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Thursday 22 December 2016

12 to 19 Dec – Probably the last blog of the year


Although there were other birders on the island logging interesting sightings, I cannot confirm their Water Rail, Red-necked Grebe, Red-throated Pipit or flock of Snipe.

Many common species were seen during the mild, windless and dry weather we had particularly in the sheltered space outside our property of Quarters. Regular feeding attracted Chaffinches, Sparrows, Starlings as well as up to three Wrens, a Robin the occasional Stonechat and a resident Chiffchaff. This was always seen working the vegetation in the overgrown wall on most days.


From here we were also rewarded with our only sighting of a “flock” of 4 Peewits in Lighthouse Field on the 18th

During the week occasional mixed flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing were seen mainly in the southern end of the island and on one occasion two different Kestrels at Old Light and Quarterwall on the west – again on the 18th.

Our foray along the west coast gave a sighting of 24 Fulmars, mainly in pairs occupying ledges on Long Roost on the 14th and almost 300 Guillemots at Jenny’s and St Phillip’s Stone were lining the ledges on the 18th.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Wed 9 to Fri 11 Nov – Bird-wise pretty quiet

Richard & Rebecca Taylor's last three days on Lundy produced the following sightings, for what Richard reports were quiet days bird-wise:

Wednesday 9th Nov: Blackbird 27, Common Gull 1, Black-headed Gull 2, Firecrest 1, Blackcap 1, Woodcock 3, Snipe 10, Jack Snipe 2, Merlin 1 and Wigeon 2.

Thursday 10th Nov: Redwing 52, Fieldfare 9, Teal 7, Great Skua 1, Chiffchaff 2, Firecrest 1, Great Northern Diver 1, Blackcap 1 and Wigeon 1.

Friday 11th Nov: Great Northern Diver 1, Lapwing 2, Redwing 70, Blackbird 25 (including a group of 14 passing up through St John’s and onwards), Fieldfare 20, Brambling 1, Chiffchaff 1, Siskin 2, Skylark 7 in over Landing Bay and heard throughout the morning, and a small passage southwards of some 200 Chaffinches.

Unless there are further regular birdwatching visitors to the island between now and the end of the year, this is likely to be the last report of 2016. Thanks to everyone who has either uploaded photos and reports, or has sent texts and photos for uploading.

Thursday 10 November 2016

Mon 7 & Tue 8 Nov – A bit windy!

Richard & Rebecca Taylor began their five-day stay on 7th (effectively a half-day after their arrival by helicopter from Hartland Point) with a Firecrest, a high count of ten Snipe, three Woodcocks, three Chiffchaffs and three Blackcaps.

The following day (8th Nov) they tallied six Wigeon, two Great Northern Divers, a Jack Snipe, six Snipe, three Chiffchaffs, two Blackcaps, a Firecrest, three Goldcrests, 250 Redwings, at least one Mistle Thrush, 30 Fieldfares, 50 Blackbirds and five Redpolls.

Given Richard's opening comment ("Hello. It's a bit windy!"), it seems unlikely that they have been able to open the mist-nets. With calmer winds on Wednesday (9th) the chances look better... but less so on Thursday (10th)!

Monday 7 November 2016

Photos from 31 Oct to 4 Nov

Spent five days last week on the island with Tim Davis and James Diamond – here is a selection of photos – Richard Campey

Fieldfare - all over the island, this one in Lighthouse Field
 Another Fieldfare in the top of Millcombe
 Meadow Pipit near Quarter Wall
 Black Redstart at Quarter Wall Cottages
 Firecrest in Lower Millcombe by Smelly Gulley
 Kestrel seen flying through Millcombe from The Ugly
 Redwing in Tent Field living up to it's Latin name !

Pallid Swift & Pallas's Warbler photos from 25 & 27 Oct

Thanks to Simon Slade for sending through his photos of the Pallid Swift, which entertained birdwatchers for half-an-hour or so on 25th October, and the Pallas's Warblers seen on 25th and 27th. With regard to the Pallas's Warbler seen on 25th, Simon says: "The light and shadow makes a big difference to how the bird looks but it seems to me that there are enough differences to indicate that it was a different bird to the one shown in the in-hand image."

Of the Pallid Swift, Simon says: "It was hard to photograph but the image shows the key features of primary contrast and wing shape and you can just about make out the pale throat and breast pattern."

Unless a currently pending record of Pallid Swift at Hope's Nose on 17th November 2010 is accepted, the Lundy bird, if accepted, will be a first for both Devon and Lundy.

 Pallas's Warbler, Lundy, 25th October 2016

 Pallas's Warbler, Lundy, 25th October 2016

 Pallas's Warbler, Lundy, 27th October 2016

 Pallid Swift, Lundy, 25th October 2016

All photos © Simon Slade

Friday 4 November 2016

Fri 4 Nov – The end of a fun five days

The last of our five days and a very different one, waking to a heavily overcast sky, a southwesterly airflow and light rain. Little in the way of movement through the island detected but in the few hours available to us before boarding the helicopter to Hartland Point, James, Richard and I recorded – all in or from Millcombe – one Brambling (flight call only), a handful of Blackcaps, a calling Water Rail in Smelly Gully, four Siskins, two Firecrests showing very well in the Sycamores above the Casbah, 30 Starlings perched on the Church, a Stock Dove, first seen arriving in Millcombe wood late the previous day, one Woodpigeon, a Merlin flying from near the Sugar Loaf to South Light, and a Great Northern Diver out in the Landing Bay. James also had early-morning views of the Yellow-browed Warbler first seen late on Thursday afternoon, but sadly it eluded us thereafter.

The much better than average coverage of birds on Lundy this autumn continues next week with the arrival on Monday of Richard & Rebecca Taylor, so continue to watch this space!

Thursday 3 November 2016

Thu 3 Nov

On their last full day on the island, Tim Davis, James Diamond and Richard Campey finally caught up with a Yellow-Browed Warbler late in the day in Millcombe, where there were also 2 Firecrests, 8 Goldcrests and 6 Blackcaps.

