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Thursday 14 December 2017

4 to 11 Dec – Fulmars back on their breeding ledges

Alan Rowland has sent the following update for the period Monday 4th to Monday 11th December:

The Lapwing was still present on 5th.

Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were common, with up to half-a-dozen of each recorded daily. There appeared to be a small fall of Redwings on 10th & 11th, with up to 20 on both days. Up to a dozen Robins and Wrens were being reported from Millcombe and along the East Side to the Quarries.

Fulmars have already claimed nesting sites at Long Roost, where there were 24 on 5th (though only seven on 9th).

A single Goldcrest was on the wall above Government House on 6th.

A Merlin was on a rubble heap at the Quarries on 6th and a Sparrowhawk appeared outside Little St John's on 9th.

Monday 4 December 2017

Late Nov & early Dec – Still some late migration but things settling down for winter

Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar – of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and Imperial College London – one of Lundy's indefatigable House Sparrow researchers, reports that members of 'Team Sparrow' (who are seasonal residents when the sparrows are breeding, but only occasional visitors in winter) spent 11 days on the island from 20th November to 1st December. Alfredo writes:

"Lucy Winder, the new PhD student, and I started our sparrow catching on 21st and realized that the population of House Sparrows seems to be doing very well. By the end of our stay we had processed 205 captures of 144 different sparrows, a new winter record for our project."

Colour-ringed female House Sparrow, Nov 2017 © Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar

"Lucy and I also spent some time searching for non-sparrow avifauna. To my surprise, we found a Coal Tit and a Goldcrest around Millcombe, my first on Lundy. We walked the East Side Path up to the Quarries quite a few times and encountered a Sparrowhawk (likely a 1st-year bird) and a Chiffchaff on several occasions. During the first days of our visit we saw two Merlins trying to hunt a small passerine, but none were seen later on, raising the question of whether they had left already. Thrush migration was astonishing. Dozens of Redwings invaded the island, and Fieldfares, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were also a very common sight. There still seemed to be some Chaffinch migration going on as flocks of up to 10 were seen a few times. We also saw 3 Goldfinches, single Siskin, Meadow Pipit and Skylark, 3 Dunnocks, tons of Wrens and Robins, a Water Rail (heard), a Lapwing, 2 Peregrines, and a Jack Snipe at the Rocket Pole."

Coal Tit, Millcombe, Nov 2017 © Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar
Goldcrest, Millcombe, Nov 2017 © Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar

Lundy Warden Dean Jones also reports the following sightings of note entered in the LFS logbook since the last blog update on 17 Nov:

Mallard – Max of 11 in St Helen's Field on 24 Nov.
Great Northern Diver – One in the Landing Bay on 3 Dec.
Manx Shearwater – Two off the East Side on 23 Nov, plus two shearwater sp. on 22 Nov (Dean Jones).
Gannet – Seen on most days, with a max of 19 on 1 Dec.
Water Rail – Recorded on most days; max 4 on 23 Nov.
Lapwing – The single bird reported by Alfredo has remained in Barton Field since 30 Nov.
Jack Snipe – Presumably the same bird that Alfredo saw (on 1 Dec) had been flushed by Dean at Kistvaen Pond on 30 Nov.
Woodcock – One in South West Field on 2 Dec.
auk spp. – Recorded on most days, with a max of 200+ on 1 Dec.
Great Skua – One chasing Kittiwakes in the Landing Bay on 27 Nov (Dean Jones).
Kittiwake – Max of 400+ in the Landing Bay on 23 Nov.
Mediterranean Gull – Three adult winter birds in the Landing Bay during the afternoon of 3 Dec (Dean Jones).
Firecrest – Singles on 2 & 3 Dec (Dean Jones & Zoë Barton).
Coal Tit – The same very mobile bird present until at least 2 Dec (Dean Jones & Zoë Barton).
Blackbird – Good passage; max 29 on 2 Dec.
Fieldfare – Seen on most days; max 16 on 30 Nov.
Song Thrush – Good passage; max 7 on 2 Dec.
Redwing – Present every day; max 100+ on 30 Nov.
Stonechat – Two on 29 Nov; singles on other dates.
Black Redstart – A female-type bird near North Light on 29 Nov (Dean Jones & Zoë Barton).
Chaffinch – A big drop in numbers since mid-Nov, with 50+ on 24th the highest count and numbers since then rarely exceeding half-a-dozen.
Linnet – One on 24 Nov.
Brambling – Two on 24 Nov.
Reed Bunting – Six next to Quarter Wall on 24 Nov.

Stop press! Referring to the Mediterranean Gulls seen yesterday (3 Dec), Dean has just written: "I had four more today (Monday 4 Dec), all adult birds feeding in a superb mixed seabird frenzy this afternoon. Alongside them were Harbour Porpoise, 400+ Kittiwakes, two adult winter Black-headed Gulls, one 2nd calendar-year Common Gull, 200+ Herring Gulls, eight Great Black-backed Gulls, a single Lesser Black-backed Gull, seven Gannets, three Shags and 363 auk spp. (mostly Razorbills). Really exciting stuff; it was hard to get up and go back to the office after that!"

Many thanks to Alfredo and Dean for the news and a warm welcome to Lucy; we hope your sparrow studies on Lundy are academically rewarding but also hugely enjoyable!

Robin, Millcombe, Lundy, Nov 2017 © Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar