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Saturday 31 October 2015

Sat 31 Oct - Three Hawfinches!

Today's highlight was three Hawfinches, one flying in off the sea and up Millcombe at 07.20, then two together at the bottom of Millcombe before flying off towards South Light at 07.40, presumed different birds. Also 3 new Firecrests, 10+ Goldcrests, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Bramblings and 10+ Redwings. Visible migration was a bit better, with 150+ Chaffinches, 50+ Siskins, 8 Linnets, 20 Meadow Pipits and 10 Skylarks all passing south. News reported by Justin Zantboer.

Friday 30 October 2015

Fri 30 Oct – Hawfinch ringed

Highlights of today, 30th October, reported by Justin Zantboer & Rob Duncan (enjoying an unscheduled extra day on the island thanks to the helicopter being fog-found in Cornwall), were a female-type Black Redstart near the Church, a Hawfinch ringed in Millcombe this afternoon (the first occurrence since one in May last year), plus a Firecrest, 2 Coal Tits, 20+ Goldcrests, 3 Chiffchaffs, 5 Blackcaps and a Lesser Redpoll, all in Millcombe.

Thu 29 Oct – Pomarine Skua, Bonxie & Great Northern Diver headline productive seawatch

Following overnight wind and rain, an early-morning seawatch by Justin Zantboer yesterday, 29th October, in continuing blustery westerlies (a rarity this autumn), produced a juvenile Pomarine Skua flying south past the Landing Bay at 08.05, plus a Bonxie, a Great Northern Diver, 3 Manx Shearwaters, 417 Razorbills, 65 Guillemots, 115 Kittiwakes and 95 Gannets, also all heading south.

This is by far the most productive seawatch of what has otherwise been an extremely quiet autumn due to prevailing weather patterns. The Pomarine Skua is one of just a handful ever seen from Lundy – the first of these, almost unbelievably, being as recently as 2010, though sightings have been almost annual since, nearly all in late October. This probably reflects increased seawatching effort during a previously underwatched period of the autumn, but it also seems likely that 'Poms' are genuinely becoming more regular in Lundy waters.

Landbird highlights later in the day included a Woodcock flushed near Millcombe House and subsequently trapped and ringed; a Short-eared Owl (seen at Pondsbury by Gavin Bennett); a Coal Tit and 3 Firecrests (two of which had been ringed earlier in the week) in Millcombe; 2 Black Redstarts at South Light, with others at Old Light and by the Church; and totals of 3 Blackcaps, 4 Chiffchaffs and 30+ Goldcrests along the East Side between Millcombe and the Terrace. There were very few grounded thrushes or finches and apart from four late Swallows, visible migration was virtually non-existent.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Wed 28 Oct – Still plenty around but little visible migration

A round-up of notable records for today, 28th October, received from Justin Zantboer and Rob Duncan, includes a ring-tail Hen Harrier ranging between Pondsbury and Quarter Wall, a 1st-winter Merlin, a Ring Ouzel in Millcombe, a female Firecrest ringed in Millcombe, 2 Coal Tits retrapped in Millcombe – both had been ringed on Lundy earlier in October, a Mistle Thrush on Castle Hill, 2 Grey Wagtails heading south, 4 Stonechats, 150+ Redwings, 30+ Song Thrushes, 7 Blackcaps, 7 Chiffchaffs, 30+ Goldcrests and 7 Bramblings. Nearly all of the passerines were concentrated in the south-east of the island, between Millcombe and the Terrace. Visible migration was surprisingly light, given the much improved conditions on Wednesday. Records entered in the log by other observers included 2 Black Redstarts.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Tue 27 Oct – Variety after the deluge

Following a thoroughly wet start to the day, Justin Zantboer and Rob Duncan report a good variety of migrants including: a first-winter male Merlin again, a first-winter Black-headed Gull feeding with Herring Gulls in the Landing Bay, 7 Guillemots south, 9 Razorbills north, 10 Goldcrests, 2 Firecrests (one of which was trapped and ringed), 2 Coal Tits (both race britannicus), 10 Chiffchaffs, 5 Blackcaps, 1 Ring Ouzel, 10 Fieldfares, 150+ Redwings, 10 Song Thrushes, 100+ Chaffinches and 2 Bramblings. Most birds departed when the weather improved, but the Chiffchaffs seemed to arrive later on. Also entered in the log by other observers were a ring-tail Hen Harrier, a Grey Heron flying past Quarry Beach and a female Black Redstart.

