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Tuesday 27 November 2018

26th Nov – Hen Harrier & Snow Bunting the highlights

Dean Jones reports: "A much nicer day weather- and bird-wise yesterday" (Monday 26th Nov):

Most of the thrushes, in particular Fieldfares, had seemingly cleared out on the night of 25th in the clear, calm evening conditions. Despite this, there were still some Redwings (22) and Blackbirds (16) still kicking about the following morning scattered around various areas of the island. The calm conditions throughout the day also allowed for some diurnal passage, which included small numbers of Chaffinches (31), Goldfinches (5) and Starlings (313) overhead as well as a few Lundy scarcities such as Reed Bunting (one in Windy’s Pig Pen and one at Quarter Wall), Brambling (two in Millcombe) and a beautiful, noisy Snow Bunting (Quarter Wall).

There were also a lone male Blackcap, six Goldcrests and a beautiful Mistle Thrush in Millcombe in the early morning, the latter very showy for five minutes or so before flying south over Castle Parade. In and around Pondsbury there were at least three Snipe and singles of both Teal and Woodcock sulking around the Molinia tussocks.

It was a good day for raptors yesterday too, with Sparrowhawk, Merlin and Kestrel all making an appearance throughout the day, as well as a stunning female Hen Harrier looking for a meal around Tibbetts in the late morning.

Finally, the female Great Spotted Woodpecker was again seen in Millcombe Wood and a Great Northern Diver was busily feeding in the Landing Bay in the early afternoon.

Monday 26 November 2018

20th to 25th November – Biting easterlies continue

The following update from Lundy Warden Dean Jones covers the period Monday 20th to Sunday 25th November:

"The strong, bitterly cold easterly winds continued for the remainder of the week which unfortunately stymied most attempts to get out for a good look about.

There have been noticeably fewer finches on the island compared to last week, with only a few Goldfinches and Linnets hanging on in the Village area along with reduced numbers of Chaffinches (highest count for the period was 47 on the 21st). On the passerine front, there have been no further sightings of Blackcap since Tony and Rebecca's visit but there have been a small number of Goldcrests present on most days calling conspicuously from sheltered areas of scrub in Millcombe and along the Lower East Side Path (max 6 on the 21st). Thrush passage has continued, resulting in good numbers of Redwings, Blackbirds and Fieldfares being recorded on most days.

The long-staying female Sparrowhawk and Great Spotted Woodpecker have also been seen periodically, either from the Village area or the now wind-torn Millcombe Valley. Other birds of note within the period included a single Golden Plover heard over the village on 24th; singles of Woodcock (Village) and Snipe (Pondsbury) on 21st; three Water Rails on 21st (two in Smelly Gully and one at Quarters Pond); two second-year Common Gulls in the Landing Bay on 21st; a single Woodpigeon in Millcombe on 25th and an adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose – a Lundy rarity – next to Quarters on 20th."

Fieldfare, Quarter Wall, 25 Nov © Dean Jones
Adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, lower aerogenerator field, 20 Nov © Dean Jones

Entries below for 13th, 16th & 17th Nov have been updated with photos from Martin Thorne.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

18th & 19th Nov – Challenging conditions for birding

Tony Taylor and Rebecca Taylor report on their last two days on the island for this trip:

Sunday 18th November

"A windy day, with a little ringing possible in the morning. Limited coverage of the island, and birds keeping a low profile in Millcombe. In the Landing Bay: 16 Gannets, 17 Kittiwakes, six Razorbills, and six Lesser Black-backed Gulls going south together. 85 Herring Gulls mainly hunkered down in Lighthouse Field. Single Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Merlin. One Goldcrest, one Blackcap, three Stonechats, 24 Redwings, four Fieldfares, two Song Thrushes, 250 Starlings (mainly in Lighthouse Field), 80 Chaffinches, one Brambling (same bird as 17th) and one Goldfinch."

Monday 19th November

"Extremely windy, and not the weather to be birding in Millcombe. We made it to Quarter Wall and Brick Field ponds. Birds included: two Teal in Barton Field, three Lapwings in Bull's Paradise, and 37 Redwings, 11 Fieldfares, and seven Meadow Pipits in various fields, mainly Brick Field. Also a Blackcap on apples we'd put out at Brambles. During our week we ended up ringing 23 Redwings, 19 Chaffinches, 12 Blackcaps, two Blackbirds and singles of seven other species. Eleven retraps included several Blackbirds."

