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Thursday 14 December 2017

4 to 11 Dec – Fulmars back on their breeding ledges

Alan Rowland has sent the following update for the period Monday 4th to Monday 11th December:

The Lapwing was still present on 5th.

Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were common, with up to half-a-dozen of each recorded daily. There appeared to be a small fall of Redwings on 10th & 11th, with up to 20 on both days. Up to a dozen Robins and Wrens were being reported from Millcombe and along the East Side to the Quarries.

Fulmars have already claimed nesting sites at Long Roost, where there were 24 on 5th (though only seven on 9th).

A single Goldcrest was on the wall above Government House on 6th.

A Merlin was on a rubble heap at the Quarries on 6th and a Sparrowhawk appeared outside Little St John's on 9th.

Monday 4 December 2017

Late Nov & early Dec – Still some late migration but things settling down for winter

Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar – of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and Imperial College London – one of Lundy's indefatigable House Sparrow researchers, reports that members of 'Team Sparrow' (who are seasonal residents when the sparrows are breeding, but only occasional visitors in winter) spent 11 days on the island from 20th November to 1st December. Alfredo writes:

"Lucy Winder, the new PhD student, and I started our sparrow catching on 21st and realized that the population of House Sparrows seems to be doing very well. By the end of our stay we had processed 205 captures of 144 different sparrows, a new winter record for our project."

Colour-ringed female House Sparrow, Nov 2017 © Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar

"Lucy and I also spent some time searching for non-sparrow avifauna. To my surprise, we found a Coal Tit and a Goldcrest around Millcombe, my first on Lundy. We walked the East Side Path up to the Quarries quite a few times and encountered a Sparrowhawk (likely a 1st-year bird) and a Chiffchaff on several occasions. During the first days of our visit we saw two Merlins trying to hunt a small passerine, but none were seen later on, raising the question of whether they had left already. Thrush migration was astonishing. Dozens of Redwings invaded the island, and Fieldfares, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were also a very common sight. There still seemed to be some Chaffinch migration going on as flocks of up to 10 were seen a few times. We also saw 3 Goldfinches, single Siskin, Meadow Pipit and Skylark, 3 Dunnocks, tons of Wrens and Robins, a Water Rail (heard), a Lapwing, 2 Peregrines, and a Jack Snipe at the Rocket Pole."

Coal Tit, Millcombe, Nov 2017 © Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar
Goldcrest, Millcombe, Nov 2017 © Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar

Lundy Warden Dean Jones also reports the following sightings of note entered in the LFS logbook since the last blog update on 17 Nov:

Mallard – Max of 11 in St Helen's Field on 24 Nov.
Great Northern Diver – One in the Landing Bay on 3 Dec.
Manx Shearwater – Two off the East Side on 23 Nov, plus two shearwater sp. on 22 Nov (Dean Jones).
Gannet – Seen on most days, with a max of 19 on 1 Dec.
Water Rail – Recorded on most days; max 4 on 23 Nov.
Lapwing – The single bird reported by Alfredo has remained in Barton Field since 30 Nov.
Jack Snipe – Presumably the same bird that Alfredo saw (on 1 Dec) had been flushed by Dean at Kistvaen Pond on 30 Nov.
Woodcock – One in South West Field on 2 Dec.
auk spp. – Recorded on most days, with a max of 200+ on 1 Dec.
Great Skua – One chasing Kittiwakes in the Landing Bay on 27 Nov (Dean Jones).
Kittiwake – Max of 400+ in the Landing Bay on 23 Nov.
Mediterranean Gull – Three adult winter birds in the Landing Bay during the afternoon of 3 Dec (Dean Jones).
Firecrest – Singles on 2 & 3 Dec (Dean Jones & Zoë Barton).
Coal Tit – The same very mobile bird present until at least 2 Dec (Dean Jones & Zoë Barton).
Blackbird – Good passage; max 29 on 2 Dec.
Fieldfare – Seen on most days; max 16 on 30 Nov.
Song Thrush – Good passage; max 7 on 2 Dec.
Redwing – Present every day; max 100+ on 30 Nov.
Stonechat – Two on 29 Nov; singles on other dates.
Black Redstart – A female-type bird near North Light on 29 Nov (Dean Jones & Zoë Barton).
Chaffinch – A big drop in numbers since mid-Nov, with 50+ on 24th the highest count and numbers since then rarely exceeding half-a-dozen.
Linnet – One on 24 Nov.
Brambling – Two on 24 Nov.
Reed Bunting – Six next to Quarter Wall on 24 Nov.

Stop press! Referring to the Mediterranean Gulls seen yesterday (3 Dec), Dean has just written: "I had four more today (Monday 4 Dec), all adult birds feeding in a superb mixed seabird frenzy this afternoon. Alongside them were Harbour Porpoise, 400+ Kittiwakes, two adult winter Black-headed Gulls, one 2nd calendar-year Common Gull, 200+ Herring Gulls, eight Great Black-backed Gulls, a single Lesser Black-backed Gull, seven Gannets, three Shags and 363 auk spp. (mostly Razorbills). Really exciting stuff; it was hard to get up and go back to the office after that!"

Many thanks to Alfredo and Dean for the news and a warm welcome to Lucy; we hope your sparrow studies on Lundy are academically rewarding but also hugely enjoyable!

Robin, Millcombe, Lundy, Nov 2017 © Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar

Saturday 18 November 2017

Fri 17 Nov – Major Starling migration, Mistle Thrush & Snow Bunting

Friday 17th, Tony Taylor's last day on this particular visit, saw a clear, chilly dawn, following the passage of a cold front from the north on Thursday afternoon, with plenty of the birds on the move. Totals for the day were: Merlin 1, Peregrine 2, Skylark 4, Starling 1,260 mainly moving south towards Hartland, Fieldfare 14, Song Thrush 4, Redwing 80, Mistle Thrush 2 (scarce on Lundy), Stonechat 2 (m&f), Meadow Pipit 5, Brambling 3, Chaffinch 70, Linnet 3, Siskin 3 and a Snow Bunting flying over the stonecrusher area.

Tony says: "The raptors were very active, with the Merlin targeting feeding flocks of Starlings and Chaffinches around the Lighthouse Field, a female Peregrine making two unsuccessful attempts on Starling flocks, and a pair cooperating to take a thrush-sized bird, eventually caught after diving from flying high up to low on the west side of Castle Hill. Then came a Raven stealing a bird (and plucking it, still alive) from a male Peregrine that had it on the ground in the Tent Field. The Peregrine mobbed the Raven to no avail."

