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Wednesday 26 September 2018

23rd to 26th Sep – Finally some decent weather and some good birds!

The 23rd was another unremarkable day, but Chris Dee reports that Monday 24th saw "At last some calm weather; massive Swallow passage, with a minimum of 1,200 birds through. Also small numbers of House Martins and Sand Martins, two Stonechats, 45 Blackcaps and 15 Chiffchaffs. Best sighting of the day was a summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay. It was an excellent day's ringing of 272 birds, including 218 Swallows, two House Martins, two Sand Martins and 30 Blackcaps."

Also on 24th, Paul Dean photographed this smart Ring Ouzel on the East Side Path below Tibbetts:

Ring Ouzel, Lundy, 24 Sep 2018 © Paul Dean

Tuesday 25th brought another, fine, settled and sunny day. A ringtail Hen Harrier flying due E, about 20 minutes out from Ilfracombe was the highlight of a very fast crossing on a falling spring tide, which saw MS Oldenburg reaching the Landing Bay by 11.35. Highlights of sightings on the island included the Great Northern Diver still present in the Landing Bay, a female Merlin hunting Meadow Pipits near the Airfield, a Firecrest and 22 Blackcaps trapped and ringed in Millcombe, a female Sparrowhawk, and an immature Cormorant heading south.

Wednesday 26th saw clear skies and sunshine from sunrise at 07.10 until sunset at 19.10 along with a light SW breeze that fell away to nothing for much of the day. Bird of the day was a first-year Red-backed Shrike, which showed superbly well in upper Millcombe during the late afternoon (see record shot below). Carol & Chris Baillie encountered a Short-eared Owl near Pondsbury – the first occurrence this year on Lundy. There was another major movement of hirundines, including an estimated 1,500 Swallows, 70 House Martins and four Sand Martins. Two 15-minute sample counts of Swallows piling S below Quarry Cottages totalled 440 and 380. There was a  scattering of late summer migrants, including a Grasshopper Warbler, 11 Spotted Flycatchers, a Pied Flycatcher, a male Redstart, one Whinchat, two Wheatears and a Yellow Wagtail. Also a Short-eared Owl at Pondsbury, three Water Rails, a flock of six Oystercatchers plus one Curlew at North Light, nine scattered Stonechats, two Sparrowhawks (male & female), a female Merlin, four Kestrels and the Great Northern Diver.

Observations by Carol & Chris Baillie, Zoƫ Barton, Tim Davis, Keith Dean, Paul Dean, Chris & Mandy Dee, Dean Jones, Tim Jones, Alan & Sandra Rowland, Sue Sabin and Jan Swan.

Red-backed Shrike, Millcombe, 26 Sep © Tim Jones

Sunday 23 September 2018

22nd Sep – Arrival of Blackcaps & Chiffchaffs, plus a Wryneck

Chris Dee reports: "Still too wet or windy for any ringing. Estimated 150 Blackcaps and 45 Chiffchaffs in Millcombe and East Side. One Wryneck along Lower East Side Path. One Greenshank, Water Rail in Smelly Gully, and three Wheatears. Blackcaps feeding well on blackberries."

Below are some beautiful wader photographs, the first of a juvenile Sanderling at North End on 21st September, from Lundy Warden Dean Jones, and the other from the week of 8-15 September, kindly contributed by Celia and Tony Sawbridge, the first lucky observers to see the Buff-breasted Sandpipers.

Juvenile Sanderling, North End, 21 Sep 2018 © Dean Jones
Juvenile Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Airfield/Brick Field area, 9-12 Sep 2018 © Tony Sawbridge
Juvenile Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Airfield/Brick Field area, 9-12 Sep 2018 © Tony Sawbridge
Juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Quarters Pond, 15 Sep 2018 © Tony Sawbridge
Juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Quarters Pond, 15 Sep 2018 © Tony Sawbridge
Juvenile Ringed Plover, Sep 2018, © Tony Sawbridge

Saturday 22 September 2018

18th to 21st Sep – Ringers' lament!

A new team of bird-ringers set out for the island on Tuesday 18th, full of the joys of autumn and eagerly looking forward to a fortnight's ringing during the peak of migration for many species. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas and three days of relentless gales and lashing rain not only resulted in cancellation of the boat (and transfer to Hartland for helicopters), but also ruled out any chance of mist-netting. It was even a challenge to see a bird at times...

Emerging from his Brambles bunker during a comparative lull in the stormy conditions, Chris Dee reports that it was: "Still windy today (Friday 21st) but managed a little ringing in the most sheltered sites in Millcombe. Sightings included a Sparrowhawk, two Kestrels, a Water Rail, a Ring Ouzel, two Willow Warblers, three Chiffchaffs, three Blackcaps and 25 Goldcrests."

Monday 17 September 2018

Pics of the Ortolan & Rosy Starling from early Sep

Below are photos of the juvenile/first-winter Ortolan Bunting seen on 2 Sep and the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling on 6 Sep – see the blogs for those dates for further details. Many thanks to Rich & Rebecca Taylor for providing these images.

Ortolan Bunting above Benjamin's Chair, 2 Sep 2018 © Richard Taylor
Juvenile Rose-coloured Starling, Quarters, 6 Sep 2018 © Richard Taylor
Juvenile Rose-coloured Starling, Quarters, 6 Sep 2018 © Richard Taylor

Friday 14 September 2018

14th Sep – Something of a clear out

The latest news from David & Elisabeth Price, Peter Slader and Nik Ward, reported by David:

"Last night we trekked up to Pyramid Slope [to ring Manx Shearwaters] and with a lot of energy expenditure managed just 12 new juveniles and no adults. Most young had little or no down, and were ready to leave. Felt like it was getting towards the end of the season.

Nothing significant from us in the way of sightings today. Perhaps 15–20 Blackcaps in all, the bulk of yesterday's birds having moved on. Five Goldcrests and just 2–3 Chiffchaffs recorded. One Teal on Pondsbury, 120 Starlings and 80 Linnets noted on unsuccessful walk round to try and relocate the Pectoral Sandpiper. Nik had a single Sand Martin.

Looking a bit blowy for tonight – certainly too much wind for mist-netting Stormies."

The post for 11th & 12th Sep below has been updated with further details of the Buff-breasted Sandpipers, including photos.

Thursday 13 September 2018

13th Sep – Pectoral Sandpiper still present; fall of Blackcaps

There was no sign of the Buff-breasted Sandpipers – perhaps not surprising after a fine, clear night with a gentle NW – but the Pectoral Sandpiper was seen at Quarter Wall Pond and Brick Field Pond during the late morning by David & Elisabeth Price. The bird subsequently disappeared for a while but was relocated on Quarters Pond by Andrew Jewels at around 2pm, where it remained feeding actively until at least the late afternoon.

The settled overnight conditions had clearly seen many birds on the move and Millcombe was alive with Blackcaps. Nik Ward reports that 39 were ringed, with an estimated 70 present in total, including a few outside Millcombe. Other migrants included a small arrival of 5 Goldcrests, 10 Chiffchaffs and 8 Willow Warblers, along with at least 15 Wheatears, a Whinchat, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a Pied Flycatcher and a Tree Pipit. Diurnal passage included a modest movement of Swallows, a single Sand Martin, around 50 Meadow Pipits and 20 Skylarks. Pondsbury held 5 Snipe and a Teal, whilst at least one Kestrel ranged widely about the island.

Photos below of juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper at Quarters Pond © Tim Jones

Wednesday 12 September 2018

11th & 12th Sep – Buff-breasted & Pectoral Sandpipers


News came in late yesterday (via Birdguides and Rare Bird Alert) of two Buff-breasted Sandpipers on Lundy on Tuesday 11th seen by Gareth Bradbury who reports that, "On Tuesday around 1215 I was watching the linnet/meadow pipit flock around the livestock feeders south of where the main track goes through Quarter Wall when the two Buff-breasted Sands flew low in to land just 20m west of the track and 20m south of the Quarter Wall. They immediately started feeding in the grass and offered great views [see photo below]". A logbook entry by Tony & Celia Sawbridge, visitors staying on the island, indicates that both birds had been in the vicinity of the Airfield since Sunday 9th.

Peter Slader reports that the two Buff-breasted Sandpipers were still present this morning (Wednesday 12th), in the Brick Field near Quarter Wall gate and also on the Airfield. An added bonus was provided by a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper at Quarter Wall and Brick Field Ponds; quite the trio of Nearctic waders! [See additional photos by Nik Ward below.]

Buff-breasted Sandpipers, nr Quarter Wall, 11 Sep © Gareth Bradbury
Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Brick Field, 12 Sep © Nik Ward
Pectoral Sandpiper, Brick Field Pond, 12 Sep © Nik Ward

Tuesday 11 September 2018

10th & 11th Sep – An influx of migrants ends badly for a Blackcap

David Price writes:

"Monday morning (10th) dawned fine with a small influx of warblers in Millcombe. Perhaps 30 Blackcaps, 12 Chiffchaffs, 6 Willow Warblers and a single Whitethroat were flitting around, most of them in Smelly Gully. Whilst Nik was watching them, a Sparrowhawk swept across and crashed into the bushes, emerging a few moments later with an unfortunate Blackcap. Two Tree Pipits recorded, a perky Redstart, a Pied Flycatcher and at least two Spotted Flyctachers. Water Rail calling regularly from the gully. Wind really got up in the afternoon and with rain interspersed it once again ruled out any shearwatering last night.

This morning (Tuesday 11th), wind and rain subdued everything, though probably yesterday's migrants had already headed off. The only significant sightings have been a Wheatear, one Spotted Flycatcher hanging on, at least 80 Starlings, and 75 Meadow Pipits feeding near the lambing shed, presumably recently arrived. Weather improving and should be OK for a visit to the Old Light shearwater colony tonight."

8th & 9th Sep – Relatively quiet as new shearwater team arrives

David & Elisabth Price, Peter Slader and Nik Ward arrived on Saturday 8th to continue the ringing of Manx Shearwaters, taking over from Team Taylor. David reports, "An uneventful crossing and quiet Saturday as most of the migrants had moved out." There was also "an inauspicious start for shearwatering, as wind and rain that night precluded any ringing!"

Sunday 9th was again relatively quiet. The best counts for migrants were 6 Willow Warblers, 12 Chiffchaffs, a Whitethroat, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Pied Flycatcher and a Wheatear. Other notable sightings included a female Sparrowhawk and more than 100 Linnets. On Sunday night (9th/10th) the team "scrambled up and down the steep slopes of Pilot's Quay" catching and ringing a creditable 20 shearwaters (18 young and 2 adults). Most of the young had no down and were ready to fledge. David adds that, "Interestingly, whilst sitting quietly on the slopes waiting for it to get dark properly, we saw the silhouettes of at least three Storm Petrels flitter overhead."

Sunday 9 September 2018

7th & 8th Sep – Modest Blackcap influx

Tony Taylor reports that the main feature of 7th was the arrival of at least 18 Blackcaps. Other migrants included 6 House Martins, 4 Goldcrests, 5 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, a Pied Flycatcher and a Tree Pipit calling over Millcombe.

There were no notable observations on the island itself on 8th, amidst damp and breezy conditions, but the return crossing to Ilfracombe brought two Common Terns soon after departure from Lundy, along with a single Storm Petrel and a scattering of Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Manx Shearwaters (one being chased by a Great Black-backed Gull) and Gannets.

Reflecting on the past two weeks, Tony comments, "The sea has looked very empty from the island throughout our visit. No significant feeding flocks, just the occasional Gannet. Shearwaters weren’t passing or gathering offshore: presumably having to travel some distance for food."

Friday 7 September 2018

6th Sep – Rose-coloured Starling

A juvenile Rose-coloured Starling was in the chicken run outside Quarters, but things were generally a lot quieter on the migrant front. A female Sparrowhawk was terrorising the Starlings around the Village, a Ringed Plover flew over, whilst warblers and flycatchers were represented by just three Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff, five Blackcaps, a Whitethroat and a Spotted Flycatcher.

The shearwater and petrel ringers took a well-deserved night off!

Thursday 6 September 2018

5th Sep – Golden Oriole still present

The Golden Oriole (a female or immature bird) first seen on 4th was still present on Wednesday 5th.

Other sightings included: single Whimbrel, Dunlin and Snipe, 10 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs,  a Wood Warbler, 20 Blackcaps, a Whitethroat, 8 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Whinchats and a Tree Pipit.

Manx Shearwater ringing at the Old Light colony on the night of 5th/6th yielded 55 new chicks, two new adults, plus a few retraps.

Wednesday 5 September 2018

4th Sep – Golden Oriole in Millcombe

Rich & Rebecca Taylor found a Golden Oriole in Millcombe at lunchtime. This is only the second autumn record for the Lundy, the first dating back just over half-a-century to 11 Oct 1967!

The supporting cast included: 13 Willow Warblers, 4 Chiffchaffs, 33 Blackcaps, 10 Whitethroats, a Whinchat, 3 White Wagtails, a Tree Pipit and a Greenfinch.

The ringing team visited an area a little to the south of the main Old Light colony (the gully north of Sunset Butress) during the night of 3rd/4th and ringed 40 Manx Shearwaters (33 chicks and 7 adults).

Sightings collated from multiple observers by Tony Taylor.

Whinchat, Quarter Wall, 4 Sep © Dean Jones

Tuesday 4 September 2018

3rd Sep – Signs of a good year for shearwater productivity

Migrants on Monday 3rd included: 12 Spotted Flycatchers, 7 Pied Flycatchers, a Redstart, 4 Whinchats, and a White Wagtail.

Ringing at the Old Light Manx Shearwater colony on the night of 2nd/3rd produced 50 new and 9 retrap chicks, and 3 new and 6 retrap adults. Tony Taylor comments "chicks clearly more numerous than in previous years".

Pied Flycatcher, Millcombe, 31 Aug © Dean Jones
Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe, 2 Sep © Dean Jones
Willow Warbler, Aug 2018 © Martin Thorne
Migrating Cormorants over South West Field, Aug 2018 © Martin Thorne

Monday 3 September 2018

1st & 2nd Sep – Ortolan Bunting among a good range of migrants

Saturday 1st September

A successful visit to the Old Light Manx Shearwater colony on the night of 31st/1st saw 84 shearwaters handled, of which 67 were chicks (59 newly ringed, 8 retraps) and 17 adults (11 new, 6 retraps, the latter including individuals ringed in 2008, 2010, 2011 & 2012). 

Other migrants included: single Grey Heron, Curlew and Dunlin, three Swifts, a Garden Warbler (ringed), a Goldcrest and four Pied Flycatchers.

Sunday 2nd September

At North Light on the night of 1st/2nd September six new Storm Petrels were ringed (and one retrapped), together with two adult and three young Manx Shearwaters. A Common Sandpiper was heard calling.

During the morning of 2nd, Rich Taylor found an Ortolan Bunting on the track near QuartersHe relocated it on the track above Benjamin's Chair in the afternoon and managed to grab a photo before the bird was unwittingly disturbed by daytrippers from the Waverley. Among other notable records were: a Dunlin, two first-winter Black-headed Gulls, two Swifts, the first Firecrest of the autumn (Quarter Wall Copse), a Goldcrest, 15 Pied Flycatchers, two Whinchats, a Yellow Wagtail and two Tree Pipits.

Maximum counts for other migrants across the two days were: 20 Sand Martins, 20 Swallows, two House Martins, two Willow Warblers, two Chiffchaffs, two Sedge Warblers, three Spotted Flycatchers and six Wheatears.

Information collated by Tony Taylor from multiple observers.

Saturday 1 September 2018

31st Aug – A high count of Pied Flycatchers

Friday 31st was generally a quieter day, but for an unusually high count of 20 Pied Flycatchers, which were spread all along the East Side, with many in the Millcombe/St John's area. This is the highest total for many years, but a long way short of the all-time maximum of 100 on 2 Sep 1990.

Combined observations of other migrants included: two Cormorants, a Ringed Plover, three Swifts, 7 Willow Warblers, 3 Chiffchaffs, 7 Spotted Flycatchers, 3 Tree Pipits and a Yellow Wagtail.

During the night of 31st/1st the ringing team focused on Storm Petrels at North End, where they  caught 23 new birds, two Lundy-ringed retraps, two birds ringed elsewhere in Britain and two French-ringed birds, including the individual trapped on the night of 27th/28th.