Sunday 18 November 2018

16th & 17th Nov – Blackcaps still on the move

The latest updates from Tony Taylor and Rebecca Taylor show that migrants are continuing to pass through in good numbers, even though we are now into the second half of November:

Friday 16th November

The main movements comprised 50 Redwings, 400 Starlings and 120 Chaffinches, with a supporting cast of Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Kestrel, Peregrines (the raptors often targeting passerine flocks in Lighthouse Field), the Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Chiffchaff, nine Blackcaps (with a surprisingly high total of 10 ringed during 15th/16th), a Fieldfare, two Goldfinches and a Linnet. A Great Northern Diver was in the Landing Bay, but a different bird to that seen recently, showing much more white on the head and neck.

Martin Thorne saw 30 Golden Plovers in flight over South West Field.

Saturday 17th November

Strong winds limited both ringing and birding but a single 20-foot mistnet in a sheltered corner delivered a trickle of birds including a second calendar year Sparrowhawk and a Brambling. Among  birds seen were a Woodcock, the Great Spotted Woodpecker (which Martin Thorne has observed using nestbox no. 5 in Millcombe), a Chiffchaff, three Blackcaps, a Goldcrest, 40 Redwings, six Fieldfares, two Song Thrushes, two Stonechats, 110 Chaffinches and two Linnets.

Female Great Spotted Woodpecker leaving nestbox no. 5 in Millcombe – a bit of a squeeze! 17 Nov © Martin Thorne 
A more conventional view of the woodpecker in Millcombe, 16 Nov © Martin Thorne

Thursday 15 November 2018

Photos from 9th to 12th Nov

Below is a selection of photos from Richard Campey's recent brief sojourn on the island...

Brambling in Tillage Field, November 2018 © Richard Campey

Chiffchaff near Terrace Trap, November 2018 © Richard Campey

Great Spotted Woodpecker (female) above the Casbah, Millcombe, November 2018 © Richard Campey

Ravens on the Airfield, November 2018 © Richard Campey

Reed Bunting at Pondsbury, November 2018 © Richard Campey

Stonechat along the Lower East Side Path near St Helen's Copse, November 2018 © Richard Campey

And finally... we're struggling to see the bird(s) in this photo; possibly a vagrant Oxpecker?

Sika Deer, November 2018 © Richard Campey

14th & 15th Nov – Light passage of thrushes, Starlings & finches

There was little new to report on 14th, although the feeding flock of gulls and other seabirds off the East Side again attracted a Great Skua, whilst Millcombe held two Goldcrests and two Blackcaps. Other records included two Teal and single Snipe and Woodcock.

Thursday 15th brought more movement, with sightings including: individual flocks of 25-30 Redwings, Starlings and Chaffinches heading south, plus single Black Redstart, Redpoll and Reed Bunting dropping briefly into Millcombe during the morning. The valley also held 17 Blackbirds, five Song Thrushes, four Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff and the lingering Great Spotted Woodpecker. There was a Common Gull in the Landing Bay, where the Great Northern Diver was still present, with two Great Skuas further off the East Side.

The south coast of Devon recorded some spectacular thrush migration on the morning of 15th (e.g. 8,400 Redwings over Berry Head in a couple of hours first thing). That movement clearly didn't reach as far north as Lundy – and was also absent from the north coast of mainland Devon. It will be interesting to see if numbers are any higher in the coming days as the wind becomes more easterly.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

13th Nov – A good mix of migrants

Today brought a wide variety of migrants, including:
  • single Ring Ouzel and Mistle Thrush at the top of Millcombe first thing;
  • nine Skylarks, 25 Starlings and a Snow Bunting, all of which seemed to arrive from the east;
  • an adult Mediterranean Gull and a Great Skua together with Kittiwakes and Gannets off the East Side at midday (plus three skua sp. at first light);
  • the Great Northern Diver still in the Landing Bay and two Red-throated Divers off Rat Island;
  • four Teal, four Snipe, a Jack Snipe and a Woodcock on top of the island;
  • a Chiffchaff on the Terrace;
  • a Black Redstart along the Beach Road;
  • three Goldcrests, a Linnet and 80 Chaffinches.
In addition, Martin Thorne saw a large-ish raptor, possibly a harrier or Short-eared Owl, coming in off the sea, mobbed by gulls as it went, when he was fishing from the jetty first thing.

Records from Rebecca Taylor, Tony Taylor and Martin Thorne.

