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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, 11 June 2019

25th May to 8th June – A bumper round-up of news

Lundy Warden Dean Jones has provided the following comprehensive update for the period 25th May to 8th June:

"As you can probably tell by the lack of blog updates over the past few weeks (sincere apologies), the busy summer season of visiting school groups, working parties and of course, the monitoring of Lundy’s beautiful and unique assortment of wildlife has now arrived.

Luckily for us the island has continued to provide us with some truly spectacular birds during this period including the Squacco Heron, which lingered around Rat Island until May 31st (allowing some superb views for disembarking visitors) after being re-discovered in this area on April 28th. The island has also had two very brief but exciting visits from two other special birds; a female Red-backed Shrike near St Helen’s Copse on June 6th and a stonking Alpine Swift on June 8th (both found by Chris and Carol Baille).

Squacco Heron, Rat Island, 31 May © Alex Sydenham

Squacco Heron, Rat Island, 28 May © Dean Jones

Other than these rarities, more and more young birds are appearing around the island. For example, in the last few weeks we’ve seen the first Wheatear, Skylark, Dunnock and Linnet fledglings of the year as well as lots of food being delivered to chicks in nests for species such as Chaffinch, Starling, Robin, and Meadow Pipit (some of which should be fledging any day now). We have also been treated to at least one very noisy Water Rail chick in the evenings near Paradise Row, the first confirmed breeding since 2015.

Other avian delights throughout this period include small numbers of Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, Swallow, House Martin, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap each day, as well as two Cormorant flying south over the Ugly on the 6th, a Golden Plover on the 26th, a lone Whimbrel on White Beach on the 3rd, a Storm Petrel at the Old Light Manx Shearwater colony on the 27th, at least 1 Kestrel most days, a Merlin on June 1st & 2nd, a Turtle Dove on the Terrace on the 31st and again on the 2nd (where it narrowly avoided the clutches of a Peregrine), a Cuckoo on four dates from various areas of the island including Millcombe, Halfway Wall and Montagu Steps, singles of Collared Dove on three dates from the 1st, a Sand Martin on the 5th, a Garden Warbler on the 26th, a Sedge Warbler on the 25th, a fly-over Yellow Wagtail on the 4th, a Tree Pipit on June 1st, and four Swift on the 31st.

Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe, 05 Jun © Dean Jones

Visiting ringers Tony, Ann, Rich and Rebecca Taylor have all been keeping themselves very busy re-sighting and colour ringing some of the island’s Northern Wheatears. So far the gang have managed to catch and re-sight good numbers of the island breeding birds and although the final numbers have yet to be crunched, it’s looking like a relatively good year for this iconic Lundy bird. Hiding within the island’s breeding population, Rich and Rebecca also managed to catch and ring a rather late passage Greenland bird (Oenanthe oenanthe leucorhoa) on the 6th, just south of the Forgotten Heinkel bomber on the West Coast. Somehow the gang also managed to conjure up energy for a few late evenings out on the west sidelands catching Manx Shearwaters too. Here the team have managed (so far) to catch and ring 40 new birds and retrap another 44 birds birds which had been ringed on Lundy in previous years, including some ringed here as chicks in 2013 & 2015.

Calling male Wheatear, north of Jenny's Cove, Jun 2019 © Dean Jones

June 6th was a very special day for me as Warden and for the island, as we managed to get out for an afternoon colour ringing Peregrine Falcons, the first ever for the island! If all goes well in the upcoming years, we may be lucky enough to  see these birds return one day to the breed on the island themselves. Visiting this nest site also allowed us to get a better understanding of what this particular pair have been feeding their young on. As you can see from the photo below, seabirds – including Puffin and Manx Shearwater have been the main source of food… as well as the odd Wheatear. A huge huge thank you to Luke Sutton, Seb Loram, Dan Donovan, Simon Fletcher and Carlo Fiori for this unforgettable experience.

Peregrine kill remains 06 Jun © Simon Fletcher

Alan and Sandra Rowland (Lundy Field Society) and Janet Lister (National Trust) also managed a trip out to the island this month in order to count a very special resident on the island, our endemic Lundy Cabbage. Although numbers have yet to be finalised, this year seems to be a super year for flowering plants, particularly on the East Side cliffs! Full results for this year’s cabbage counts will be available in the near future.

Alan Rowland & Dean Jones cabbage counting, 03 Jun © Siân Cann

And last but by no means least, we’ve received DNA results regarding feather samples from this springs unbelievable run of no less than five Subalpine Warblers! The DNA sequencing that was very kindly carried out by Thomas Shannon and Martin Collinson from the University of Aberdeen now shows that we managed to catch an amazing haul of three sub-species of Subalpine Warbler this spring! Unreal! These consisted of three birds of the Eastern race Sylvia cantillans albistriata (which breed in areas within Trieste, Balkans, Greece, Bulgaria, western Turkey), one Sylvia cantillans cantillans Eastern raced bird (breeds in Central and south Italy except Sardinia) and a Western raced bird Sylvia inornata inornata (which breed in Iberia, southern France, extreme north-west Italy). Special thanks to Thomas and Martin for all their help and enthusiasm with regards to these samples.
Lundy has truly delivered the goods this spring, fingers crossed we have some more super birds to come during the next few weeks!

