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Saturday 13 December 2014

13/12/14 780 Guillemots on my survey ledges

780 Guillemots this morning. Most birds have now moulted into summer plumage, but there are still some that are still moulting. 

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Catching-up with my Guillemot counts...

 All those moulting Guillemots have kept me busy for the last few weeks. The last couple of days have been windy - too windy to take video - but it has given me time to catch-up. Here are the counts for the last month:
  • 09/12/14 534 Guillemots on ledges
  • 08/12/14 0+ Guillemots on ledges, (no count of Grand Falls Zawn, F6)
  • 06/12/14 151+ Guillemots on ledges, (only Jenny's Cove counted), 25 minutes video.
  • 30/11/14 623 Guillemots on ledges, 23 minutes video, peregrine eating immature gull.
  • 27/11/14 285+ Guillemots on ledges (only Jenny's Cove counted), 35 minutes video, one bird with leg ring.
  • 23/11/14 928 Guillemots on ledges, 15 minutes video
  • 18/11/14 239+ Guillemots on ledges (only Jenny's Cove counted), 35 minutes video.

Saturday 15 November 2014

15/11/14 - 516 Guillemots on survey ledges

Light SE winds this morning, but still a big swell at Jenny's Cove after the storms of the last few days.

516 Guillemots on my survey ledges. More birds have moulted into breeding plumage. I've took 20 minutes of video this morning and I hoping to take some more footage tomorrow.

1 Common Snipe flushed on my way back to the village.

Sunday 9 November 2014

09/11/14 - around 500 Guillemots on survey ledges

Around 490-520 Guillemots, I forgot my tripod so the counts were ballpark figures. There were more birds on ledges that I don't survey. Over 700 on a photographic count.

The Fulmars were back again, in Jenny's Cove and near Battery Point. The Fulmars in Skokholm were first seen today.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

05/11/14 - Guillemots moulting into 'summer' plumage.

No counts of Guillemots today, I tried to get some head images of the moulting birds. Here's a bridled bird from Jenny's Cove.

Some birds have almost completed their moult, whereas others are still white-headed.

No Fulmars in Jenny's Cove today.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Images from 19-28 October

A few images by Richard Campey, from our nine-day trip to Lundy. Details of birds seen already posted. Images here of Waxwing at the top of Millcombe,  Firecrest in Quarter Wall Copse, Snow Bunting on the track between Quarter Wall and Halfway Wall and a Sparrowhawk being chased by a Raven off the East Side.

04/11/14 Fulmars back in Jenny's Cove

04/11/14 The first Fulmars have returned to Jenny's Cove - 10 on land and 15 in the air this morning. Also 398 Guillemots on my survey ledges

Saturday 1 November 2014

31 Oct – Balearic Shearwaters off the East Side

Friday 31st October: Rob Duncan reports that his last day on the island was very quiet with just a light passage of 100 Redwings and 200 Chaffinches. The day’s undoubted highlight was “an amazing 14 Balearic Shearwaters just off the East Side – this was probably an underestimate but we were able to count 14 in one group!”. This is the second highest number of Balearics recorded in a single day, the record being 27 (26 off North Light and one passing Rat Island) on 21 October 2012.

As far as we know there are no visiting birders on the island this week, but any updates received will be posted here.

Friday 31 October 2014

30 Oct – A trickle of migrants

Thursday 30th October: Rob Duncan and his team report a quieter day with just a trickle of migrants: 100 Redwings, 350 Chaffinches, four Bramblings, a Grey Wagtail, three White Wagtails behind the church, 40 Linnets, 35 Goldfinches and three Stonechats, along with a ringed Yellow-browed Warbler, a small number of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, and a Goldcrest in Millcombe. Among the birds trapped and ringed was a Siberian (blythi) Lesser Whitethroat. The long-staying female Tufted Duck was still on Pondsbury.

Thursday 30 October 2014

30/10/14 - Only 207 Guillemots on ledges this morning.

207 Guillemots on my survey ledges this morning, and a few more on other ledges.

These birds were in Deep Zawn, in an area that I don't usually survey.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

29 Oct – Migration in full swing; 5 Yellow-browed Warblers, Red-breasted Flycatcher

The weather chart for this morning, Wednesday 29th October showed a slow-moving, weak cold front stretching from the Bristol Channel across the UK, over the North Sea and Scandinavia right up to Finland, with a gentle easterly airflow covering Lundy – perfect conditions for a major arrival of birds on the island. Sure enough, a text from Rob Duncan has just arrived reporting migration in full swing, with a distinct eastern flavour:

"Another excellent day with good passage, including large numbers of Redwings, but also Chaffinches, Skylarks etc. A Lapland Bunting over St John's, also a Ring Ouzel there. We ringed about 100 birds, including 3 Yellow-browed Warblers, a Firecrest and two Stonechats. We saw 5 Yellow-browed Warblers. Red-breasted Flycatcher still by the Kashbah with another Firecrest. We counted over 2,000 Redwings, along with 500 Chaffinches, 1 Brambling, 1 Siskin, 1 Redpoll, 45 Skylarks, 35 Song Thrushes, 2 Pied Wagtails, plus more Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs about (ringed double digits of both). One Grey Heron. Small numbers of Blackcaps but no Robins on the move."

29/10/14 - 227 Guillemots on ledges this morning

29 Oct 2014 - 227 Guillemots on ledges. My first visit to the ledges since the clocks went back so later than previous visits. Some birds were leaving as I counted, there may have been more.

Most birds were still in their white-faced "winter" plumage or starting the transition into "summer" plumage. However, one of the birds to ledge E14G2 has almost completed its moult.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

28 Oct – Proper migration, plus Yellow-browed Warblers and Red-breasted Flycatcher

Tuesday 28th October: Our last morning on Lundy for this trip – and one that was a bit of a bonus ornithologically (if not logistically and domestically for some members of our group) given that we should have left the island yesterday but were scuppered by fog in Cornwall – ironically offered by far the best birding of our entire trip with: 700 Chaffinches, 40 Siskins, a steady flow of other diurnal migrants such as Pied Wagtails, Skylarks, Linnets, Starlings and Meadow Pipits, plus a modest overnight arrival of Blackcaps, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Redwings and Fieldfares. This was some recompense for the hours we spent on Castle Hill, with precious little to see, for the previous nine mornings; by far the most consistently poor autumn visit we have known for visible migration and likely associated with the almost constant exceptionally mild, moist and windy SW airflow. This morning was actually the first morning with a visible sunrise since we arrived on 19th!

The Lesser Whitethroat and a Firecrest were still in Millcombe, joined by a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Red-breasted Flycatcher (both found by James Diamond). There was a second Yellow-browed Warbler on the Terrace, seen by Chris Baillie, who also picked up 7 Balearic Shearwaters off the East Side for the second day running; perhaps the same small feeding flock? Our birding time effectively ended soon after 10.30am, so we wondered what else lurked on the island awaiting discovery. We crossed at Hartland heliport with Rob Duncan, going out for a week's bird ringing and Rob will keep us posted with news over the coming days...

A feature of this stay, but which I didn't cover in the various update texts kindly posted by Chris Dee, was that we heard (but rarely saw) Water Rails on every day of our visit, with at least 6 individuals logged on several dates, mainly around Millcombe, St John's Valley and St Helen's Combe but also at Pondsbury.

Update Tuesday evening:

A message just in from Rob Duncan reports three Yellow-browed Warblers in Millcombe during the afternoon and the Red-breasted Flycatcher was heard calling near the Casbah. A Merlin was trapped and ringed, while sightings included Ring Ouzels. A Canada Goose was heard calling as mist-nets were being furled at dusk.

27 October - Woodcock and late Willow Warbler

Tim Jones, Tim Davis, Richard Campey, James Diamond and Tom Bedford get an extra day on the island with helicopter grounded in fog at Liskeard... again! In spite of gusty SSW wind and misty clag, they report visible migration to be a little better: 62 Chaffinches and 5 Redwings! The Lesser Whitethroat was still in Millcombe. Also a Firecrest there and a Woodcock flushed from Millcombe wood. A very late Willow Warbler was located in the quarries. Smattering of new Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, 7 Blackbirds (highest Oct count!) and Chaffinches, and a couple of Redwings knocking about all day. Tufted Duck still present.

Monday 27 October 2014

26 October - Lesser Whitethroat, but very few thrushes

Tim Jones and friends report virtually no visible migration AGAIN... 10 Chaffinches and no thrushes... 1 Lesser Whitethroat in Millcombe. 2 Ring Ouzels; East Side and Village. 2 Redwings in Quarterwall Copse. Tufted Duck still on Pondsbury. 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlins. On the sea off East Side: 300 Kittiwakes, 350 mixed auks, 1 Bonxie (the same pale individual that's been hanging around) and 6 Balearic Shearwaters.

Sunday 26 October 2014

25 October - Little Bunting and Reed Warbler

Tim Jones reports a Little Bunting on Castle Hill first thing. An Acrocephalus warbler in the gully below St Helen's Copse that we tentatively identified as a European (Common) Reed Warbler after hours of observation and lots of photos! Tufted Duck still there, plus one Snow Bunting. A glimmer of visible migration with 150 Chaffinches, but an all-island, all-day, thrush total of 2 Blackbird & 2 Song Thrush! Out at sea off East Side, 500 Kittiwake, 2 Bonxie, 2 Arctic Skua, 1 Pomarine Skua and 1 Balearic Shearwater. Few Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and 2 Blackcaps. No Swallows.

Saturday 25 October 2014

24 October - still little migration evident

Tim Jones reports negligible visible migration. A Firecrest was located in Quarterwall Copse, 6 Reed Buntings were reported, including a flock of 5 towards the west end of Quarterwall. Just a handful of Swallows, Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and Blackcaps. Tufted Duck still on Pondsbury. 300 Kittiwakes off East Side, plus 6 Balearics and 1 juvenile Pomarine Skua. 3 Kestrels, 2 Sparrowhawks, 1 Merlin, 3 Snipe, 2 Stonechat. Negligible number of thrushes (2 Redwing) and finches (6 Chaffinches!)

Friday 24 October 2014

23/10/14: 368 Guillemots on Ledges

After a night playing quoits with the LFS Work Party, I wasn't sure about leaving the house at 6:45am. This, coupled with the fog and the rain at 1/4wall gate and I almost turned back. Fortunately the rain was on my back and by the time a I reached Pondsbury the sky had cleared.