With the change in wind direction to the south-west, gulls were much further offshore, but a single Black-headed Gull, 6 Common Gulls and 5 Mediterranean Gulls were detected.

Elsewhere there were 2 Jack Snipe, 2 Woodcock and 8 Common Snipe. A Stock Dove was seen and there were 2 Kestrels, a Merlin and 5 Stonechat. Only 190 Starlings were counted but there was still some thrush passage with 40 Blackbirds, 40 Fieldfares, 25 Song Thrushes and 200 Redwings. Finches were represented by 350 Chaffinch, a Brambling and a Lesser Redpoll.

Tue 1 & Wed 2 Nov – Shoveler and continued strong thrush passage

Tim Davis reports a Teal on Pondsbury on both 1st and 2nd November and a male Shoveler on the 2nd - only the 13th Lundy record and the first since 2010. James Diamond located 4 Jack Snipe in the Pondsbury area on the 1st when there were also 4 Lapwing on the Airfield. Also on 1st was a flock of 10 Oystercatcher on the rocks at low tide on the West Side, 6 Snipe, a Kestrel, 2 Merlin, a Sparrowhawk and 3 Common Scoter. One Merlin was still present on 2nd. Three Golden Plover were seen on the 2nd and in an hour's count 25 Black-headed Gulls, 25 Common Gulls and 14 Mediterreanean Gulls were tallied.

Thrush numbers continue to be impressive with at least 50 Blackbirds, 25 Song Thrush and 125 Redwing on each day, 100 Fieldfare on 1st and 150 on 2nd, a Mistle Thrush on 1st and 2 Ring Ouzels on 1st and one on 2nd. The Starling flock was counted as 550 on 1st and on the same day 7 Black Redstarts were seen. Eight Stonechats were reported on both days.

On 2nd there were counts of 18 Goldcrest, 1 Firecrest and 13 Blackcap. Finch passage is building up with 350 Chaffinches passing through on 1st. There was a single Snow Bunting on 1st and 3 a day later, when a Lapland Bunting was also located.

In the mild conditions, two Red Admirals and a Small Copper were on the wing.

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Tue 1 Nov – Huge feeding flock of gulls and good migrant passage

Tim Davis, who is on the island with James Diamond and (un-beknown to them in advance) Richard Campey, report a huge feeding flock of gulls on the East Side, spreading from the Landing Bay to Gannet's Coombe. At around 12:50 the flock included 400 Kittiwakes, 200 Herring Gulls, 6 Common Gulls, 3 Black-headed Gulls, a few Great Black-backed Gulls, a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Great Skua. Most notable though was the presence of six adult Mediterranean Gulls - the largest ever Lundy count of this species - and well overdue considering the number that winter on the nearby Devon mainland and in southern Ireland.
Over the island there was good thrush passage, with counts of 200 Redwing, 50 Fieldfare, 15 Song Thrush, 25 Blackbird and a Ring Ouzel. Strong Chaffinch migration amounted to at least 500 birds. A flock of 700 Starling were feeding in South West Field. Elsewhere, five Water Rail were reported (3 in Millcombe and 2 at Pondsbury), a Jack Snipe was flushed from the Upper East Side path and three Lapwing were on the Airfield. A female Sparrowhawk and a Merlin were present.
Sadly there was no sign of any Yellow-browed Warblers or the Pallas' Warbler, but six Chiffchaffs were present.

Sunday 30 October 2016

Photos from an astonishing week – 25 & 27 Oct

Below are three photos sent by Justin Zantboer from the Oldenburg on the return crossing on Friday.

From Monday 31st Oct to Friday 1st Nov James Diamond and Tim Davis will be among only 16 staying visitors on the island. Updates will be posted by Chris Dee.

Blyth's Reed Warbler ©Justin Zantboer
Pallas's Warbler ©Justin Zantboer
Yellow-browed Warblers ©Justin Zantboer

Friday 28 October 2016

Fri 28 Oct

Justin's final report, sent from the deck of the Oldenburg, for what has been an exceptional week of birds and birding on Lundy concludes with: yesterday's Pallas's Warbler still present, two new Yellow-browed Warblers, a Great Northern Diver off Millcombe, a Whinchat still around the top of St John's Valley/around the Church, four Black Redstarts (two near the Church, one in St John's Valley and one on the beach), two Swallows and two House Martins over Millcombe, six or more Blackcaps, four Chiffchaffs and a mixed flock of 20 Redwings and Fieldfares all in Millcombe. Chris Baillie saw two Balearic Shearwaters during a seawatch. Justin rounded off his report with the news that a Purple Sandpiper – a wader rarely encountered on Lundy – tried to land on the Oldenburg!

Thu 27 Oct

The undoubted highlight was the catching and ringing of a Pallas's Warbler in Millcombe, a different, less bright bird than the one seen on 25th. Other birds seen included a Great Northern Diver (but not the bird seen the day before), a Bonxie, 14 Common Scoters (one of the highest counts in recent years) and the 1st-winter Common Gull reported yesterday. 60+ Redwings were in Millcombe but otherwise Justin Zantboer reports things much quieter than earlier in the week.

Wed 26 Oct

Justin Zantboer reports the following birds on a somewhat quieter day than yesterday's bonanza: Whinchat, two Black Redstarts still in St John's Valley, a Yellow-browed Warbler, one Firecrest, a Woodcock, 10+ Goldcrests, two Chiffchaffs and five Backcaps in Millcombe, and offshore a summer-plumage Great Northern Diver, a Bonxie and a 1st-winter Common Gull.

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Tue 25 Oct – "One hell of a day!"

A text from Justin Zantboer, currently on Lundy with Rob Duncan’s ringing/birding party, received at 15:27 hrs brought the startling news that a Pallid Swift was “currently over Millcombe Valley!” and that the island was “absolutely crawling with birds!”. Shortly afterwards another text from Justin relayed the news that he was “looking for a Pallas’s Warbler in the gorse around Rocket Pole Pond which was seen by a day-tripping birder [see below], but no sign as yet”, and that the Pallid Swift was at that time flying around the church. A third text, received at 20:38 hrs, announced that a Blyth's Reed Warbler had been trapped and ringed in Millcombe. Other birds ringed included four Yellow-browed Warblers, 30+ Goldcrests and 10+ Blackcaps, all caught in Millcombe. Other sightings included a Whinchat by the church and two Black Redstarts by Old Light.

