on the 30th (Pondsbury, Middle Park and Quarter Wall Pond) and three together at Pondsbury on the 5th.
 
Male Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator), Quarter Wall Pond, 30 Jun © Dean Jones
 
Decent numbers of Blue-tailed Damselflies are also on the wing, with a count of 78 around the fringes of Pondsbury on the 7th, alongside smaller numbers of Common Blue Damselfly. The first Common Darter of the year also made an appearance there on the 10th.
 
The undoubted Odonata highlight however, was the occurrence of a handsome male Black-tailed Skimmer quartering the north end of Pondsbury – the first time this species has been recorded on Lundy!
 
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum), Pondsbury, 5 Jul © Dean Jones
 
On the Lepidoptera front the first Grayling (4th) and Ringlet (5th) butterflies of the year have made appearances, though all-in-all this period has been a relatively poor one for butterfly sightings, with small numbers only of Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Green-veined White, Small Heath and Meadow Brown being logged most days.
 
The first Grayling of the year, Millcombe, 4 Jul © Dean Jones

Copulating Small Heaths, Middle Park, 2 Jul © Dean Jones
 
Unlike the butterflies, these past few weeks have been very productive for moths, with a wide range of common and rare species being recorded throughout – including another five new species not previously seen on the island (actually, six if you include larval cases).
 
The first of these came in the form of the odd-looking micro-moth Donacaula forficella in the Milllcombe Heath trap on the 29th. This strange little creature inhabits marshy areas and ditches, feeding on a range of wetland plants. Even stranger though is that the larvae, when in need of a new food plant, cuts off part of a leaf to make a raft which it then uses to move between plants – isn’t nature truly spectacular?!
 
Donacaula forficella, Millcombe, 29 Jun © Dean Jones
 
The next new moth for Lundy was a Purple Clay, again in the Millcombe Heath trap, on the 2nd. The occurrence of this species is much less of a surprise, being relatively common throughout the UK feeding on a wide range of herbaceous plants. The first Bryotropha terrella and Double Square-spot moths for Lundy were also caught in Millcombe on the 11th and, like the Purple Clay, both are common species for the UK, feeding on a wide range of grasses and trees/scrubs respectively.
 
Finally, whilst exploring the fringes of Pondsbury on the 6th, a number of the handsome Willow Tortrix were flushed – including one uni-coloured individual, a form which is rare in the wild. Again this is a common species in the UK, feeding on a range of salix species, particularly Creeping Willow Salix repens, a plant which is abundant in the Pondsbury area.
 
Willow Tortrix (Epinotia cruciana), Pondsbury, 7 Jul © Dean Jones
 
Other moth highlights included a stunning Lunar Hornet Moth in Rüppell’s Quarry on the 5th! This is the first time the adult moths have been seen on the island following the discovery of their larval cases here in 2020 (see blog post 1st to 8th Jul 2020 – Lundy re-opens and wildlife rises to the occasion).
 
Lunar Hornet Moth (Sesia bembeciformis), Rüppell’s Quarry, 5 Jul © Dean Jones
 
Yet another Privet Hawkmoth was caught in Millcombe on the 1st (where are they coming from?) and a single Nothris congressiella was caught in Millcombe on the 29th – the latter a very rare micro-moth found only in a handful of places in the UK where its food plant, Balm-leaved Figwort, grows.
 
Additional records of note were second records for Lundy of Acleris hastiana (5th), Grass Emerald and Beautiful Golden Y (29th), as well as good numbers of Brown China-mark (10) around Pondsbury on the 7th. 
 
Grass Emerald (Pseudoterpna pruinata), Millcombe, 29 Jun © Dean Jones

Beautiful Golden Y (Autographa pulchrina), Millcombe, 29 Jun © Dean Jones

Brown China-mark (Elophila nymphaeata), Quarry Pond, 2 Jul © Dean Jones

Finally, the first Giant Tachinid Fly (Tachina grossa) of the year was seen near Quarry Pond on 2nd.
 
Lots of thanks to all who submitted sightings: Ben Arkless, Chris Baillie, Sam Bosanquet, Eleanor Grover, Dean Jones, Tim & Liz Smith, and Kevin Waterfall.
 
