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Friday 22 April 2016

Thu 21 Apr – First Cuckoo

Chris Dee reports a good day on Thursday in spite of the strong E wind that delayed docking of MS Oldenburg due to heavy swell in the Landing Bay. The highlights were the first Cuckoo of the year, in Millcombe, and a male Ring Ouzel near Old Light. Also 2 Whimbrel, 3 Dunlin and a Snipe on the marshy pool near the Rocket Pole, one Curlew and a pair of Teal on Pondsbury.

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Tue 19 Apr & Wed 20 Apr – What a difference a day makes!

Chris Dee reports that on arrival on Tuesday 19th he found the island "alive with warblers", including an estimated 150 Willow Warblers, 50 Chiffchaffs and 40 Blackcaps. There were also 2 Sedge Warblers singing in Millcombe and a single Common Whitethroat.

On Wednesday 20th a strong easterly wind had set in, preventing Chris from opening any mist-nets, but Tuesday's warblers had mostly gone in any case. There were 44 Puffins in Jenny's Cove, and a very light passage of hirundines started up in the late morning, with 35 Swallows, 9 House Martins and 1 Sand Martin. A Short-eared Owl was flushed near Pondsbury and 2 Whimbrels were reported by other visitors.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Tue 12 Apr – A good selection of common early migrants

A sailing departing from Bideford at 9.00am and returning at 9.00pm gave the opportunity for those of us on board to enjoy a bit longer on the island than on a typical day-trip. Light winds, mainly from an easterly quarter, combined with some warm sunshine, a bank of sea-fog rolling over the island for a time in the early afternoon and a heavy thunderstorm that missed Lundy but rumbled across the North Cornish and North Devon mainland, were conducive to seeing a good variety of common migrants. There had clearly been an arrival of warblers, with Blackcaps and Willow Warblers (at least 30 of each) prominent in Millcombe and around Stoneycroft and Old Light (where 2 male Blackcaps were hopping about on close-cropped turf finding a ready supply of invertebrate food). A male Pied Flycatcher in Millcombe was the first of the spring, while other migrants included 5 Teal, a Red-throated Diver (flying north, seen from the boat about 15 minutes before landing), 25 Sand Martins, 20 Swallows, 10 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests, 1 Song Thrush, 15 Wheatears (none colour-ringed), 19 alba wagtails (of which one was definitely a White Wagtail) and 150 Meadow Pipits. Also seen were a female Sparrowhawk, a male Kestrel, 9 Woodpigeons, 20 Puffins (on the sea at Jenny's Cove), and 6 Long-tailed Tits in Millcombe. The sunshine brought out a Peacock and 8 Green-veined White butterflies and a male Emperor Moth.

Sunday 10 April 2016

Sat 9 Apr – Small fall of Chiffs & Willows after early rain

Wind and rain first thing meant that ringing was out of the question and as it was their last day Rob Duncan and team had to take the nets down. However, it dried up a bit later in the morning and the wind dropped, revealing a small arrival of Phylloscopus warblers – about 50 Willow Warblers and 25 Chiffchaffs – along with a couple of Blackcaps and a Goldcrest. Other migrants included 100 Meadow Pipits but just 2 Swallows.

Comparing notes on the Chiffchaff fall last Sunday, 3rd April, Rob and Martyn (Roper), who covered different areas of the island, realised that 100 was a significant underestimate and revised the total upward to 400. The blog entry for that date has been adjusted accordingly.

Friday 8 April 2016

Fri 8 Apr – Migration resumes: strong Willow Warbler movement & first Redstart

Rob Duncan reports a much better day with an early 'rush' of Willow Warblers (150 estimated for the day) and though things had quietened down by lunchtime a total of 48 birds had been ringed. A male Redstart was heard and seen in Millcombe and there was good visible migration. Martyn Roper saw 20 Pied Wagtails and 6 White Wagtails. Other species totals for the day were 4 Long-tailed Tits, 25 Sand Martins, 40 Swallows, 5 House Martins, 59 Chiffchaffs, 10 Blackcaps, 10 Goldcrests and 100 Meadow Pipits.

