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Sunday 29 April 2018

26th to 28th Apr – Seabird breeding underway; first Garden Warbler & Spotted Flycatcher

Below is the latest news from the island during the period 26–28 April, compiled from sightings by Chris Baillie, Alison Bunning, Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, David Kightley & Martyn Roper.

Dean reports "Lots of seabird activity as of late with numerous copulating pairs (Razorbill, Guillemot, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Herring Gull) along the west coast. Most of the Shags, Herring Gulls, Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed Gulls are now on eggs."

Mallard: A count of 17 birds on 26th – which included 8 ducklings with parents on Rocket Pole Pond.
Water Rail: Single males calling from both Quarters Pond on 26th and from St John’s on 28th.
Golden Plover: One on 25th.
Whimbrel: One calling from below the Terrace on 26th and two feeding on Heather Hill on 28th (see photo).
Kittiwake: 50 birds on territories on 26th including an odd-looking red-legged bird in Jenny's Cove (see photo).
Woodpigeon: Eight on 25th was the highest count of the period, including the long staying tail-less bird that has been hanging around Millcombe – probably the result of a narrow escape from the talons of a Peregrine.
Swift: Three on 26th.
Peregrine: A female was observed numerous times trying to take Fulmars in Jenny’s Cove on 26th.
Goldcrest: One male and one female were caught and ringed in Millcombe on 26th and four birds were seen/heard in Millcombe on 28th.
The past few days have seen some good hirundine passage (finally) including 1,000+ Swallow on the 25th, 600 on 26th, 15 on 27th (a very wet day on the island) and 250+ on 28th. Sand Martins and House Martins have been moving too but in much lower numbers: 25 on 26th and 20 on 28th was the highest count of the period for each species respectively.
Chiffchaff: 32 on 28th, the highest count.
Willow Warbler: 25 on 28th, the highest count.
Blackcap: 30 on 28th, the highest count.
Garden Warbler: The first bird of the year was seen in the Secret Garden on 28th.
Whitethroat: One on 27th.
Grasshopper Warbler: One reeling from the top of Millcombe on 28th was the only record of the period.
Sedge Warbler: Four caught and ringed in Millcombe on 28th.
Spotted Flycatcher: The first birds arrived on 28th (total of three), one of which was caught and ringed in Millcombe (see photo).
Common Redstart: A wonderful adult male was present in Millcombe on 27th and was subsequently caught and ringed on 28th.
White Wagtail: Two birds were recorded in Barton Field on 25th.
Tree Pipit: Two on 26th seen/heard from the Millcombe area.
Greenfinch: A lone female was present in Millcombe during the morning of 28th (see photo).
Bullfinch: At least one female has been recorded in Millcombe every day throughout this period.
Some reasonable passage of both Linnet and Goldfinch throughout the period too, both peaking at on 26th, with 65 and 38 birds, respectively.

During a lull in the wind, Rob Duncan managed to ring 75 birds on 28th, but today, Sun 29th, has brought a chilly north-easterly and Rob reports few migrants around, with a lone Swallow being the only hirundine of the day so far. The most notable sightings have been three Whitethroats, and a Common Sandpiper seen in the Landing Bay by Martyn Roper.

Aberrant Kittiwake, Jenny's Cove, 26 Apr © Dean Jones
Whimbrels, 28 Apr © Dean Jones
Female Greenfinch, Millcombe, 28 Apr © Dean Jones
Ringed female Linnet, Millcombe, 24 Apr © Dean Jones
Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe, 28 Apr © Dean Jones

Thursday 26 April 2018

21st to 24th Apr – Additional sightings, including a Little Egret

Phlip Lymbery writes:

"Helen and I have just returned from what felt like a very short 3-night stay on Lundy. Weather was variable; from glorious summer-style sunshine on the 21st to showers, to a fogbound departure day on the 24th. Our highlights on the beautiful isle this time were:

21st April

Manx Shearwater: Small rafts of about half a dozen birds were seen on the sea as we approached on the Oldenburg.
Snipe: Two were flushed in the Quarter Wall area.
Swallows: A constant trickle of birds heading north late afternoon at the rate of about one bird each 3.5 minutes.

