"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.