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Thursday 31 May 2018

31st May – Golden Oriole, Hawfinch, Bullfinch & Spotted Flycatchers

Tony Taylor discovered a first-year male Golden Oriole singing in Millcombe first thing. It afforded good views and was seen flying north over the valley at 10.30 hrs, but not subsequently.

The Hawfinch and singing Reed Warbler were still in Millcombe. At least 12 Spotted Flycatchers were present, including three together near the Terrrace Trap. A female Bullfinch in Millcombe flew a circuit high over the Village, calling constantly, during the late afternoon, before landing again in Millcombe.

There was a singing Willow Warbler in Millcombe. Singing Chiffchaffs were heard in Millcombe (two), Quarter Wall Copse, and above Quarry Beach. Single Blackcaps were singing in Millcombe and at Quarter Wall Copse. Other records included a female Sparrowhawk (East Side), six Collared Doves, two Swifts, 10 Swallows, 3 House Martins and single Redpoll (East Side) and Siskin (Millcombe).

Observations by Ann & Tony Taylor, Rebecca & Richard Taylor, Dean Jones, Tim Davis & Tim Jones.

29th & 30th May – Hobby, Turtle Dove

On 29th Richard & Rebecca Taylor saw a Hobby at South End and the Reed Warbler was still singing in Millcombe.

On 30th there was a Siskin over Millcombe and the Turtle Dove was seen again. The second adult bird at the occupied Manx Shearwater nest box in the Old Light colony was also confirmed as a returning individiual from 2017.

Tuesday 29 May 2018

28th May – A quiet day

Tony Taylor reports that during an otherwise quiet day there was a Reed Warbler singing in upper Millcombe and a late Tree Pipit flew north.

Monday 28 May 2018

27th May – Woodchat Shrike relocated

The Woodchat Shrike, first reported on 24th, was relocated at the western end of Quarter Wall on Sunday 27th, where it was on view for much of the day. Also on 27th a Dunlin flew north, there were two Cuckoos in the St Helen's Combe/Millcombe/St John's Valley area, a Turtle Dove near the Lodge, a Whitethroat and singing Reed Warbler in Millcombe, and a singing Sedge Warbler at the Rocket Pole, whilst Richard & Rebecca Taylor found an unseasonal Black Redstart at The Battery.

Saturday 26 May 2018

26th May – No sign of the rosefinch

Tony Taylor reports that there was no sign of the Common Rosefinch and Millcombe (along with the rest of the East Side) was exposed to a fresh easterly wind, which made birding difficult. The only observation of note was the Hawfinch, which was seen again by Dean Jones.

Friday 25 May 2018

25th May – Singing male Common Rosefinch in Millcombe

Earlier this morning Tony Taylor discovered that yesterday's report from another visitor, of brief views of a singing male Redpoll, in fact referred to a "stunning red male Common Rosefinch shouting out his presence" at the top of Millcombe, near to the start of the Upper East Side Path. It was seen later in Millcombe by Lundy Warden Dean Jones and others.

Tony has also confirmed successful breeding by Teal for the fourth successive year, whilst other records for the day included: 7 Collared Doves, a reported Turtle Dove, 18 House Martins, 12 Swallows, 2 Whitethroats, a Blackcap, 4 Spotted Flycatchers and Manx Shearwaters flying north off the East Side during the evening at a rate of nearly 20 per minute. Update: The Woodchat Shrike was photographed by Jo Alexander.

Male Common Rosefinch, Millcombe, 25 May 2018 © Dean Jones

Thursday 24 May 2018

24th May – Woodchat Shrike & good news from the Wheatear colour-ringing project

In his latest bulletin, for 24th May, Tony Taylor advises that other observers saw a Woodchat Shrike (see photos below) on the eastern end of Quarter Wall during the afternoon and a Redpoll singing in Millcombe [Update: this bird was seen only briefly on 24th, but Tony caught up with it on 25th and was able to confirm it as a male Common Rosefinch – see above]. Single Curlew and Ringed Plover flew north up the West Side.

In an excellent development, given the often difficult conditions for birds and birdwatchers alike earlier this spring, Tony confirms that resightings of Wheatears colour-ringed on Lundy in previous years have now reached the target of 30 required under the BTO's Retrapping Adults for Survival scheme.