Chris and Carol Baillie were also lucky enough to see both the Pallid Swift and the Pallas’s Warbler. Chris first saw the swift over St John’s Valley “spiralling down from high up, coming in from the north”. As the bird came lower and passed close by, Chris was able to see the bird’s contrasting plumage tones. They saw the bird several times over the course of some 30 minutes before it moved off. Chris later phoned through the happy news that a birder staying in Blue Bung had managed to take good photographs of the Pallas’s Warbler and “hopefully useable” photos of the swift. Chris and Carol’s other sightings included a flock of 11 Cormorants heading south, a Firecrest, a Ring Ouzel, an estimated 2,500 Chaffinches and small numbers of Fieldfare, Redwing and Song Thrush. The previous day (24 Oct) Chris watched a male Hen Harrier fly south over Pondsbury and past Old Light.

On the Devon Bird Sightings website, Steve Waite posted a message received in mid-afternoon from James McCarthy who said he was enjoying "off the scale" views of a Pallas's Warbler, and had also seen the Pallid Swift, a Yellow-browed Warbler, a Whinchat, a Merlin and two Black Redstarts.

As Justin concluded in his last text: “One hell of a day!

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Mon 17 Oct – Black-browed Albatross reported

A report of a Black-browed Albatross off the Landing Bay on Monday 17 October has been posted on the Devon Birds sightings page here. The observer, Martin Thorne, is writing up an account of the sighting, and a description of the bird which will be submitted to the British Birds Rarities Committee. If accepted, this would be the first for Lundy and would fit into a pattern of recent sightings elsewhere in Britain.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Sun 2 Oct – Calm conditions favour strong hirundine passage

After a week of often windy, wet and/or foggy days, a change in the weather on Sunday (just as most LFS members had returned home!) to sunny skies and virtually calm conditions brought a rush of hirundines heading south. Alan & Sandra Rowland saw at least 200 in the space of 15-20 minutes between Tibbetts and Gannets' Combe, then 242 in a timed 15-minute count at North End. Clearly there were likely to have been several thousand passing through during the day. Alan & Sandra picked out a few House Martins among the Swallows but they were greatly outnumbered, by an estimated ratio of 50:1. Also migrating south were good numbers of Red Admirals, whilst a Lapwing was seen and heard coming in to the North End. A Sparrowhawk skimmed the top of the bracken as it flew from one of the main track marker stones near Pondsbury.

Sunday 2 October 2016

Thu 29 Sep to Sat 1 Oct – Dipper, Red-breasted Flycatcher, probable Hoopoe and strong migration

Thursday 29th brought a stiff westerly that made for a lively crossing on MS Oldenburg, although the largely sunny skies gave excellent visibility and resulted in some beautiful seascapes. The same clear conditions gave a boost to migrating Swallows, which were the most abundant bird species seen, with small flocks flying over the boat whilst still close to land, but hugging the waves out in the open ocean. A smattering of seabirds included single Fulmar and Manx Shearwater, whilst a small flock of 5 Dunlins, well out to sea, were the most unusual species seen. It was quiet for birds on the island, with small numbers of Swallow, House Martin, Goldcrest, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, StonechatWheatear and Spotted Flycatcher amongst the migrants seen.

Friday 30th was a day of real movement, with another notable arrival of Goldcrests (60+), Blackcaps (20+), and small numbers of Chiffchaffs. There was strong diurnal passage of Meadow Pipits (450+), Linnets (160+), alba wagtails and Swallows (300), whilst two flocks of 25 and 12 migrating Cormorants overflew the island at lunchtime. Also recorded were 1 Dunlin (over Castle Hill during the early morning), 1 Snipe, 1 Treecreeper (wearing a ring so presumed the individual trapped recently), a Yellow Wagtail, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and a Pied Flycatcher. The undoubted highlights were a Dipper (only the second for the island!), seen briefly by two lucky observers mid-morning in the leat running through Millcombe walled gardens, and a probable Hoopoe that was flushed from the side of Rat Island and flew across the Landing Bay.

Saturday 1st October saw frequent blustery showers swept in on a westerly wind that veered increasingly towards the north-west, then north by mid-afternoon. So it was something of a surprise when a species more usually associated with easterly winds, a Red-breasted Flycatcher, popped up in Millcombe during the afternoon. An overnight arrival brought the first Blackbirds of the autumn, with around 20 in Millcombe. Other species included 1 Golden Plover, 1 Snipe, small numbers of Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and Blackcaps, a Garden Warbler, 2 Wheatears, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and a Yellow Wagtail.

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Wed 28 Sep – Goldcrest fall

Wednesday 28th brought a significant fall of Goldcrests, but for much of the day the island was shrouded in fog and drizzle making birding almost impossible. Among the rather few notable birds  were a Water Rail, a Golden Plover, 3 House Martins, a handful of Swallows, 6 Robins in Millcombe, perhaps suggesting a small influx of migrants, and 2 Pied Wagtails.

Tue 27 Sep – Major movement of Swallows

A major movement of Swallows started up during the late morning, with Tim Davis counting 1,000 flying south at Brazen Ward in just 35 minutes.

Among birds ringed were a Sedge Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher.

Also recorded were 30 Gannets (off North End), 2 Water Rails, an Oystercatcher, a Golden Plover, 6 Woodpigeons, 6 Goldcrests, a dozen or so Blackcaps, 2 Stonechats, 80 Meadow Pipits and 2 Pied Wagtails.

Monday 26 September 2016

Sun 25 & Mon 26 Sep – Blustery and wet weather dominates

Sunday 25th was a day of blustery westerlies and scattered showers. Among the species recorded were a single Snipe near Pondsbury, 2 female Teal on Pondsbury, 6 Woodpigeons, 50 Swallows, a Redstart, and a Tree Pipit. Operating three nets for a time during the afternoon, the ringers trapped a male and female Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaffs and a Spotted Flycatcher.