Thursday 7 April 2016

Thu 7 Apr – Chilly winds, few migrants

A second day of cold north-westerlies streaming down across the island was not exactly conducive to arrivals of spring migrants from the south and both numbers and variety were well down on what would be hoped for at the end of the first week in April. Mist-netting was again not possible because of the strength of the wind, so the following totals provided by Rob are based on sightings only: 12 Swallows, 4 Long-tailed Tits, 1 Coal Tit, 8 Blackcaps, 5 Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow Warblers and 25 Meadow Pipits.

Wed 6 Apr – North-west wind turns off the migration tap

Wednesday proved to be predictably quiet bird-wise in a blustery and very cold north-westerly airstream that meant fresh arrivals were few and far between and prevented any ringing. The more notable species (reported once again by Rob Duncan) were: 10 Sand Martins, 2 Long-tailed Tits, the 'resident' 1st-year female Coal Tit (originally trapped in Millcombe on 3 October last year, but now carrying substantial fat deposits, maybe in readiness for leaving the island), 7 Blackcaps, 10 Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow Warblers, 1 Goldcrest, 10 Wheatears and 100 Meadow Pipits.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

Tue 5 Apr – UPDATED Another Osprey and a well-travelled Wheatear

News from Rob Duncan is that visible migration included Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails, 1 White Wagtail, 50 Sand Martins, 40 Swallows and 4 House Martins, whilst among grounded night migrants were 30 Chiffchaffs, 20 Willow Warblers, 15 Blackcaps and 8 Goldcrests. 38 new birds were ringed. The first butterfly of the year put in an appearance: a Peacock in Millcombe.

Update: Claire and Mark Tims returned from the island on Tuesday and add to Rob's report with a Grey Wagtail and news of the season's second Osprey, directly over the jetty during the afternoon. During their four-day stay they also saw a colour-ringed Wheatear at Quarter Wall. This individual, a male, was originally ringed on 2 June 2014 and nested at the western end of Quarter Wall in both 2014 and 2015. Plumage details at the time of ringing confirmed that it had hatched in 2012 or earlier, meaning that it has now successfully completed a minimum of eight trans-Saharan migrations (four in autumn and four in spring), each spring managing to return to the same small area of the same tiny island! (Thanks to Tony Taylor & Richard Taylor for information about this bird's life-history.)

Colour-ringed Wheatear, Quarter Wall, April 2016 © C&M Tims
Please would all birdwatchers visiting Lundy during spring and summer 2016 keep an eye open for colour-ringed Wheatears and report the same details as requested last year. Photos are especially helpful. You will be making a valuable contribution to monitoring the year-to-year survival of Lundy's Wheatears as part of a national programme operated by the BTO.

Puffin news: the Lundy Conservation Team's Facebook page reports that the first Puffins were seen on 22 March and that numbers in Jenny's Cove had reached 88 by 1 April.

Monday 4 April 2016

Mon 4 Apr – Plenty on the move

Rob Duncan reports a quieter day for numbers, with 51 new birds ringed, including 25 Blackcaps. There were few Phylloscopus warbler retraps, suggesting that most of yesterday's Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler influx had already moved on. There was strong passage of Meadow Pipits and hirundines, plus 3 White Wagtails and a Grey Wagtail  at Rocket Pole Pond. Also 2 Sandwich Terns in the Landing Bay, a Merlin and 3 Stonechats. Four of the six Long-tailed Tits were retrapped.

Sunday 3 April 2016

Sun 3 Apr – SE winds bring Osprey, Ring Ouzels & a fall of common migrants

Rob Duncan reports a sizeable fall of early migrants, mainly Chiffchaffs (up to 400 were present, spread right across the island, including good numbers passing through Millcombe all day). Alongside them were 40 Willow Warblers and double digits of both Blackcaps and Goldcrests. The day's highlight was an Osprey seen at 9.30 a.m. by Martyn Roper, who also found the first two Ring Ouzels of the year. Other birds included the long-staying Coal Tit and 6 Long-tailed Tits. Altogether 95 birds were ringed during the day, of which 51 were Chiffchaffs. In addition, one Chiffchaff was carrying a Jersey ring.