Thursday 16 November 2017

Thu 16 Nov – A high count of Common Scoters

Today, 16 Nov, saw 30 Common Scoters moving north up the East Side – one of the higher counts on record for the island in recent years. Otherwise, in Tony Taylor's words, "several species seemed a mix of leftovers from previous days and new movement", and included: 9 Skylarks, a Coal Tit, 18 Fieldfares, 75 Redwings, 2 Stonechats, 8 Bramblings, 95 Chaffinches, a Greenfinch (arriving from the east) and 12 Siskins.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Wed 15 Nov – A quieter day but late news of a Brent Goose on 14th

Tony Taylor reports that today, 15 Nov, was generally quieter, although migrants were still in evidence, including: a lone Golden Plover, 8 Goldcrests, 2 Chiffchaffs, 4 Blackcaps, 8 Fieldfares, 9 Song Thrushes, 90 Redwings, 26 Brambings and 80 Chaffinches. There was no sign of yesterday's Olive-backed Pipit.

Tony has also relayed additional news, from other visitors, for yesterday, 14 Nov: a Brent Goose was flying around the North End, and further Brambling sightings in the north and west of the island resulted in a revised day total of 52!

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Tue 14 Nov – Olive-backed Pipit and Brambling influx

Tony reports "a very interesting day", ending with an Olive-backed Pipit in St John's Valley; the second confirmed sighting of the autumn, following one on 13 Oct, but there have been tantalizing 'possibles' in recent weeks (see posts for 28/29 Oct and 3 Nov). Bramblings were "amazing: 37 birds, feeding in lots of unexpected places". This is by some margin the highest one-day total since 'The Birds of Lundy' was published in 2007, but still a long way off the all-time record of 510 on 25 Oct 1973! Also of note today were a Great Skua heading south off the East Side, 3 Woodcocks, a Coal Tit in Quarter Wall Copse, a Firecrest in Millcombe, one Blackcap, three Chiffchaffs, 115 Redwings, 16 Fieldfares, a Ring Ouzel in Millcombe, 47 Siskins, 90 Chaffinches and a Reed Bunting. So just as it seemed that migration might be starting to tail off, another wave of new arrivals keeps up the excitement!

Incidentally, there was a notable passage of Bramblings, Chaffinches and thrushes over the North Devon coast near Ilfracombe this morning, in drizzly, murky conditions; clearly part of the same influx noted on Lundy.

Monday 13 November 2017

Mon 13 Nov – A good variety of migrants still in evidence

Tony Taylor reports a morning movement of thrushes, finches and starlings, including 370 Redwings, 35 Fieldfares, 30 Blackbirds, 10 Song Thrushes, 105 Starlings, at least 105 Chaffinches (though Tony points out that there were probably more around but his attention was focused on ringing), 5 Bramblings, 5 Siskins and a lone Greenfinch. Also logged for the day were: 3 Teal (one, unusually, was in St Helen's Field), a Great Northern Diver, 5 Water Rails (one of which was ringed), 3 Snipe, 2 Merlins, a Firecrest, a Chiffchaff and 3 Blackcaps.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Sat 11 & Sun 12 Nov – Thrushes still moving through

Tony Taylor had very little to report for yesterday, 11th November, due to "miserable weather", with the only notable records being three Water Rails, a Chiffchaff and five Redwings.

Sunday 12th was bright and cold, but windy with showers. Thrushes early on in the day included 18 Fieldfares, 50 Redwings, 6 Song Thrushes and 14 Blackbirds. Among other sightings were single Sparrowhawk, Firecrest, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Redpoll, and Coal Tit, plus two Stonechats and two Bramblings. An estimated 140 Kittiwakes were feeding off the East Side, "sadly too far to be sure what a few other gulls and a shearwater with them were, even with scope".

Saturday 11 November 2017

Fri 10 Nov – Things quieting down

Tony Taylor arrived on the island yesterday (Friday 10th November) and reports two Water Rails, a Woodcock, a Merlin, small numbers of Goldcrests, Redwings, Song Thrushes and Chaffinches, and a single Siskin, so migration has evidently quietened down a lot from a week ago – as would be expected at this stage of the autumn.

Incidentally, the Dartford Warbler seen and photographed by Paul Holt, and reported in the previous post, was only the 9th record for Lundy, six of which have now been in autumn.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Wed 1st to Fri 3rd Nov – Migration still in full swing

Paul Holt has contributed the following comprehensive updates, showing that migration continued to be in full swing last week, with some Lundy rarities thrown into the mix too...

 1st November

“Finches still on the move – 1,995 Chaffinches, 96 Siskins, 50 Bramblings, 6 Redpolls. One Hawfinch present in Millcombe. Two Reed Buntings at the Rocket Pole flew off south and later there were 4 at Stoneycroft. Thrushes included 42 Fieldfares, 54 Redwings, 14 Song Thrushes, 15 Blackbirds and 3 Mistle Thrushes – a single in the field near where the helicopter lands, and then later two rattling very high over Millcombe. A Yellow-browed Warbler showed amazingly well, feeding on the west side of the wall which goes up to the Old Light from the stonecrusher. 5 Goldcrests, 2 Firecrests, 4 Chiffchaffs, and 4 Blackcaps. Waders included 1 Oystercatcher,1 Dunlin, Golden Plover heard, Woodcock flushed from path to Hanmers. Coal Tit still in Millcombe. 5 Stonechats, 1 Black Redstart below Windy Corner.”

2nd November

“Finches: 365 Chaffinches, 25 Bramblings, 14 Siskins, 2 Redpolls, 4 Linnets, and 5 Greenfinches. Single Reed Buntings at the Rocket Pole and Stoneycroft, 1 Lapland Bunting south at Rocket Pole. Movement of Skylarks with 46 in total, most of which appeared to come in from the south. Thrushes: 209 Redwings, 10 Fieldfares, 33 Blackbirds, 18 Song Thrushes. Crests and warblers included 10 Goldcrests, 2 Firecrests, 11 Chiffchaffs and 7 Blackcaps, but I was surprised to see a Dartford Warbler by Bramble Villa East, where we were staying. It flew across the path from dense brambles and then fed actively, working up the slope in amongst the low, stunted gorse bushes. Mike Buck reported seeing a Yellow-browed Warbler feeding actively by Bramble Villa. Offshore from the Landing Bay, the 50 Kittiwakes and 70 Herring Gulls went into panic mode as a dark-phase Arctic Skua harassed them. Dean saw two Mediterranean Gulls whilst doing the last seal survey of the year. Two Little Egrets flew north up the East Side. Also a lone Stock Dove flew north, 2 Grey Wagtails and 4 alba wgatails went south, the Merlin was still very active, 6 Stonechats,  3 Snipe (we saw one and another two reported) and Coal Tit still present.”