22nd April

Golden Plover: A single bird flew south calling over the west side of Halfway Wall.
Whinchat: One was near the helipad opposite The Quarters.

23rd April

White Wagtail: A male and three Pied Wagtails were seen in Barton Field and the horse paddocks.
Lesser Redpoll: A single male accompanied a dozen Goldfinches in Millcombe.
Sand Martin: 3 were seen with Swallows and a single House Martin.
Goldcrest: 2 were frequenting Millcombe.

24th April

Little Egret: One flew south across the Landing Bay at 3.15pm."

Puffins were around their burrows in the Jenny’s Cove area. © Philip Lymbery

Rafts of Manx Shearwater were seen just offshore. © Philip Lymbery

Skylarks were vocal across the island. © Philip Lymbery

24th Apr – Firecrest and good Swallow passage despite cool & breezy conditions

Rob Duncan reports for Tuesday 24th (At least I think these notes apply to 24th... There is some sort of mysterious telecoms time vortex between Lundy and Ilfracombe.)

"Still rather windy but sheltered nest in Millcombe gardens allowing for some ringing. Still small numbers of warblers passing through but Goldfinches have taken a liking to the sunflower hearts, which is helping. We ringed a Firecrest yesterday, as well as 8 more Willow Warblers. Of interest, the proportion of male Willow Warblers seems to have gone up since the wind picked up (it was virtually all females on Sat & Sun). Is it possible that they are more determined to get on territory despite the weather but the females can hold back? I may play with the data and dig a bit deeper. The Pied Flycatcher is still here along with at least one Bullfinch. 2 Stonechats at the Rocket Pole were new in. Reasonable Swallow passage first thing, with 1,000 counted for the day. Also two White Wagtails and a Golden Plover. Lighter winds and warmer please!"

Sunday 22 April 2018

22nd April – Continued warbler passage, but hirundines scarce

Rob Duncan reports a good start to his two-week ringing trip, with a total of 128 birds ringed on Saturday 21st April, including what Chris Dee caught in the morning (see previous entry). Rob ringed a further 69 birds this morning, Sunday 22nd, before rain set in – mainly Willow Warblers, with good numbers of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs and three Sedge Warblers. Other migrants appear to have been rather sparse, with "only a handful of hirundines so far" and one Whimbrel in the Landing Bay.

21st April - more Willow Warblers

On another day of calm weather, Chris Dee reported increased numbers of Willow Warblers and continued passage of Chiffchaff and Blackcap. Another Sedge Warbler was present in Millcombe, as was a female Firecrest. Meanwhile with clearer conditions on the West Side, Mandy Dee counted 73 Puffins on the water in Jenny's Cove with five or so on land. The Merlin was still present and small number of Swallows were seen. On leaving the island a Great Northern Diver was seen from M S Oldenburg in the Landing Bay.
Before handing over to Rob Duncan who arrived for a two-week stay, Chris had ringed a further 98 birds, including 57 Willow Warblers, a Sedge Warbler and the Firecrest.

20th April - more common migrants, a few firsts for the year and a Minke Whale

Chris Dee reports more common migrants on Lundy today, but fewer than yesterday. There were an estimated 30 Chiffchaff, 40 Willow Warbler and 40 Blackcap in Millcombe. Also in Millcombe were single singing Grasshopper Warbler and Sedge Warbler, a Whitethroat and the first Firecrest of the year. A Tree Pipit flew over during the morning, another first for the year, and the warden Dean Jones found a Nightingale in the afternoon. Very light hirundine passage was observed during the afternoon, with 30 Swallow and a House Martin noted. These were accompanied by 2 Swift hacking north low over the plateau. There were no auk counts today due to heavy sea fog obscuring the cliffs despite the top of the island being in bright sunshine.
Dean also found a Minke Whale that breached twice as it crossed the landing bay and headed round Rat Island in mid-morning.
In perfect conditions for mist-netting, 75 birds were ringed, including the Sedge Warbler.