368 Guillemots (including these 96 at St Mark's Stone) is one of my highest totals for mid-October.

I also saw one of the Snow Buntings that have been visiting  the island, plus a Kestrel at Jenny's Cove, 1 Common Snipe near Pondsbury and a Grey Heron flying over the village at 9am

Thursday 23 October 2014

23 October - excellent sea watching but little passerine migration

300 Kittiwakes and 80 Gannets off East Side, with them c.10 Manx & c.10! Balearic Shearwaters, plus several Bonxies and Arctic Skuas and one adult pale-phase Pomarine Skua (minus tail spoons). Pod of 50+ Common Dolphins, also a couple of Harbour Porpoises. 1 Lapland Bunting at Heinkel wreck, 1 Snow Bunting on main track near Pondsbury. Tufted Duck still present. Almost zero migration last night or today. Stood for an hour on Castle Hill seeing and hearing almost literally nothing, despite reasonable conditions. Firecrest and handful of Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests in Millcombe. Ridiculously low total of 10 Chaffinches! Should be thousands... No thrushes apart from handful of presumed resident Blackbirds. Very poor for time of year; saved by the sea!

22 October - visible migration at last

Tim Jones reports the best morning vis. mig. for a while, with >50 Redwings (70 for the day), 61 Chaffinch, 51 Meadow Pipits, 1 Brambling and 32 Goldfinch. Chaffinch count still very poor but better than 2 all day on Tues!! Also during the day 1 Golden Plover, 1 Lapland Bunting (Upper East Side Path), 3 Snow Buntings. Off the East Side mid-morning 500+ Kittiwake, 8 Balearic Shearwaters, 1 Bonxie. In the afternoon, 2 Bonxie, 3 Arctic Skua, a probable Pomarine Skua and 2 probable Long-tailed Skuas, all off East Side, but too distant to be certain. Highlight was 4 Pink-footed Geese flying N along E Side as we stood 'vis miging' on Castle Hill at 08:00. Firecrest with small Chiffchaff and Goldcrest flock in Millcombe. Tufted Duck female still on Pondsbury.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

21 October - Gale force winds bring Kittiwakes within sight

Tim Jones and colleagues report 850 Kittiwakes, 150 Gannets in a force 7-8 (gusting 9) WNW gale. There was also an Arctic Skua, an adult Black-headed Gull, 3 Balearic Shearwaters and 7 Manxies. The Tufted Duck was still on Pondsbury, as was one Firecrest with 10 Goldcrests in Millcombe. Sheltering on the terraces there were 10 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blackcaps, 7 Swallow and a House Martin.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

20 October - Waxwing arrives

Tim Jones reports an adult male Waxwing in Millcombe this morning (20 Oct). There was a small influx of migrants: 30 Chiffchaffs, 20 Goldcrests and 10 Blackcaps. Also 70 Swallows and 5 Stonechat. Two Firecrests still present, as were the Tufted Duck and 2 Teal at Pondsbury.
During a morning seawatch from the Castle, 1 Bonxie and a Balearic Shearwater were recorded. A Snow Bunting was being hunted by a Merlin over Rat Island and a Reed Bunting was in Upper Millcombe.

Monday 20 October 2014

20/10/14 197+ Guillemots on ledges this morning

There were more but blustery rain drove me away from one of the sites. Here's a few of the winter-plumaged birds at Jenny's Cove.

19 October - finally arrived

After a delay in which heavy seas prevented the M S Oldenburg from sailing and fog at Liskeard grounded the helicopter, Tim Jones, Tim Davis, Richard Campey, James Diamond and Tom Bedford finally arrived on the island. They report a single Tufted Duck, two Teal, a Jack Snipe and a Reed Bunting at Pondsbury. A Snow Bunting was found at the North End, from where a couple of Fulmars and Manx Shearwaters were seen. A Woodcock was in Middle Park being chased by a Peregrine. Three Merlins and two Sparrowhawks were reported and there was a Firecrest in Millcombe.

Saturday 18 October 2014

18 Oct – The wind it blows

The wind stopped the boat from sailing and fog at Liskeard prevented the helicopter from flying... Not surprisingly Chris & Carol report Saturday 18th October as being dominated by the weather, with very few birds on the move and Swallows struggling to feed. Seen today were: 3 Merlin, 3 Water Rail, 2 Stonechat, a Wheatear and the first Goldcrests and Blackcaps since the Baillies' arrival. One Balearic Shearwater off North End. 2 Teal and a Tufted Duck on Pondsbury.

As a footnote, a group of five of us were at Hartland Heliport this morning waiting (in vain, as it turned out) for the chopper to arrive to go over to the island, when we found a Richard's Pipit as our consolation prize.

Friday 17 October 2014

17 Oct – Great Northern Diver

Chris & Carol Baillie's update for Friday 17th October: "Visible migration more of a drip than a trickle, involving small numbers of Skylark, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Swallows. A Great Northern Diver was off the East Side, the 2 Sparrowhawks remain and a Merlin has been busy all day. 30 Gannets attended 4 feeding Harbour Porpoises. 2 Manx Shearwaters. It is now pouring with rain..."

17/10/14 First Guillemots of the "Spring"

07:25am BST The first two Guillemots of the 2015 breeding season arrived back on their ledges at Jenny's Cove.

Thursday 16 October 2014

16 Oct – Whirlybird & Snow Bunting

Arriving on said whirlybird after strong winds and heavy swell prevented MS Oldenburg from sailing today, Chris & Carol Baillie report for Thursday 16th October: 1 Snow Bunting, 2 Sparrowhawks, 1 Grey Heron, a few finches, no winter thrushes, 7 Chiffchaffs, 13 Swallows, 1 Snipe and a Water Rail.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Grey Phalarope photo

Below, courtesy of MARINElife officer Steve McAusland, is a great shot of the Grey Phalarope seen off the West Side yesterday, 11 October.

