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Wednesday 30 September 2015

Wed 30 Sep – Rustic Bunting reappears

News just in from Martin Kerby reports that the Rustic Bunting ringed on Sunday has reappeared today, Wednesday 30th September, and has been showing well at times on the track between the helipad and the gate into South West Field, in the area by the now defunct stone-crusher machine. It is confirmed as wearing a ring, so is definitely the same bird as that from the weekend. As Martin says: "Perhaps driven out of where it has been lurking all this time by the heinously strong wind".

These photos were taken at about 11.30am by Ryan Miller. Many thanks for sending them through Ryan!

Rustic Bunting, Lundy, 30 Sep 2015 © Ryan Miller
Showing well on the Tent Field/Lighthouse Field Wall © Ryan Miller
Lundy's first Rustic Bunting since 1994 © Ryan Miller
Originally trapped and ringed on 27 Sep, it reappeared on 30th © Ryan Miller

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Tue 29 Sep – Brent Goose & Richard's Pipit amidst blustery easterlies

John Horton reports things as "very quiet and windy" on Tuesday 29th, with the blustery easterlies (inshore waters forecast for the Bristol Channel ENE 4-6, though MS Oldenburg managed to sail today) no doubt making conditions difficult for either ringing or watching birds. One notable arrival, however, was a Brent Goose in the Landing Bay.

Martin Kerby also describes birding as "hard going today" though he saw the Richard's Pipit briefly again at 09.20, back where it was originally found, just north of the western end of Quarter Wall.

Other sightings today included a Merlin.

Monday 28 September 2015

Mon 28 Sep – No sign of the Rustic Bunting; Richard's Pipit & Ortolan still present

A message this morning (Monday 28th September) from John Horton reported that there had been no sign of the Rustic Bunting so far, though birders present on the island were out looking for it. Additional details have been added to yesterday's post below.

Mist-netting on Monday produced four new Firecrests, a Reed Warbler, a Song Thrush and a Siskin, as well as further Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. Unusually, two first-year Kestrels were also ringed, both birds being caught in St John's Valley.

Martin Kerby reports (Tuesday morning update) that the Richard's Pipit was relocated on Ackland's Moor on Monday afternoon at 17.20 (when it flew off south) and that the Ortolan Bunting was also still present on 28th in the same general area as before (along main track between the Brick Field and recently cut area adjoining the Airfield), though proving quite elusive, being seen early and late in the day. Four Lapland Buntings and a female Bullfinch were also seen during the day.

Sunday 27 September 2015

Sun 27 Sep – Rustic Bunting ringed; Richard's Pipit & Ortolan Bunting seen

John Horton, who took over the ringing on the island yesterday, reports that a Rustic Bunting was trapped and ringed today, Sunday 27th September. It was mist-netted in Millcombe near Government House and was considered to be a freshly moulted adult male. Also ringed were 2 Firecrests, a Ring Ouzel and... a Carrion Crow! This is the sixth record of Rustic Bunting for the island but the first since October 1994.

Rustic Bunting trapped in Millcombe, 27 Sep 2015 © John Horton
The bird was subsequently relocated on 30 Sep  © John Horton

Martin Kerby reports that a Richard's Pipit was seen around lunchtime just north of Quarter Wall on the West Side, while the Ortolan Bunting was still present in the Brick Field area.

Additional records for Sunday 27 September included: 5 Sparrowhawks leaving the island for the mainland and all in view at the same time, plus a Collared Dove near Government House.

Sat 26 Sep – Ringing totals for the week
Sightings on Saturday 26th September included a Grey Heron, a Golden Plover, 1 or 2 Lapwings, a Sand Martin and a Whitethroat.

The ringing team (Keith Dean, Chris Dee, Sue Sabin, Andy Turner) on the island for the week of Sat 19th to Sat 26th Sep ringed the excellent total of 639 birds, including 269 Swallows, 114 Blackcaps, 110 Goldcrests, 48 Meadow Pipits, 27 Chiffchaffs and 23 House Martins.

Friday 25 September 2015

Fri 25 Sep – Another Ortolan and major hirundine passage

Andy Jayne reports that an Ortolan Bunting was found early this afternoon by Richard Castle. Andy relocated the bird by the Brick Field silage/muck heap at 17.15 and it was still there when he left at 18.45. Given the gap of nine days and the different location, it seems highly likely that this was an additional bird to those seen 11–16 September. One of Andy's record shots is below and comparison of plumage details with the photos from 11 Sep appears to confirm this is indeed a new bird.