Thursday 19 April 2018

19th April - good arrival of common migrants in calm conditions

Chris Dee reports a good arrival of common migrants. Estimated minima of 40 Chiffchaff, 60 Willow Warbler and 60 Blackcap, with much activity in Millcombe and on the Terrace. A female Merlin was seen and there were 8 Woodpigeons in Millcombe. Also 2 Swallow and 6 Goldcrest.
Arriving for the day trip, Martin Thorne reported 3 Great Northern Divers in the Landing Bay.
A total of 97 birds were ringed.

Saturday 14 April 2018

10th to 13th April – Variety and numbers; the first real influx of spring migrants

In his latest update, Lundy Warden Dean Jones reports: "Some super birds about the past few days on the island."

Tuesday 10th April Very little was noted in the logbook for the 10th as the weather was a tad rubbish, with thick fog & mist dominating the day along with a few light downpours.

A single Puffin at Jenny's Cove.
One Snipe, flushed near Halfway Wall.
One female Black Redstart in Barton Field.

Wednesday 11th April Wednesday morning was much the same as Tuesday, with thick fog lingering on the island up until mid-afternoon. As the day brightened there were some good birds to enjoy, including:

Blackcap: 23 in Millcombe Valley.
Chiffchaff: Just four  birds.
Willow Warbler: 16.
The beautiful female Great-spotted Woodpecker again in Millcombe.
Ring Ouzel: A very handsome male below Benjamin's Chair.
Pied Flycatcher: Two second calendar-year males in Millcombe Valley – see photo.
And a lovely male Linnet in song outside Paradise Row.

Male Pied Flycatcher, Millcombe, 11 Apr © Dean Jones

Thursday 12th April A beautiful sunny day, complete with a strong easterly breeze. Lots of lovely birds to enjoy including:

The female Great spotted Woodpecker was again seen feeding in Millcombe Wood.
Treecreeper: Seen feeding in the trees below Brambles (P Bullock & J Cox).
Cormorant: A single bird was noted in the logbook.
Sand Martin: Three birds quartering over High Street field along with 12 Swallow.
Collared Dove: 2 seen together in Millcombe in the morning and then later in the Village area.
White Wagtail: A lone male feeding in Barton Field in the afternoon.
Blackcap: 66 birds – most of which were recorded in the Millcombe area, including two in song.
Chiffchaff: 15+ scattered throughout the south of the island.
Willow Warbler: 20 birds.
Grasshopper Warbler: The first of the year was reeling away behind the Secret Garden (lower Millcombe) first thing.
Common Redstart: Four stunning males (Millcombe, Benjamin's Chair, Terrace & Barton Field) and a single female (Benjamin's Chair) – see photo below.
Stonechat: A male and female were seen together in South West Field, showing signs of possible breeding.
The handsome male Ring Ouzel below Benjamin's Chair still.
Song Thrush: Two birds outside Government House in the early morning.
Linnet: 33 over South West Field in the early morning.
Bullfinch: A lovely female seen and heard numerous times throughout Millcombe.
Snow Bunting: A very bold and very beautiful female, seen initially by Peter Lambden, spent the morning feeding along the High Street track across from the pig pen (photo below).

Snow Bunting, High Street, 12 Apr © Dean Jones
Male Common Redstart, Terrace, 12 Apr © Dean Jones

Friday 13th April A muggy day overall, lots of low-lying fog carpeting the island with intermittent spells of lovely sunshine. The lengthy periods of fog grounded quite a few migrants throughout the day which provided us with a super day's birding on the island!

Teal: A single male and two females were on Pondsbury in the early morning.
Oystercatcher: 33 birds around the island's coastline, including 10 roosting at Brazen Ward.
Ringed Plover: A rather handsome male was feeding on a monster worm at the North End in the early morning.
Snipe: Four flushed from the Pondsbury area.
Woodpigeon: 7 from Millcombe and Quarter Wall Copse.
Collared Dove: Two birds again in Millcombe Valley.
Merlin: A single female bird looking for prey along the east coast in the early morning.
Goldcrest: 25 birds scattered over the island.
Skylark: 35, which included at least 29 territories spanning the plateau area.
Sand Martin: A total of 14 were logged throughout the day.
Swallow: 20.
House Martin: 40.
Chiffchaff: 37.
Willow Warbler: 50.
Blackcap: 80.
Whitethroat: The first bird of the year was seen perched on Threequarter Wall next to a Robin around mid-morning.
Grasshopper Warbler: A single bird was heard reeling in Millcombe in the afternoon.
Pied Flycatcher: Two seen on the Castle Parade wall.
Redstart: At least four males and two females (Benjamin's Chair and the Terrace).
Black Redstart: A male and a female at the top of Benjamin's Chair.
Stonechat: Two males (one of which was singing its heart out in St John's Valley) and one female.
Wheatear: 26+ birds – most of which were noted from the south west.
Pied Wagtail: One on the ground and four other 'fly-overs'.
Meadow Pipit: 119 scattered over the island.
Chaffinch: Just three birds.
Linnet: A superb day of passage for this species with a total of 271 birds.
Goldfinch: 30, which included a lovely little flock of 25 at South West Point.
Snow Bunting: Seen along the High Street track again at 18:45 (E Angseesing & S Evans).
Great-spotted Woodpecker: Still in Millcombe (P Bullock & J Cox).
A predated Guillemot egg, complete with albumen (freshish), was found beneath one of the lighthouse track stones near the North End.

Male Northern Wheatear, South West Point 13 Apr © Dean Jones 

Tuesday 10 April 2018

7th to 9th April – A singing Black Redstart to kick off the day

Here’s the latest news from Lundy Warden Dean Jones, covering the period 7th to 9th April.

7th April: A very dreich start to the day with thick mist and light downpours from first light. Fortunately the weather improved by mid-afternoon which opened the gates for the first proper pulse of Swallows (61) and Sand Martins (15).

Other migrants included:
Collared Dove: One in Millcombe/Village area.
Stock Dove: Two feeding in Barton Field (see photo below) along with five Woodpigeons.
Meadow Pipit: Small arrival of 94 birds to the South End (count composed of two feeding flocks).
Pied Wagtail: Three feeding in upper Lighthouse Field alongside the Lundy ponies.
Goldcrest: 15 scattered throughout Millcombe and the Village area.
Chiffchaff: Seven from the South End and Millcombe.
Willow Warbler: 10 from the South End and Millcombe.
Blackcap: 12 males and four females in Millcombe.
Pied Flycatcher: A stunning male busily feeding at the top of Benjamin’s Chair (see photo below) – the first of the year.
Stonechat: A male on the wall of the camping field.
Wheatear: Seven along the south track.
Song Thrush: One in Millcombe Wood.
Linnet: Five (one in Millcombe and four in South West Field).

No sign of the Treecreeper though the female Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen numerous times throughout the day from the Millcombe/Brambles area and once perched on a tree outside the Laundry room in the Village (super office tick that one!), which the House Sparrows were really not happy about.

Stock Doves, Barton Field, 7th April. © Dean Jones

Male Pied Flycatcher, above Benjamin's Chair, 7th April.
© Dean Jones

8th April: A beautiful sunny day with low winds – the first day the sun cream’s been out! Migratory species somewhat sparser.

Great Spotted Woodpecker: The female bird still present in Millcombe Valley and seen numerous times throughout the day. It also visited Sue Waterfield’s garden feeder throughout the morning period (see photo below).
Sparrowhawk: One female past the Terrace in the late morning, seen whilst on a guided walk.
Merlin: A female being harassed by Carrion Crows next to Old Light.
Collared Dove: One in Millcombe.
Feral Pigeon: A single bird, the first of the year.
Puffin: 72 in Jenny’s in the late morning, counted mostly from the water.
Goldcrest: 12, most of which were recorded from Millcombe and the Lower East Side Path.
Swallow: 22 overhead throughout the day.
House Martin: Five past Jenny’s Cove in the early afternoon.
Stonechat: A male in South West Field (possibly the same bird from the 7th).
Blackcap: 21.
Meadow Pipit: 59.
Linnet: 26.