Reference
 
Mitchell, P.I., Newton, S.F., Ratcliffe, N. & Dunn, T. E. (2004). Seabird Populations of Britain and Ireland. London: T. & A.D. Poyser.

Thursday, 24 June 2021

3rd to 23rd Jun – Highest Puffin count for at least 80 years, two moths new to Lundy… and a 'first' for Britain!

It has been a month of superlatives for Lundy birds and other wildlife. What better way to celebrate Midsummer's Day than with a veritable feast of all the latest natural history goings-on in a superb round-up from Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones.
 
What a momentous month of June it has been so far! Leading on from the last blog, this eventful summer period has seen the island welcome numerous researchers and students, the first school groups of the year for an exciting day of exploration with Education Officer Rosie Ellis, and we’ve also been entertaining lots of visitors with guided walks with the help of our Lundy Ambassadors. Our seabird productivity monitoring has also been keeping us busy, and lots of work has gone into the clearance and upkeep of the island's footpaths – most of which are growing over at a frantic pace as the vegetation makes the most of the long summer days.
 
It's been a stunning three weeks on the island! © Dean Jones
 
What's more, the island is looking absolutely stunning at the moment, with swathes of Lundy cabbage, thrift, foxgloves and hogweed in bloom along the slopes and cliffs – all accompanied by an incredible diversity of insects, including clouds of day-flying micro-moths, mobs of Yellow Dung Flies and the cuckoo-spit from numerous leafhoppers coating nearly every frond of bracken in some places. The seas have been particularly clear of late too, allowing superb views of iridescent ctenophores, shimmering sand-eels and moon jellies galore.
 
Weather-wise, things have been mostly settled, with plenty of sunshine, light winds, clear skies and warm temperatures (between 14°C and 21°C). As always, however, there have been a handful of dull and mizzly days too, particularly on the 9th, 10th, 14th, 19th and 20th when the island was subjected to light drizzle, thick fog and mist from dawn to dusk.
 
The undoubted birding highlight of this period was the occurrence of Britain’s first Sulphur-bellied Warbler in Millcombe on the 8th. This individual decided to drop in next to the dustbins at the Old Lighthouse – where it was initially picked up by David Price whilst emptying his moth trap!! – instead of heading to its normal breeding range spanning from north-west Afghanistan and south-east Kazakhstan eastwards to central China, from its wintering grounds in northern and central India. A truly astonishing record! A full account of the momentous events of that day, written by David Price, Paul St Piérre and Dean Jones, can be found on the BirdGuides website: https://www.birdguides.com/articles/rarity-finders-sulphur-bellied-warbler-in-devon/
 
The photo that sparked a Twitter storm... Sulphur-bellied Warbler, Millcombe, 8 Jun © Dean Jones

Some of the lucky few twitchers who arrived on the evening of 8 Jun © Dean Jones

This lost traveller from Asia showed well for the assembled throng but moved
on overnight and was nowhere to be found on 9 Jun, to the disappointment of many... © Dean Jones

 
Other rarities since the last post include a Subalpine Warbler and a female Hawfinch in Millcombe on the 9th, two birds which provided meagre consolation to the multiple observers who missed out on the Sulphur-bellied Warbler on this date. Due the driech, drizzly conditions on the 9th & 10th, both birds remained in the valley until the 11th at least.

Lundy also managed to jump in on the Rose-coloured Starling invasion bandwagon on the 14th, with Ranger Matt Stritch finding a stonking adult bird in the Camping Field. Unfortunately, this day too was one of the few when the island was cloaked in thick fog, but observers still managed some nice views of the bird as it made its way around the Village and Lambing Shed before disappearing into the murk at around 11:00 hrs.
 
Rose-coloured Starling in the mist, Bull's Paradise, 14 Jun © Dean Jones

Unsurprisingly, coming further into June, bird migration slowed to but a trickle. Migrants of note from this period included small numbers of Swift which passed overhead most days – some already appearing to be on their way south, with a flock of 15 observed leaving the island towards Hartland Point on the 20th. Singles of Cuckoo were sighted on the 6th, 7th, 8th and 21st, two Collared Doves hung around on the island from the last post up until the 12th, singles of Cormorant and Grey Heron were noted on the 12th and 20th respectively, and a Kestrel was recorded on five dates at the start of the month, but unfortunately there have been no further signs since the 9th – fingers had been crossed for a second year of breeding success after young fledged in 2020.
 
