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Sunday 30 April 2017

30th April – Plenty of migrants and a Dunlin

Tim Jones and Tim Davis report a good day's birding, with plenty of migrants, especially in Millcombe.

The Red-necked Grebe was still present and there was a single Sparrowhawk and 2 Kestrel. A Dunlin was on Quarterwall Pond, four first-summer Black-headed Gulls were in the Landing Bay and a Cuckoo was on the Terraces. Hirundine passage comprised 40 Swallow, a House Martin and 9 Sand Martin. Elsewhere there was a Black Redstart, 4 Redstart, a Fieldfare, 3 Sedge Warbler, 20 Blackcap, 6 Garden Warbler (including a singing male in Millcombe), 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Whitethroat, a Wood Warbler, 10 Chiffchaff, 25 Willow Warbler, a Goldcrest and a Jackdaw. With weather retricting mist-netting to a couple of hours, Rob Duncan ringed a further 39 birds, including 4 Redstart and 5 Garden Warblers.

29th April – Brent Goose and Yellowhammer feature

With a lot of birders on the island this week coverage was good. Tim Jones reports the following on behalf of himself, Tim Davis, Chris and Carol Baillie, Rob Duncan, Neil Trout, Martin Thorne, the warden Dean Jones and others.

The Red-necked Grebe was still present in the Landing Bay, along with a Dark-bellied Brent Goose, and a male Yellowhammer was at Quarter Wall. Also reported were 5 Teal, 1 (or maybe 2) Buzzard, a male Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Garden Warbler, 3 Pied Flycatchers and 1 Lesser Redpoll. There was a steady passage of Swallows, conservatively estimated at 500, plus 4 House Martins and a Sand Martin. Ringing was slower than recent days, with around 30 birds ringed.

Friday 28 April 2017

28th April – Osprey among a modest movement of migrants

Lighter headwinds seem to have favoured a little more movement today, with Martin Thorne's sighting of an Osprey being mobbed by gulls off South West Point at around 1pm the undoubted highlight. Martin also reports half-a-dozen or so Whimbrels along the East Side and the Red-necked Grebe still in the Landing Bay. Rob Duncan ringed a further 60 birds, including 25 Willow Warblers, 12 Blackcaps, 7 Sedge Warblers, 6 Chiffchaffs, 4 Whitethroats, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Grasshopper Warbler, plus a Goldfinch and a Linnet. With the wind backing SE overnight and into the weekend, after several days of chilly northerlies, will there be a surge of migration?

Thursday 27 April 2017

27th April – A bit more on the move

With lighter winds, Rob managed to ring a further 57 new birds, including both Lesser Whitethroat and Grasshopper Warbler. A few Swallows were also on the move.

Wednesday 26 April 2017

26th April – Fair variety but low numbers

This evening's bulletin from Rob confirms that it was "hard work today in a fresh north-easterly", but that he managed to find a sheltered mist-net site below Government House, which caught 12 new birds, including two Grasshopper Warblers, a Whitethroat and a Sedge Warbler. Elsewhere, there were three Whimbrels at Benjamin's Chair, a Dunlin at the Rocket Pole, plus 10 Wheatears in the same general area, a Merlin along the East Side, and a Fieldfare in Millcombe, while hirundines comprised a few Swallows and a couple of House Martins.

Tuesday 25 April 2017

25th April – Northerly blast stops play

The wind was still light enough for Rob to open a few nets in Millcombe first thing, which revealed a small overnight arrival of migrants, with Willow Warblers again making up the bulk of the 39 new birds ringed before the wind picked up suddenly, heralding a northerly squall, so that the nets were closed again at 08.30. Among the other species ringed were a few Blackcaps and Sedge Warblers (but no Chiffchaffs) and a female Pied Flycatcher. A retrap Reed Warbler had gained weight since it was last handled. The only hirundines seen on 25th, as of early afternoon, were 2 House Martins – not entirely surprising given the blast of Arctic air across the country, though it did stay largely dry, the island escaping most of the blustery showers streaming south. This evening the inshore waters forecast is "north veering northeast, 5 to 7, backing north 4 or 5; showers" so another quiet day for migration is on the cards for Wednesday.

Additional news for Monday (24th) concerns a late continental Robin among the birds ringed, while a very grey Song Thrush was singing in Millcombe first thing.