Friday also saw a very busy day's ringing for the team, with Chris Dee reporting that 326 birds were ringed, including 232 Swallows and 23 House Martins. Altogether an estimated 5,000 Swallows and 100 House Martins and 500 Meadow Pipits passed through during the day, making it the biggest diurnal movement so far this autumn. Other sightings included a Merlin, a Reed Warbler, a Garden Warbler, 12 Stonechats, 3 Whinchats, 2 Firecrests, a Yellow Wagtail, 4 Spotted Flycatchers, a Lesser Redpoll and flyover Golden Plover and Tree Pipit.
Ortolan Bunting, Brick Field, 25 Sep. © Andy Jayne
Whinchat, Quarter Wall, 25 Sep. © Andy Jayne

Thu 24 Sep – Ring Ouzel & Grasshopper Warbler

Migrant highlights from Thursday 24th September, reported by Chris Dee and Andy Jayne, were: 1 Ring Ouzel, 2 Whinchats, 7 Stonechats, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Firecrests, 4 Spotted Flycatchers, a Pied Flycatcher and a Lesser Redpoll. There were fewer Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests than on 23rd, and very few Wheatears, but an increase in Meadow Pipits.

Thursday 24 September 2015

Wed 23 Sep – Blackcaps & Goldcrests arrive in force

There was a significant overnight influx on 22nd/23rd September, with an estimated 70 Blackcaps and 100 Goldcrests present on Wednesday 23rd. The supporting cast included 1 Golden Plover, 1 Sand Martin, 1 Firecrest, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Stonechats, 2 Whinchats, 1 Yellow Wagtail and 5 Siskins. Two Teal were still on Pondsbury. Thanks again to Chris Dee and Andy Jayne for updates.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Tue 22 Sep – Another small fall of warblers & crests

An update from Chris Dee reports that the overnight rain preceded another modest arrival of nocturnal migrants; inbetween the morning showers the team ringed 17 Blackcaps, 7 Chiffchaffs and 14 Goldcrests. Single Firecrest and Garden Warbler were still present, along with 3 Siskins and a Lesser Redpoll. There were 2 Teal on Pondsbury. Andy Jayne was aboard MS Oldenburg for this morning's crossing from Ilfracombe, which sounds as if it was uncomfortably rough in a north-westerly blow and against the flood tide... A Bonxie, about halfway across, was the only notable sighting.

Mon 21 Sep – Lesser Whitethroat

Chris Dee reports the following highlights on Monday 21 Sep: 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat (perhaps surprisingly, given the good coverage of the island over the last few weeks, this was only the second of the autumn), 1 Sparrowhawk and 2 Kestrels. A late Manx Shearwater chick was ringed before heavy rain set in overnight.

Sunday 20 September 2015

Sun 20 Sep – New ringing team in place

A new ringing team arrived on the island on Saturday to take over from Tony Taylor, Richard Taylor and others. Chris Dee reports that birds ringed today included a Firecrest, a Tree Pipit and a Stonechat. The Dunlin was still present, along with 2 Kestrels, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 70 Linnets and a single Siskin. A pod of at least 10 Common Dolphins was seen off the East Side by the LFS work party that also arrived on Saturday.

Saturday 19 September 2015

Fri 18 & Sat 19 Sep – Kingfisher & Lapland Bunting

On Friday 18th September there were fair numbers of Blackcaps (25), Goldcrests (25) and Chiffchaffs (8) in Millcombe. Two Yellow Wagtails landed in St Helen's Field. A Kingfisher that flew past Tim Jones at North Light landing/seal steps seems likely to have been the bird seen by Sue & Rob Waterfield in the same area on 13th. These are the first sightings since 2009 and constitute only the 15th occurrence of Kingfisher since organised bird recording on the island was started by the Lundy Field Society in the late 1940s! Also at North Light, a Grey Heron flew north-east, and there was a Turnstone flying around the rocks. A very tame Dunlin was feeding successfully in pools along the main track between Quarter and Halfway Walls, the lack of a ring showing it was a different bird to that photographed on 16th. Also around: 1 Golden Plover, 1 Firecrest, only 190 Swallows after Thursday's rush, 2 Whinchats, 3 Stonechats and 5 Spotted Flycatchers.