Saturday 11 October 2014

11 Oct – Grey Phalarope

Today's star bird (Saturday 11th October) was a Grey Phalarope picked out off the West Side by the MARINElife team on the 'round-the-island' trip on MS Oldenburg at the end of the day. Further details to come...

Meanwhile, the two Tonys and Luke Philips returned to the mainland this evening, with highlights of their final day including: 3 Sparrowhawks, 150 Swallows, 15 House Martins, a Grey Wagtail, 30 Blackcaps, 20 Chiffchaffs  and a Reed Bunting. The Tufted Duck was reportedly seen again by a day visitor.

10 Oct – Tufted Duck and first Redwing of the autumn

Tony Taylor's update for Friday 10th October (adding to Grant's Guillemot bulletin below): "No significant daytime movement, but more to see. Tufted Duck and Teal on Pondsbury. Merlin, 3 Ring Ouzels, 1st Redwing of autumn, 60 Blackcaps. Small numbers of Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests." Tufted Duck is a pretty unusual bird for the island, with just 21 previous records, in spite of more than six decades of intensive recording by the Lundy Field Society.

Friday 10 October 2014

10th Oct - No Guillemots on ledges, but 2 flying in Jenny's Cove

Out this morning to be at St Philip's Stone at 7am. No Guillemots back on the ledges yet this autumn. However, 2  Guillemots were flying around near Jenny's Cove, occasionally flying to within 50m of the ledges.

Also 3 adult Gannets, 1 Shag, 1 Great Black-back and ~5 unidentified seagulls.


Thursday 9 October 2014

9 Oct – Storms prevail but Grey Wagtail lives on

Tony's latest bulletin from the island, for Thursday 9th October is dominated by the weather: "Little to report beyond gales and dramatic thunderstorms. Highlights 11 Cormorants south and the survival of the Grey Wagtail! Fruitless search tonight [for shearwaters & petrels] before moon was high; curtailed by rain."

Wednesday 8 October 2014

8 Oct – Lapland Bunting

Tony Taylor's update for Wednesday 8th October: "Nothing moving. Tony John watched a Lapland Bunting near Pondsbury. Grey Wagtail last seen being hotly pursued by a Sparrowhawk. Ditto Blackbird by a Peregrine. That's about it..."

Tuesday 7 October 2014

7 Oct – Swallows and Blackcaps dominate

For Tuesday 7th October Tony Taylor reports 800 Swallows and 100 Meadow Pipits passing through, while grounded night migrants included 80 Blackcaps, with a few Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests. Also single Reed Bunting, Grey Wagtail and Dunlin.

6 Oct – Yellow-browed Warbler ringed

After the nocturnal excitement of Sunday, Monday 6th October was inevitably a quieter day. Tony Taylor reports small numbers of warblers and crests, but these included Yellow-browed Warbler again, which turned up in a mist-net below Brambles and was duly ringed. Other birds included Teal, Golden Plover and one Garden Warbler.

Update 12 Oct: Here, courtesy of Tony Taylor, is a photo of the Yellow-browed Warbler in the hand:

Monday 6 October 2014

Storm Petrel chick - from the LFS logbook

5.10.14 STORM PETREL chick found by Luke Phillips, during a search of OL Colony for Shearwater chicks, 9pm. Ringed, measured, weighed + photographed. First confirmed breeding on Lundy. Luke Philips, Tony Taylor, Tony John

Sunday 5 October 2014

5 Oct – Amazing and long-awaited news...

I have just taken a slightly windswept mobile call from Tony Taylor who arrived on Lundy yesterday along with fellow ringers and birders Tony John & Luke Philips. A visit to the Old Light Manx Shearwater colony this evening Sunday 5th October in search of shearwater chicks to ring revealed something altogether more unexpected, though much anticipated – a Storm Petrel chick!

This is the first ever proof of breeding by Storm Petrels on Lundy, though it has long been suspected that Stormies might be nesting (or at least attempting to do so). There must be a strong chance that this development, like the resurgence of shearwaters and Puffins and the island's seemingly burgeoning Wheatear population, is linked to the eradication of rats under the Seabird Recovery Project. A red letter day indeed that will go down in the annals of Lundy ornithology and conservation.

Update: (posted morning of 6 Oct) – a text from Tony says: "Went to Old Light manx colony looking for late chicks in spite of unpromisingly bright moon. Luke noticed stormy a few m from cliff edge. Ringed and photos. Full grown but some down on belly. On release shuffled down small burrow."

Among birds seen during daylight hours on Sunday 5th October were: a Yellow-browed Warbler in St Helen's Copse (third record for the island this autumn), Great Northern Diver, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Teal, Dunlin, a small influx of Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs, and Blackcaps and, during the morning, a movement of Meadow Pipits.

Saturday 4 October 2014

15th April 2014 – Lundy Black Kite draws national attention

We interrupt this autumn's news to bring you a long-overdue post (mea culpa) telling the story of a remarkable sighting from the spring.

