About this page...

You're now viewing the old Lundy Bird Observatory blogspot. Explore the new website for all your favourite island news and wildlife updates. If you have sightings to report, please consider sharing your observations or photographs with the Bird Obs team here.

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Cast your mind back to late October...

During an autumn rich in national, Devon and Lundy rarities, one particularly nice sighting that didn't make it onto the blog pages at the time concerned a flock of eight Greenland White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons flavirostris that dropped into the island on 27 Oct.

Dean Jones's logbook entry and two of a series of photos that he managed to fire off are reproduced below. This is one of the larger groups of White-fronts ever seen on the island, and by far the largest number of birds of the Greenland-breeding race.

Greenland White-fronted Geese, 27 Oct 2018 © Dean Jones
Greenland White-fronted Geese, Airfield, 27 Oct 2018 © Dean Jones

Intriguingly, Paul Holt saw a flock of distant grey geese flying along the East Side at 09.42 hrs on 27 Oct (see photo below). Were these also Greenland Whitefronts? And, if so, did they include the same birds seen by Dean a little earlier? To add further to the mix, Paul saw a flock of eight grey geese flying NE when he was at the Airfield at 15.50 hrs the same day!

Unidentified grey geese over the East Side, 27 Oct 2018 © Paul Holt

Tuesday 15 January 2019

8th to 14th Jan – A beguiling whiff of spring...

Herewith the latest update from Dean: 

“We’ve been very lucky again weather wise as the mild winter conditions continued for the majority of last week. This lovely weather coupled with the first flowering Primrose below Quarter Wall Copse and a Red Admiral on the wing in Millcombe on 14th gave the island an early spring feel rather than a period in the middle of winter. The only exception to this mild weather was on the weekend, when we were hit with some burly westerlies and colder temperatures.

Again seawatching has provided most of the excitement, especially coming into the end of the week as the great visibility and flat-calm seas allowed fantastic views of hundreds of feeding Kittiwake (631 on the 10th) from the Ugly as well as near daily records of Common Gull (two on the 10th, three on the 11th, one on the 13th & 14th). I’ve also been treated to a number of Mediterranean Gulls this week (three on the 9th, singles on 10th & 14th), as well as six Common Scoter on the 8th, a pod of 10 Common Dolphin on the 10th and a few Harbour Porpoise (possibly the same mother and calf seen on a number of occasions). Unfortunately there have been no further sightings of the Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay since the 8th but there have been up to nine Red-throated Divers recorded every day since the last post.

Continuing the seabird theme, there has also been lots of Guillemot activity on ledges throughout the week (Grant Sherman) and lots of other auks (mostly Razorbill) feeding offshore from the Landing Bay every day (ca.800 auk spp on the 10th).

Other highlights away from the sea include 25 Lesser Black-backed Gulls roosting on Pondsbury along with seven Teal (three drakes & four ducks) on the 13th. 

A Kestrel has also been seen daily, hunting around the Castle Parade, and the Sparrowhawk was present in Millcombe until the 11th at least within the Millcombe area, as well as the single Woodpigeon on the 14th.

Up to three Chiffchaff have been recorded, including a good candidate for the Siberian race (see photos below), though the bird has been way too busy feeding to call yet, which would clinch the ID. There have also been some good numbers of wintering Goldcrest (max seven on the 13th) spread over the east sidelands and Millcombe.

The best of the rest include a single Pied Wagtail on the 11th, small numbers of Redwing (three on 10th) and Song Thrush (up to two daily) in Millcombe and not forgetting the female Great Spotted Woodpecker seen/heard right up until the 14th.”

Potential 'Siberian' Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis, Millcombe, 14 Jan 2019 © Dean Jones
Potential 'Siberian' Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis, Millcombe, 14 Jan 2019 © Dean Jones

Dean's updates so far this month have mentioned unusually high (though not entirely unprecedented) numbers of wintering Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs, perhaps as a result of the generally mild and quiet weather. It's also interesting that Red-throated Divers are being seen in some numbers again, as was the case from January onwards last winter. With colder conditions predicted over the next few weeks, will we see a change of cast?

Wednesday 9 January 2019

9th Jan – A New Year round-up

Hello and Happy New Year! Below is a bumper update from Lundy Warden, Dean Woodfin Jones, bringing news of a host of quality winter birds:

"As always on Lundy, 2018 came to an end in a wonderful festive fashion and luckily for all the staff and visitors, was blessed with some beautiful mild winter weather (give or take one or two breezy days). This naturally provoked the perfect motivation to get out exploring in order to try and obtain a few more last-minute records for the island's 2018 logbook, and of course to kick off this year’s bird list.