Dartford Warbler, near Brambles, 2 Nov 2017 © Paul Holt
Dartford Warbler, 2 Nov 2017 © Paul Holt
3rd November

“Friday had a good feel about it, but time was limited due to helicopter flight. Finches: 600 Chaffinches, 7 Bramblings, 18 Siskins, 1 Hawfinch in Millcombe. One Snow Bunting circling over Millcombe. Thrushes: 18 Fieldfares, 600 Redwings, 26 Blackbirds, 6 Song Thrushes and at last a single Ring Ouzel chakking in tree tops of Millcombe. 7 Goldcrests, 4 Blackcaps, and the Coal Tit was still present. One Lesser Black-backed Gull. And finally a Black Redstart on the roof of the Tavern. On that last morning, as we walked up from Bramble Villa, I did have a pipit call twice which sounded like a Tree Pipit but I could not see it and could not find it on looking later. All in all, a brilliant visit; the first we have made in the autumn – what a great time to go. Strange to be the only birder other than Dean. It is amazing how much has been seen this autumn considering the very low number of birders; just think what would be seen if there were a good gang for a month or so…”

Little Egrets off the East Side, 2 Nov 2017 © Paul Holt

Monday 6 November 2017

30 & 31 Oct – Finches galore...

The following highlights from Monday 30th and Tuesday 31st October are from Paul Holt – thanks a lot, Paul!

"On our arrival day, Monday 30th, birds were on the move with our figures added to Andy Jayne's giving totals of 640 Chaffinch, 260 Redwing, 205 Fieldfare, and 9 Brambling. Ace to see 3 Firecrests and a Coal Tit feeding on the ground and tussocks in St John's Valley.

On Tuesday 31st the place was covered in Chaffinches pouring through... Continual counting all day gave a total of 4,360 going south but this is definitely an underestimate. Along with them were 40 Brambling, 183 Siskin, 2 Redpoll, 570 Starling, 200 Fieldfare, 215 Redwing, 31 Blackbird and 36 Song Thrush. There were two Hawfinch together in Millcombe and then later a single bird in St Helen's Copse. The two were associating so closely together that I think the lone bird was additional. One female Bullfinch, also in St Helens copse. The 3 Firecrest and the Coal Tit were still present. Warblers were interesting with 8 Blackcaps, 19 Goldcrests, 12 Chiffchaffs plus a very pale Siberian-type Chiffchaff with dark legs and what I presume was an acredula Willow Warbler, both of which were in Smelly Gully. A Merlin was very busy hunting along the East Side; I bet it had a belly full of finch..."

Tuesday 31 October 2017

Lundy pictures 25th–30th Oct 2017

Below are six photos by Andy Jayne of some of the species he saw during his eventful week on the island.

Merlin. © Andy Jayne
Yellow-browed Warbler. © Andy Jayne
Fieldfare. © Andy Jayne
Coal Tit. © Andy Jayne
Red-breasted Flycatcher. © Andy Jayne
Firecrest. © Andy Jayne

30th Oct – White-fronted Geese

Andy Jayne's last report before leaving the island yesterday as follows:

"The highlight today was a small flock of five White-fronted Geese which flew down the east side, but then turned and appeared to drop down, possibly on the Airfield. I didn't have time to chase them, so alerted Dean Jones who drove up the island and saw them in flight. Not sure if they were Greenland or Russian race, but all were adults. Millcombe was quite busy with the Coal Tit still present, a female Bullfinch, a Greenfinch, six Bramblings, two Hawfinches, a Mistle Thrush and I estimated 170 Fieldfares moving through. Also a Yellow-browed Warbler (unringed) near the stonecrusher and, as usual, a Merlin belting around."

The White-fronted Goose record is the 21st for Lundy since recording by the LFS started in 1947, but only the third this century following single birds in Nov 2001 and Oct 2003.

Thanks Andy for sending your sightings of what proved to be an exciting week. Paul Holt is on the island this week and will send updates when mobile signals allow.

Sunday 29 October 2017

28th & 29th Oct – quieter days but a Red-breasted Flycatcher

Andy Jayne, struggling with both an intermittent signal and gusting wind, managed to get the following abbreviated updates through on a quieter couple of days:

28th October:
Little Egret – one.
Lapwing – three.
Woodcock – one.
Merlin – one.
Firecrest – seven.
Lesser Whitethroat – one.
Black Redstart – one.
Red-breasted Flycatcher – one.
Redwing – 800.
Fieldfare – 150. 
Brambling – three.
Hawfinch – one.

In addition, either a Tree Pipit or an Olive-backed Pipit seen twice in flight over Millcombe in the early afternoon – "tantalizing" as Andy put it.

29th October:
Merlin – one.
Firecrest – at least three.
Coal Tit – one in Millcombe and later in Benjamin's Chair feeding on a rock face in company with a Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff. (The Coal Tit was another Lundy first for Warden Dean Jones!)
Black Redstart – one at South Light (found by Dean Jones).
Wheatear – one at South Light (found by Dean Jones).
Redwing and Chaffinch – "a few".
Hawfinch – four.

...and a probable Olive-backed Pipit in St Helen's Combe.

Saturday 28 October 2017

27th Oct – another plethora of birds

Andy Jayne, on the island until Monday, and Justin Zantboer, who left today on the Oldenburg's last sailing of the year, provide today's update.

Common Scoter – a male flying past North Light (a well-deserved Lundy tick for Andy Jayne).
Sparrowhawk – one.
Golden Plover – two on the Airfield.
Lapwing – one on the Airfield.
Black-headed Gull – two feeding offshore.
Merlin – one.
Goldcrest – 50+.
Firecrest – four, all ringed.
House Martin – two over Middle Park.
Long-tailed Tit – a party of six in Millcombe, all caught and ringed.
Chiffchaff – five, plus one Siberian Chiffchaff ringed.
Blackcap – 30+.
Garden Warbler – a second late bird in as many days, also ringed.
Ring Ouzel – one.
Fieldfare – one, the first of the autumn.
Song Thrush – 30+.
Redwing – 150+.
Mistle Thrush – one.
Black Redstart – two at North End and one around Quarters.
Wheatear – one at North End.
Red-throated Pipit – calling, flew off south-west at 08.15.
Brambling – 14.
Chaffinch – 250+.
Hawfinch – two over and two ringed.
Bullfinch – a male.
Redpoll – ten.
Siskin – 100+.
Lapland Bunting – three.
Reed Bunting – two at Quarter Wall.

Thanks to this week's recorders: Andy Jayne and the ringing team of Justin, Ellie & Dan Zantboer, Rob Duncan and Gavin Bennett. Below are some of the photos taken by Justin during their last day.

Ellie, Dan and bird bags. © Justin Zantboer
Siberian Chiffchaff. © Justin Zantboer
Dan, Dean and Hawfinch. © Justin Zantboer

Later in the day Martin Thorne sent the following note after an exciting day-trip:

"Had a fantastic but short trip today. On the crossing over from Bideford lots of thrushes, pipits and finches all heading south-east. A flock of 30 Common Scoters. Half way across couple of Gannets being trailed by a Pomarine Skua with tail-spoons. A Minke whale surfaced three times about four miles from Lundy. A Great Northern Diver was flying south-east and two pale-phase Arctic Skuas were harrying Kittiwakes a mile off Tibbetts Point. Six Portuguese man o' war were on the landing beach along with a couple of two- to three-week old seal pups. Fifty Common Dolphins off South West Point were attended by Gannets and couple of skuas. I saw Hawfinch, Siskins and a Ring Ouzel in Millcombe, and flocks of winter thrushes flying over and being chased down by a Merlin and a Sparrowawk. Phew, I could go on!"

