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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.

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