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Saturday 7 July 2018

19th Jun to 6th Jul – A Summery Summary from the Sun-kissed isle

The following comprehensive update has been prepared by Lundy Warden Dean Jones. Many thanks to Dean for fitting this in at one of the very busiest times of year.

"Sun kissed would be the phrase I would use if I were to describe this period on Lundy. Only 10.6ml of rain has fallen (all within four days) which has left the island rather parched. Although this has made evenings in the staff ‘nook’ that much nicer, the lack of rain is really starting to show across the island, resulting in it looking more like a mini-Serengeti than an island in the Bristol Channel, as the grass turns straw-like as it retreats from the sun.

It has been a magical period on Lundy for wildlife sightings as of late, with the logbook filling up with lots of interesting sightings from both above and below the waves. The star of the show bird-wise has to be the beautiful Rose-coloured Starling which remained on Lundy from the start of this period until 29 June at least. This bird put on quite the show, turning up in some very conspicuous areas of the Village to the delight of many visitors.

Rose-coloured Starling on the Black Shed, 19 June © Dean Jones

It has also been a great month for raptors: A lone female Marsh Harrier (numerous sightings of this bird from 28 June until 5 July), a Red Kite (1 cruising south near Tibbetts on 20th), a female Hen Harrier (quartering North of Quarter Wall on 16th), Kestrel (singles on 18, 20 & 25 June, 2 & 3 July) and a Sparrowhawk (1 on 20 & 24 June & 2 July) have all made appearances during the period.

The island’s seabirds have also been very busy with the first Kittiwake chicks making their arrival on 15 June. So far the birds in the Aztec Bay productivity site are doing OK with at least 48 nests still active. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for our Threequarter Wall Buttress site, with only 8 nests remaining out of an initial 44. Fingers crossed the remaining birds will be able to withstand the heat and constant pestering from the larger gulls and will manage to get a few chicks at least out this year. Only time will tell.

On a better note, our Puffins are doing well with the island’s long-term volunteers observing numerous adult Puffins taking fish into nesting burrows every day. From one auk to the others… and our Guillemots and Razorbills are nearly finished for the year (where does the time go?!), with the first ‘jumplings’ making the leap of faith on 27 June from St Mark’s Stone. This productivity site is now looking somewhat bare as the majority of birds have now disembarked and made their way out to sea."

Adult female and fledgling Wheatear, West Side near St Mark's Stone, 3 July © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note from 19 June to 6 July:

  • Mallard: 3 females with very young ducklings on 4th & 5th: 6 ducklings on Quarry Pond, 7 on Quarters Pond & 9 at Barton Pond.
  • Common Scoter: 2 in close to Gannets’ Rock on 20th.
  • Manx Shearwater: 421 moving north in 30 minutes, counted from near St Mark’s Stone on 2nd. 
  • Gannet: 50 birds in ‘feeding assemblage’ with gulls, auks, shags and shearwaters on 30th.
  • Grey Heron: One on 24th and 3 on 25th, flying past Aztec Bay.
  • Little Egret: The bird seen on 13th in Barton Field remained until the morning of 14th at least.
  • Curlew: One was heard calling over the Village at around 22:00 hrs on 28th and one was seen in Middle Park (possibly the same bird) on the morning of 29th.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull: The first fledglings on the wing were seen near the Church on 30th.
  • Turtle Dove: One flying over the Old Hospital on 2nd.
  • Woodpigeon: The first fledgling was noted in Millcombe on 20th.
  • Collared Dove: One on 30th and one on 2nd.
  • Puffin: A count of 243 birds on 2nd has been the highest number recorded of this hardy little seabird this year so far.
  • Cuckoo: One reported on 2nd (no further details entered in the log).
  • Swift: Birds have been logged on most days. The highest counts were 29 wheeling around the Church on 2 July and 29 birds quartering the East Side on 4th.  
  • Swallow: The first fledglings were perched on the fence in Brick Field on 1st. The highest count has been 11 on 21st.
  • House Martin: 2 on 21st and 4 on the 22nd.
  • Skylark: 21 on 22nd and 21 on 4th have been the highest counts of the period.
  • Stonechat: 2 males at Quarter Wall on 29th.
  • Spotted Flycatcher: One bird with a rather deformed bill was seen in Millcombe on 21st.
  • Blackcap: At least two males were recorded singing up until 23rd (no further records).
  • Chiffchaff: The first fledglings were seen in Millcombe on 20th.
  • Willow Warbler: One was calling loudly from the top of Millcombe on 20th.
  • Whitethroat: A single male has been singing at the top of Millcombe every day since 23rd.
  • Reed Warbler: One bird heard singing from within Smelly Gully on 19th.
  • Wren: The first fledglings were seen in Smelly Gully on 20th.
  • Grey Wagtail: One flying over Millcombe Gardens on 26th.
  • Linnet: Lots of youngsters around now; 50 birds on 4th was the highest count of the period.  
  • Lesser Redpoll: Single birds heard overhead on 3rd and 4th.

Flock of Common Swifts inspecting the newly completed St Helen's Centre, 2 July © Dean Jones

Non-avian highlights:

We have had some great moth trapping sessions as of late. Highlights include Lundy rarities like Shoulder-striped Wainscot, two Nationally Scarce B species (Double Line & Thyme Pug) and a Nationally Scarce A species  (Devonshire Wainscot) along with a number of potential new species for the island.

The butterflies have also been benefiting from the dry, windless weather. The 4th saw a super day for Large Whites (100+ recorded) and Meadow Brown (426) as well as some of the island’s day-flying moths like Six-spot Burnets (272) and Silver Y (46).

Numerous damselflies have been noted (e.g. 25 Blue-tailed Damselflies and 10 Common Blue Damselflies on 4th) as well as two Emperor Dragonflies at Quarter Wall Pond during the period and a lovely female Common Darter on the Terrace on 4th.

Emperor Dragonfly, Quarter Wall Pond, 3 July © Dean Jones

To further the excitement, Helen Booker and other members of RSPB staff are over again this week, this time to try and survey the island for possible Storm Petrel sites following the discovery of burrows at North End last year. Watch this space!

Report composed of sightings from: Peter Lambden, Kirsty Neller, Grant Sherman, Kevin Welsh, John Hutchinson, Kevin Waterfall, Robert Andrew, Kathryn MacKinnon, Joshua Harris, Alan & Sandra Rowland, Zoƫ Barton and Dean Jones.