On Saturday 19th, a Lapland Bunting (the first of the autumn) was seen and heard in Middle Park by Rich & Rebecca Taylor, while Tim Davis & Tim Jones flushed a Green Sandpiper from one of the temporary freshwater pools at North End and saw a Merlin fly across Gannets' Combe. A Black-headed Gull passed by North Light. There were still plenty of Blackcaps and Goldcrests in Millcombe, along with a Ring Ouzel, at least 4 Spotted Flycatchers and 2 Pied Flycatchers. Also recorded were 220 Meadow Pipits, at least 800 Swallows (including large numbers feeding on a massive hatch of flying ants). A Lesser Redpoll was calling over Millcombe first thing, while other calling flyover migrants included at least 3 Tree Pipits, 4 Grey Wagtails and several small groups of Siskins. The presence of Painted Ladies, Red Admirals, Silver Ys and 3 Migrant Hawker dragonflies (the latter all in the vicinity of North Light) showed that passage was not restricted to birds.

Some Wheatears at North End were incredibly bright after their moult. © Tim Davis
This Dunlin showed no fear of people as it fed along the main track. © Tim Jones

Thursday 17 September 2015

Thu 17 Sep – An estimated 3,000 Swallows pass through

Two Yellow-browed Warblers were located in St Helen's Copse and at the Terrace trap and good numbers of Blackcap were present again (18 ringed by Tony Taylor and team). Eleven Goldcrests were also ringed in Millcombe. Hirundine passage included an estimated 3,000 Swallows in a constant stream along the East Side from mid-morning until early afternoon and 60 Sand Martins. Elsewhere on the island there was a Golden Plover (Lighthouse Field) and a Redshank (calling in flight as it crossed low over the Landing Bay). Also reported from the Millcombe area were a Tree Pipit, a Garden Warbler and a Firecrest. There was a Merlin, two Sparrowhawks (m & f) were still present, although only 3 Kestrels compared to the 6 seen on 16th. Tony Taylor's team continued to locate and ring Manx Shearwater chicks emerging from their burrows after dark.

Wed 16 Sep – A good arrival of nocturnal migrants

One Ortolan Bunting was still present in the Lighthouse Field and close to the water tanks on 16 Sep and there was a major passage of White Wagtails (estimated 100, mainly around the South End in the first three hours of the morning) and Swallows (estimated at 1,000). Consolidated observations from birders on the island indicated a good arrival of nocturnal migrants comprising 45 Willow Warblers, 40 Blackcaps, a Redstart, 11 Whinchats, 50 Wheatears, 2 Sedge Warblers, 12 Whitethroats and 20 Spotted Flycatchers. There were still 2 Firecrests in Millcombe and also a Dunlin (which, tantalisingly, was carrying a ring), a Ringed Plover and a Curlew on the island. Raptors included 6 Kestrel and 2 Sparrowhawk.

A Dunlin at North End sported a ring... © Dave Chown

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Tue 15 Sep – Balearic Shearwater & Grey-headed Wagtail

Tim Jones and Tim Davis report that the thunbergi-type Yellow Wagtail was still in the Lighthouse Field. A Balearic Shearater was seen off the Castle, the Buzzard was still present along the East Side and 2 Wood Warblers were in Millcombe and St Helen's Copse respectively. Other sightings include a Pied Flycatcher, 3 Firecrest, 5 Spotted Flycatcher, 6 Whitethroat, 12 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 12 Blackcap, 19 alba Wagtail, at least 4 definite White Wagtails and 3 Whinchat. Hirundine passage included 120 Swallow and 9 each of House Martin and Sand Martin. There were also 45 Wheatear, 400 Linnet and a migrating flock of 18 Cormorants over Old Light.
A Starling singing from Stoneycroft chimney brought a touch of spring. © Tim Jones

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Mon 14 Sep – Plenty of birds ahead of a stormy day

Tim Jones and Tim Davis report plenty about in a short-lived early dry spell on 14th September before strong westerlies and heavy rain set in. One Grey Heron, 1 Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Tree Pipit, 3 Yellow Wagtails (one showing characteristics of Grey-headed Wagtail M. f. thunbergi) in the Lighthouse Field, 50 alba Wagtails, 4 Grey Wagtails, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Whinchat, 1 Whitethroat, 5 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 12 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 1 Wood Warbler, 30 Swallows, 7 House Martin, and 3 Sand Martin.
Wood Warbler in Millcombe. © Dave Chown

Sunday 13 September 2015

Sun 13 Sep – Ortolan still present and... a Kingfisher!