Woodchat Shrike, 24 May © Martin Thorne
Woodchat Shrike, 24 May © Martin Thorne
Woodchat Shrike, 24 May © Martin Thorne

Wednesday 23 May 2018

22nd & 23rd May – A late(ish) Osprey

Tony Taylor sums up Tuesday 22nd with that most telling of birding adjectives: "quiet".

Today, 23rd, brought sightings (by others) of an Osprey flying north past Millcombe and up the East Side and the Hawfinch was seen again. Other observations included a female Sparrowhawk, a Golden Plover in South West Field, a female Kestrel, a Yellow Wagtail flying north over Benjamin's Chair, and a Dunlin that Tony advises, "narrowly escaped capture by a male Peregrine".

A check of the nestboxes in the Old Light Manx Shearwater colony revealed that one of last year's successful pair was incubating a fresh-looking egg.

Tuesday 22 May 2018

21st May – News of the Old Light shearwater colony

Tony Taylor reports that the Old Light Manx Shearwater colony was surprisingly busy on the night of 20th/21st (Sunday/Monday) in spite of the bright light cast by a waxing moon. There were many calling birds and 21 individuals were captured, including eight ringed in previous years, of which two were ringed as chicks in the same colony in 2014.

During the day on Monday 21st there was a calling Cuckoo in Millcombe. Other migrants included two singing Blackcaps, a Sedge Warbler and five Spotted Flycatchers. The Dotterel and Hawfinch were both still present.

In other news, the record of the Red-throated Pipit found by Andy Jayne in October 2017 has recently been accepted by the British Birds Rarities Committee.

Monday 21 May 2018

Mary Gade 1933 – 2018

We learnt with much sadness of the death yesterday (a few days short of her 85th birthday) of Mary Gade, daughter of Felix and Rene Gade, who grew up on Lundy having made her first crossing from Bideford at the tender age of just 18 days, and spent much of her adult life living and working on the island. She inherited her father's love of birds and over the years amassed what may very well remain the longest list of species seen on Lundy by any one person, among them numerous rarities, such as Great Spotted Cuckoo, American Robin and Common Yellowthroat. For a whole generation of Lundy birdwatchers and ringers (whose plumage may be a little more greyish and abraded these days) Mary was an island fixture and someone to whom the maxim "once met, never forgotten" surely applies. She will be remembered with deep fondness by those in the Lundy birding community that knew her (not to mention the many birdwatchers that will have met her more recently on Cape Clear, off the coast of County Cork). Our thoughts are with Mary's partner Steve and Annie, her daughter.

Mary pictured on Lundy in October 2015 © Tim Davis

Sunday 20 May 2018

20th May – Iceland Gull, Turtle Dove, Dotterel & Hawfinch

The annual Devon Birds day-trip charter of MS Oldenburg took place today and among the birds on offer were an adult Iceland Gull (off the West Side) and a Turtle Dove (Millcombe), in addition to the Dotterel, singing Firecrest and Hawfinch, all of which were still present (see Jon Turner's report on Devon Bird Sightings here and photos on Bri Thompson's and Cliff Smith's Twitter feeds). Tony Taylor, back on the island for Wheatear and Manx Shearwater ringing studies, reports that the supporting cast included Whimbrel, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and a male Redstart. There were some hirundines and Swifts on the move but numbers were lower than on 18th & 19th. Tony notes that the Wheatear breeding season is significantly later this year than in 2017 and that there are still Greenland Wheatears passing through.

Dotterel, South West Point © Jon Turner

Saturday 19 May 2018

15th to 19th May – Dotterel, Firecrest, Hawfinch & major hirundine passage

Below are highlights for Tuesday 15th to Saturday 19th May, excluding James Diamond's sightings covered in the previous post. Dean Jones writes:

"The star of the show was undoubtedly the stunning lady Dotterel who dropped onto the SW point of the island this afternoon (19th). Initially found by Barbara Harrington & Kim Brett, the bird stuck around for quite a while and was enjoyed by numerous island twitchers."