As the turn of 2019 came and went and the New Year cobwebs were wafted on, all minds were focused on a very important period for the island, 'Shut down', the only time within the year in which we say goodbye to all of our visitors. Flashes of blue from staff attire are now whizzing about the island as they administer some well-deserved T.L.C. to all the properties, potholed tracks, squeaky gates and rickety fences in anticipation of this year’s guests. The Conservation Team have also been keeping themselves very busy finishing reports, planting trees in Millcombe and preparing all the special visitor events for the sailing season ahead.

Unsurprisingly it is still rather quiet here on the bird front but lucky for us there have been some really nice Lundy rarities dotted witihin the limited numbers of common winter birds to help us through the short winter days.

Small scatterings of Goldcrest (up to five logged), Chiffchaff (one or two on most days), Pied Wagtail, Meadow and Rock Pipit are still hanging on in parts, along with a beautiful female Reed Bunting that has been sheltering in the Molinia tussocks around Pondsbury since January 2nd. Furthermore we’ve had single Skylarks on a number of dates (one of which was in full song on January 1st), as well as a small arrival of thrushes on the night of 5th, traversing their world from afar to join the wintering birds already on the island (13 Blackbirds were noted on this date, most of which were feeding together at Quarter Wall with two Redwings).

Female Reed Bunting, Pondsbury, 6 Jan 2019 © Dean Jones

The best of the passerine bunch however has to be a stunning male Bullfinch, which was seen briefly checking out the newly planted blackthorn scrub in Millcombe by Nick the Ranger and myself on the 5th before disappearing south.

Non-passerine highlights have also been aplenty, with two Lapwings being sighted on the 31st, one of which was still present on the 2nd flying over Ackland's Moor, and again on the 6th. A single Woodpigeon was also found in Millcombe on the 5th and a lovely night’s walk on the 4th produced a total of 3 Woodcock and 8 Snipe from both Tillage and Brick fields.

Raptor wise there have been up to four Peregrines (two pairs) on some days, mostly recorded from the Jenny’s Cove & Halfway Wall areas, as well as a gorgeous female Kestrel who has been hovering outside the St Helen's Centre and Castle Parade periodically. The long-staying female Sparrowhawk has continued to terrorise the Village area, providing some superb views at times, especially for the housekeeping team (their Laundry Garden bird list is off to a good start) as she chases House Sparrows and Blackbirds through the Laundry yard.

Contenders for 'best birds' of the period have to be the two Wigeon (a drake and a duck) on Pondsbury, found by Alan & Sandra Rowland on New Year’s Day. Luckily for me the drake was still present the following day (but no sign of the female), paddling alongside a number of Mallard and Teal at the far end of the pond. Unfortunately there were no further sightings of this stunning bird after this date.
Drake Wigeon, Pondsbury, 2 Jan 2019 © Dean Jones

Other than this beautiful quacker, seawatching has probably provided most of the excitement over the past few days. Highlights include good numbers of Kittiwake (487 on 6th), Razorbill and Guillemot (450 auk sp. on 30th) and Herring Gull on some days as well as. Also present between the minimal swell at times have been some of the scarcer Lundy gulls, including Common Gull (an adult and two 1st-winter birds on 31st), Black-headed Gull (two on 30th) and Mediterranean Gull (an adult on 2nd).

Between these Larid lunacies, a lone Great Northern Diver has also been present at times, often seen foraging for flatfish just off the Sugar Loaf, along with numerous Red-throated Divers which have started to arrive along the East Side coast now that temperatures up north have started to drop. Here between two (Jan 7th) and nine birds (Jan 4th) have been recorded, all of which have been showing off their pristine winter plumage as they preen and rest on the water’s surface between bouts of feeding – stunning birds!

Finally, our lady Great Spotted Woodpecker has continued to be been seen periodically, most recently on 5th, mainly from the Millcombe area. At the moment she looks to be in very good condition so is obviously finding plenty of food in Millcombe and its adjacent copses.

Fingers crossed this run of Lundy rarities continues into spring!

Happy New Year from Lundy."

Report comprised of sightings from Alan & Sandra Rowland, Robert Pell, Grant Sherman, Zoe Barton & Dean Jones.