Monday 26 October 2015

Mon 26 Oct – Classic late autumn migrants

Justin Zantboer, who, together with Rob Duncan, arrived on the island on Monday for a few days' bird ringing, reports a typical mix of classic late-autumn migrants, including a first-winter male Merlin, a Brambling, 9 Fieldfares, 7 Redwings, 2 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 20 Goldcrests and 300 Chaffinches – all in Millcombe. A Coal Tit was heard calling near Brambles, but not seen.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Sun 18 to Tue 20 Oct – No further sign of the Great Grey Shrike

Mike Jackson who arrived on Saturday 17th October, in time to see the Great Grey Shrike, which was still showing until dusk, reports that it could not be refound the following day. Highlights up to and including Tuesday 20th included: 3 Teal on Pondsbury, male and female Sparrowhawks together in Millcombe, a Merlin at Pondsbury, a Short-eared Owl over South West Field, 20 Blackcaps and 2 Firecrests in Millcombe, and Lesser Redpoll in Millcombe and along the Terrace.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Rustic Bunting photos posted

Courtesy of John Horton and Ryan Miller, photos of the Rustic Bunting – ringed on 27th September and rediscovered in the field on 30th September – have now been added to the posts for those dates below.

Thanks to both John and Ryan for sharing their good fortune with us!

Saturday 17 October 2015

Sat 17 Oct – Great Grey Shrike, Little Bunting, Yellow-browed Warbler

Today, Saturday 17th October, the Great Grey Shrike was relocated in Millcombe during the morning and showed well all day on the side of the Ugly, feeding mainly on bumblebees, though nearby passerines such as Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Dunnocks were wisely keeping a wary eye on it... This bird was amongst the first to turn up in western Britain from a major influx recorded mainly along the east coast.

The Little Bunting was still present at the western end of Quarter Wall, while a Yellow-browed Warbler was in Lower Millcombe. Thrush numbers were well down, with maybe 100–200 Redwings, 35 Fieldfares and a dozen Song Thrushes. Other species included 6 Reed Buntings, 4 Bramblings, and a Common Gull and a Black-headed Gull (both in the Landing Bay). A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen flying in to the South End, off the sea, late in the afternoon, though whether a new arrival or one of yesterday's birds turning back after leaving the island, was unclear.

Great Grey Shrike on the Ugly. © Tim Davis

Fri 16 Oct – Great Grey Shrike and Dartford Warbler

The first highlight was a Great Grey Shrike briefly over St John's Valley and by the Church in the early morning, when the bird was seen in flight (probably leaving roost), hovering three times at height and then promptly disappearing from view towards the farm, not being seen again for the rest of the day in spite of extensive searching. This is only the 2nd record for Lundy, some 41 years after the first occurrence, on the Terrace, in October 1974! The shrike hunt led to the second Lundy rarity of the day, when a presumed first-winter male Dartford Warbler was found near Quarter Wall, in bracken and scattered gorse just west of the main track gate. This was an 8th record for Lundy and the first since 2008.

Elsewhere, the elusive Little Bunting was still present at the western end of Quarter Wall, 2 Hen Harriers ranged widely across the island, a Short-eared Owl was on Ackland's Moor, and there was one Yellow-browed Warbler in Millcombe. It was another excellent day of migration with 400 Redwings, 130 Fieldfares, 1 Mistle Thrush, 3 Ring Ouzels, 16 Song Thrushes, 10 Stonechats, 9 Blackcaps, 20 Chiffchaffs, 4 Firecrests, 4 Bramblings and 3 Coal Tits logged. Late news –

Record shot of Dartford Warbler 16 Oct © Tim Davis

Male Ring Ouzel in Millcombe, 16 Oct © Tim Jones

Friday 16 October 2015

Thur 15 Oct – Migration in full swing: hundreds of thrushes, Red-breasted Flycatcher

Tim Jones reports another superb day with barely a cloud in the sky and almost no wind. Observations included 600 Redwings, 175 Fieldfare, 25 Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush, 6 Ring Ouzel, 10 Water Rails, 8 Firecrests, 3 Sparrowhawks, 4 Merlins, 2 Hen Harriers (interacting over Quarter Wall pm and at roost nr Pondsbury at dusk), 4 Teal, 1 Lapwing, 50 Swallows, 4 House Martin, 60 Chaffinch, 2 Brambling, 3 Coal Tits. Rarities were represented by a Red-breasted Flycatcher and 2 Yellow-browed Warblers in Millcombe, and (unusual for Lundy) a Reed Warbler.

Record shot of Red-breasted Flycatcher, Millcombe 15 Oct. © Tim Davis
Kestrel hovering over the Terrace, 15 Oct. © Tim Jones
Fieldfare in Millcombe, 15 Oct. © Tim Davis.

