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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.