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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."