Sunday also saw the first full day of a week-long programme of indoor and outdoor activities covering virtually every conceivable aspects of Lundy's natural history and archaeology. The second LFS 'Discover Lundy' event includes demonstrations of bird ringing, night-time visits to shearwater colonies, bird walks by day and a variety of bird-related talks.

A thoroughly soggy day on Monday 26th brought predictably thin pickings for those birdwatchers who did venture out. The highlight was a Pied Flycatcher in the Terrace Trap willows and the Rook was still present. Also of note, an apparent small arrival of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, together wth a few Goldcrests, a continued light passage of Swallows and good numbers of Goldfinches and Linnets.

Sunday 25 September 2016

Sat 24 Sep – First Balearic Shearwaters of the autumn

The same strong winds (and, by late afternoon, bucketing rain) that led to the cancellation of Saturday's sailing of MS Oldenburg, brought the autumn's first Balearic Shearwaters, when two (plus a single Manx Shearwater) were seen by Andy Jayne during an early seawatch from the Castle.

Tim Davis reports that migrant landbirds were few and far between (or wisely hunkering down), with 1 Wheatear, a Spotted Flycatcher, a couple of Goldcrests and 2 Pied Wagtails. Tony Taylor saw two Water Rails in Millcombe.

Saturday 24 September 2016

A few pictures from last week - Dotterel (21st Sep), Raven, White Wagtail and Meadow Pipit.

Fri 23 Sep

News as follows from Tim Davis, on what was a generally quiet, warm, but increasingly breezy day:

Grey Heron 2, Water Rail 2, Swallow 6, Chiffchaff 10, Willow Warbler 1, Stonechat 4, Whinchat 1, Wheatear 6, Spotted Flycatcher 2, Pied Flycatcher 1, Meadow Pipit 200, Linnet 280,

Also 2 Common Dolphins, a Bottle-nose and 2 Harbour Porpoises.

Butterflies included 11 Small Coppers.

Friday 23 September 2016

Thu 22 Sep – Dotterel still present

Tim Davis reports that the Dotterel and Rook were still present on the Airfield. Other migrants seen by Tim included c.20 Goldcrests, single Spotted Flycatcher and Willow Warbler, a White Wagtail, four Wheatears, c.100 Meadow Pipits. Also recorded were a Water Rail, 100 Linnets and 40 Goldfinches.

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Wed 21 Sep – Day of the Pipits

Andy Jayne reports a Red-throated Pipit flying over the Airfield at 07.56, followed by a Richard's Pipit flying south over Castle Hill less than four hours later at 11.33.

Of three Tree Pipits, two were trapped and ringed. The other highlight of a generally very quiet morning for ringing was a Treecreeper; thanks to Chris Dee for the ringing update.

The Dotterel was still present, whilst other sightings included 2 Teal and 2 Whinchats.

Tue 20 Sep – Dotterel and an arrival of warblers

Chris Dee reports a Dotterel on the Airfield, and continuing warbler passage, including 5 Whitethroats, 1 Sedge Warbler and a small fall of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Sat 17 Sep to Mon 19 Sep

Chris Dee reports that the Wryneck was trapped and ringed on Saturday 17th. Andy Jayne found a Lapland Bunting on Sunday 18th and the same or another was present on Monday 19th. A Rook remained on the Airfield on 19th and there was a Whinchat at Quarter Wall. There was a small fall of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs overnight on 18th/19th.

Friday 16 September 2016

Fri 16 Sep – Rosefinch ringed

Nik Ward reports a good number of Blackcaps on the island today and one Wryneck still present in Millcombe. The Common Rosefinch was trapped and ringed this morning.

Thursday 15 September 2016

Thu 15 Sep – Common Rosefinch found

Nik Ward reports two Wryneck still in Millcombe and a Common Rosefinch also found. Also present were a Redstart, 5 Tree Pipit, a Whinchat, 6 Spotted Flycatcher and a Yellow Wagtail, but very quiet for warblers. There was a good passage of hirundines on 14th and 15th, with 124 Swallow, 17 House Martin and 26 Sand Martin ringed on 14th.

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Wed 14 Sep – Highlights

Andy Turner, who is on the island with Nik Ward's team primarily ringing Manx Sheawaters, reports an Ortolan and two Wrynecks observed by Nik in Millcombe. Andy saw an Osprey fly down the west side and out to sea and a male Hen Harrier in St John's Valley. There has been a Rook on the airfield for the past two days.

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Sat 10 Sep

Tony Taylor, on his last day on the island this trip, reports increased numbers of Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, Whitethroats and flycatchers in Millcombe first thing, but later the warblers seemed largely to have moved on. A Collared Dove was singing and a few Goldcrests were feeding in the trees. A windless morning allowed some mist-netting, and the catch included a Grasshopper Warbler and two Reed Warblers. A third, unringed, Reed Warbler was also seen.

A summary of Tony and Richard & Rebecca Taylor's time on the island, from 30 Aug to 10 Sep, ringing Manx Shearwaters appears below (slightly out of date order!).

Saturday 10 September 2016

Wed 7 to Fri 9 Sep

Tony Taylor reports a new high for autumn ringing of Manx Shearwaters with 74 birds ringed or retrapped on the night of 6/7 Sep. The only signs of movement through the island were on 7th with 65 House Martins, 45 Swallows and seven White Wagtails. The highlight of the day was a Convolvulus Hawk-moth found by Richard & Rebecca Taylor.

On 8 Sep an Ortolan Bunting and a Tree Pipit were in Millcombe, and a single Golden Plover was also reported.

On 9 Sep three “noisyReed Warblers were still in lower Millcombe, and a Wryneck was also seen.

The report on Devon Bird Sightings of a Great Grey Shrike on Lundy on 6 Sep was in fact a Red-backed Shrike, possibly the one first seen on 31 Aug.