Monday 24 April 2017

24th April – Getting on for 200 birds ringed; first Spotted Flycatchers & Lesser Whitethroat

During a further excellent day for ringing, Rob Duncan ringed 178 new birds (bringing the total to just over 700 since 19 April!), including: 88 Willow Warblers, 24 Blackcaps, 16 Chiffchaffs, 14 Sedge Warblers, 8 Whitethroats, 2 Grasshopper Warblers and one each of Firecrest, Lesser Whitethroat (first of the year), Spotted Flycatcher (also a first for the year) and male Pied Flycatcher. A male Ring Ouzel would also have featured in the ringing totals had it not managed to find its way out of a mist net... Hirundine passage was down in comparison with Sunday, but other migrants included a Reed Warbler, two more Spotted Flycatchers, 10 Wheatears, and a Yellow Wagtail, the latter flying over Millcombe.

Sunday 23 April 2017

23rd April – Warbler migration continues apace

Rob Duncan reports another excellent day's ringing and birding. A further 118 birds were ringed, including 41 Willow Warblers, 25 Blackcaps, 17 Chiffchaffs, 12 Sedge Warblers, 3 Grasshopper Warblers and 2 Whitethroats. There was a big movement of hirundines in the afternoon, including 400 Swallows, 50 Sand Martins and 40 House Martins. Other migrants included 45 Wheatears and 2 Ring Ouzels.

22nd April - Little Egret in Millcombe

Despite the wind swinging round to the north, new migrants had arrived on the island overnight. Until handing over to Rob Duncan who will be on the island for the next two weeks, Chris Dee managed to ring a further 61 birds, including 30 Willow Warblers, 14 Blackcaps, 9 Chiffchaffs 3 Sedge Warblers, a Redstart, a Whitethroat and a Reed Warbler. The British-ringed Reed Warbler from Thursday was also recaptured. At least one Green Sandpiper was still present and as M S Oldenburg disgorged her passsengers, a Little Egret was flushed from below the Beach Road and flew up into Millcombe. After spending a while in the pond it retreated to the lawn of Millcombe House. Rob reports that by the end of the day the ringing total had reached 85.

Friday 21 April 2017

21st April – Another great day's ringing; Night Heron still present

Chris & Mandy Dee report another excellent day's ringing. It was calm and overcast, with plenty of new arrivals, meaning that Chris ringed a further 113 new birds, including: 48 Willow Warblers, 41 Blackcaps, 12 Chiffchaffs, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 1 Sedge Warbler and 1 Reed Warbler. Also ringed was a female Bullfinch, perhaps the bird first seen at the end of March. Out and about around the island, other sightings included: 2 Teal, 2 Snipe and a Green Sandpiper at Pondsbury, and a Ring Ouzel in the Brick Field. Mike, of the island staff, saw the Night Heron again in the Landing Bay.

Thursday 20 April 2017

20th April – Substantial warbler fall

Chris and Mandy Dee confirm that – in common with both Skokholm and Bardsey – Lundy witnessed a substantial fall of warblers and other migrants today, when thick cloud and patchy light drizzle moving south-east across Wales and the Bristol Channel grounded large numbers of birds after days of fine, dry weather. Chris ringed 149 new birds, including 85 Willow Warblers, 29 Blackcaps, 16 Chiffchaffs, 16 Sedge Warblers and two Grasshopper Warblers. A British-ringed Reed Warbler was controlled (Lundy's first Reed Warbler of the year) along with a Sedge Warbler bearing a French ring. Elsewhere there were two Ring Ouzels at the quarries, a female Redstart in Millcombe, a male Pied Flycatcher at Brambles, and of two Green Sandpipers that circled Lower Millcombe, one was later seen at the pond outside Barton Cottages. The single Fieldfare was still in Southwest Field, and a total of 107 Puffins were on land at Jenny's Cove and St Philip's Stone. In addition, Dean Jones photographed a Little Egret (a Lundy rarity) around rock pools off Lametor and a Collared Dove (a regular passage migrant, mainly in spring), which has been present since Tuesday 18th. Dean also flushed the two Green Sandpipers at the Rocket Pole Marsh (alternatively known as Kistvaen Pond) whilst leading a guided walk.

Record shot of Little Egret, Lametor © Dean Jones

Collared Dove, Village © Dean Jones

Wednesday 19 April 2017

19th April – A good morning's ringing

Chris & Mandy Dee send news of stunning weather and great birds. Chris ringed 62 birds in Millcombe during the morning, mainly Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps, but also two Sedge Warblers. Elsewhere, Mandy found two Teal, two Snipe, 17 Sand Martins, a Whitethroat (the first of the year), a Redstart and a Fieldfare (only the third record of 2017, following one on 25 Jan and two on 18 Feb). Two Lesser Redpolls were also recorded and there were 78 Puffins in Jenny's Cove. Among migrant Wheatears was the large and richly coloured, presumed Greenland-race bird in the photo below.

