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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..."