About this page...

You're now viewing the old Lundy Bird Observatory blogspot. Explore the new website for all your favourite island news and wildlife updates. If you have sightings to report, please consider sharing your observations or photographs with the Bird Obs team here.

Saturday 3 February 2018

Highlights for Tue 30th Jan to Fri 2nd Feb

On Tuesday 30th Jan, Tim Davis and Tim Jones walked the entire island perimeter (including all the ins and outs...) counting birds as they went, starting from the Castle at 8am and getting back there at just after 4pm, after (according to Apple) some 13km and 21,397 steps. Unfortunately, the last section, from the Battery, back south to the Castle, was plagued by incoming thick clag and rain, so sightings for this part of the circuit were negligible. On the plus side, it was calm and sunny on the outbound route via the East Side to North End, and dry and bright along most of the West Side as far as Quarter Wall. The most unexpected sighting was of a female Goldeneye, flying north over the East Side of the island near Tibbetts at around 10.15am. We wondered if it had been on Pondsbury earlier in the morning. There was a single Great Northern Diver again in the Landing Bay and one Red-throated Diver off North Light among feeding Razorbills, Kittiwakes and other gulls. There were 279 Fulmars on the breeding ledges on the north side of Gannets' Rock, at Long Roost and in Jenny's Cove, while Grant Sherman's early morning count of 961 Guillemots on the ledges from Jenny's to St Mark's Stone, when added to what the Tims saw at sites further north, gave a total of just over 1,100 – almost all in full breeding plumage. Conversely, the 38 Razorbills we saw were all in winter plumage and remained offshore. Other higher counts included 40 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 66 Great Black-backed Gulls and 720 Herring Gulls, as well as 27 Oystercatchers (mainly on the East Side) – the only wader species encountered, and 21 Rock Pipits. The island's breeding Shags have yet to return in any number, with only five seen all day. An adult Cormorant coming into breeding plumage flew north off the East Side and the Coal Tit was in St Helen's Copse as we passed through early on.

Sunrise over South Light on 30 Jan – the start of the perimeter walk © Tim Jones

The last day of January brought blustery NW winds and heavy showers, while February started cold and bright, with plenty of sunshine but a chilly northerly wind, which at least gave a chance for a very soggy island to start drying out. Notable sightings included: four to five Red-throated Divers off Rat Island/South Light on 31st, three Water Rails in Millcombe on 1st, 11 Snipe on 1st, two female-type Black Redstarts at Benjamin's Chair on 31st, two Fieldfares on 2nd and two Meadow Pipits, also on 2nd. The lone overwintering Coal Tit and pair of Goldfinches continued to be seen daily, but there was no sign of the Firecrest after 29th (though it may simply have taken to deeper cover as colder conditions arrived). The same change in the weather, with clear skies at night and a good tail wind for anything wanting to make the short hop to Hartland, seemed to have prompted a partial exodus of thrushes, with numbers of Blackbirds and Redwings noticeably reduced by the end of our visit. On the other hand, numbers of Skylarks appeared to be building up slowly as the first breeding birds return to take up their territories; an almost complete absence, despite thorough searching, was a noticeable feature until the last two or three days. We watched one (first picked up distantly through a telescope whilst seawatching) fly in off the sea at North Light on 30th.

Skylark near Dead Cow Point on 26 Jan © Tim Jones

Flushes of flowering Snowdrops in Millcombe and Primroses in abundance at Quarter Wall Copse, alongside singing Wrens, Robins, Dunnocks, Song Thrush (sub-singing in Millcombe) and Starlings, and a pair of Ravens carrying sticks to their nest site along the East Side on 1st gave a distinct feeling of approaching spring.

Singing male Starling at Barton Cottages, 2 Feb © Tim Jones

No comments:

Post a Comment