Tony, Richard & Rebecca depart the island on 10 Sep, with Nik Ward and Peter Slader arriving to continue the shearwater ringing. Chris Dee will be reporting sightings during Nik and Peter’s stay.

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Fri 2 Sep to Tue 6 Sep

Tony Taylor reports a record 65 Manx Shearwaters were caught at the Old Light colony on the night of 1 Sep. On the night of 2 Sep the team moved up to North Light where they saw two Storm Petrels and ringed four shearwater chicks. Migrants seen on 2 Sep included and two Teal on Pondsbury and four Redpolls.

On 4 Sep Richard & Rebecca Taylor saw a Sanderling. Other birds noted were three Reed Warblers and a few Wheatears, Whinchats and Chiffchaffs, along with several Goldcrests, a Blackcap and a Pied Flycatcher.

Migrants still around on 6 Sep after the recent bad weather included two Reed Warblers, three Redpolls, two Willow Warblers, three Chiffchaffs, one Spotted Flycatcher, a single Pied Flycatcher, one Grey Wagtail, a few Swallows, eight Wheatears and three Whinchats. The day’s highlight was the ringing of a Manx Shearwater chick in one of the nestboxes installed earlier in the year at the Old Light colony. However, the parent birds had accessed the nestbox via a natural burrow at the back so that the egg had not been laid in the box!

30 Aug to 10 Sep – Summary

Tony Taylor and Richard & Rebecca Taylor were on Lundy from 30 August to 10 September to ring Manx Shearwaters. They were joined for shorter times by Claire Young and Dave Jones, Rosie Hall, Tim Frayling and Davy & Siobhan Still. Lundy Warden Beccy, Assistant Warden Conor, Lofty and Kate Weld, on the island with two students from Petroc College, also joined in on one or two nights.

In spite of cancelling on two nights and curtailing another three because of bad weather, it was a very productive visit. The team ringed 247 chicks and 19 adults, as well as recapturing 20 adults ringed in previous years. These had originally been caught from 2009 onwards, and have been encountered up to five times since. Three of them were ringed as chicks, one in 2010 and two in 2011.

The general impression from the number of birds seen was that the population is continuing to grow, and that the bad weather in their South Atlantic wintering areas last year has not had a noticeable effect.

Five chicks were found sheltering in the village after attempting to fledge on very windy nights, and one of these had been ringed at its burrow near Benjamin’s Chair eight nights before. They were all released successfully later.

Round-up of May & June seabird studies

21st May to 11th June: Tony & Ann Taylor and Richard & Rebecca Taylor visited the Old Light Manx Shearwater colony six times, ringing 98 new birds and retrapping 41 different birds from previous years. Eleven of these were originally ringed as chicks, in 2007 (1), 2010 (1), 2012 (3), and 2013 (6). Numbers seemed high at the Old Light colony, so there were no immediate signs that last winter's El Niño has affected the population. However, the weights of birds with downy brood patches, assumed to be pre-breeders, were lower than on previous May/June visits, so they may be in poorer condition than usual. It will be interesting to see what the return rate of 'the class of 2015' is when they are due to come back in the next two or three years.

21st to 23rd June: Helen Booker and Mark Bolton, looking for evidence of breeding by Storm Petrels, set up CCTV cameras viewing a relatively small area at the Old Light shearwater colony. The cameras picked up at least two petrels. Helen reports there may well have been more but the infrared glare from whatever was flying past, and the difficulty in judging distance, made identification quite a challenge – a close flying moth may look very like a bird slightly further away with no other real perspective available! Scanning with torches at the North Light, they picked up petrels fluttering through the beam regularly over a period of 15 minutes – a sign that birds are breeding and a good place for further monitoring to determine numbers of breeding pairs. Scanning with torches along the quarry boulders on the East Side and above Pilot's Quay, however, revealed no birds.

21st to 28th June: David & Elisabeth Price, Peter Slader and Lee Bullingham-Taylor spent most of their daytime activities visiting virtually all the sites for cliff-nesting birds, checking, reviewing and taking photographs to update the Site Register ready for next year's census of breeding seabirds. Scrambling down to assess most of the viewing points proved a very useful exercise in more ways than one. They found that Guillemots are increasingly occupying areas higher up the cliffs, often in the broken ground immediately below the sidings (where previously they would probably have been vulnerable to rats). Puffins too are moving in and colonising similar sorts of areas at a fast rate.

On the shearwater front, the problem was a rather bright moon and a series of mainly clear cloudless nights, with just one suitable cloudy night (26th) when it had rained most of the day but was still overcast and misty (and incredibly wet underfoot!). The team erected one mist-net in the Old Light colony at 11:00 and within a few minutes there was a “small thing in the bottom shelf” – a Storm Petrel! Bare skin on the brood-patch area indicated that this was probably a breeding bird. The team called it a night at 02:00 by which time a total of 21 Manx Shearwaters had been caught. Two turned out to be well-travelled birds ringed 2004 and 2006.

Apart from the obvious burgeoning population of Puffins, it seemed that Guillemots had spread everywhere. Whereas 15 years ago they were very much restricted to the inaccessible ledges on vertical faces, they are now scattered all over the cliffs, and particularly in the bouldery edges just below the sidings. There were even Guillemots on Devil's Chimney. The last recorded occupancy was in 1986, whereas in 1939 Richard Perry recorded some 400 on the stack.

In terms of numbers, the 234 individual Puffins counted were all on land, with a further 30-50 out on the sea nearby at any time. The figure of 2,678 Guillemots is truly phenomenal – almost double the number recorded in Jenny's Cove in 2013, and more than the total recorded in any surveys prior to 2008 for the whole island. The increased numbers of breeding seabirds was certainly a big fillip for the trip, and though the team fell short of their objectives on the ringing front, they definitely achieved their prime objective – to have a good time!

Friday 2 September 2016

Tue 30 Aug to Thu 1 Sep

Tony Taylor and Rich & Rebecca Taylor report that they trapped and ringed 30 Manx Shearwaters in the Old Light to Battery Point colony on the night of 30th/31st and a further 20 (at the South End) on 31st/1st. Those handled on the first night included mainly chicks, plus 10 retraps, several with extensive histories, dating back as far as 2009.