Thursday 26 October 2017

26th Oct – a day full of birds!

Here's an updated bulletin on yesterday's incredible day, with extra info texted by Justin Zantboer from the Oldenburg on the return crossing.

An exhausted Andy Jayne rang through the day's sightings late in the evening after what he described as an extraordinary day of birds, with large numbers of Chaffinch and Redwing passing through, and more Hawfinches arriving. While Andy was filling his notebook out and about the island, Rob Duncan and team enjoyed their "best day's ringing" on Lundy, trapping 255 birds, mostly thrushes, warblers, crests and Siskins.

Ruff – one in Lighthouse Field.
Woodcock – one, the first of the autumn, in Smelly Gully.
Black-headed Gull – an adult over Millcombe.
Woodpigeon – two over Millcombe.
Swallow – 15.
House Martin – 2
Firecrest – eight, five of which were caught and ringed.
Yellow-browed Warbler – three caught and ringed.
Willow Warbler – a late bird caught and ringed.
Chiffchaff – 20, including a strong candidate for Siberian Chiffchaff caught and ringed.
Blackcap – 40.
Garden Warbler – another late bird, also caught and ringed.
Blackbird – 50+.
Song Thrush – 100+.  
Redwing – 1,000+.
Mistle Thrush – one in Millcombe.
Black Redstart – two near the Old Light.
Red-throated Pipit – one in the Brick Field late in the afternoon.
Brambling – 15.
Chaffinch – 6,500.
Hawfinch – 15, though Andy considers this to be a conservative estimate, with constant movement and birds coming in off the sea. One caught and ringed.
Redpoll – 2.
Siskin – 350.
Snow Bunting – one on the Airfield.
Lapland Bunting – one on the Airfield and in flight over Lighthouse Field.
Reed Bunting – one at Pondsbury.

And lastly, a probable Olive-backed Pipit heard by Andy Jayne at 08.55 as it flew south over the Terrace and heard over Brambles by the ringing team at 09.00.

Photos below from Lundy Warden, Dean Jones.

Firecrest. © Dean Jones
Hawfinch. © Dean Jones
Yellow-browed Warbler. © Dean Jones

Wednesday 25 October 2017

25th Oct – Hawfinches still present

Andy Jayne, on the island until Monday 30th Oct, reports today's highlights as a Lapland Bunting flying around over the Brick Field, and two Hawfinches in Millcombe. Other sightings included two Merlins, a Water Rail, 60 Goldcrests, three House Martins, five Stonechats, 40 Siskins and a single Greenfinch, while Trevor Dobie reported a Short-eared Owl near Quarry Cottages being chased by Carrion Crows.

12th Oct Snow Bunting

Strange how ships can pass in the night over a period of years without ever being aware of each other. Such has been the case with Essex birdwatchers Julian and Maggie Bowden and the North Devon-based Lundy bird recorders Tim Davis and Tim Jones. Julian and Maggie's visits date back to at least 1979 when they were on the island, as was TimD, when Britain's second Rüppell's Warbler turned up on 1 June. They didn't meet then and although all four have visited in most autumns since, it was only this year that they got to know each other, largely thanks to the year's third Yellow-browed Warbler, which Julian finally clapped eyes on near Quarry Pond.

On 12th Oct Julian and Maggie walked to North End, encountering a Snow Bunting in the vehicle turning circle above the steps down to the light. Maggie, never without her camera while out and about the island, took several shots, including the lovely portrait below.

Snow Bunting, North End. © Maggie Bowden

Tuesday 24 October 2017

20th to 22nd Oct – Storm Brian but few birds!

Chris and Carol Baillie's stay on Lundy was extended by a day with the arrival on 21st of Storm Brian, which Chris described as a "humdinger"! Thus no boat and no helicopter, and generally few birds around, with no thrush movements as yet. Chris did an hour's seawatch from the castle during the storm but didn't see a single bird – "my worst seawatch yet on Lundy"!

20th October: 
Mallard – 11 (nine females and two males).
Great Northern Diver – yesterday's bird still present off the East Side.
Kittiwake – 31.
Swallow – 26.
Starling – 80 (most likely the resident island population of adults and this year's young)
Chaffinch – 90 (compared to 250 the day before).
Siskin – 55 (82 the day before).

21st October (WSW gale most of the day):
Great Northern Diver – one still present off the East Side.

Sparrowhawk – two.
Oystercatcher – 18 off the East Side flying eastwards.
Black Redstart – a female or immature bird.

22nd October:
Sparrowhawk – one.
Merlin – one.

Lundy fungi guru John Hedger, at his coastal home near Ullapool in north-west Scotland, reported the arrival of "Fieldfares and Scandinavian Blackbirds in force" on 23rd Oct, so they're on their way!

Friday 20 October 2017

18th & 19th Oct – another Yellow-browed Warbler

Chris and Carol Baillie report the autumn's fourth Yellow-browed Warbler on 18th, October's first Woodpigeon and Black Redstart on 19th, along with four Wheatears, one showing features of a Greenland bird. Two Sparrowhawks still present, and a Great Northern Diver off the East Side. Sadly, one of the two remaining Hawfinches died on 19th, apparently from starvation. Migrant numbers have generally been modest, but gull numbers are gradually increasing.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Bird photos and storm Ophelia, 14-17th October

Below is a selection of photographs taken by Richard Campey on Lundy from 14th to 17th October, during which storm 'Ophelia' passed over the island.

Red-breasted Flycatcher feeding by Quarry Pond 
(taken in the gathering gloom at 6pm). © Richard Campey
Black Redstart outside Square Cottage. © Richard Campey
 Barred Warbler outside Brambles East. © Richard Campey
 Hawfinch in Millcombe. © Richard Campey
Brambling in Millcombe Valley. © Richard Campey
Redwing outside Brambles. © Richard Campey
 Siskin on the Terrace. © Richard Campey
 Siskin by Quarters. © Richard Campey
 Siskin by Quarters. © Richard Campey
...and finally 'Ophelia' hits the island on Monday 16th October. 
© Richard Campey

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Tue 17th Oct – Little Bunting & Hawfinches

Late-morning on Tuesday – during the calm after the storm of the previous day – Richard Campey had brief, but close views of a Little Bunting on the Terrace. It flew past him (twice), landed briefly, then disappeared up the slope in the general direction of the Timekeeper's Hut and Quarry Pond. It was not seen again.