Cuckoo, 6 Jun © Owen Hodson

Migrant passerines included small numbers of House Martin moving overhead on a number of days (max 13 on the 11th), up to two Willow Warbler on three dates, a single Sedge Warbler singing most days below Government House, providing a nice backing track to our beloved Song Thrush, which is still giving it large from the treetops in Millcombe each morning. Singles of Reed Warbler were noted on the 4th, 16th and 23rd, up to four Whitethroat over ten dates, and singles of Spotted Flycatcher on three dates.
 
Male Whitethroat singing in Millcombe, 4 Jun © Dean Jones
 
Furthermore, a Greenland Wheatear was caught and ringed in South West Field on the 6th, singles of Tree Pipit and Yellow Wagtail were noted on the 15th & 12th respectively, and up to three Siskin were noted on three dates (one male of which was in song in Millcombe on the 16th).
 
Tree Pipit, Millcombe, 15 Jun © Dean Jones
 
Not to be outshone, a Meadow Pipit in the sharp morning light, Millcombe, 15 Jun © Dean Jones

On the seabird front, the island welcomed some very special guests from the RSPB on the 3rd. Paul St Piérre, Helen Booker, Jaclyn Pearson and Anthony Bellamy arrived on the island to join Lundy seabird legends, David Price and Peter Slader, who arrived a few days prior, for a week of counting each and every cliff-nesting seabird around Lundy’s coastline.
 
These counts have been carried out every four years since 1981, with the results providing us with great insights into how Lundy’s seabird populations have changed over the last 40 years. One of the most striking results from this survey is how the island's seabirds have recovered since the eradication of rats during the period 2004 to 2006. Most folk who know Lundy know that saying goodbye to the rats has seen an incredible recovery for some species, particularly Manx Shearwater, which are now at least 5,504 pairs strong (at the last survey in 2017/2018) – up from the 297 pairs in 2001. But how have the cliff-nesting seabirds done in comparison?
 
Well, the results from this month’s survey are incredible! Auks in particular are doing really well on the island with a mind-blowing 9,880 Guillemots, 3,533 Razorbills and 848 Puffins counted. These counts are up significantly from those done immediately prior to the eradication of rats from the island (2,348 Guillemots, 950 Razorbills and 13 Puffins in 2000), illustrating the extent to which these rodents were limiting the numbers of seabirds trying to breed on the island.
 
Shags, Fulmars and Kittiwakes are all up too from the last full census, which is also very heart-warming – particularly so the Kittiwakes which have undergone a drastic overall reduction in numbers during the 40 years of surveying. Unfortunately, the island's large larids, i.e. Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed Gulls, are down again on previous counts, though the precise extent of this is still to be worked out. The reasons for the decline in gull numbers are likely to be complex, but in the case of Kittiwake, at least, are probably driven in large part by climate change-related shifts in food availability.
 
So incredibly, all-in-all, including the burrow-nesting Procellariforms (Manx Shearwater & Storm Petrel), there are now over 26,000 seabirds breeding on Lundy – up from 7,351 prior to rat eradication. Truly jaw-dropping stuff! On top of this, the team also managed to confirm a new breeding site for Storm Petrel along the east coast – another species which is taking full advantage of the island now the rats have gone (the first confirmed breeding of Stormies was in 2014). A HUGE thank you to David, Peter, Helen, Paul, Jacqui and AJ for all their hard work – and a HUGE thank you to all of those who have been a part of or helped with the Seabird Recovery Project in some shape or form – you should all be so proud!

On the seabird productivity front, the season is now well and truly in full swing, with thousands of young seabirds hugging the cliffs and slopes awaiting fishy delights from mum and dad. The St Mark’s Guillemots are having another good year, with over 200 developing chicks in the plots now – some of which, from 20th June, have already made the jump to journey out into the high seas! Kittiwake nests are also bustling with young birds – the first chicks appearing in Aztec Bay on the 11th – two days earlier than the first of 2020. Meanwhile, Fulmars are still sitting tight on eggs at Gannets' Rock (currently 31 apparently occupied nests) and Puffins are busy delivering fish to youngsters in burrows (160 to date) at Jenny’s Cove.
 