DNA tree for Subalpine Warblers

Report composed of sightings from Chris & Carol Baillie, Andrew Cleave, Dan Donovan, Carlo Fiori, Simon Fletcher, Paddy Keith, Dean Jones, Seb Loram, Luke Sutton, Alex Sydenham, Tony & Ann Taylor, Richard & Rebecca Taylor, Lucy Winder and Caitlin Worsey."

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

28th May – Squacco Heron seen again!

Dean Jones reports that the Squacco Heron was seen again on Tuesday 28th, at around 10.00am, this time on Rat Island.

'Back of the camera' shot of Squacco Heron, Rat Island, 28 May © Dean Jones

Saturday, 25 May 2019

19th to 24th May – Summer shows its hand

Dean Jones writes:

"It has been a truly magical week on our beautiful little island; here on most days since the last post, Lundy has been graced with some stunning sunshine and noticeably warmer temperatures despite cool northerly winds. Now the migrant birds have slowed down to a trickle, it is starting to feel a lot more like summer on Lundy. As I write this post, nearly all of the island's seabirds are either now busy incubating eggs or feeding newly hatched chicks, including our charming little Puffins in Jenny's Cove. Up on the plateau newly emerged Raven, Blackbird and Stonechat fledglings are haphazardously navigating their strange new world and clouds of hundreds of newly emerged Cocksfoot moths are currently flittering around the sun-kissed foliage in Millcombe. 




Raven fledgling, Halfway Wall Bay, 24 May 2019 © Dean Jones

Other than the superb Squacco Heron on the 23rd, birds of note included: a Water Rail which has been calling most nights near Paradise Row, a single Golden Plover on the 23rd, one flyover Ringed Plover on the 23rd, a Dunlin near St Mark's on 22nd, 246 Kittiwake on the 20th (birds are busily building nests and incubating eggs now), the first Guillemot chick of the year on the 24th and the first Puffling of the year on the 20th, at least one Kestrel on most days, a Cuckoo just south of the Quarries on the 22nd, max 50 Swallow on the 23rd, max 24 House Martin on the 23rd, up to 3 Willow Warbler each day, along with up to 4 Chiffchaff, a single Sedge Warbler on the 24th, up to 3 Blackcap on days, Whitethroat (max 4 on the 21st), Spotted Flycatcher (max 7 on the 22nd), a single first calendar-year male Pied Flycatcher on the 22nd, flyover Yellow Wagtails on the 22nd & 24th and a Tree Pipit in Millcombe on the 19th."

Razorbill, 24 May 2019 © Dean Jones

Report composed of observations from Dave & Helen Boyer, Dean Jones, Alex Sydenham and Tony & Ann Taylor.

Friday, 24 May 2019

23rd May – Squacco Heron, a FIRST for Lundy!

Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones writes:

"Seb Loram, Luke Sutton and myself were just finishing up surveying Gannet's Combe, when I noticed five Oystercatchers mobbing a strange-looking bird at the north end of the bay. As soon as I put my bins up, I shouted "Squacco!!". Luke and Seb managed to both get on the bird. The heron then skulked around an area of boulder scree for about five minutes, before moving out of view under an overhang. We waited for ten minutes or so for the bird to reappear, when suddenly, again chased by a number of Oystercatcher, the bird flew out to sea around Gannets' Rock, continuing north and eventually out of sight. It was a seriously beautiful bird!"

This is the first record of Squacco Heron on Lundy; congratulations Dean on another excellent find!

Squacco Heron, Gannets' Bay, 23 May 2019 © Dean Jones

Saturday, 18 May 2019

16th to 18th May – Red-footed Falcon after a couple of quiet days

Thursday 16th May

A generally rather quiet day, with a stiff easterly wind again dropping away to virtually nothing during the late afternoon to give a jaw-droppingly gorgeous sunny and still spring evening. Among the rather few notable observations were a second calendar-year Black-headed Gull that flew through the Landing Bay first thing, nine Dunlins in Middle Park, a Collared Dove sitting on top of Lametor, and three Swifts.

Friday 17th May

A cloudy and at times quite raw-feeling day with some light rain for a time mid-morning, when the cold E or NE wind was quite strong, but backed NNE and became much lighter during the afternoon, though it remained heavily overcast, subduing insect and bird activity alike.

A Great Northern Diver flew north up the East Side of the island at plateau height at 06.45 and a pale-phase Arctic Skua was harrying Kittiwakes off Rat Island around midday. A Garden Warbler performed its rich song for prolonged periods, often at the same time as feeding in sycamores in Millcombe. Also of note were two flyover flava wagtails, and eight Spotted Flycatchers.

Saturday 18th May

A cloudy but virtually windless dawn, gave way to a stunningly beautiful spring day with warm sunshine breaking through by late morning.