In addition, Malcolm Shakespeare's notes on yesterday's daytrip, including two Hawfinches in Millcombe and 22 Common Scoters on the return crossing, can be found on Devon Bird sightings.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Mon 16th Oct – Heads down as Ophelia passes by

Unsurprisingly, there was little to report from the island, birdwise, on Monday. Windy conditions from first thing developed into a sustained severe gale, with dangerously strong storm-force gusts, during the late morning, throughout the afternoon and well into the evening, as ex-hurricane Ophelia showed her hand. A message from Alan Rowland, part of the team of Lundy Field Society conservation volunteers working on the island this week said, "I have never seen such seas". Huge quantities of recently cut hay that had been drying out on the Tent Field were liberally distributed around the village and elsewhere, prompting an all-hands-on-deck tidying-up operation today. Otherwise, initial reports suggest that the island may have escaped relatively unscathed, in contrast to the Bird Observatory at Skokholm, which is just about within sight of Lundy on an exceptionally clear day. Our very best wishes to the team there as they assess the damage and get on with the clean-up and emergency repairs.

This morning (Tuesday 17th) Richard Campey reports light winds and a remarkably calm(ish) sea off Lundy, while MS Oldenburg has just set sail from Ilfracombe, bang on schedule; how quickly things can change in less than 24 hours!

Sunday 15 October 2017

Sun 15th Oct – A day of scarce migrants...

After an unpromising start, with very little visible migration in the hours immediately after dawn, things picked up considerably from late morning and it turned out to be a busy day for scarce migrants. The highlights were a Red-breasted Flycatcher, initially just a brief sighting in the Terrace Trap willows but later showing well at Quarry Pond, and a Barred Warbler in Millcombe, both found by Richard Campey (see photos above). The supporting cast included at least 7 Hawfinches (of which one flew out of gorse at Quarter Wall (!) and four flew over the Terrace Trap area), 7 Firecrests (Terrace, Quarter Wall Copse, Millcombe), 1 Black Redstart (outside Square Cottage), 3 Lapland Buntings (flying over the water tanks) and a Snow Bunting (Terrace). Other sightings included 150 Siskins "everywhere", 40 Goldcrests, 40 Blackcaps, 6 Chiffchaffs, a Garden Warbler (Terrace) and a Reed Bunting at Quarter Wall.

Observations from Chris & Carol Baillie and Richard Campey.

All hatches are now battened down for the 60mph+ gusts forecast for Lundy as ex-hurricane Ophelia moves across Ireland...

Note: the blog on the Red-necked Phalarope posted on 3 Oct has been updated with additional information and a nice little GIF.

Saturday 14 October 2017

Sat 14th Oct – More Hawfinches arrive

A grey dawn with murky low cloud and still a stiff SSW wind didn't seem promising for visible migration, but 185 Meadow Pipits were logged within an hour or so and there was a small movement of Chaffinches, with around 50 birds the vanguard of the thousands (hopefully) to come over the next three weeks. With them a couple of Bramblings, a male Greenfinch, five Siskins and a Redpoll. Most of the Goldcrests of the preceding two days had moved on, with only 15 or so logged.

A clearly newly arrived Hawfinch appeared in Millcombe at just before 11.00am and flew from perch to perch calling constantly before eventually settling. By early afternoon it had been joined by two more and all three birds were feeding on blackberries on the side of the Ugly. Other sightings included the first Great Northern Diver of the season (Landing Bay – see photo below), a Sparrowhawk, a Merlin, a Ring Ouzel (Millcombe), several Stonechats, a Grey Wagtail and 35 Swallows. Sadly there was no further sign of yesterday's Olive-backed Pipit. The boat crossing to Ilfracombe brought good views of single Bonxie and Arctic Skua shadowing a small flock of Kittiwakes less than a mile out from the island.

Update: After the Oldenburg had sailed, Dean Jones found that the Hawfinch flock in Millcombe had grown to five birds. Not quite the 70 reported from Scilly, but a total only surpassed on Lundy in October 1988, when there was a maximum of nine on 25th.

Observations from: Chris Baillie, Julian Bowden, Richard Campey, Tim Davis, James Diamond, Dean Jones, Tim Jones and Steve McAusland of MARINElife

Great Northern Diver, Landing Bay, 14 Oct 2017 © Steve McAusland

Friday 13 October 2017

Friday 13 October - Olive-backed Pipit in Millcombe

The highlight of the day was an Olive-backed Pipit found in Millcombe mid-morning by James Diamond and also seen by Tim Davis and Tim Jones. It was observed well over a period of about 20 minutess, in an area from the Secret Garden to the side of the Ugly. On one occasion it flew across the mouth of Millcombe and couldn't be relocated in spite of intensive searching.

Generally many fewer birds in often murky conditions and a strong south-westerly wind. Sightings included: Meadow Pipit 300, Swallow 45, Goldcrest 30, Merlin 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Great Skua 1, Arctic Skua 1, Firecrest 1, Wheatear 2, Spotted Flycatcher 1, Siskin 2, Brambling 1, Redpoll 1, Greenfinch 1, Reed Bunting 2.

Observers were Chris Baillie, James Diamond, Tim Davis, Tim Jones, Julian Bowden and warden Dean Jones.

Thursday 12th October - overnight arrival of Goldcrests and strong visible migration

James Diamond, Tim Jones, Tim Davis, Chris Baillie and Julian Bowden report a fall of Goldcrests and strong visible migration. Counts included 200 Goldcrests, 850 Meadow Pipits, 150 Linnets, 70 Swallows, 35 Chaffinches (the first noticeable influx of the autumn), 25 Blackcaps, 25 Pied Wagtails, 22 Blackbirds, Also 1 House Martin, 1 Grey Wagtail, 4 Firecrest, 1 Yellow-browed Warbler (Quarry Pond), 2 Song Thrushes, 1 Wheatear, 3 Redpolls, 3 Bramblings (first of autumn), 3 Reed Buntings, 1 Snow Bunting (found by Julian Bowden at the North End), 8 Snipe (including a flock of 5 over Landing Bay!), 10 Golden Plover, 1 Teal.
Also 2 Humming-bird Hawkmoth.

Thursday 12 October 2017

Wednesday 11th October - Balearic Shearwaters, Bonxies and a Pomarine Skua: the reward for lots of seawatching

Tim Davis, Tim Jones, James Diamond and Chris Baillie report a very windy all day, with about 3 hours of rain early pm. They did lots of seawatching from north and south ends of the island, which brought 1 Red-throated Diver, 13 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Balearic Shearwaters, 50 Gannets, 8 Guillemots, 60 Razorbills, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 3 Great Skuas and a 1st-winter Pomarine Skua (off Castle). Birding on land was tough going, but main sightings were single Merlin, Golden Plover, Firecrest, Song Thrush, Redpoll and Siskin. Also 20 Meadow Pipits, 20 Swallows, 7 Goldcrests, 5 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blackcap, 17 Goldfinches.

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Tuesday 10th October - no significant migration and few seabirds

Tim, Tim and James report that windy weather ruled out any significant movement of land birds, so they did quite a bit of seawatching, but that was super sparse even by Lundy standards, confirming impression of birders on  both Saturday and Tuesday Oldenburg crossings. Best sightings were 5 Manx Shearwaters, 15 Gannets, a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Common Gull (quite scarce for Lundy). Otherwise, 30 Swallows, 1 House Martin, 80 Meadow Pipits, 3 Skylarks, 30 Goldcrests, 8 Chiffchaffs, 1 Willow Warbler, 6 Blackcaps, 2 Stonechats, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Redpoll.

