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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.