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Quarters,
8th April. © Sue Waterfield

9th April: Weather similar to Sunday’s with the wind picking up in the late afternoon coupled with an obvious drop in temperature. The full Conservation Team (including our two new long-term volunteers) were out counting our semi-wild stock all day, which meant we were able to get some good counts of birds as we trekked the entire island. Unfortunately numbers of migrants were surprisingly low considering the super conditions for passage.

Black Redstart: One singing loudly on the roof of Paradise Row first thing.
Merlin: A female at North End.
Peregrine: A total of seven, including a copulating pair and a young female.
Feral Pigeon: One predated bird (possibly the bird from the 8th) found on the Terrace.
Goldcrest: 20 scattered all over the island, including three at the North Light.
Swallow: Only four birds.
Chiffchaff: Five.
Willow Warbler: Six.
Blackcap: Eight.
Fieldfare: A predated bird found next to Halfway Wall.
Wheatear: 38, the highest count yet this year, most likely an underestimate as birds along the West Side were surprisingly thin on the ground as the temperature dropped.
Stonechat: One male in South West Field again.
Meadow Pipit: 55.
Linnet: 50.

Saturday 7 April 2018

1st to 6th April – Migration picking up speed

Dean Jones reports that the spring flow of migrants is steadily picking up. Highlights for the period as follows:

Cormorant: Passage recorded on most days. Nine birds flying north on 1st, two flying north on 3rd, three flying south on 5th and two north on 6th.
Manx Shearwater: Heard most nights from the Village/Millcombe area.
Sparrowhawk: A gorgeous adult female was seen with an unidentified prey item behind the Casbah on 1st.
Water Rail: Calling most evenings now from Quarters Pond and Barton Field. Max of five birds recorded on 5th (one calling at Quarters Pond, two seen in Smelly Gully and two calling from brambles next to the Secret Garden).
Snipe: One flushed by Andrew Cleave just north of Quarter Wall on 3rd and one flushed just north of Pondsbury on 5th.
Puffin: Birds have been recorded on most days from their usual haunts. A count of 112 on 3rd was the highest of this period (and the year so far) and 87 were recorded on 4th (most of which were seen on ledges in Jenny’s Cove and near St Peter’s Stone).
Guillemot: 1,330+ on 1st, 870+ on 3rd and 2,350+ on 4th.
Razorbill: 740+ on 1st, 300+ on 3rd and 430+ on 4th.
Woodpigeon: Max count of 17 on 4th. Two birds have been heard ‘cooing’ and were seen displaying in the Millcombe area on both 4th & 5th. Stock Dove: One recorded flying past Quarry Cottages on 6th.
Collared Dove: One on 6th seen and heard from the top of Millcombe Valley.
Merlin: Single birds on 1st, 4th & 6th.
Goldcrest: Small numbers were recorded at the start of this period, mostly from the Millcombe area. A small arrival of 18 birds was recorded on 4th from numerous areas over the island, followed by 22 on 5th and 16 on 6th.
Skylark: Max count of 36 birds on 5th.
Sand Martin: A single bird was seen flying north of Middle Park on 4th and three were over Ackland's Moor on 5th.
Swallow: Ten birds on 4th was the highest count of this period (nine on 5th and eight on 6th).
House Martin: Four on 3rd (Alan & Sandra Rowland), one on 4th and three on 5th.
Chiffchaff: Similar to Goldcrests, small numbers recorded from 1st until 3rd, followed by a super spring arrival of 49 on 4th – this is a very conservative estimate for this species on this date as there were loads of unidentifiable Phylloscopus warblers noted flying with intent over the island throughout the day. Singing birds were recorded from two areas of Millcombe and from St Helen’s Copse (on 3rd and one on 6th).
Willow Warbler: A small number at the start of the period with an influx of 26 birds on 4th. A singing bird was recorded next to Brambles on 3rd.
Blackcap: Singles on 1st–3rd followed by an arrival of 24 males and six females on 4th.
Coal Tit: A single bird, presumably the same overwintering individual from last year, was seen (and heard) on 1st in numerous areas of Millcombe and again on 3rd near the Casbah and Brambles.
Ring Ouzel: The first bird (an adult female) was seen on 4th, followed by two females on 6th next to Felix Gade’s Hut.
Song Thrush (Millcombe) and Redwing: Singles of both were noted on 4th.
Robin: A max count of 13 was recorded on 4th.
Black Redstart: A lone female was seen coming in off the sea from the east on 6th. It landed on the Terrace trap briefly before heading south.
Wheatear: Ten birds (including two new colour-ringed individuals) were noted on 4th - the highest count of the period.
Pied Wagtail: Small numbers of birds recorded on most days along with numerous other fly-over alba spp.
White Wagtail: The first birds were recorded on 1st feeding near the Black Shed. Two birds were also recorded on 3rd (lower Lighthouse Field) and 4th (next to the Lambing Shed).
Chaffinch: Ten on 4th – the highest number this year so far. A singing male was heard from the top of Millcombe on 5th.
Linnet: The first obvious arrival of birds was recorded on 5th (nine birds) followed by 50 on 6th.
Goldfinch: A small arrival of 15 birds on 6th was the highest count of the period.
Siskin: A lone bird was recorded on 5th.
Reed Bunting: A female was seen feeding in the pig pen (in front of Paradise Row) on 4th. It was then observed flying north and was later relocated next to Barton Cottages.