St Mark's Stone Guillemots – how many chicks can you spot? 15 Jun © Dean Jones

Digiscoped shot of a Kittiwake with its two chicks, west coast © Dean Jones

Puffins through the digiscope, Jenny's Cove, 16 Jun © Zoë Barton

Manx Shearwaters have also been getting lots of attention throughout this period, with Tim Frayling, Bart Donato and Richard & Rebecca Taylor all heading down to the west slopes for a spot of ringing over four nights. Combined efforts resulted in the capture and ringing of a total of 169 new birds, plus an additional 52 retraps (i.e. ringed on Lundy prior to 2021), including 26 birds which were ringed as chicks (and two which were ringed as chicks as early as 2019)!
 
The island Conservation Team also managed some time to check in on the shearwater nestboxes on the 17th. Thankfully all six pairs which had been recorded by Tony Taylor in May were all still present and accounted for, with five adults still sitting tight on eggs and another in box D1 with the first fluffy chick of the year!
 
The first Manx Shearwater chick of the year! West coast nestbox © Dean Jones
 
Landbirds have also been very busy tending to eggs and young chicks. Wheatears have seemingly had a very productive season, with noisy gangs of young birds on nearly every buttress and drystone wall around the island. The first Linnet (15th), Chaffinch (19th), Pied Wagtail (22nd), Meadow Pipit (19th) and Wren (23rd) fledglings have also been recorded. Successful breeding of Teal was confirmed on the 3rd, with a number of ducklings following mum on the fringes of Pondsbury. Second broods of Starling chicks have also taken wing (15th) and at least three pairs of Swallow are currently on the island, though it seems that only one pair has actually got eggs at the moment.
 
There are loads of Wheatear fledglings around the island currently. This soggy-bottomed
individual was on Tillage Field wall, 20 Jun © Dean Jones

 
Pied Wagtail fledgling near the pigsty, 22 Jun © Dean Jones

Second-brood Starling fledgling, Laundry Garden, 15 Jun © Dean Jones

Adult Dunnock checking that the Warden is keep his distance from newly fledged young!
Millcombe, 14 Jun © Dean Jones

 
House Sparrow fledgling, Paradise Row, 21 Jun © Dean Jones
 
Millcombe is full of the calls of young birds, including this juvenile Robin
near the Secret Garden, 21 Jun, © Dean Jones


Away from birds, the first week of June is also the time when the island's endemic Lundy Cabbage is counted along the east slopes and cliffs. Alan & Sandra Rowland from the Lundy Field Society arrived on the 3rd to carry out the 28th annual count of our cherished brassica – the first having been carried out in 1993. These counts consist of both land- and water-based surveys, the latter involving a jaunt along the east coast on the Warden's RHIB on the 7th. Results show an overall increase in the estimated number of flowering plants on the island since 2019 (no survey in 2020 due to Covid-19), with 8,200 flowering plants in total! This is up 3,200 from the 2019 survey and 2,952 flowering plants more than the island average (the maximum number recorded to date was 13,000 in 2014). A huge thank you to Alan and Sandra once again for all their hard work and top-class company!
 
The Conservation Team with Alan Rowland (centre) all at sea counting brassicas
off the east coast, 7 Jun © Dean Jones

 
Keep Calm and Count Cabbages! © Dean Jones

Now onto the invertebrates! Emperor Dragonflies are now on the wing, with single insects on the 15th and 16th at Threequarter Wall and Halfway Wall respectively. Small numbers of Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies were noted at Quarter Wall Pond on the 15th.
 
Butterflies have been on decent form, with the first Meadow Brown of the year on the 12th, good numbers of Common Blue (max 10 on the 7th) and Small Heath (max 75 on the 4th) – particularly on the warm calm days. Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small, Large and Green-veined White have all been logged too in small numbers.
 