Thursday 15 October 2015

Wed 14 Oct – First major winter thrush movement

The birders on the island this week (Tim Jones, Tim Davis, James Diamond, Ivan Lakin, Kevin Rylands and Martyn Roper) report a major arrival of thrushes, with 500 Redwing, 125 Fieldfare, 1 Ring Ouzel, 8 Song Thrush and 4 Mistle Thrush. The first Woodcock of autumn was located on the Terrace. Also present was a Common Rosefinch (fling around Millcombe & St John's Valley during early morning movements of passage migrants), a Little Bunting (western end of Quarter Wall), a Lapland Bunting (calling in flight over Quarter Wall), a Redshank (on Rocket Pole Pond!), 3 Lapwing, 12 Stonechat, 1 Whinchat and 4 Coal Tit. Diurnal migration was light, with only 125 Meadow Pipits and 30 Swallows passing through, but there were an impressive 75 Red Admirals.

1st-winter Pied Wagtail outside the Tavern, 14 Oct. © Tim Jones

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Tue 13 Oct – A hiatus in bird migration but a unique dragonfly record...

It was very blowy from the north-east in the morning, but the flag on the Ugly was limp by dusk. A bit of a clear out of migrants and few new arrivals. Combined totals reported as follow: Teal 2, Cormorant 3, Merlin 2, Sparrowhawk 1, Kestrel 5, Lapwing 1, Golden Plover 1, Snipe 5, Bonxie 1 (from Ugly), Woodpigeon 2, Swallow 60, House Martin 10, alba Wagtail 16, Grey Wagtail 1, Meadow Pipit 250, Starling 130, Chiffchaff 9, Blackcap 10, Whitethroat 1, Firecrest 2, Goldcrest 10, Mistle Thrush 3, Song Thrush 2, Redwing 23, Siskin 10, Redpoll 2, Chaffinch 60, Linnet 110, Goldfinch 20, Reed Bunting 3.

Also 1 Vagrant Emperor dragonfly – a first for Lundy: Punchbowl Valley (Ivan Lakin and Kevin Rylands).

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Mon 12 Oct – Plenty of diurnal migration and Hen Harrier

In a consolidated report from the birders on the island this week (Tim Jones, Tim Davis, James Diamond, Ivan Lakin, Kevin Rylands and Martyn Roper), TJ reports an arrival of Goldcrests (45), Robins (29), Song Thrush (6) and Redwings (17). Otherwise, superb diurnal migration, including 40 Skylark, 350 Swallow, 20 House Martin, 7 White Wagtail, 650 Meadow Pipit, 80 Chaffinch, 50 Goldfinch, 9 Siskin, 180 Linnet, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Reed Bunting and a minimum of 500 Starlings. Also a ringtail Hen Harrier, 10 Golden Plover, 2 Lapwing, 5 Firecrest, 2 Coal Tit, 1 Sand Martin, 2 Mistle Thrush, 4 Wheatear. Offshore there were 26 Manx Shearwaters and 20 Kittiwake.

Monday 12 October 2015

Sun 11 Oct – A trickle of thrush migration

There was a small arrival of thrushes, Robins and Starlings overnight, plus diurnal movements of Meadow Pipits, alba wagtails and hirundines.

Counts included 1 Teal, 2 Merlin, 2 Sparrowhawk, 7 Kestrel, 3 Water Rail, 6 Golden Plover, 12 Snipe, 50 Swallow, 12 House Martin, 2 Coal Tit, 5 Stonechat, 2 Wheatear, 16 Robin, 1 Ring Ouzel, 2 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Whitethroat, 3 Blackcap, 19 Chiffchaff, 20 Goldcrest, 2 Firecrest, 150 Starling, 150 Meadow Pipit, 12 alba Wagtail, 30 Chaffinch and 2 Siskin.
One of the first Redwings to make landfall on the island this autumn. © Tim Jones

Sunday 11 October 2015

Sat 10 Oct – Difficult birding in easterly wind

After a Great White Egret flying across the mouth of Ilfracombe Harbour from the deck of MS Oldenburg (first seen by Ivan Lakin & Kevin Rylands), Tim Jones and Tim Davis report an excellent crossing with migrating Starlings, Skylarks, Meadow Pipts and Swallows all seen from the boat.