Notable (daytime!) sightings so far have included:

7 Whinchats (30th), a Red-backed Shrike (31st), one, possibly two Wrynecks in Millcombe (31st), and a Lapland Bunting flying over (heard by Rich) on the morning of 1st. Also a Greenfinch, four redpolls, 3 Reed Warblers, 3 Sedge Warblers and a Dunlin.

On 31st and 1st there were small numbers of Willow Warblers, Pied Flycatchers, Spotted Flycatchers, Wheatears, Whinchats and both Pied & White Wagtails.

Belated update for end of July

The following updates came in over the summer from Chris & Carol Baillie and John Duffy. Apologies for late posting.

For 28–30 July Chris & Carol reported:

"Two Razorbills and four Puffins were seen carrying fish, two of the Puffins evidently delivered their payloads to burrows. Seventy-three Puffins were on the water in Jenny’s in the afternoon of the 28th . The highest Guillemot count was 123 on the 29th and 5 was the maximum Razorbill count. As we watched from the Castle on the evening of the 29th 1,500 Manx Shearwater amassed in rafts off the East side, the majority arriving from south of the island. Kittiwakes were fledging, with a number of nests having two young taking short flights.

Away from the cliffs, recently fledged young (presumed to be locally bred) were noted for most of the expected breeding birds, and included Blackcap (a male was alarm-calling whilst food carrying to the immediate vicinity of two juveniles), Dunnock and Goldfinch. At least one House Sparrow nest was reported with eggs. A Song Thrush carried a moth into thick willow growth, but no young birds were noted. A handful of Woodpigeons included at least two juveniles. A dead juvenile Meadow Pipit had no appreciable pectoral muscle. Most of the thirty (or so) Wheatear were “scruffy” juveniles in twos and threes in consistent locations over the three days, perhaps representing siblings still on territories now largely abandoned by the adults?

Apart from a single Swift, Willow Warblers were the only obvious migrants with 75 the maximum count. A single Sedge Warbler in Millcombe each day is assumed to have been the same bird, and raises the possibility that it was a summering individual.

The crossing to Ilfracombe was outstanding for Common Dolphins and produced our second Ocean Sunfish for the visit (he other was off North End)."

Also visiting over the same three-day period, John added:

"There was a sizeable fall of Willow Warblers with most being in Millicombe as you would expect. Notable sightings included one Grasshopper Warbler in Millicombe on the 29th and three Sedge Warblers lower down by the overgrown pond on the same day. There was a single Spotted Flycatcher in Millicombe on the Friday and Saturday. A juv Grey Heron flew in high towards the East side of the island on 29th around 5pm but was harassed by gulls and I did not see it land."

Monday 29 August 2016

Photos from 2–9 Apr

As this blog has been quite for the last few weeks I thought I would take the opportunity to share a few photos of my visit back in April this year. I was on the Island for a week from Saturday 2nd April to Saturday 9th April.

Willow Warbler carrying a BTO ring in Milcombe Valley
Meadow Pipit in the garden of Old House North
Raft of auks (mainly Razorbills ) near Shutter point
Wheatear on top of the Island
Rock Pipit on the slopes near Castle Hill
Chiffchaff in Milcombe Valley
Male Blackcap in one of the walled gardens in Milcombe Valley
Female Blackcap gorging on the apples Rob Duncan had left out for them
Robin at the top of Milcombe
Carrion Crow on the wall of the pig pens
Pied Wagtail
Colour-ringed Wheatear on the wall near the Church
Shearwaters about a mile out from Lundy. Taken from MS Oldenburg

Thursday 23 June 2016

22/06/16 Guillemot chick "Obsession", Lundy

Ten days since I first saw this chick, "Obsession" is growing well. Its parents (standing to the right) spent over an hour together at the ledge. This shows that they are all well fed, even with the mist and drizzle they are able to find their way back to Lundy with fish for "Obsession"

Ten chicks have  hatched so far this year, and there may be another three eggs left. So far, the signs are well- the adults are spending time together on the ledge and they are bringing in good numbers of Sprats for their chicks.


Tuesday 21 June 2016

15 Jun – Guillemot "J" loses its egg

Although Guillemot eggs are meant to roll in a tight circle, they can still fall off their ledge. This bird loses it's egg whilst it is preening. The egg falls to the ledge below and the adult cannot move it's egg back to the it's ledge. Imagine trying to move a tennis ball up a step with a knitting needle.

Sunday 12 June 2016

Sat 11 Jun – History is made!

Early morning fog and drizzle, enlivened by scattered downpours, gradually gave way to a sunny but sultry late morning and afternoon. The highlight of the day was long-awaited proof, for the first time ever, of a Blackcap breeding attempt on Lundy. A male and female (both carrying BTO rings) were watched for more more than an hour as they assiduously gathered spider webs (used to bind the nest together) from crevices in the slate walls of Millcombe gardens. The male was wing-shivering and giving short but intense bursts of song between foraging trips and both birds returned repeatedly to the presumed nest site. A Whitethroat was again singing near St Helen's Copse. The Oystercatcher family on Rat Island (see entry for 7th) was continuing to thrive.

A count of Puffins at Jenny's Cove at around 13.00 hrs yielded a minimum total of 95 (45 on land and 50 on the water), but part of the area used by Puffins, on the south side of the bay, was not visible from our vantage point near the Earthquake.

On the afternoon crossing to Ilfracombe two Sandwich Terns were seen about 40 minutes out from the island.

Update: See photos of Red-breasted Flycatcher (31 May) and Greenish Warbler (5 June) added to the relevant posts below, courtesy of Paul Holt and Rebecca & Richard Taylor. A few other photos also added.