At 14.10hrs on 15th April Martyn Roper and Joshua Harris were walking – quite independently of each another – along the West Side when a kite flew in from the south between Shutter Point and Goat Island, where it was seen by Martyn. It was mobbed by a Raven and continued flying north, just offshore, towards the Battery, where Joshua saw it turn inland and head north-east over the plateau and out of sight. Although the light was tricky (looking into the sun) both Martyn and Joshua were able to take multiple photographs. Because of the difficult conditions, neither observer was 100% confident about the species of kite involved and several of those (including the writer of this blog post) who first saw Joshua's series of photos below (© Joshua Harris), erred towards Red Kite before having second thoughts. However, when Mike Langman saw the images he pointed out that in spite of the apparently extensive pale areas on the bird's underside, there are six primary tips or 'fingers' visible on each wing in several of the heavily cropped photos, thereby clinching the identification as Black Kite. [Text continues below images.]

In the meantime, Martyn submitted his much higher resolution images to Birdwatch magazine, which featured them in the 'Q&A' section of its June edition. Renowned raptor expert Dick Forsman confirmed that the bird was indeed an adult Black Kite. Below are Martyn's uncropped photos (re-saved at medium resolution; the originals are very high resolution, which enables even more detail to be seen; © Martyn Roper) and a scan of the published commentary (© Birdwatch magazine). As pointed out in the article, this story shows the value of record shots, even when they are distant or low-resolution and the challenges that can be involved in pinning down the final ID of something as superficially big and 'obvious' as a kite. Congratulations to both Joshua and Martyn for their find, which, though formally subject to acceptance by Devon Birds Records Committee, constitutes the fifth for Lundy, the last being on 27th April 2010.

Friday 3 October 2014

3 Oct – Great Spotted Woodpecker plus 5 Oct update with final ringing totals

Friday 3rd October: As it was too windy for mist-netting in Millcombe or St John's Valley, Chris Dee and the other ringers mounted an expedition to the Terrace, where a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen around the quarries. The first for this year of what used to be an extraordinarily rare vagrant to Lundy, but which has become much more regular recently.

Update 5th October: An email from Chris confirms that he and his team ringed a grand total of 951 birds during their stay, from 23 Sep to 4 Oct, with daily totals ranging from just three on 3 Oct, to 195 the previous day. Altogether, some 26 species were ringed, with Swallow (296), Meadow Pipit (242), Blackcap (209) and Chiffchaff (77) between them accounting for more than 85% of the catch. Other species included Sedge Warbler (2), Grasshopper Warbler (4), Garden Warbler (3), Lesser Whitethroat (2), Redstart (3) and Treecreeper (1). Ringing on Lundy is coordinated and supported financially by the Lundy Field Society.

Thursday 2 October 2014

2 Oct – Barred Warbler & Red-throated Pipit

Thursday 2nd October: Richard Campey reports brief views of a Barred Warbler on the Terrace at about 11.00am. After showing well enough for its ID to be clinched, the bird flew down over the sidelands towards Quarry Beach but couldn't be relocated. Shortly afterwards Richard heard what he was sure was a Red-throated Pipit calling in flight, but he was likewise unable to relocate it, so it is possible that it was simply a 'fly through' individual. On the other hand, Richard had to make his way down for the boat back to the mainland this afternoon, so was only able to spend limited time searching what is a surprisingly big island on which to conceal a small brown bird...

Chris Dee reports further good catches of Meadow Pipits and Swallows among 195 birds ringed during the day. Birds in Millcombe included a Lesser Whitethroat and a juvenile male Ring Ouzel.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

1 Oct – Swallows after the rain

On Wednesday 1st October Richard Campey logged a Golden Plover on the Airfield, 8 Stonechats, 21 Robins, six Chiffchaffs, a few Goldcrests and an impressive 58 Wrens! After a very quiet morning things picked up once a band of rain had moved through and there was a strong movement of Swallows, with Richard seeing at least 300, while Chris Dee reports that some 124 were ringed, along with 26 Meadow Pipits, contributing to a ringing total for the day of 177. Chris and his group have now ringed 748 birds over their trip as a whole, since 23 Sep.

30 Sep – All quiet as September comes to a close

Chris Dee writes for Tuesday 30th September: "Very quiet for birds. Hot afternoon then wind and rain from west. Dry and clear again by 9pm, so hoping for migration". Ringing included a Lesser Whitethroat.

Richard Campey reports a juvenile Yellow Wagtail on the Airfield, 25 Swallows, two Sparrowhawks (one of which was hunting around the Battery), 9 Robins and a Song Thrush. Like Chris he adds: "Pretty darn quiet".

Monday 29 September 2014

29 Sep – First Lapland Bunting of the autumn

Further news from Richard Campey and Chris Dee for Monday 29th September: Richard had the first Lapland Bunting of the autumn while sampling the morning's visible (and audible!) migration. Also of note were three Grey Wagtails by the water tanks, three Golden Plovers and a calling Tree Pipit over the Airfield, a lone Teal on Pondsbury, and day totals of 35 Wheatears and 21 Robins. The Grey Heron was still present.  Diurnal passage was dominated by Swallows and Meadow Pipits, with estimates of 1,000 and 500, respectively, plus a single flock of 110 House Martins.
Among a total of 97 birds ringed during the day were 71 Meadow Pipits. In addition a Chiffchaff was 'controlled' (i.e. it had already been ringed somewhere other than Lundy).

