About this page...

You're now viewing the old Lundy Bird Observatory blogspot. Explore the new website for all your favourite island news and wildlife updates. If you have sightings to report, please consider sharing your observations or photographs with the Bird Obs team 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".