Common Blue resting in the evening light, Upper East Side Path, 3 Jun © Dean Jones
 
Continuing on the lepidopteran front, the month of June has also seen lots of moth-trapping action, with David Price, Andrew Cleave and the Conservation Team all regularly setting out light-traps. Highlights of recent efforts (other than the discovery of the Sulphur-bellied Warbler!) included three Privet Hawk-moths, two caught on the night of the 16th in Millcombe and the other at Benjamin’s Chair on the 22nd. Although these fantastic, exotic-looking moths are fairly common in the southern half of Britain, these three constituted the first for the island! As the name suggests, the larvae feed on privet and ash trees – which Lundy does have in very small numbers. Have these moths always occurred here though? Moth recording has been carried out ad hoc on Lundy since 1877 and, until now, this species has never been seen here, so perhaps these individuals had been blown over to the island on the recent bout of strong easterlies. The Benjamin’s Chair individual suggests just that. Either way, a fantastic record for the island, and with multiple individuals reaching us this spring, will we be seeing more of this beautiful moth in years to come near its available food plants? Only time will tell!
 
Privet Hawk-moth, Millcombe, 16 Jun 2021 © Dean Jones

The three trapped so far this month are the first for the island! 16 Jun © Dean Jones
 
From mega to micro – a single Pseudoswammerdamia combinella micro-moth was found in Millcombe on the 21st, which, like the hawkmoths, was also the first record for Lundy. The discovery of this species was perhaps less of a surprise as the larvae feed on blackthorn – a plant which is plentiful in the valley.
 
The rather more demure Pseudoswammerdamia combinella was also an island first! 21 Jun © Dean Jones
 
Although finding a new moth species for the island is always a highlight, it was the strange form of a familiar species which stole the show this period. Opening the moth trap on the morning of the 23rd revealed a peculiarly coloured Buff Ermine – a species which is common and sometimes abundant on Lundy. As you can see from the photos, the animal is sporting the dark colour-form zatima, which is very rare in the wild. Looking closer however, it was only the left side of the moth that was exhibiting this form. This individual is a very rare and unusual tetragametic chimaera – a rare condition that occurs through the fertilization of two separate ova by two sperm, followed by the aggregation of the two blastocyst/zygote stages to form one individual of two halves. Or put simply, an animal which is formed from the merging of two non-identical twins. What a moth!
 
The rare and bizarre tetragametic chimaera Buff Ermine, Millcombe, 23 Jun © Dean Jones

The aberrant moth's underside – it was released unharmed after its photocall! © Dean Jones
 
Other noteworthy moths have included the second record of Garden Pebble and the third record of Agonopterix subpropinquella for the island, both of which were caught in Millcombe. Additionally, good numbers of nationally scarce moths, such as Devonshire Wainscot (three), Barrett’s Marbled Coronet (14) and Thyme Pug (one), were caught at Benjamin’s Chair on the 21st. Migrant moths have included small numbers of Diamond-backed Moths and Silver Y on three dates, along with singles of Hummingbird Hawkmoth along the west coast on the 7th and 15th, Rusty Dot Pearl in the Millcombe Heath Trap on the 19th, and a Bordered Straw near Brazen Ward on the 3rd.
 
Bordered Straw, Brazen Ward, 3 Jun © Bart Donato

A stunning Mullein moth caterpillar on Balm-leaved Figwort, Millcombe, 16 Jun © Dean Jones

Back out on the high seas, small pods of Common Dolphin have been noted throughout, including a group of five animals riding the bow of the RHIB on the 6th. Around 20 animals were seen offshore from the Landing Bay on the 12th, six off Long Roost on the 13th, and five (perhaps the same animals) along the east coast on the 15th.
 
Common Dolphin alongside the RHIB, east coast, 6 Jun © Dean Jones
 
A huge thank you to all who contributed sightings to this bumper blog post: Ben Arkless, Chris & Carol Baillie, Zoë Barton, Anthony Bellamy, Helen Booker, Bart Donato, Rosie Ellis, Tim Frayling, Eleanor Grover, Owen Hodson, Dean Jones, Jaclyn Pearson, David Price, Peter Slader, Paul St Piérre, Matt Stritch, Richard & Rebecca Taylor and Tony & Ann Taylor.
 
Spawning Mirror Carp, Rocket Pole Pond, 5 Jun © Dean Jones