Sunday 28 September 2014

28 Sep – A benign day of gentle visible migration

News for Sunday 28th September provided by Richard Campey and Chris Dee: During a fine, sunny and still early morning Richard noted a movement of Meadow Pipits leaving to the south, along with five Pied Wagtails, which headed out to sea over Benjamin's Chair. About 350 Swallows flew south through the day. There was also an increase in Skylark numbers, but many of the Robins present on 27th appeared to have left. Very few birds in Millcombe (where most bird-ringing is centred). Golden Plover heard; three Snipe at Pondsbury; two House Martins. The Grey Heron that has been around for a few days was seen twice, on the second occasion looking as if it was heading off to the mainland but eventually settling behind Rat Island.

27 Sep – Meadow Pipits, Robins and a sparse supporting cast

Saturday 27th September: Amidst still but overcast conditions, Richard Campey, who arrived on Saturday for a five-night stay, describes generally quiet birding. A day total of 450 Meadow Pipits included a flock of 380 on the Airfield, while a count of 38 Robins must have included a high proportion of migrants as Lundy's breeding population is only three or four pairs at best. Less common species included a Tree Pipit over lower Millcombe, a Grey Heron on the pond outside Barton Cottages, and a Firecrest in Quarter Wall Copse. Chris Dee reports that he and his team have ringed 433 birds so far during their stay (this total covers 23rd to 27th Sep, inclusive) including, on 27th, the Millcombe Treecreeper, two Garden Warblers, one Whitethroat and a Grasshopper Warbler. The four most frequently ringed species have been Blackcap (an amazing 156), Swallow (79), Meadow Pipit (68) and Chiffchaff (43).

Friday 26 September 2014

26 Sep – Wryneck & Grasshopper Warblers

Tonight's news from Chris Dee is of a Wryneck (the same or another?) on the east sidelands, two Teal on Pondsbury and the Treecreeper still present in Millcombe. Ringing included three Grasshopper Warblers.

25 Sep – Blackcap fall and another Yellow-browed Warbler

The latest update from Chris Dee: "Probably 250 Blackcaps on the island today (Thursday 25th). Also one Yellow-browed Warbler, two Firecrests, one Lesser Whitethroat (all seen, not ringed) and Grey Heron again."

Wednesday 24 September 2014

24 Sep – Waders, warblers & swallows

Chris Dee reports "Grey Heron south; one Greenshank heard; 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, light Swallow passage".

Dotterel photos

Dotterel near the Rocket Pole on 16th September. Photos by Andy Jayne.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

23 Sep – All change...

It was Andy Jayne's last day today, but a group of four bird-ringers, led by Chris Dee, have just taken up residence in Brambles for the next 10 days, so continuity of coverage is assured. Andy reports someting of an exodus of migrants, with highlights today being: Treecreeper still in Millcombe, six Spotted Flycatchers, and female Redstart. Also 2 Bonxies on the crossing back to Ilfracombe, about 30 minutes out from the island.

Monday 22 September 2014

22 Sep – 'Quiet' is a relative concept

Andy Jayne says that today was "a bit quieter than yesterday", but goes on to list: Wryneck again along the Lower East Side Path, Treecreeper still in Millcombe, 6 Golden Plovers, 1,000 Swallows, Redstart, 4 Whinchats, 8 Stonechats, 80 Chiffchaffs, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Pied Flycatchers and a White Wagtail. Not bad for what must have been a sparkling late September day.

Sunday 21 September 2014

21 Sep – Autumn equinox brings a Yellow-browed Warbler and Chiffchaff fall

Andy Jayne reports: "Super day. Stoneycroft bouncing with bill-snapping Chiffchaffs. Highlight was a Yellow-browed Warbler in Millcombe. Also Golden Plover, 2 Redstarts, 4 Whinchats, 12 Stonechats, 2 Sedge Warblers, Lesser Whitethroat, 20 Blackcaps, 65 Chiffchaffs, Yellow Wagtail". This is Lundy's first Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn.

Saturday 20 September 2014

20 Sep – Treecreeper: a 'Lundy rarity'

Treecreeper is a species that's always nice to see, but not one to really quicken the pulse of many birders. Yet this is a rare bird (less than annual) on Lundy, meaning that there have been many more records of (for example) Yellow-browed Warbler for the island. So Andy Jayne's 'find of the day' – a Treecreeper in Millcombe – is definitely worth a mention in despatches. It's impressive to think of a bird that sometimes seems barely capable of making it from one tree to the next flying over a minimum of 18 km of open sea, perhaps considerably further. The 'best of the rest' of Andy's Saturday sightings on a generally quiet day were Dunlin, Curlew, Redstart, 4 Whinchats and 3 Spotted Flycatchers.

Friday 19 September 2014

19 Sep – Wryneck in the rain

Andy Jayne's plea (of yesterday) for rain was answered and tonight he writes "Light rain and mist this morning produced a few birds. Saw a Wryneck very briefly, flushed along the Lower East Side Path. Also, 3 Sparrowhawks, Redstart, Stonechat, 8 Whinchat, Yellow Wagtail, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Spotted Flycatchers and a Curlew."

Thursday 18 September 2014

18 Sep – Quiet weather, quiet birding

Andy Jayne reports 10 Whinchats as the highlight of today's birding, saying "Little else of note. Need some rain to drop the birds in I think".

17 Sep – Trouble with the east wind

Andy Jayne reports for Wednesday 17 September: "6 Balearic Shearwaters off South End late afternoon. Chris Baillie had 4 Whinchats. Very quiet generally in blustery conditions. Millcombe windswept!"