Presumed Greenland Wheatear, 19 April © Dean Jones

Lesser Redpoll, 19 April © Dean Jones

11th to 18th April – Logbook highlights

Here is the latest summary of sightings during the past week or so, taken from the LFS Logbook. The more unusual or otherwise notable species are highlighted in blue. Thanks as ever to Dean Jones for updating a digital file of the log – not to mention being responsible for many of the records in the first place!

Teal – up to three on several dates.
Great Northern Diver – One on 14th (likely the long-staying individual).
Red-necked Grebe – The overwintering bird was still present in the Landing Bay on 14th & 17th.
Gannet – Max four on 15th.
Night Heron – A breeding-plumaged adult on 13th & 17th was only the fourth for Lundy (see posts below for further details).
Kestrel – Ones and two on four dates.
Merlin – One on 13th.
Water Rail – Two calling from St Helen's Field on 15th.
Snipe – One on 11th.
Sandwich Tern – One in the Landing Bay on 15th.
Woodpigeon – Max five on 15th.
Sand Martin – Max 42 flying north on 17th.
Swallow – Max 119 flying north on 15th and 146 flying north on 17th (steady passage throughout the day on both dates).
House Martin – Max 20+ on 13th.
Pied Wagtail – Max six on 14th.
Tree Pipit – One below the Battlements on 17th.
Common Redstart – One (male) on 13th.
Ring Ouzel – Singles on 11th & 18th (latter a male).
Song Thrush – One on 17th.
Redwing – Singles on 13th & 14th (rather late for Lundy).
Blackcap – Max five on 18th.
Sedge Warbler – Singles on 17th (iris bed in Lower Millcombe) & 18th were the first of the year.
Grasshopper Warbler – Further singles on 14th (reeling from brambles outside Quarters) & 15th (reeling near top of Ugly steps).
Wood Warbler – One below the pines in Milcombe on 13th was the first of the year.
Willow Warbler – Max 50 on 13th.
Chiffchaff – Max five on 13th.
Goldcrest – Ones and twos on three dates.
Pied Flycatcher – A single male in Millcombe on 12th & 13th was the first of the year.
Chaffinch – An influx of passage migrants included 26 on 13th (flock of 20 flying over Millcombe in the early morning), 15 on 14th and 10 on 17th; the first time that counts have reached double digits this year! A partially built nest was found in Millcombe on 13th (Jon Cox).
Linnet – Max 16 on 13th.
Goldfinch – Max 15+ on 14th.
Siskin – Four near the Ugly flagpole on 13th.

Three more 'first of the year' butterfly records were racked up during the week, namely single Orange-tip and Speckled Wood (both of which are scarce on Lundy), on 14th and two Small Whites on 17th. Also of note was the first Emperor Moth, on 12th.

Tuesday 18 April 2017

17th April – Night Heron seen again

Dean Jones reports that the adult Night Heron reappeared shortly after 4pm on Easter Monday (17th), following three days with no sightings, during which it had presumably managed to tuck itself away quietly somewhere along Lundy's extensive shoreline: "The bird was perched briefly below the Needle & Thread area of the Devil's Kitchen allowing stunning views for myself and around 12 visitors before heading off West".

Thursday 13 April 2017

13th April – Night Heron in the Landing Bay

Lundy Warden Dean Jones reports a brief sighting of an adult Night Heron (Black-crowned Night Heron) in the Landing Bay area earlier this morning. It initially flew north, past the Beach Road and towards the Ugly, mobbed by gulls. Dean managed to jump out of the back of the landrover in which he was travelling just in time to see the heron flying back south. It flew right past him at a distance of about 25m, across the Landing Bay, through the Devil's Kitchen and turned west, disappearing behind Lametor. This is Lundy's first Night Heron since March 1990 and only the fourth ever for the island.

Update, Good Friday (14th April)

Dean managed to relocate the Night Heron at around 7.30pm on Thursday (13 Apr); it was roosting just above the tideline on the south side of Lametor, below the South Light, and remained tucked up in this location until the light faded. In one of Dean's record shots (see below) the bird is roosting in characteristic Night Heron fashion, with its bill tucked forward into its upper breast, giving it a curiously 'headless' appearance, distinctive even at a distance. Although the legs look yellowish in this photo, during his initial close view of the bird in flight, Dean noticed the pink flush acquired by breeding adults. As of mid-morning on Good Friday, there had been no further sightings, so it may well be that the bird moved on overnight.

