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Tuesday 30 April 2019

30th Apr – Another Eastern Subalpine Warbler!

The highlight today was another Eastern Subalpine Warbler, the second in just over a week, and this time a second calendar-year female, first seen in the field on the lower flanks of the Ugly, near Millcombe House at about 12.50 by Richard Campey, Tim Davis, Rob Duncan & Tim Jones, then trapped in a mist-net in the 'Secret Garden' area of lower Millcombe a few minutes later and ringed by Dean Jones. Photos below; others from Richard Campey to follow.

Female Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Millcombe, 30 Apr © Tim Jones
Tail pattern of Eastern Subalpine Warbler; note that 2nd outermost feather on right side is unmoulted © Tim Jones

Most of yesterday's huge fall of Willow Warblers had moved on overnight, leaving just 50 today, whilst Swallows were also much less numerous, though an estimated 500 still passed through. Notable records during a busy day included: a ringtail Hen Harrier, a male Sparrowhawk, three Golden Plover, a Ringed Plover, three Whimbrel, three Dunlin, 102 Puffin (Jenny's Cove), a Cuckoo (calling at dusk from the Rocket Pole area), 7 Woodpigeon, a Collared Dove, a Swift (South West Point), two Kestrel, 14 Sand Martin, 30 House Martin, 30 Chiffchaff, 15 Sedge Warbler, three Reed Warbler (ringed), 50 Blackcap, a Garden Warbler, 15 Whitethroat, three Goldcrest, a Fieldfare, single Pied Flycatcher (f) and Spotted Flycatcher (both Millcombe), two male Whinchats (Quarter Wall), 30 Wheatear, two Tree Pipit, a Siskin and two Lesser Redpoll.

Compiled from observations by Richard Campey, Tim Davis, Mandy Dee, Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, Tim Jones and David Kightley.

29th Apr – Rush of Willow Warblers and Swallows, first Swift

Richard Campey reports that Millcombe was "heaving" first thing, with a major fall of Willow Warblers (including one acredula type), a Wood Warbler (seen by Dean Jones), singing Sedge Warbler, three Grasshopper Warblers (ringed), about 20 Blackcaps, at least two Tree Pipits and a Cuckoo. 30 unringed Wheatears south of Halfway Wall were all males, whilst a further 30, north of Threequarter Wall, were mostly females. Other notable species included the first Swift of the year, a Black Redstart along the Terrace, four Teal, five Dunlin, four Whimbrel, a Greenfinch and two Lesser Redpolls. A review of estimated totals at the end of the day came up with 1,000+ Willow Warblers and over 2,000 Swallows – at last!

Observations from Richard Campey, Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, David Kightley and visiting staff and students from the University of Exeter.

Sunday 28 April 2019

25th to 28th Apr – Storm Hannah followed by improving Swallow numbers and a Nightingale...

An update from Dean Woodfin Jones for the end of last week and the start of the weekend, followed by news from Richard Campey of yesterday, after a weather-delayed arrival on the island:

Thursday 25th April

A wet start to the day followed by sporadic sunny spells and light showers and of course strong winds by the end of the afternoon as Storm Hannah rolls in.

The female Sparrowhawk, a male Kestrel, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Dunlin, 4 Woodpigeon, 3 Sand Martin, only 11 Swallow, 18 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, the first Reed Warbler of the year, 28 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Common Redstart (both females), the first Whinchat of the year near the Stonecrusher, 3 Pied Wagtails, 1 White Wagtail, 6 Chaffinch, the female Brambling, 8 Goldfinch and 40 Linnet.

Friday 26th April – Hannah picking up steam.

Birds of note: The female Sparrowhawk, 1 Whimbrel, the first Common Sandpiper of the year in the Landing Bay, 1 Collared Dove, 4 Woodpigeon, 3 Swallow, 4 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 7 Blackcap, 12 Blackbird, 1 White Wagtail, 3 Chaffinch, 10 Goldfinch and 43 Linnet.

Saturday 27th April – Storm Hannah at her peak! 

The birding was very difficult today unsurprisingly but there were a few good birds on the island for those brave enough to venture out of their properties. Birds of note: 6 Whimbrel, 8 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 1 White Wagtail, a male Common Redstart, 2 Chaffinch, 10 Goldfinch and 20 Linnet. 

Sunday 28th April

Richard Campey, arriving 24 hours late after Storm Hannah caused cancellation of all transport to the island on Saturday, writes:

"Arrived to light drizzle and a fairly quiet Millcombe for warblers, but 27 Goldfinches and at least seven Siskins. Cormorant overhead going south, along with four Curlew (one calling in flight), an hour later, also going south. Already light wind steadily dropped mid pm, but also still some drizzle. 40 Swallows feeding over Airfield and on wires. One House Martin and one Sand Martin. A single Whimbrel in Brick Field. Merlin shot over Pondsbury late afternoon, where there were at least seven Mallard ducklings. Several singing and displaying Wheatears. Another 15 Swallows this evening as I walk back along Lower East Side Path, with hardly a breath of wind, Tavern bound!"

