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Saturday 11 August 2018

7th Jul to 10th Aug – a much-delayed report from another busy stint on the island

With the onset of the school holidays, things have been all go on the island. By mid-July Lundy receives an additional Wednesday sailing which transports an extra day’s worth of visitors to the island every week until the end of August. Despite the increased numbers of guests (nearly every boat since the middle of July has been close to full) the island has a rather eerie stillness about it now that most of the seabirds have left us for another season. Young Kittiwakes, gulls, Shag and auks have fledged from their natal sites, leaving only a scattering of very portly Fulmar chicks perched on turf-covered ledges, along with their tubenose cousins hidden away from sight in their burrows and rock crevices.

Weather-wise, Lundy is starting to feel a bit more Lundy like (misty and windy) and now emits an early autumnal feel. We have also had a number of much-needed rainy days in this period which has transformed the straw-coloured meadows and lawns back to a healthy emerald glow in parts. Beasties like the Dor Beetle have also reappeared along the well-trodden paths after a rather prolonged absence, most definitely due to the drought like conditions that the island was subjected to this summer.

The birding highlight of the period has to be the beautiful though rather tatty looking female Marsh Harrier that has been seen periodically through this stint, right up until 8th August at least. That’s at least 32 days she has been quartering the island, probably feeding on the plentiful passerine fledglings which are still haphazardly flittering their way around the island.

Female Marsh Harrier, 8th July © Josh Harris

The other highlight came from a brief seawatch on 26th July from the North Lighthouse where a beautiful and rather early Balearic Shearwater was seen resting and feeding in and around the minimal swell and raucous rafts of departing auks.

Other sightings of note from the period:

Manx Shearwater: A brief seawatch from the Ugly on the morning of 10th August produced 514 birds past Rat Island in just under an hour of observations.
Storm Petrel: On the evening of 6th July whilst out with Helen Booker and her team from the RSPB, we caught sight of ~20 Stormies under torch beam at the North End. An additional five days of Stormy monitoring was carried out from 5th–10th July. A short report will be produced in due time to highlight the team’s finds. The only other sighting of the charismatic little seabird came from MS Oldenburg on 28th July when a bird was seen foraging off SE Point, 10 minutes after departure from the Jetty.
Shag: Numerous young birds have started to arrive/loiter around the island now. The first fledgling birds to brave the inky deep were recorded on 9th July near Long Roost. A short trip on Obsession II along the east coast produced 205 birds, the highest count of the period.

Shags, Landing Bay, 10th August © Dean Jones

Teal: 2 females and 3 immatures were seen on Pondsbury 24th July.
Grey Heron: Observations of up to three birds were recorded most days between 14th & 27th July. These amazing Ardea were seen pretty much everywhere on the island at times, e.g. over the Village, Tibbetts, the Castle, Pondsbury, Tillage Field, eating newly fledged Mallard ducklings in Barton Field and Mirror Carp in Rocket Pole Pond within this stint.

Grey Heron, Barton Field, 26th July © Dean Jones

Buzzard: 2 birds were seen flying over Pondsbury on 22nd July and a lone bird on the 31st (no supporting info).
Water Rail: A very noisy bird has been calling from Quarters Pond on 10 dates within this period.
Whimbrel: 2 calling over Rat Island on 18th.
Curlew: 3 over the Village area on 26th.
Turnstone: 2 on 24th along the South End (seen from kayak).
Common Sandpiper: Recorded on five dates through this period, with 5 birds perched behind the Sentinels in the Landing Bay on 20th being the highest count of the period.
Puffin: Recorded on most days throughout July with 250 on 27th being the highest count. Last record for this species was on 4th August.
Black-headed Gull: 1 adult was seen foraging off Rat Island on 22nd and another on 25th from the North End, accompanied by a juvenile bird.
Common Gull: 1 juvenile was observed in the Landing Bay on 23rd and another over the Hen & Chickens on 25th.
Cuckoo: A single bird was seen flying over Millcombe by the RSPB team as they made their way to the Oldenburg on 10th July. Single rufous type birds were also recorded every day from 19th to 26th July (possibly the same bird) from varying locations on the island.
Swift: Small numbers recorded on five days in the period, max of 4 on 18th.
Kestrel: Recorded on most days throughout this period with 3 on 25th (two juvs and an adult male).
Merlin: 2 birds were seen together just north of Mousehole & Trap on 2nd August, the first of the autumn.
Peregrine: Very few records submitted for this species. The sparse records mostly involved single birds, though there was a count of 3 on 25th July.
Sand Martin: The first two birds of the autumn were recorded on 31st July near Pondsbury.
Swallow: Small numbers recorded most days; 9 on 23rd July 23rd the highest count of the period.
Chiffchaff: Recorded on 11 dates with the highest count being 6 on 25th July. One bird was in full song in St Helens Copse on 20th July.
Willow Warbler: Small numbers of birds have been moving through the island since 19th July. A super early autumn fall of birds was recorded on 25th with a total of 117 birds recorded – mostly from the Millcombe area, some of which were in song.
Blackcap: Recorded on 11 days within this period, of which the highest count was 3 on 9th August. Successful breeding has been confirmed this year with at least one chick being fed by his/her mother in the Secret Garden on 17th July.
Whitethroat: singles on 31st July & 9th August.
Sedge Warbler: Singles on 30th & 31st July and 9th August.
Song Thrush: A juvenile bird was seen in Millcombe on 23rd July.
Pied Flycatcher: Singles on 8th & 10th August, both within the Millcombe area.
Robin: Elusive at times. Successful breeding recorded from two pairs in Millcombe – first fledglings seen on 24th July.
Stonechat: Recorded on nine dates. Highest count was 3 birds chasing one another near Castle Copse on 22nd July.
Pied Wagtail: 3 on 15th & 22nd July and 9th August were the highest counts of the period.
Meadow Pipit: 79 on 25th July was the highest count of the period.
Chaffinch: Recorded on six days; all records involved 1 or 2 birds.
Goldfinch: Some recently fledged young (see photo below) were observed in Millcombe on 10th August. Highest count from this period was 15 birds on 25th July.
Linnet: 99 on 25th July was the highest count; nice post breeding flocks have now started to form around the island.

Juvenile Goldfinch, Millcombe, 9th August © Dean Jones

Non-avian highlights:

Moth trapping has continued on days of appropriate weather. Highlights include the first Scarce and Rosy Footman of the year. Beauties like Common Emerald, Purple Thorn, Swallowtails and Twenty Plume Moths have also been recorded, along with some nice numbers of species like Dark Arches (62 on the evening of 18th July), Crescent Dart (49 on 18th July) and Lesser Yellow Underwing (25 on 20th July). Other invertebrate highlights include a lone Emperor Dragonfly on Quarter Wall Pond on 10th July, Migrant Hawkers on 24th & 26th July and no less than 346 Common Blue Damselflies and 60 Blue-tailed Damselflies on 24th July, all of which were counted by Tim Davis around the vicinity of Pondsbury.

Report composed of sightings from: Tim Davis, Chris & Sharron Blackmore, J Wilson, Warren Shipman, Joshua Harris, Ian Laird, Helen Booker, Toby Taylor, Andrea Ayres, Mark Bolton, Susannah Bolton, Dean Jones and Zoë Barton.

1 comment:

  1. Grey Herons are such incredible looking birds. I love the photo that you were able to capture of it. Incredible photos all around. Thanks for the share, hope you had a fantastic weekend. Keep up the posts.
    World of Animals