Roosting Night Heron, Lametor, 13 Apr 2017 © Dean Jones

Tuesday 11 April 2017

29th March to 10th April – Modest arrivals of spring migrants including several more 'firsts' for the year

Highlights from the LFS logbook for the last two weeks (29 Mar to 10 Apr) are listed below, with records of more notable species highlighted in blue. Many thanks to Dean Jones for providing a digital copy of logbook entries enabling this summary to be compiled.

Unsettled weather, with showers and longer spells of rain at the end of March gave way to predominantly dry and often sunny conditions during the first ten days of April, with high pressure ruling the roost. Clear skies brought frequently sunny days to the island, but chilly nights (alongside a waxing moon, full on 11th), whilst daytime temperatures were pegged back by winds mainly from the north and west, though there was a short-lived incursion of warmer, continental air during the weekend of 8/9 April. There was another Osprey on 2nd, an influx of Swallows on 6th & 7th, a modest arrival of 20 Willow Warblers on 7th, and first records for the year of single Sandwich Tern (1st), Common Redstart (9th) and Grasshopper Warbler (8th). In general though, visible migration was sluggish, as is often the case in fine weather, when birds tend to overfly Lundy having little need to make landfall on a remote island. Having said that, it is still early in the season and many summer migrants are yet to reach Britain in significant numbers. Lingering winter birds included Great Northern Diver, Red-necked Grebe and the odd Redwing.

Great Northern Diver: One on 1st.
Red-necked Grebe: The overwintering bird was still in the Landing Bay on 30th (Dean Jones), but then looked like it might have commenced its spring migration as there were no reports during the first week of Apr. Confounding any such assumptions, the bird was again in the Landing Bay, off the Sugar Loaf, on 9 Apr (Dean Jones & Zoë Barton).
Fulmar: Max 153 on 31st.
Manx Shearwater: Max 300, flying west off North Light on 1st (Martin Thorne).
Gannet: Max 10 on 1st.
Cormorant: Six flying north on 6th.
Sparrowhawk: A male on 31st.
Osprey: One moving rapidly north-east off the Terrace on 2nd; the second of the spring so far (Solomon Gilbert).
Snipe: Three on 31st and one on 7th.
Kittiwake: Max 137 on 31st.
Black-headed Gull: An adult in the Landing Bay on 28th (Kevin Welsh) and four reported on 3rd.
Sandwich Tern: One on 1st was the first of the year.
Puffin: Max 97 on 29th (of which 77 prospecting on land) and 60+ in Jenny's Cove on 1st.
Guillemot: Max 1,212 on 29th.
Woodpigeon: Max five on 7th.
Sand Martin: Records on six dates; max 16 on 1st and 20 on 7th.
Swallow: Records on seven dates; max 78 on 6th and 100 on 7th.
House Martin: Three on 31st was the only record.
Pied Wagtail: Max six on 8th.
White Wagtail: Two on 31st.
Robin: A bird was carrying nesting material in Millcombe on 7th.
Black Redstart: Records on six dates, with a female-type on 31st, 2m + 1f on 1st, 1f 6th-8th and 1m on 9th.

Black Redstart © Dean Jones

Common Redstart: A single male on gorse near the Rocket Pole on 9th was the first of the spring (Dean Jones & Zoë Barton).
Wheatear: Max 25 on 1st and 21 on 9th; several more colour-rings were read.
Redwing: Singles on 31st and 7th (latter in Millcombe).
Song Thrush: Three on 31st but no Apr records so far.
Blackcap: Ones and twos on six dates, plus the max of five on 3rd.
Grasshopper Warbler: One reeling from cover in St John's Valley on 8th was the first of the spring.
Willow Warbler: Records for six dates, with a max of 20 on 7th.
Chiffchaff: Records for five dates, with a max of seven on 1st & 7th.
Goldcrest: Records on three dates, with a max of three on 7th.
Linnet: Max 11 on 6th.
Goldfinch: Max 10 on 31st and 13 on 6th.

Invertebrate records have included a Black Oil Beetle (3rd), 11 Dor Beetles and 3 Minotaur Beetles (5th); the first Peacock (6th) and Green-veined White (8th) butterflies of the year; and two Diamond-back Moths (9th).