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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.