Tim Davis and Tim Jones experienced one of their all-time highlights of decades of birding on Lundy when they were lucky enough to spend several hours in the company of a beautiful male Red-footed Falcon. Initially encountered in northbound flight over heathland near Pondsbury, the bird moved on rapidly to Middle Park and disappeared towards North End. The by-now very out-of-breath observers, having run in a seemingly vain attempt to keep up with the falcon, arrived at the vantage point offered by the mound near Threequarter Wall Gate in time to see it disappear towards Gannets' Combe. Resigned to the likelihood that the bird would simply continue moving north and off the island, it was almost unbelievable when it suddenly flew in and perched on a reasonably nearby granite outcrop. The falcon then took up residence for a good three hours on and over the slope between Tibbetts and Threequarter Wall Gate, where it pursued and consumed numerous (probably 50+) Emperor Moths, treating the Tims to a mind-blowing display of graceful aerobatics. A red-faced and sweaty Lundy Warden, Dean Woodfin Jones, hove into view having belatedly received a series of frantic WhatsApp messages, in time to join in the visual feast, along with two lucky day-visiting birders. There have been seven previous Lundy records of this delightful Eastern European raptor, the most recent in May 2003.

The series of record shots below indicate that this bird was an immature, presumed second calendar year, given the extent of underwing barring. At close range some brownish smudging could be seen on the nape.

Male Red-footed Falcon and doomed Emperor Moth, Middle Park 18 May © Tim Jones






Other records during the day included a Cuckoo at Old Light, two Garden Warblers in Millcombe, strong Swallow and House Martin passage, a single Sand Martin, three Swifts and a few Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Common Whitethroats.

Compiled from observations by Tim Davis, Dean Jones, Tim Jones, Alan & Sandra Rowland, Trevor Dobie and members of the LFS Conservation Working Party.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

15th May – Hawfinch, Marsh Harrier & Lesser Whitethroat

Reflecting a subtle change in wind direction, there was a distinct southern and eastern componment to birding, with highlights including a vocal but typically wary Hawfinch flying around Millcombe from early morning until at least midday; a male Pied Flycatcher, a singing Lesser Whitethroat and calling Tree Pipit in and around Millcombe; a Cuckoo at North End (St James' Stream), and a female Marsh Harrier, which drifted over Millcombe at 08.55 and was later seen over South End, Tillage/Brick Field (being mobbed by crows), and quartering over Pondsbury. It was last seen flying north over Threequarter Wall at 14.55. Middle Park again held exceptionally high numbers of Dunlin, with probably over 30 present in all, including a single flock of 19, feeding actively on the grazed turf alongside three Ringed Plovers. There were also two Golden Plovers in the north of the island.

Record shot of Marsh Harrier near Pondsbury, 15 May © Tim Jones
Record shot of male Pied Flycatcher in Millcombe, 15 May © Tim Jones

Other sightings during the day included: three Teal, five Collared Doves, 11 Swifts, a male Kestrel, 100+ House Martins, 300+ Swallows, four Willow Warblers (including one feeding along Threequarter Wall), five Chiffchaffs, two Blackcaps, a Whitethroat, and eight Spotted Flycatchers.

Compiled from observations by Tim Davis, Trevor Dobie, Dean Jones, Tim Jones, and Alan & Sandra Rowland.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

14th May – A wader day

It was yet another sunny, bone-dry day with a keen ESE wind that fell light towards the end of the afternoon.

Unusually for Lundy, which has limited suitable habitat, waders were very much to the fore throughout the day, with a Redshank calling in flight over the Ugly early in the morning and the same or another flying along the East Side, calling and singing as it went, mid-afternoon; two Greenshanks in flight over Middle Park; a minimum of 20 Dunlins (but possibly up to 30) sporting a wide range of plumages and scattered in small groups of up to nine, across much of the island (including the Airfield, Pondsbury, Middle Park and North End, as well as two flying low over the sea off the West Side); groups of three and five Ringed Plovers in Middle Park, the larger group accompanied by two Dotterels; a single Whimbrel in Brick/Tillage Field; and a Common Sandpiper at the Devil's Kitchen.

Dunlins feeding in Middle Park, 15 May © Tim Jones

A Hen Harrier headed north over Tillage Field (mobbed by two crows as it went); another French-ringed Sedge Warbler was controlled in Millcombe (adding to the others trapped in recent weeks); there were two Spotted Flycatchers in Millcombe, plus a further two along the Terrace; two Whinchats in Middle Park; and two female-type Black Redstarts amongst the rocks at North End. Also recorded were three Collared Doves, a single Turtle Dove (Millcombe) nine Swifts, 55 House Martins, 150 Swallows, low single-digit counts of Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat and Blackcap, and two Grey Wagtails.

Turtle Dove, Millcombe pines, near Blue Bung, 15 May © Tim Jones

Compiled from observations by Tim Davis, Chris & Mandy Dee, Trevor Dobie, Merylyn Hedger, Dean Jones, Tim Jones, and Alan & Sandra Rowland.