Greenshank: One flying over the South End heading SE was seen and heard calling repeatedly (probably flushed from Kistvaen Pond) whilst I was on a Bumblebee identification course with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust!
Ringed Plover: 4 on 17th.
Dunlin: 1 by Rocket Pole Pond today (19th).
Collared Dove: 1 on 15th, 18th and 19th and 2 on 17th.
Swift: 28 on the 18th & 17 today (19th).
Kestrel: One male and female again on 18th.
All three Raven nests have now fledged young adding another 9 chicks (at least) to the island population.
Firecrest: A lone male was seen and heard singing his heart out in Millcombe wood on 18th and again early this morning (19th).
Skylark: A few more territories were found up beyond Threequarter Wall on 18th, bringing us to 46 territories so far for 2018.
Sand Martin: Single digit numbers on most days. 26+ traversed the island on 18th.
Swallow: Double digits up until 18th when a very conservative estimate of 3,000+ birds was noted. Birds were travelling over the island for the majority of the day averaging around 298 birds every 30 minutes (from sample counts at the North End). Today (19th) was a bit slower but still very impressive: sample count of 2 hours produced 310 birds.
House Martin: Similar to the Swallows, a very conservative estimate of around 124 birds were counted on 18th.
Chiffchaff: 4 recorded on each day within this period. There have been at least 2 birds singing in Millcombe every day during this period. Fingers crossed they will stay and breed.
Willow Warbler: 2 on 18th
Blackcap: 1 male and female on the 16th, 1 female on 17th & 18th.
Whitethroat: 4 on 16th and 2 on 18th.
Reed Warbler: 1 in Millcombe Gardens in the late afternoon of 18th and 2 today, 19th (one in Smelly Gully and 1 in the Secret Garden).
Spotted Flycatcher: 1 on 15th, 5 on 16th, 2 on 17th and 9 on 18th.
Redstart: A lone female was seen catching flies at the top of Millcombe on 18th.
Stonechat: The SW pair are still present and were seen collecting food from within the short heather on the morning of 18th – 7 were recorded in total for this date, six of which were recorded from Gannets Bay.
Wheatear: 36+ on 18th, most of which were singing males.
Grey Wagtail: A very late individual was noted in the logbook on 16th (no additional information).
Pied Wagtail: 4 on 16th.
Chaffinch: 3 on 16th & 17th.
Linnet: 40 on 17th and 41 on 18th. 
Lesser Redpoll: 2 feeding within a patch of dandelions in tent field on 18th.
Hawfinch: Present again in Millcombe on 18th near the Secret Garden in late afternoon, seemingly feeding on lichen (or fallen seeds caught in lichen) – see photo.

Female Dotterel, South West Point, 19th May © Dean Jones
Female Dotterel, South West Point, 19th May © Dean Jones
Hawfinch, Millcombe, 18th May © Dean Jones

Thursday 17 May 2018

17th May – A gorgeous day

James Diamond took the 07.30 "pleasure cruise" aboard MS Oldenburg out of Bideford in beautiful sunshine, hoping for something tantalising on the island, perhaps a Bee-eater, a shrike or a Bluethroat. No joy on that front, but an entertaining day nonetheless with the following sightings:

Nine Blackbirds (including three on the plateau at Quarter Wall and one feeding young in Millcombe), Goldcrest (1 in Millcombe), Blackcap (1), Whitethroat (1), Chiffchaff (4), Collared Dove (2), Woodpigeon (2), Dunlin (1), Ringed Plover (1), Golden Plover (1), a Hawfinch around Millcombe House, House Martin (21), Sand Martin (3), Swift (10), Kestrel (2), White Wagtail (1), a Water Rail singing from juncus in Lighthouse Field and 50 Puffins in Jenny's Cove.

Late in the day the wind dropped away, making for a pleasant return crossing and fish and chips in Bideford before the drive home to Exminster. Thanks James.

12th to 14th May – Short-toed Lark and Purple Sandpipers

The latest news from Lundy Warden Dean Jones:

"The obvious highlight for this period has to be the super Short-toed Lark which was found by Sam Bosanquet on the afternoon of the 13th, feeding along the Old Light track. Sam was fortunate enough to see this bird at least three times throughout the day from 15:20 – 19:25 as he passed to and from his accommodation at Old Light." See Sam's Twitter post here and record shot below:

Short-toed Lark, South West Field/Old Light track, 13 May © Sam Bosanquet

Notes from the LFS logbook 12th – 14th:

Whimbrel: 2 on 12th (South Light and west coast).
Dunlin: 1 was seen flying north on the 12th.
Purple Sandpiper: 4 at Brazen Ward on 14th, one of which was in full breeding plumage and allowed for superb prolonged close up views. (NB This is a notable record for what has never been a commonly reported species on Lundy, but sightings have been particularly few and far between in recent years.)
Collared Dove: 2 on 12th and 1 on 14th.
Swift: 1 on 12th & 14th and 2 on 13th.
Kestrel: A beautiful lone female was seen quartering the south end on 12th – the highlight of the island's second World Migratory Bird Day guided walk.
Swallow: 76 on the 12th, 200+ on 13th and 142 on 14th.
Sand Martin: 14 on 13th and 8 on 14th.
House Martin: 1 on 12th, 30+ on 13th and 11 on 14th.
Chiffchaff: 3 on 12th, 8 on 13th and 6 on 14th.
Willow Warbler: 1 bird on each day throughout this period.
Blackcap: Numbers have dropped dramatically compared to the start of the month. 1 on 12th, 2 on  13th and 3 on 14th.
Whitethroat: 1 on 12th & 13th and 4 on 14th.
Grasshopper Warbler: 1 flushed from the bracken alongside the track beyond Threequarter Wall on  13th.
Sedge Warbler: 4 on 12th, 1 on 13th and 2 on 14th.
Spotted Flycatcher: 2 late arriving birds on 12th were seen catching flies from the fence posts next to the Tavern.
White Wagtail: 1 male was seen feeding on the grass near Old Light in the evening of 12th (S Bosanquet).
Linnet: 5 on 12th, 21 on 13th and 22 on 14th.
Lesser Redpoll: One on 14th calling loudly whilst in flight above Millcombe.
Goldfinch: 14 on 12th, 11 on 13th and 14 on 14th.
Siskin: 2 beautiful birds (1 male & 1 female) were present in Millcombe on 14th.

"The weather is looking very exciting for the upcoming week! All the fingers and toes are crossed for something special."

Sunday 13 May 2018

7th to 11th May – A promising start but then migration stopped

Dean Jones, the warden, reports that the period started off very promising with a lovely diversity of long distant migrants arriving on the island throughout the morning of the 7th. Unfortunately this buzz of passage did not continue over the next few days and the birds that were already here quickly moved off before the wind picked up and the rains arrived. There was however a few super birds to continue the excitement of spring.

Highlights from the period include:

May 7th

  • Whimbrel: 4
  • Kestrel: 1 hovering over SW field in the afternoon.  
  • Hirundines: 26 Sand Martin, 120+ Swallow and 7 House Martin.
  • Swift: 5 over the south end of the island in the afternoon.
  • Chiffchaff: 10 including a number of singing individuals in Millcombe and St Helen’s Copse.
  • Willow Warbler: 7
  • Blackcap: 7
  • Garden Warbler: 1
  • Whitethroat: 4 in the Millcombe/St John’s area.
  • Sedge Warbler: 9 in the Millcombe/St John’s area.
  • Whinchat: 1 female perched on a fence post at the top of Millcombe.
  • Finches: 20 Linnet, 8 Goldfinch, 1 female Chaffinch and a lone male Lesser Redpoll singing his heart out on Government House roof.

May 8th

  • Whimbrel: 2
  • Dunlin: 2
  • Collared Dove: 1
  • Swift: 3
  • Hirundines: 8 Sand Martin, 66 Swallow and 2 House Martin.
  • Phylloscs: 8 Chiffchaff and 3 Willow Warbler.
  • Blackcap: 7
  • Sedge Warbler: 1
  • Yellow Wagtail: A beautiful female was found feeding with the ponies in Barton’s Field, the first of the year.
  • White Wagtail: 1 female in Barton’s Field.
  • Finches: 37 Linnet, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Chaffinch, 20 Goldfinch, the female Bullfinch again and a stunning male Hawfinch was seen on the Laundry Garden wall in the afternoon (Z Barton).

May 9th (Someone has turned off the migrant tap)

  • Whimbrel: 1
  • Dunlin: 1
  • Collared Dove: 1
  • Hirundines: 1 Sand Martin, 15 Swallow and 3 House Martin.
  • Phylloscs: 3 Chiffchaff and 1 Willow Warbler.
  • Blackcap: 1
  • Finches: 30 Linnet, 14 Goldfinch and the male Hawfinch again, this time from the top of Millcombe in the early morning and subsequently on Sue Waterfield’s feeders on a number of occasions up until the late afternoon.

May 10th (Another very quiet day)

  • Whimbrel: 3
  • Manx Shearwater: 23 past Rat Island in 5 minutes.
  • Collared Dove: 1
  • Hirundines: 3 Sand Martin, 44 Swallow and 3 House Martin.
  • Chiffchaff: 2
  • Willow Warbler: 1
  • Blackcap: 2
  • Sedge Warbler: 1
  • Yellow Wagtail: 1 male & 1 female, both in Barton’s Field.
  • Linnet: 35
  • Goldfinch: 20

May 11th. Don’t the birds know that it is World Migratory Bird Day this weekend?

  • Collared Dove: 1
  • Chiffchaff: 2
  • Willow Warbler: 1
  • Blackcap: 1 female
  • Spotted Flycatcher: 2 in the Sycamores near Bramble Villas. 

Hawfinch © Dean Jones

Yellow Wagtail © Dean Jones

Yellow Wagtail © Dean Jones

Wednesday 9 May 2018

World Migratory Bird Day – Lundy events

This weekend Lundy will be helping celebrate World Migratory Bird Day – an event aimed at raising awareness into the plight of migratory birds around the globe.

To celebrate this important day the conservation team will be hosting two special bird related guided walks on Friday 11th May (10:30am from the Tavern) and Saturday 12th May (12:00pm from the Jetty). Additionally we will be hosting a special illustrated talk on Saturday evening in the wheelhouse (5:00pm) about bird migration and the fantastic work of the Committee Against Bird Slaughter, who save thousands of birds each year from illegal hunting and trapping in Europe!

For more information on Migratory bird day and for information on other events around the country why not have a look at the event's official website

We hope to see you on the weekend!

Monday 7 May 2018

4th to 6th May

The warden, Dean Jones reports "It’s been very warm and muggy on the island as of late, which has been great for insects who are now starting to emerge in good numbers, but not very good for migrants, as the warm air on the island coupled with a cool oceanic breeze has cloaked the island in a near continuous blanket of fog for the majority of this period. We were still luckily enough to get some beautiful sunny spells with next to no winds at parts, which allowed for a superb passage of Hirundines on the afternoon of the 4th. Here a very conservative estimate of 1200+ swallows, 200+ sand martins and 38 house martins passed over Lundy on route to their breeding grounds in the north."

Other avian highlights from the period include (excluding birds from Rob Duncan’s previous post):
  • Whimbrel: 8 on the 5th & 1 on the 6th.
  • Snipe: One flushed from a small patch of rush in SW field on the 6th.
  • Swift: One over Millcombe on the 4th and 3 on the 6th.
  • Goldcrest: One on the 4th & 5th.
  • Swallow: 200+ on the 5th, & 80 on the 6th.
  • Sand Martin: 10 on the 5th & 51 on the 6th.
  • House Martin: 10 on the 5th & 7 on the 6th,
  • Stonechat: One male near the Rocket Pole on the 4th and the 6th.
  • Pied Wagtail: 2 on the 4th & 5th. One of which (a young male) was caught and ringed in Millcombe on the 5th. 5 on the 6th.
  • Chiffchaff: 21 caught and ringed from the Millcombe area which included a highly probable Siberian bird (see photo).
  • Willow Warbler: 14 birds caught and ringed on the 5th.
  • Blackcap: 30 (21 females & 9 males) on the 5th.  
  • Whitethroat: 1 caught in St John’s on the 5th.
  • Sedge Warbler: 8 on the 5th - all caught and ringed from the Millcombe/St John’s area.
  • Reed Warbler: 1 caught and ringed from St John’s Valley on the 5th.
  • Chaffinch: 2 females on the 5th.
  • Linnet: 33 on the 6th which included 4 females with nest material. 
  • Bullfinch: One female in Millcombe on the 5th.
I was also lucky enough to join the guys from Obsession 2 charters for a round the island trip on the afternoon of the 6th. The beautiful calm sea state allowed for perfect conditions for counting some of the islands seabirds.