Tim Jones and Tim Davis report one Ortolan Bunting remaining on the island (Lighthouse Field), along with a Buzzard over the East Side, a Treecreeper (found by Dave Chown in "Rüppell's Quarry" along the Terrace, but not seen subsequently) and 2 Sparrowhawks. There had been an overnight clear-out of warblers and Wheatears, but still remaining were 2 Whinchat, 2 Firecrests and several Spotted Flycatchers. Also reported were a Yellow Wagtail, 40+ alba Wagtail, 400 Linnet, 200 Meadow Pipit and 5 Grey Wagtail. At North Light Quay a Kingfisher – a real Lundy rarity, much scarcer than Ortolan Bunting (!) – was found by island staff Rob and Sue Waterfield. Two Manx Shearwater chicks were ringed in the evening at the Pilot's Quay colony.

Buzzard & Raven over East Side. © Dave Chown
Treecreeper along the Terrace. © Dave Chown
Whinchat in St Helen's Field. © Tim Davis

Saturday 12 September 2015

Sat 12 Sep – Ortolans still present

After a rough crossing Tim Jones and Tim Davis report 2 Ortolan Buntings in the same area of the Lighthouse Field as yesterday and a Grasshopper Warbler near Benjamin's Chair found by Richard Taylor. A small arrival of common migrants included 30 Wheatear, 5 Spotted Flycatcher, 15 Willow Warbler, a Pied Flycatcher, a Whinchat and a Whitethroat.

One of the Ortolans was particularly bright. © Dave Chown

Friday 11 September 2015

Fri 11 Sep – Three Ortolans and two late Swifts

Three Ortolan Buntings were found by Dave Chown today, Friday 11th September, feeding in a recently cut area of the Lighthouse Field. Also present: a Merlin and two very late Swifts.

The Ortolans regularly perched on nearby walls. © Dave Chown
The presence of three Ortolans is confirmed (just!) in this photo. © Dave Chown

Tue 1 Sep to Thu 10 Sep – shearwater ringing, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a trickle of migrants

No sooner did I write about the lack of recent news, than a comprehensive update arrived from David Price, reporting on the results of the first half of this year's autumn Manx Shearwater ringing effort. David, wife Elisabeth, Peter Slader, A J Bellamy and Nik Ward were on the island from 1–9 September, along with Jeremy Barker on 9th.

An excellent 158 shearwater chicks were ringed – the highest total of young ringed over a comparable period since rat eradication, suggesting that the Lundy colony has had a good breeding season and is continuing to grow. Tony Taylor is leading a group that took over from David's shearwater team on 10th.

Other highlights included the Storm Petrel mentioned in the previous post. Over 100 passerines were ringed by day (though weather conditions were too settled for there to have been large numbers of grounded migrants), mainly Goldcrests, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps, but also a Firecrest, two first-winter Tree Pipits and both Spotted and Pied Flycatchers (likewise young of the year). On 9th Elisabeth found a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker in Millcombe. This Lundy rarity was subsequently trapped and ringed on 10th. Also present on 10th (reported by Tony Taylor) were: 5 Teal, 2 Grey Herons, 3 Firecrests, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Spotted Flycatchers and 10 Siskins.
Great Spotted Woodpecker, Millcombe, 9 Sep 2015. © Elisabeth Price

Storm Petrel & juvenile Cuckoo

After a dearth of recent news, comes word that a Storm Petrel was trapped and ringed by Jeremy Barker on Wednesday night (9 September). The bird was tape-lured but is one of the latest such records for Lundy; perhaps further evidence of the island's recently established status as a breeding site for this elusive seabird.

The juvenile Cuckoo photographed below was in Millcombe in late August, so might have been a locally bred bird, but in the absence of earlier reported sightings (at least, any that we have heard about so far), it seems more likely to have been a passage migrant from elsewhere.

Juvenile Cuckoo, Millcombe, 23 August 2015. © Sue Waterfield