On the island, raptors were represented by 1 Merlin, 1 Sparrowhawk and 4 Kestrel. There were singles of Black Redstart (Quarters) and Common Redstart, and 2 Yellow-browed Warblers in Millcombe. Coal Tit numbers had risen to 3 and 2 Firecrest were still present – all in Millcombe. There was also one Yellow Wagtail, but only small numbers of common migrants: 3 Chiffchaffs, 9 Blackcaps, 12 Swallows and 20 Meadow Pipits. Birding in Millcombe, the East Side copses and along the Terrace was hampered by the gusty easterly wind.

Saturday 10 October 2015

Mon 5 Oct to Fri 9 Oct

Tim Jones and Tim Davis who arrived on the island today, report the following sightings of interest from the LFS logbook over the past few days:

One Grey Heron (8th), 3 Sparrowhawk (5th), 1 Merlin (several dates), 2 Redwing (8th), 1 Pied Flycatcher (8th), 10 Wheatear (9th), 60 Blackcap (8th), 1 Whitethroat (7th), 1 Reed Warbler (8th), 2 Firecrest (8th), 1–2 Coal Tit (daily) and 2 Snow Bunting (8th).

Sunday 4 October 2015

Sun 4 Oct – Another small fall, first Black Redstart of the autumn ringed

John Horton reports that there was another small fall of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and crests on Sunday 4th October. 35 birds were ringed during the morning, among them a first-year Black Redstart, a Stonechat and two more Coal Tits. Sightings included 2 Sparrowhawks (both males), 2 Water Rails ('Smelly Gully' in Lower Millombe and Brambles), and an influx of c.30 Chaffinches.

Saturday 3 October 2015

Sat 3 Oct – Impressive ringing totals for the week

John Horton has sent through the ringing totals for the week 26th September up to 2pm this afternoon, Saturday 3rd October, which covers an impressive diversity of species and some pretty big numbers too, showing that it was not all about the Rustic Bunting this week! Clearly a lot of migration happening and a lot of birds – especially Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and crests – stopping off on Lundy in spite of the largely clear skies. Treecreeper and Coal Tit are both very scarce on Lundy, not being recorded every year, though there has been something of a nationwide irruption of Coal Tits in recent weeks, so more occurrences on the island can be anticipated. The almost 800 birds ringed comprised:

Swallow 407
Blackcap 235
Chiffchaff 57
Goldcrest 19
Meadow Pipit 15
Firecrest 8
Robin 8
Siskin 6
Wren 6
Sand Martin 5
Chaffinch 5
Willow Warbler 4
Goldfinch 3
Kestrel 3
Stonechat 2
Spotted Flycatcher 1
Ring Ouzel 1
Carrion Crow 1
Rustic Bunting 1
Treecreeper 1
Coal Tit 1
Linnet 1
Woodpigeon 1
Blackbird 1
Song Thrush 1
Reed Warbler 1

Friday 2 October 2015

Fri 2 Oct – Dotterel, Jack Snipe & Lapland Bunting, but no sign of the Rustic Bunting

Martin Kerby reports that today, Friday 2nd October, a juvenile Dotterel was on the Airfield at midday, a Jack Snipe was flushed at the Rocket Pole first thing, and a Lapland Bunting was seen by the Brick Field, but there has been no sign so far of the Rustic Bunting. Evening update: Martin confirms still no sign for the rest of the day, to 6pm at least. Good numbers of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs have been the main feature of the day among commoner migrants.

See here for details from Mark Bailey of a charter trip being organised to the island from Clovelly tomorrow, Saturday 3rd October, but only if the Rustic Bunting is seen again today. MS Oldenburg is also scheduled to sail from and back to Ilfracombe on Saturday, as normal, departing at 10.00am, returning at 6.00pm – see here for further information.

Any further news about the Rustic Bunting will be posted here as soon as it is available. Please do not phone the island or the Lundy Shore Office; Landmark Trust staff cannot be expected to provide a rare bird information service!

Thursday 1 October 2015

Thu 1 Oct – Rustic Bunting still present

Martin Kerby reports that the Rustic Bunting was still present, this morning, Thursday 1st October, in the same area as Wednesday, though not easy to see as it has been feeding on the edge of the Lighthouse Field, just beyond the gate opposite the stone-crusher.

This evening, Ivan Lakin reported that only two birders made the day-trip to see the bunting, which was obliging for long periods in the area described above, in spite of the wind and glare. Other migrants included at least one Firecrest, a few Goldcrests, 40+ Blackcaps, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Kestrels, a flyover Siskin, a Grey Wagtail, a Yellow Wagtail (reported by other observers), 10+ Goldfinches, and many Linnets and Meadow Pipits. Ivan passed on his thanks to those who have been sending updates from the island, as well as to the non-birding visitors today who obligingly walked a short detour around the Rustic Bunting, allowing its very happy admirers to get their fill.