Tuesday 16 September 2014

16 Sep – Dotterel & Hen Harrier

Andy Jayne who arrived on the island today reports a juvenile Dotterel near the Rocket Pole. Also two Whinchats and two Turnstones. Writing on the Devon Birds website, Stuart Darbyshire reported an adult female Hen Harrier and a couple of Spotted Flycatchers, plus, on the return boat crossing, a Balearic Shearwater.

28 Aug to 5 Sep and 9 –11 Sep – shearwater and passerine ringing, including Common Rosefinch

David Price, Peter Slader,  Nik Ward and Tim Frayling spent much of this period ringing Manx Shearwaters at night, following on from Tony Taylor & Richard Taylor's earlier visit – see below. They captured good numbers of adults, including both 'new' birds and retraps, but fewer chicks than in recent years, though it may simply be that this is a later season, rather than a less productive year.

Mist-netting during the day, yielded just over a hundred birds, including 48 Willow Warblers, while Nik ringed a juvenile Common Rosefinch on 10 Sep. Other passerine migrants included Spotted Flycatcher, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Goldcrest and Firecrest. Two Ruff on Pondsbury on 10th were the first since 2007!

11 Tree Sparrows continued to be seen up until 30th. Nik reports that "At one point 10 were just up the track from the farm, while one stayed over by Old Light!"

Thanks to David Price & Nik Ward for contributing the information from which the above brief summary is taken.

Saturday 13 September 2014

23rd August to 6th September 2014

During my two week stay there were a number of interesting sightings. When I arrived there were reports of a Juvenile Rose Coloured Starling which I tracked down in the chicken run behind the Lodge.

A flock of Tree Sparrows was also reported. Initially 3 had been seen, but in the first week of my stay I regularly saw as many as 11 or 12 on the main track between the Village and Quarter Wall, or on the track from the Black Shed past the Stone Crusher and towards Old Light. Sometimes they split into smaller groups but often they all stayed together.

Towards the end of my stay I saw a Firecrest in the oak trees in Millcombe and a Pied Flycatcher further down Millcombe.

A little Stint was reported around the duck pond behind Bartons but I didn't get to see it!!

There were plenty of Spotted Flycatchers and Willow Warblers mainly in Millcombe and St Johns, and also Swallows, Swifts, House Martins and Sand Martins flying around the top of the island.

I saw all four Wagtails too, Pied, White, Yellow and Grey.

3 Kestrels were regularly seen, often being mobbed by the resident Ravens and Crows.

Juvenile Rose Coloured Starling

Tree Sparrows


Pied Flycatcher

Wednesday 27 August 2014

27 August 2014

Tony Taylor reports that the 11 Tree Sparrows were still present today, along with a single Swift battling into the strong SE wind and a Little Stint.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Tree Sparrow flock still present, plus late Swifts

Tim Davis, Tony Taylor, Richard Taylor, Mike Jones, Martin Thorne and Annie Alford were all on the island today and saw up to 11 Tree Sparrows on the main track between the stonecrusher gate into SW Field and Old Light. The flock was quite flighty, being frequently disturbed by non-birding day-trippers, but always returned to the same general area. A few of Tim's photos are below. Tim also reports a Whinchat (on juncus and the fence-line around Quarters pond) and a juvenile Yellow Wagtail (next to and on top of the water tanks). Annie saw six to eight late Swifts over the High Street outside the shop – a very good count for so late in the month. There was no sign of the Rose-coloured Starling.

Sunday 24 August 2014

Tree Sparrow flock multiplies

Tony & Richard report that the flock of Tree Sparrows has increased to 12 – seen on the track near the Brick Field this morning. Having now checked the record books, I can confirm that these are the first Tree Sparrows on Lundy since 2000 (though there was an unconfirmed report of one in early August 2008). A glance at Bird Atlas 2007–2011 shows that while range and numbers have decreased dramatically over most of southern England and Wales, they have increased substantially in eastern Ireland. With north-westerly winds having dominated over the last couple of weeks, Ireland may be the most likely origin for this remarkable influx.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Rose-coloured Starling & Tree Sparrow still present

The juvenile Rose-coloured Starling was around the farmyard today and at least one Tree Sparrow was with House Sparrows near the lambing shed. Also small numbers of juvenile Willow Warblers everywhere we looked, including three or four in and around the pig-sty next to the Tavern Garden and Wheatears much in evidence. Other birds included a Blackcap in Millcombe and three Sand Martins hawking low around the South End, while six Ravens and single Cormorant and Kestrel also put in appearances off Benjamin's Chair. Outward crossing almost devoid of birds, but return crossing brought good numbers of Kittiwakes and Manx Shearwaters close to the island and two 'winter'-plumaged Razorbills. Also Harbour Porpoise and three Bottle-nosed Dolphins.

Rose-coloured Starling hiding in the chicken run

Friday 22 August 2014

A veritable FLOCK of... Tree Sparrows

Rather astonishing news from Tony Taylor & Richard Taylor is of an actual flock (if three constitutes a flock) of Tree Sparrows in the area between the Black Shed and the old stonecrusher. This appears to be the largest number seen on the island – of what is now a very rare bird for both Lundy and mainland Devon – since nine in May/June 1978.

Thursday 21 August 2014

Rose-coloured Starling

Tony Taylor & Richard Taylor, currently on the island to ring shearwater chicks, report a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling around the farmyard.