Great Skua off the East Side, 13 Nov © Martin Thorne
Great Skua chasing a Kittiwake off the East Side, 13 Nov © Martin Thorne

Monday 12 November 2018

12th Nov – Passage of crests and finches continues

Richard Campey reports (from his last morning on this trip) a Firecrest and six Goldcrests on the Terrace, the Great Spotted Woodpecker in Millcombe, a Brambling in Tillage Field again and 140 Chaffinches, which were "getting hell" from a Merlin and a Sparrowhawk. Tony Taylor and Rebecca Taylor recorded a further 300 Chaffinches moving south during the afternoon.

Sunday 11 November 2018

11th Nov – Migrants dodge the downpours

Richard Campey reports a mostly sunny day with a few isolated but torrential showers. There was no sign of the Little Owl, unfortunately, despite a morning spent searching for it. On top of the island, four Cormorants flew past the Old Light, a Golden Plover was on the Airfield, and raptors made a good showing, with Merlin, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Peregrine logged. Chaffinches were less numerous than on 10th, but there were still 200 in evidence in sheltered areas and along the tracks. One Brambling was with Chaffinches in Tillage Field. The Terrace willows yielded two Blackcaps and a Chiffchaff, whilst there were three Stonechats along the Lower East Side Path and two more at Pondsbury. Finally, there was a Water Rail in Smelly Gully and a Redwing flying over the Village in the early evening.

Saturday 10 November 2018

10th Nov – Little Owl: the fifth EVER for Lundy!

Richard Campey notched up a very well-deserved 'Lundy tick' this afternoon when he found a Little Owl towards the top of St John's Valley. This is only the fifth in the island's ornithological history and comes after singles on 15 June 1933, 7 November 1944, 1 June 1955 and 1 June 1984. Unfortunately Richard's views were brief and the light poor, so he didn't have his camera readily to hand, but his sketch and supporting notes do the job perfectly:

Richard's other sightings during a challenging day weather-wise included three Teal, a Water Rail, a Woodcock and two Reed Buntings, all at Pondsbury, a Golden Plover over the Airfield and 500+ Chaffinches over Millcombe and elsewhere in the south of the island. Seawatching produced a Manx Shearwater, 79 Gannets, 23 Kittiwakes, 11 Great Black-backed Gulls and 21 auk sp.

Friday 9 November 2018

3rd to 9th Nov – Chaffinch passage continues

Recent sightings, contributed by Mandy Dee and Richard Campey, have included:
  • a Hen Harrier over Lametry Bay on 3rd
  • the long-staying female Great Spotted Woodpecker on 4th, 5th & 9th
  • 200 Starlings gathering to roost in the Village on 5th
  • a Snipe on 6th
  • 26 Redwings on 6th
  • 36 Chaffinches and a Brambling on 6th
  • 400 Chaffinches and three Bramblings on 9th
  • 1 Goldcrest on 9th
  • 2 Gannets, 3 Shags and 9 Kittiwakes during a seawatch on the afternoon of 9th, before conditions became too stormy to see!

Saturday 3 November 2018

30th Oct to 2nd Nov – Rough-legged Buzzard

The following update from Ross and Helen Bower brings news of yet another scarcity, continuing the recent run of outstanding birds on the island and the excellent coverage this autumn...

"Just returned from a lovely few days on Lundy. Not overrun with birds (as you would expect at this stage of the autumn), but nice to see a steady passage of thrushes and Chaffinch through the island. Highlight of our trip was a Rough-legged Buzzard on the West Side, north of Tibbetts yesterday afternoon (1 Nov). It appeared from nowhere, was briefly pursued by a Raven before circling up very high and drifting south until lost from view."

Other highlights included:

30th October:
2 Woodcock
Ringtail Hen Harrier – first seen along the Terrace then later around Old Light, heading south.
Black Redstart around North Light.

31st October:
At least a couple of Brambling overhead within the frequent Chaffinch flocks.
At  least two Merlin around the island, providing much entertainment on their hunting escapades.
One very flighty Snow Bunting recorded briefly on the West Side, south of the Old Light.

1st November:
Snow Bunting again recorded briefly along Castle track in the morning, but not seen again.
Great Spotted Woodpecker still present in Millcombe Valley.
Again, at least 2 Merlin.
Rough-legged Buzzard.

2nd November:
Great Spotted Woodpecker still present.
A couple more Brambling heard within Chaffinch flocks. A Lapland Bunting overhead at Quarter Wall, heading south across the Airfield.