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Monday 15 May 2017

13th & 14th May – Two 'possibles' and belated news of a 'definite'...

James McCarthy got in touch via Twitter to say that he'd seen between 25 and 30 Spotted Flycatchers on the island on Saturday 13th (one of the higher springtime counts of recent years), along with a Garden Warbler, three Whitethroats and a Blackcap.

The Devon Birds day-trip on Sunday 14th was blessed with fine weather and a short write-up with some photos are to be found on the Devon Birds sightings page here. The account mentions glimpses of a possible Bonelli's Warbler species (which also got a mention on the UK Rare Bird Alert map) and a possible Red-rumped Swallow; it would be great if anyone with further information about these sightings could get in touch – especially as the Lundy Warden, Dean Jones, is off the island for a couple of days.

Today, we opened an email from Dean, sent on Saturday, which contained news of his sighting earlier that morning of an Eastern Subalpine Warbler in Millcombe (just along from the gate at the top of the 'Steps of Doom' to the side of the Ugly). Unfortunately we were not able to report this in time for the Devon Birds trip. Although Dean enjoyed several seconds of very good, close views before the bird flew off, he was unable to relocate it, despite thorough searching for the next 30 minutes before work duties beckoned.

17 May update: Photographs of the "possible Bonelli's warbler species" mentioned above show that it was actually a Garden Warbler feeding high in the sycamores, where it was reportedly flitting around in a Phylloscopus-like manner, showing off its strikingly white underparts. This is a good example of how staging migrants often show unusual behaviour in exploiting the limited habitat and feeding opportunties available on small islands and coastal headlands, meaning extra care is needed with ID, especially if a rarity is suspected. Many thanks to Devon Birds for helping to clear this one up.

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