Thursday 14 August 2014

Day trip 14 August – Osprey

The highlight of today's trip was an Osprey drifting south, just offshore, as I walked along the Tillage Field wall on the Upper East Side Path. I heard callling gulls in the distance and looked across to see masses of them in the air over towards Pondsbury. I scanned around for a possible raptor, but couldn't see anything. Then a gull started alarm-calling much closer to me and I glanced up to see the Osprey coming in from the north and flying straight past me! It maintained a constant south-bound course, over the Landing Bay and Lametor and on towards Hartland Point, only flapping its wings when it circled upwards a couple of times (already well south of Lundy) to gain more height, before disappearing as a distant speck on a heading just east of Hartland Point radar dome.

Another nice bird to see was an adult Common Tern flying around the Landing Bay and Rat Island as we stood on the boat waiting to sail at the end of the day. Other migrants during the day included five Willow Warblers, two Chiffchaffs, three Whitethroats, a Blackcap and a Spotted Flycatcher. Alan and Sandra Rowland also picked up a Kestrel.

Insects included dor beetles, Migrant Hawker dragonfly (Millcombe), three Blue-tailed Damselflies (Quarry Pond), 30 Red Admirals, 5 Painted Ladies, a dozen Small Tortoiseshells, 10 Small Heaths, a Peacock, 10 Meadow Browns and several Green-veined Whites.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Day trip 30 July 2014 – Puffin extravaganza

We took advantage of an "earlyish out, lateish back" boat from Bideford for a spur-of the-moment day trip. Light NW wind on the outward crossing, backing to a westerly for the return. In both directions saw several individual adult Guillemots accompanied by recently-fledged (it would be more accurate to say "recently-jumped", as not yet capable of flight) young, perhaps most likely to have come from the Lundy colonies. Only about 20 Manx Shearwaters on the way out, and just one in the evening; many fewer than would normally be expected at this time of year. Maybe inshore waters are too warm this summer for good feeding? Very evident on the island were at least 50 mainly juvenile Willow Warblers, already migrating south and scattered all along the East Side combes, as well as in the bracken inbetween, with a few along dry-stone walls and even out in the middle of St Helen's Field. We didn't have time to spend long in any particular area, and left large parts of the island unvisited, so there could have been many more. Other migrants included two or three Sedge Warblers (Millcombe and Pondsbury), a Chiffchaff (Millcombe), a handful of Sand Martins, and one House Martin. Among 'resident' species, juveniles likely to have been hatched on the island included Robin, Blackbird, Pied Wagtail, Goldfinch & Linnet. A Grey Heron flying over Millcombe as we walked up from the boat was on Pondsbury later on, when it revealed itself to be a first-year bird. The undoubted highlight was an astonishing count of at least 240 Puffins in Jenny's Cove. We arrived there at 2pm, not normally an auspicious time of day for Puffin watching, but could see straight away that there were plenty on both land and water. A Peregrine helpfully flew in at this point, causing all the Puffins to fly out from the sidelands and settle on the water, where they were more easily counted. All appeared to be adults. We didn't have the opportunity to check through the 2014 island logbook in detail, but 240 is certainly an increase on the 2013 peak and seems to be a new post-rat-eradication record and a further boost to restoring Lundy's fortunes as a seabird capital. It's even more remarkable given that we only had time to visit the main site on the island. Who knows how many we missed at other key areas, such as St Philip's Stone, Long Roost, and the north-east coast? That some Puffin chicks are yet to fledge was shown by adults taking food into burrows. By contrast, all Guillemots and Razorbills have fledged and the breeding ledges are virtually abandoned for another year. We saw just one Razorbill on land and a grand total of 8 Guillemots – all adults on the water. Among other sightings were three dragonfly, two damselfly and 8 butterfly species, the latter including Small Copper and Grayling, and around 15 day-flying Oak Eggar moths. All in all, a great day, with almost unbroken sunshine.

Monday 14 July 2014

14/7/14 Guillemot updates

14th July 2014
  • "Mica" has fledged leaving "Erratic" as the only chick remaining on the ledge.
  • 1 chick (E)
  • 4 feeds (E,E,E,E)
  • 50 Puffins seen on land at St Philip's Stone, including one with fish.
  • Herring Gull activity around St Philip's Stone, but no predation observed.

 11th July 2014

  • Six more Guillemot chicks have fledged. "Aplite", "Basalt", "Dolerite", "Igneous", "Neolithic, and "Struvite" have joined the others out at sea.
  • Egg G is still abandoned.
  • 2 chicks (E,M)
  • 4 feeds (E,E,E,M)
  • 36 Puffins seen on land at St Philip's Stone, including one with fish.
  • Great Black-back and Herring Gull activity around St Philip's Stone, but no predation observed.

8th July 2014

  • Three more Guillemot chicks have fledged. "Copper", "Feldspar", and "Quartz" have joined "Regolith" out at sea.
  • The pair at site G seem to have abandoned their egg. Only one adult was present throughout the 2 hours and it was standing, ignoring its uncovered egg.
  • 8 chicks (A,B,D,E,I,M,N,S)
  • 4 feeds (A,E,A,S) Preliminary provisioning rate of 0.29 feeds per chick hour (61/214).
  • 35 Puffins seen on land at St Philip's Stone.
  • Great Black-back and Herring Gull activity around St Philip's Stone, but no predation observed.

08/07/14 Summary