Totals include:
  • Shag: 38
  • Oystercatcher: 22
  • Kittiwake: 192
  • Great Black-backed Gull: 63
  • Herring Gull: 479
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull: 237
Possible Siberian Chiffchaff © Dean Jones
Swallow having a quick preen before departure © Dean Jones

Lesser Redpoll along the Beach Road © Dean Jones

Stonechat in Southwest Field © Dean Jones

Saturday 5 May 2018

4th May – Garden Warbler present and good hirundine passage

Rob Duncan reported that the morning had potential but was killed off by the thick fog so only 22 birds were ringed. A Garden Warbler was the best bird. Also saw Whimbrel and Great Northern Diver in the landing bay. A pretty big hirundine passage got under way around lunchtime - numbers to follow.

Friday 4 May 2018

3rd May – Singing Wood Warbler

Rob Duncan reports a much better day on Thursday 3rd. The highlight was a singing Wood Warbler in Lower Millcombe first thing, but only very briefly. A total of 53 birds, mainly Willow Warblers, were ringed during the morning. Three Shelducks were seen on Pondsbury by Cyril Matthews' daughter. Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Garden Warblers and 2 Lesser Redpolls were also around Millcombe and a Whimbrel at the South End.

Thursday 3 May 2018

29th Apr to 2nd May – Slow!

Dean Jones reports: “It’s been a rather blustery period of late, with strong winds battering the island from all directions. Despite these unfavourable conditions some super migrants have braved the gales and joined us for a brief period. However, things are still very slow with regard to some of our migrant species. Still no Lesser Whitethroat or Yellow Wagtail and only a trickle of Whitethroat, Garden Warbler etc. We are hoping with the calm conditions forecast for the coming weekend that we will start seeing better numbers.”

Whimbrel: One heard calling in the Landing Bay on 29th and one on Lamentor on 30th (Rob & Sue Waterfield).
Sanderling: One feeding on the edge of the ‘Lundy Carwash’ (the big puddle on the track next to the Old Hospital) in the morning by (Pete Lambden).
Woodpigeon: Six in Millcombe on 30th – the highest count of the period.
Collared Dove: One seen coming in off the sea near Rat Island on 30th (Zoƫ Barton).
Willow Warbler: 20 on 29th, 25 on 30th and five on 1st.
Chiffchaff: Six on 29th, two on 30th & 1st.
Blackcap: 30 on 29th & 30th and 15 on 1st.
Garden Warbler: One at the top of Millcombe on 29th, and one caught and ringed on 30th.
Sedge Warbler: Four caught and ringed in Millcombe on 29th & 30th.
Whitethroat: Three on 29th and two on 30th.
Reed Warbler: The first of the year was caught and ringed in Millcombe on the afternoon of 30th.
Wheatear: 34 (composed of two gatherings of birds on SW Point and North end) on 29th and 48 on 30th.
Pied Flycatcher: One young male at the top of Millcombe on 29th.
Spotted Flycatcher: One on 29th and two on 30th. 
Redstart: A lone female was seen on the fence of Barton Field on 30th.
Swallow: 200+ on 29th, 82 on 30th and 10 on 1st.
House Martin: One on 29th and five on 30th.
Sand Martin: 10 on 29th and five on 30th.
Ring Ouzel: Three on 29th.
Goldfinch: 36 on 29th and 24 on 30th.
Linnet: 35 on 29th, 40 on 30th. 
Redpoll: A female was caught and ringed in Millcombe on 30th.

Dean also reports a Chaffinch “putting the finishing touches to a beautiful nest in Millcombe Valley, while the first of three pairs of Blackbirds with eggs has now started feeding their tiny chicks”.

Rob Duncan sent the following note on 2nd May: “A tough couple of days in which we ringed 17 birds on 1st May and 10 on 2nd – but looking good for the rest of the week. As well as watching  Puffins today, the best birds were Redpoll, Spotted Flycatcher and a Bullfinch in Millcombe.”

Mallard with ducklings, Quarters Pond, 29th Apr. © Dean Jones
Whimbrel, Lametor, 30th Apr. © Sue Waterfield
Pied Flycatcher, Millcombe, 29th Apr. © Dean Jones
Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe, 29th Apr. © Dean Jones
Whitethroat, Millcombe, 30th Apr. © Sue Waterfield