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Monday 9th October - a quieter day with light diurnal migration

Tim, Tim and James report a much quieter day, with very little visible migration first thing, compared with Sunday, but picked up for a few hours mid-late morning with a definite turnover of birds. Observations included: Cormorant 8 south, Grey Heron 2, Sparrowhawk 1, Water Rail 7, Merlin 2, Goldcrest 50, Firecrest 1, Swallow 250, House Martin 70, Chiffchaff 13, Willow Warbler 5 (an unusually high count for Oct), Blackcap 30, Ring Ouzel 1, Redwing (first of the autumn) 4 in Millcombe, Blackbird 20, Song Thrush 1, Spotted Flycatcher 1, Robin 32, Stonechat 8, Dunnock 13, Grey Wagtail 1, Pied Wagtail 8, Meadow Pipit 150, Linnet 150, Redpoll 2, Goldfinch 130, Siskin 19, Crossbill 1 in Millcombe late morning, Reed Bunting 4 (1 Quarters, 1 Millcombe, 2 over lower East Side path).

Six Common Dolphins were off Rat Island.

Late news for Sunday 8th was a 1st-winter Turtle Dove (photo below by Julian Arkell) on the main track north of the village.

First-winter Turtle Dove. © Julian Arkell

Sunday 8 October 2017

Sunday 8th October - an excellent day with strong migration

Tim Jones, Tim Davis and James Diamond report a fabulous day of sun and light winds, with near constant migration. The 2 Hawfinches left high to the east at 7.55am. Two Yellow-browed Warblers were located, one in Smelly Gully and one along the Upper East Side path. One ringtail Hen Harrier passed high over Quarter Wall, a Short-eared Owl was seen near Tibbetts, and there was a Jack Snipe at Pondsbury. A Lesser Whitethroat was seen at Quarter Wall and a Ring Ouzel and a Garden Warbler were in Millcombe. There was a very strong migration of common migrants, including 500 Swallow, 40 House Martin, 1 Sand Martin, 700 Meadow Pipit, 300 Linnet, 120 Goldfinch. Also counted were 6 Water Rail, 2 Teal, 13 Oystercatcher, 1 Snipe, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Merlin, 5 Wheatear and 8 Stonechat. There were also 60 Goldcrest, 8 Chiffchaff, 10 Blackcap, a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Siskin and 2 Redpoll. Between 17:00 and 17:45, 3 Grey Herons were seen flying south towards Hartland Point.

Saturday 7 October 2017

Saturday 7th October - Yellow-browed Warbler and two Hawfinches

Tim Jones, Tim Davis and James Diamond arriving on the island for a one week stay report a rough, almost birdless crossing althjough a Storm Petrel close to the island was seen by James McCarthy.
On the island, Tim, Tim and James report 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, a Merlin, 3 Water Rail, 1 Golden Plover, 1 Snipe, 40 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 40 Meadow Pipit, a Grey Wagtail, 8 Dunnock , 25 Robin, 2 Stonechat, a Song Thrush, 30 Blackcap, and 3 Chiffchaff. A Yellow-browed Warbler was located in Smelly Gully, and there were 30 Goldcrest and a Firecrest in Millcombe Wood. A Spotted Flycatcher was seen in Millcombe and singles of Redpoll and Siskin were reported. Two Hawfinch were feeding on blackberries on the side of the Ugly and periodically flying up into trees when disturbed by passing people.

Tuesday 3 October 2017

September Buff-breasted Sandpiper & Snow Bunting gallery

Herewith some gasp-worthy shots, kindly contributed by Mark Worden, of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the Airfield and Snow Bunting near Pondsbury on 11 & 12 Sep.

All images copyright © Mark Worden.

Late news of a Red-necked Phalarope in September – updated

AxeBirder Steve Waite kindly drew our attention to a recent Facebook post that included several grainy photos of what is nevertheless clearly a phalarope species taken on a "small freshwater pond on Lundy" towards the end of September. Close examination of the pics suggests that they in fact showed a Red-necked Phalarope, which, if accepted as such by Devon Birds Records Committee, would be just the third record for Lundy and the first since the autumn of 1960!

Update: We can now confirm that the bird was seen at the northern end of Pondsbury at 11.40am on 23 September by Jean Shotter and Andy Hauser. Many thanks to Jean and Andy for making available the mobile-phone images below and for providing details of the date, time and location. Thanks too to Steve for spotting this in the first place and following up the Facebook post on our behalf.

All images copyright © Jean Shotter

Sunday 1 October 2017

29th & 30th September - few nocturnal migrants, but then the pipits started moving

The final two mornings of Chris Dee's ringing visit revealed only a few Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps in Millcombe, with ringing activities curtailed by a blusterly south-westerly.

Friday 29th: one Firecrest wearing a ring was seen by Dean Jones on 29th, presumably the one ringed the previous afternoon. A Ring Ouzel was also feeding on the blackberries below the Ugly.

Saturday 30th: a Snipe was flushed from St John's Valley but few other birds were present until around 10:30 when Meadow Pipit passage started in earnest, despite the incresingly strong SW wind. An estimated 520 passed over the village in the following two and a half hours.

Friday 29 September 2017

27th & 28th September – Another arrival of Goldcrests, plus two Firecrests

Herewith the latest updates from Chris Dee, now reaching the end of his two-week ringing trip:

Wed 27th: Rain and low cloud from 9am restricted activities. Small numbers of Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Goldcrests. Two Spotted Flycatchers in Millcombe.

Thu 28th: Good numbers of Goldcrests again with an estimate of 150. Two Firecrests ringed and two Spotted Flycatchers still present. Two Stonechats, three Wheatears and light Meadow Pipit passage.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Additional detailed account for 9th to 16th September

Tim Frayling and Nik Ward have kindly sent through the following full account of the week 9th to 16th September, complementing information already posted below. Thanks to Tim and Nik for taking the time to write such a full and lively report.

Relating events during the first part of the week, Tim writes:

"Sat 9th Sep – Peter Slader, Vicky Gilson, Mark Wolden and I met in Bideford. Not much of interest on the crossing, just a few Gannets, Manx Shearwaters and a Fulmar. We put up the mist-nets in Milcombe, with the idea of furling them so they were available for later in the week, but we found it was calm enough to leave the nets open for an hour or so. We caught 9 Blackcaps, a Robin and a Spotted Flycatcher. Later on, we headed out to Old Light colony for some shearwatering with expectations of a good catch, and got back just before 1.00am having caught 15 new chicks and 1 adult retrap. The adult, EY89240, had been ringed as a chick by David Price in September 2013.