Fri 10 Jun – Hobby among other late migrants

At 7.40am on Friday 10th Tim Jones watched a Hobby (the third in a fortnight) take off from a tree perch near the top of the steps between Millcombe and St Helen's Combe. It flew around the south side of the Ugly but was not seen again. A singing male Whitethroat at St Helen's Copse was seen carrying nesting material (and singing at the same time!), but there was no sign of a second bird. A flock of seven Woodpigeons flew out of Millcombe, where there was again a single singing Collared Dove. A Willow Warbler was singing from Millcombe wood, above the the Casbah, in the early evening, but was probably just passing through as it had not been seen or heard earlier in the day, nor was it present the following day. Other late migrants included a Spotted Flycatcher (Millcombe) and five Swifts, while the Golden Plover remained in South West Field.

A new brood of eight Mallard ducklings appeared with a female on the Brick Field pond. One of the Lesser Black-backed Gull nests on the Miller's Cake (a large rock slab adjoining the Landing Bay) contained two small chicks. Tim Davis & Tim Jones estimated more than 1,000 Diamond-back Moths in a Pineapple Weed-dominated area of the Lighthouse Field no more than 50m x 5m!

Spotted Flycatcher, Lundy, Jun 2016 © Tim Jones

Friday 10 June 2016

Continuing northbound passage on 9th June

Tim and Tim report the first real signs of continuing north-bound passage since arriving: 3 House Martin, 13 Swallow, 13 Swift and a White Wagtail (see photo) at the North End. A Whitethroat was singing in Lower Millcombe, but there was no sign of the Common Rosefinch. A Rook was in the Tillage Field again. Great Black-backed and Herring Gull chicks are starting to appear and the Teal and at least 4 young are still going strong! A single Golden Plover was in South West Field (Richard & Rebecca Taylor).
A Thrift Clearwing (a nationally scarce day-flying moth) was seen on flowering thrift by North Light steps and over 500 Diamond-back Moths were counted.
White Wagtail, prob 1st-summer male, North End, 9 Jun 2016 © Tim Jones

Thursday 9 June 2016

Wed 8 Jun – Cuckoo, Hobby, Rook and breeding Swallows

Tim and Tim report from Wed 8th: 1 Cuckoo (Terrace), 1 Swift (N off E Side), 1 Hobby (flying N, South West Field – Richard & Rebecca Taylor), 1 Rook (Tillage Field), a pair of Swallows (collecting mud from pigsty by Tavern and nestbuilding in Church porch), 1 Reed Warbler (Quarters garden), 1 Spotted Flycatcher (VC Quarry), 3 Blackcaps (2 males in Millcombe and a female along Terrace), Common Rosefinch (singing still in Millcombe). 32 Skylark territories logged (but not a full census); 350+ Diamond-back Moths as a sample count; they were everywhere!
Rook, Tillage Field, 8 Jun 2016 © Tim Jones
Reed Warbler, Quarters garden, 8 Jun 2016 © Tim Jones
Skylark chick, Middle Park, 8 Jun 2016 © Tim Jones

Wednesday 8 June 2016

News from 7th June – Singing male Common Rosefinch

Tim Davis and Tim Jones arrived on the island for a short stay and reported a singing male Common Rosefinch in Millcombe (albeit a brown, presumed first-summer, bird with no red plumage) as well as a singing male Blackcap and a Spotted Flycatcher. There were 7 Collared Doves in the village and Millcombe. On Pondsbury there were two females and a single male Teal with four ducklings, whilst a pair of Oystercatchers tended to their two well-grown chicks on the northern side of Rat Island. Richard Taylor reported a Yellow Wagtail in flight at the Rocket Pole.
Migrant Lepidoptera included lots of Painted Ladies, Red Admirals, Silver Ys and Diamond-backed Moths.

Below is a record shot of the Rosefinch feeding on Commmon Sorrel from the fence forming one of the tree-planting enclosures below Government House in upper Millcombe. (Apologies for the poor quality but hand held and taken over an enormous distance in very harsh light; note that the silvery flash at the base of the leg is an optical illusion, not a metal ring – Tim J).

Common Rosefinch feeding on sorrel, Millcombe, 7 Jun 2016 © Tim Jones

Sunday 5 June 2016

Sun 5 Jun – Full of (north-)eastern promise...

Hot on the heels of Tuesday's Red-breasted Flycatcher comes news this evening (Sunday 5th) from Richard & Rebecca Taylor of two other classic late-spring scarcities from breeding grounds in north-east continental Europe, namely a Greenish Warbler singing outside Brambles and a Common Rosefinch. A Crossbill was also present in Millcombe. Of note is that Shetland and Bardsey also hosted Greenish Warblers on 5 June (the third to occur at the Welsh observatory within a week!). There have only been two previous verified records for Lundy.
Greenish Warbler, Millcombe, 5 Jun 2016 © Rebecca Taylor
Greenish Warbler, Millcombe, 5 Jun 2016 © Richard Taylor

Wed 1 Jun to Sat 4 Jun – Rook, Golden Plover, Cuckoo

News from Tony Taylor is of a Rook (a Lundy rarity), which spent most of its time in the Tillage Field from 1st to 3rd; a Cuckoo daily to 4th, 3 Golden Plovers on Ackland's Moor on 3rd; the two broods of Teal still present, though the smaller brood now appears to be down to a single duckling; and a Cormorant (scarce in summer) fishing in the Landing Bay on 4th. Singing male Chiffchaffs continue to hold territory in Millcombe and at St Helen's and Quarter Wall Copses.

Thursday 2 June 2016

Mon 30 May & Tue 31 May – Red-breasted Flycatcher, Hobby, Tree Sparrow

A Red-breasted Flycatcher was seen and photographed (see below) by Paul Holt as it fed actively among alders in St Helen's Copse at 07.35 hrs on 31st.
Red-breasted Flycatcher, 31 May 2016  © Paul Holt

Other sightings for 30th & 31st included a Hobby flying south past the Old Light on 30th (Philip Lymbery) and a Cuckoo at St Helen's Copse, Millcombe and elsewhere in the south of the island on both dates (Richard & Rebecca Taylor, Paul Holt, Martin Thorne). The Tree Sparrow (see entry fror 29 May) was seen again on the morning of 30th at the northern end of the High Street (Tony & Ann Taylor). Tony Taylor reports that 37 Manx Shearwaters were caught and ringed, including 17 already ringed in previous years, five as chicks. He also notes that Wheatears appear to be fewer in number this year, with the season very spread out, some broods out of the nest and some birds inconspicuous, perhaps still on eggs.

Sunday 29 May 2016

Sun 29 May – Tree Sparrow, Short-eared Owl & Black Redstart

Today's highlights included a Tree Sparrow – an extremely rare visitor to Lundy and the first in spring since 1996 – feeding outside Brambles (Tony & Ann Taylor), a Short-eared Owl seen between Quarter Wall and Pondsbury by Philip Lymbery, and a female Black Redstart that spent much of the day around 'Sunset Buttress' on the West Side (Tony & Ann Taylor).

Tree Sparrow outside Brambles, 29 May 2016. ©Tony Taylor.

Sat 28 May – Singing Firecrest, Turtle Dove

Tony Taylor and Richard Taylor report a singing male Firecrest (in Millcombe) on Saturday 28th, along with a Turtle Dove and a second brood of Teal comprising two ducklings judged to be slightly older than the brood of five first seen on Friday and still present on Saturday.

Saturday 28 May 2016

Wed 25 to Fri 27 May – Teal breed successfully for a second year

The latest update from Tony Taylor is that there were still a few passage Swallows and House Martins moving through on 25th & 26th, plus 5 Collared Doves (a typical late-spring migrant on Lundy), 1 Sand Martin, 5 Swift and 1 Goldcrest. The Reed Warbler was singing again on 26th. The Manx Shearwater colonies were very active on Thursday/Friday night (26th/27th) and eight birds were caught (the first individual being a 'control', i.e. it  had already been ringed somewhere other than Lundy) before rain set in curtailing ringing activity on the sidelands. Fri 27th brought confirmation that Teal have bred successfully for the second year running, when a female and five very small ducklings were seen.

Female Teal with ducklings (plus Mallard pair in foreground). ©Tony Taylor

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Mon 23 & Tue 24 May – Migration thinning out

As would be expected in late May, migration is showing signs of thinning out. As Tony Taylor puts it, "mainly less of the same", with smaller numbers of Swallows and House Martins moving through on 23 & 24 May, plus 9 Spotted Flycatchers and singing Blackcap, Whitethroat, 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Willow Warbler and a Reed Warbler.

It will be interesting to see which of the territory-holding warblers remain to breed; clearly not the Reed Warbler given the absence of suitable reedbed habitat, but Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler have all bred successfully, if somewhat irregularly, in the past – depending largely on the vagaries of the weather. In spite of positive signs in several recent years there has still been no confirmation of  Blackcap ever having bred succcessfully on Lundy. Will 2016 be the year?

Other migrants recorded by Tony on Monday and Tuesday included single Collared Dove, redpoll sp. and Siskin.

Sunday 22 May 2016

Sat 21 & Sun 22 May – Continued passage and belated news of a Smew!

Tony Taylor reports a quiet day on Saturday 21st, with the only notable sightings being 3 Lesser Redpolls in Millcombe and 13 House Martins. On Sunday 22nd there were 200 Swallows, 50 House Martins (most of the hirundines moving through in the morning), 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Warblers, 2 singing Whitethroats, a pair of Blackcaps, 4 Chiffchaffs, 1 Willow Warbler, 15 Spotted Flycatchers and 1 Siskin.

Tony has also picked out the following (unverified) reports from the logbook for recent days:

5th May – an Osprey headed north
12th May – a Golden Oriole in Millcombe
14th May – a male Smew on Pondsbury (almost certainly the same individual as sighted at Velator and Braunton Marshes on the nearby North Devon mainland on 20th & 21st May). If confirmed, this would be only the second record ever for Lundy, the previous occurrence being on the similarly improbable date of 15 September, but over 80 years ago, in 1933!
16th May – a Snow Bunting on the East Side and a Tufted Duck on Pondsbury

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Tue 17 May – Hirundine passage still going strong

Trevor Dobie, currently on the island as organiser of the Lundy Field Society Conservation Break, has sent through the following update today, Tuesday 17th May:

"Saw two Linnet pairs with nesting material near Pondsbury yesterday disappearing into gorse. Loads of Swallows and House Martins passing through – several hundred Swallows each day. Many Puffins at Jenny's today. Singing Willow Warbler in Quarter Wall Copse and Chiffchaff also calling there and in St Helen's Copse."

The strong, relatively late passage of hirundines could reflect migration delays encountered during cold, wet and windy weather in the Iberian Peninsula during much of the first half of May.

End of April and first half of May – Whimbrels, Marsh Harrier, Turtle Dove, warblers & Spotted Flycatcher

With apologies to those who have sent in records during the last three weeks, here is an overdue round-up that kept slipping down my 'to do' list after being away for 10 days.

Thursday 28th April – contributed by Nik Ward

20 Willow Warblers, 11 Blackcaps, a Sedge Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher – all in Millcombe; plus a Common Sandpiper by the jetty.

Thursday 28th to Saturday 30th April – contributed by Merilyn Holme, Alan & Sandra Rowland

2 Whimbrels, Castle Hill/South West Field and one at the eastern end of Threequarter Wall.
A colour-ringed female Wheatear that Tony Taylor has since confirmed was ringed as an adult near Benjamin's Chair in May 2014.

Thursday 5th May – contributed by Clive Couzens

Turtle Dove – one in Millcombe, below Government House; see photo below.
A colour-ringed Wheatear at the western end of Quarter Wall was the male reported from the same area on 5th April (see post for that date).

Turtle Dove, Millcombe, 5 May 2016 © Clive Couzens.

Sunday 8th May – Devon Birds day trip

A round-up by Jon Turner of what sounds like a rewarding day in spite of a troublesome east wind at times can be found here on the Devon Birds website, with photos by John Wilkes here and here. Highlights included Marsh Harrier, Turtle Dove, Wood Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Garden Warbler and – unusual for the island – a Buzzard and two Sandwich Terns.