Dean closes the latest account with the following: "The highlight of the period was most definitely a lone Treecreeper found by Zoë in Millcombe Valley in mid-afternoon on 6th April. The bird was then seen and heard numerous times up until 18:00 as it busily picked its way through every bit of lichen and bryophyte throughout the valley looking for a meal. Then, whilst we were enjoying the Treecreeper from the top of Millcombe wood, I heard a very excited yelp from Zoë (who was actually just sat beside me but couldn’t contain her excitement) – WOODPECKER!!!  Swinging the bins round I was immediately met with a stunning female Great Spotted Woodpecker only a few metres away from us both, perched on an old gnarled sycamore. As with the Treecreeper, we were able to enjoy this bird periodically for about an hour or so before it disappeared.  A perfect afternoon's birding on Lundy!"

Report composed of sightings by Neil Trout, Grant Sherman, Zoë Barton and Dean Jones.

A very wet Ackland's Moor, 6 Apr. © Dean Jones
Adult female Ring Ouzel, Timekeeper's Hut, 6 Apr. © Dean Jones
Linnet, Old Light track, 6 Apr. © Dean Jones
Treecreeper, Millcombe, 6 Apr. © Zoë Barton
Female Great Spotted Woodpecker, Millcombe, 6 Apr. © Dean Jones

Tuesday 3 April 2018

3rd April – First House Martins

Alan & Sandra Rowland report four House Martins flying along the East Side at 11.50 this morning, Tuesday 3rd.

Sunday 1 April 2018

31st March – Singing Brambling in Millcombe

In what may well be a Lundy 'first' (if anyone reading this knows better, please do let us know!), the male Brambling that has been frequenting Millcombe was heard singing first thing yesterday morning, Saturday 31st, by Dean Jones.

Also on 31st, Tony & Ann Taylor, enjoying their final day on the island for this trip, reported a flock of 10 Cormorants flying north up the East Side at midday, a Woodcock in flight from St John's Valley towards the Village, a Collared Dove in Millcombe, a Coal Tit "very mobile and noisy around Millcombe", a male Stonechat at Benjamin's Chair and a potentially newly arrived Chiffchaff in the same location. The boat crossing back to Ilfracombe brought two Manx Shearwaters and "masses of Guillemots and Razorbills".

Tony has also been able to confirm that two additional colour-ringed Wheatears seen by Dean on Friday 30th had both been ringed in 2017, when they bred together on the Pilot’s Quay slope. "This year, however, the male appears to have paired up with an unringed female and the two of them were chasing the colour-ringed female."