Sun 10th Sep – The mist-nets were opened at 7am, and although not masses of birds around there were a lot of Blackcaps moving through the valley. Of the 28 birds processed, more than half of the catch were Blackcaps. Dean, the warden, joined for the morning ringing session, where other birds included a couple of new House Sparrows, a Garden Warbler and 3 Goldcrests.
Very strong winds (40mph, gusting to 60mph) made it difficult to walk on top of the island. As a result we decided going on the slopes would be too dangerous and stayed in the Tavern.

Mon 11th Sep – The winds had not died down much and it was too windy to open the nets, so Mark and I went birding along the East Coast. At Quarry Beach I turned around to walk the same route back to check if it was possible to open the nets as the wind seemed to have dropped. Mark decided to check Pondsbury and fields on top of the island. Mark arrived out of breath to tell us of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper he had found on the Airfield. It was quickly found again near the path and we were given pretty good views before it flew over to the adjacent field. Later that day we had fantastic views of a very obliging Snow Bunting on the path near Pondsbury.

Dean had kindly offered to drive up to the North End for a Storm Petrel and Manx Shearwater ringing session. The winds were still 30mph, so we left the poles and focused on picking up Manxies by hand. We drove up to the far end and walked along Puffin Slope. We ringed 13 new young birds, most with only traces of down, except one very fluffy chick that was almost completely covered in down. As the night was still young and we had wheels, we checked part of the Tibbetts colony on the way home. After an unsuccessful sweep, and with people tiring we decided to call it a night."

Tue 12th Sep – As it was Mark and Vicky’s last day, Mark opened the nets after packing his case. It was actually quite a productive morning with 68 birds processed. Again the majority of the birds (48) were Blackcaps. Other species caught included Goldcrest and Chiffchaff. As it was boat day, a number of interested visitors were given an impromptu ringing demonstration. Mark and Vicky left at 12 noon as it was a 'splash and dash' to avoid the high winds forecast in the afternoon. The winds duly arrived later on and stopped Nik, Peter and me going out shearwatering.

Taking up the story of the second half of the week Nik continues:

"We didn’t have great success numbers wise with Manx Shearwaters whilst I was there but I think in total some 46 were processed during the week, together with Mark & Vicky.

Passerine-wise it was quite good in terms of numbers, if not range of species, considering the NW winds, which had been blowing for two weeks.

Wed 13th Sep – I managed to dip the Buff breasted Sandpiper but had nice views of the Snow Bunting.

Thu 14th Sep – Large fall of Blackcaps with 92 ringed and probably some 300 observed, but seemed like a lot more with the whole of Millcombe covered with them. 43 Goldcrests were ringed and 66 Swallows with a couple of Meadow Pipits, 3 Willow Warblers, 9 Chiffchaffs and a Whitethroat plus a few resident species, giving a total of 230 birds processed on 14th, including some Manxies that night.

Fri 15th Sep – Heavy rain meant we couldn’t open the nets early but standing on the veranda at Brambles, 55 Blackcaps filtered out of the wood onto the bramble patch and sat around in the rain... an amazing sight; I don’t think I have seen so many in such a small patch before! There didn’t appear to be so many Blackcaps around overall (compared with 14th); more like one large foraging flock moving around the valley. We managed to open some nets for a couple of hours in the morning and an hour in the late afternoon, rain permitting, and ended the day with 44 Blackcaps, 50 Swallows and single Sand Martin, Goldcrest and Chiffchaff. 2 Ring Ouzels were knocking around the netting area but managed to evade capture (although I see Chris Dee caught one subsequently).

Sat 16th Sep – Our last day and things began to appear of course... but no ringing due to rain. 2 Whinchats, a Tree Pipit and hundreds of hirundines going through including House Martins, which had been mostly absent until now. From the top path above St Helen's Copse I could hear a Yellow-browed Warbler calling but couldn’t pin it down to get views.

Boat trip back – About 30 mins into the trip a Bonxie flew by giving good views and 8 Common Scoter passed by. About half way, Luke Phillips alerted me to a bird flying high, which was instantly recognisable as an adult Long-tailed Skua with long tail streamers and elegant tern like flight. The other birders in our group also got onto the bird which gave good views as it passed by the boat, circling and gaining height until we lost it moving off towards Lundy. A fitting end to an enjoyable week!"

24th to 26th Sep – Major crest and hirundine passage; Yellow-browed Warbler & Red-breasted Flycatcher

Chris Dee has sent in further updates as follows:

Sunday 24th: "Miserable morning but cleared later. 2 Pied Flycatchers, 1 Tree Pipit, moderate Swallow passage."

Monday 25th: "Finally a decent day for migration. 300+ Goldcrest, 1,500+ Swallow and 100 House Martin through. 2 Firecrest, 1 Yellow-browed Warbler, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 1 adult Whitethroat and 2 Stonechat. Richard Berridge also saw 1 Whinchat, 1 Redstart and a Red-breasted Flycatcher on the East Side. One Snipe at Quarter Wall Pond area. Small movement of Meadow Pipit, plus 3 Skylark and 2 Grey Wagtail."

Tuesday 26th: "Very few migrants left on the island, but ringed a Redstart. 1 Sparrowhawk and 1 Hobby through. Also a Pied Flycatcher and a few more Meadow Pipits. No hirundine passage.". A Dotterel was reported from the North End.

Friday 22 September 2017

18th & 19th September – now updated to 23rd

Chris Dee reports for Mon 18th: "Continued Blackcap, Chiffchaff, & Goldcrest migration. 2,000 Swallow south. Reed Warbler ringed. Over 400 Kittiwake off East Side, harassed by 2 Arctic Skua. Ring Ouzel still present. 2 Teal on Pondsbury. 4 Pied Flycatchers Quarter Wall Copse and Terrace."

Tue 19th: "Big Goldcrest arrival (69 ringed) and more Blackcaps (30 ringed). 1 Spotted Flycatcher. 1 Golden Plover. Same Ring Ouzel. 1 Kestrel."

Update for 20th to 23rd: Nothing much about. Single (but different) Pied Flycatchers on 21st & 22nd; one Snipe on 23rd.

Monday 18 September 2017

16th & 17th September

Chris Dee reports for Saturday 16th: "Plenty of Blackcaps, 1 Whinchat (ringed), 5 Stonechat, small numbers of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. Decent hirundine passage."

For Sunday 17th: "25 Blackcap, 10 Chiffchaff, 1 Ring Ouzel (ringed), 1 Pied Flycatcher, 25 House Martin, 3 Cormorant. 25 Gannet with c.50 Common Dolphin off the Battery."

Thursday 14 September 2017

27th August–12th September, including a Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Lundy Warden Dean Jones reports some rather nice birding of late, with the highlight being a Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the Airfield on 11 & 12 September. The bird was first seen by Mark Worden who was over with the Natural England team ringing Manx Shearwaters – though unfortunately they didn’t get out much due to the poor weather conditions! The sandpiper was also seen by Dean, Peter Slader, Tim Frayling, Vicky Gilson, and Dean caught up with it again the next morning before it disappeared.

John Duffy, Tim Adcock and Alan Rosney of Glamorgan Bird Club were on the island from 7th to 9th Sep; their highlights are included in the update below (thanks for your records, guys). They added a Great Skua to their trip list on the their way back to the mainland on the Oldenburg.

Aside from the Buff-breasted Sandpiper, notable records for the period 27th August to 12th September were:

Mallard – 11 on 8th Sep.
Gannet – good numbers on most days, with 40 on 8th Sep being the highest daily count.
Cormorant – good numbers on most days, seven the highest count, on 12th Sep.
Grey Heron – one on 5th Sep.
Water Rail – singles on 8th, 11th & 12th Sep.
Oystercatcher – 12 on 6th Sep.
Curlew: – a single on 1st Sep.
Woodpigeon – peaked at six on 31st Aug & 7th Sep.
Swift – a late bird on 11th Sep.
Merlin – one on 8th Sep and another near Quarry Cottages on 9th.
Marsh Harrier – seen a number of times up until 31st Aug.
Goldcrest – good numbers passing through, with 44 on 9th Sep the highest daily count since the last update.
Firecrest – one on 7th Sep.
Sand Martin – a single on 12th Sep.
Swallow – small numbers on most days, 23 on 9th Sep the highest daily count since the last update.
Chiffchaff – small numbers most days, 11 on 13th Sep the max count since the last update
Willow Warbler – two on 6th, one on 7th, one on 12th & one on 13th Sep.
Blackcap – like Goldcrest, some superb passage, including 60 on 10th & 12th Sep, with many ringed over the past few days.
Garden Warbler – four on 10th and one on 11th Sep.
Whitethroat: – two on 8th Sep.
Sedge Warbler – one on 7th Sep.
Grasshopper Warbler – one on 31st Aug.
Spotted Flycatcher – singles on a few days, three on 8th & 11th Sep.
Pied Flycatcher – six on 27th Aug, three on 3rd and one on 12th Sep.
Wheatear – ten on 8th Sep was the highest count of late.
Grey Wagtail – singles on 9th–12th Sep.
White Wagtail – two on 7th and one on 11th Sep; numerous other alba type wagtails have been over the past few days, including 28 on 30th Aug.
Tree Pipit – singles overhead on 30th Aug, 8th & 10th Sep.
Greenfinch – one on 8th Sep.
Linnet – 120 on 12th Sep was highest daily count since the last update.
Snow Bunting – a single bird on 11th & 12th Sep.

Many thanks for the update, Dean. All the best to you and Zöe for your well-deserved island-hopping trip to Croatia; hope you manage to see those Griffon Vultures!

Tuesday 5 September 2017

27th August – North End Dotterel

One of two juvenile Dotterels photographed at the North End
by David White and Alice Hasted on 27th August.

Tuesday 29 August 2017

26th August – Rose-coloured Starling & late(ish) Swifts

The night of 25th/26th saw 9 adult and 9 Manx Shearwater chicks ringed, whilst the oldest of the 16 adults retrapped was from 2006. Incidentally, a recent shearwater ringing recovery involved an adult ringed by Steve Wing on Lundy in 1996 and found dead (leg only) on the Pembrokeshire island of Skokholm in spring 2017. From the state of the remains, it was thought that the bird had probably died in 2016, but was still over 20 years old.

The main highlight of Saturday 26th August was a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling in Lower Millcombe from 12.00 to 13.30 hrs. It was feeding on the slopes below the Ugly and visiting the walled gardens around Millcombe Gates. Later on it was seen in St Helen's and Tillage Fields.

Other sightings included 3 ad & 2 juv Woodpigeons, 2 Swifts, the Rook, 2 Goldcrests, 20 Sand Martins, 200 Swallows, 2 Chiffchaffs, 40 Willow Warblers, 3 Blackcaps, 10 Whitethroats, 1 Reed Warbler, 30 Spotted Flycatchers, 3 Pied Flycatchers, 6 Wheatears and a Tree Pipit calling in flight over Lower Millcombe. Finally, a Grey Heron, flying low over the sea towards Lundy, passed MS Oldenburg just five minutes out from the island on the return crossing to Bideford.

Friday 25 August 2017

25th August – A compensatory Nightingale

On the night of 24th/25th, Richard & Rebecca Taylor, Rosie Hall and Warden Dean Jones visited the North End, where they caught 18 Storm Petrels (six of which were not sound-lured), including one bearing a ring from elsewhere and one carrying food. They also ringed 14 Manx Shearwater chicks and two adults.

Tony Taylor ringed a first-year Nightingale in Millcombe during the early morning of Friday 25th August, which, as he says, "was some compensation for missing a great night". Many regular Lundy birders will heartily agree as this is the first island record of Nightingale since one was ringed on 1 May 2010. Prior to that, one was seen one in St John's Valley in May 2005, whilst there were two  occurrences in 1996, in May and June respectively. This iconic, charismatic yet elusive species was a more regular passage visitor to Lundy in earlier decades of the twentieth century. Sadly, it became a real rarity as the UK breeding range contracted progressively towards the south-east, though doubtless some go undetected, given their typically skulking behaviour, especially in autumn. Tony's was the tenth Nightingale to be ringed on Lundy.

[NB this entry was updated on 29 August to include mention of the 2010 bird, inadvertently excluded from the original text.]

Thursday 24 August 2017

22nd to 24th August – Night manoeuvres & daylight reconnaissance as migration gathers pace

At Old Light colony during the night of 21st/22nd, Tony, Richard & Rebecca caught 52 Manx Shearwaters, including 24 retraps, among them chicks ringed in 2007 & 2008. They also caught one Storm Petrel (not sound-lured) "with a big, bare brood patch".

The following night, 22nd/23rd, the team visited the gully north of Sunset Butress (W side of Ackland's Moor) and caught 26 new Manx Shearwaters and three retraps originally ringed in the same area from 2004 onwards. They caught another Storm Petrel, again with no lure and showing a good brood patch.

Movement during the day on Tuesday 22nd included a Buzzard, a few Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, single Garden Warbler, Whitethroat and Blackcap, and several Spotted Flycatchers.

Team Shearwater were out again at the Old Light colony on the night of 23rd/24th, when more chicks were starting to emerge. 17 new birds were ringed, along with 10 retrapped adults.

By day on Wednesday 23rd, migrants included 17 Cormorants, a Marsh Harrier, a Goldcrest, 41 Wilow Warblers, 4 Whitethroats, single Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Grasshopper Warbler and Sedge Warbler, 21 Wheatears, 55 Swallows, 20 Sand Martins, 12 Spotted Flycatchers, a Pied Flycatcher, a Tree Pipit and the long-staying Rook.

For Thursday 24th Tony reports "a nice tame Dotterel on the Airfield", seen earlier in the day by Alan & Sandra Rowland. Other notable sightings included single Turtle and Collared Doves, 9 Willow Warblers, single Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler, 30 Swallows, 8 Sand Martins and 4 Spotted Flycatchers.