Dean Jones saw 60 Swallows go through and heard a Tree Pipit before the drizzle set in during the late morning, but the best bird of the day was a Nightingale trapped in the afternoon by Rob Duncan and David Kightley – a rare bird for both Lundy and Devon.

Common Nightingale, Millcombe, 28 Apr 2019 © Dean Jones

Reports composed of sightings from Rebecca Healey, Neil & Andy Trout, Rob Duncan, David Kightley, Richard Campey, and Dean Woodfin Jones.

Thursday 25 April 2019

23rd & 24th Apr – Migration in full swing but where are the Swallows?

The latest instalment of Lundy bird news, hot off the kyboard from island Warden Dean Woodfin Jones, covers a typically wide variety of late-April migrants, but hirundine numbers – and those of Swallow in particular – remain stubbornly low, perhaps reflecting challenging conditions further south:

Tuesday 23rd April

A rather pleasant day, with warm temperatures, blue skies and a light easterly breeze. Birds of note included 3 Whimbrel (2 above the Battery and 1 in the Devil’s Kitchen), 7 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, only 4 Swallow, 20 Willow Warbler, 10 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 27 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat (a control bird, ringed elsewhere in the UK – news of its place and date of ringing is eagerly awaited!), a female Goldcrest, a Black Redstart, 3 Pied Wagtails, 2 White Wagtails, 3 Yellow Wagtails (2 male and 1 female flavissima types), the female Brambling, 21 Goldfinch, 63 Linnet and a single Lesser Redpoll.

Unfortunately there was no further sign of the Pied Crow after about 16.00 hrs on 23rd; where will he/she turn up next? Only time will tell...

Post-script: The Pied Crow cofounded predictions of an onward trip to South Wales, or even a return to East Yorkshire, instead choosing to return to the North Devon mainland, where it was seen in Mortehoe on 25th, then neighbouring Woolacombe on 26th, where it was still present on 29th, affording excellent views along the sea front.

Wednesday 24th April

A rather soggy and blustery day. Lots of food off the east coast in the afternoon attracted some nice numbers of seabirds, including 19 Gannet, 53 Shag, 109 Manx Shearwater, 11 Kittiwake and c30 Razorbill.

Other birds of note include a Whimbrel over the Village in the afternoon, 8 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, the female Sparrowhawk, 2 Cuckoo (male & female), 4 Swallow, 14 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 10 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Goldcrest (both female), a Fieldfare, a female Stonechat, 23 Goldfinch, 56 Linnet and a single Lesser Redpoll.

Cuckoo, Millcombe, 24 Apr 2019 © Dean Jones

Late news: A Wood Warbler was found near the Quarries by Viate, L’Amie, Charlotte Gillard, Rachel Pettit and Vicky McKenzie on 21st April.

Report composed of sightings from Rob Duncan, David Kightley, Neil & Andy Trout, Kevin Welsh and Dean Woodfin Jones.

Tuesday 23 April 2019

23rd Apr – Pied Crow!

A WhatsApp message from Dean Jones brought news that the Pied Crow, which has been wandering extensively around England and Wales for the last 10 months and which popped up eating sardines in a Clovelly garden yesterday after a 12-day sojourn in Cornwall, had made it to Lundy! Below, a great photo and short video clip from Dean, who said of his subject: "Amazing beast; it's blooming huge!!":

Pied Crow atop the Lundy General Stores, aka 'the Shop', 23 Apr © Dean Jones

Said amazing beast first appeared in East Yorkshire in June 2018, since when it has been in Licolnshire, Norfolk, Essex, East Sussex, North Somerset, Pembrokeshire, Cornwall and the Devon mainland – though not in that order – see map from BirdGuides below:

Pied Crow has an extensive sub-Saharan breeding distribution, as shown in the map below from HBW Alive:

Native range of Pied Crow Corvus albus Source: HBW Alive

Records north of the Sahara, including those in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, are generally considered to be either the result of escapes from captivity, or due to birds hitching a ride on a passing ship. A December 2018 BirdGuides article about the individual that has now paid a visit to Lundy, concluded that the bird's origins "are still clearly up in the air. Showing no obvious signs of plumage wear, and slight peachy feather discolouration when it first appeared consistent with sand-blasting in the Sahara (or further south), it seems worthy of consideration as a ship-assisted or even migrant bird, despite the high escape risk. That said, its confiding nature suggests past affiliation with humans, and it seems unlikely that this long-staying and widely wandering bird will get anywhere near the British list. However, this bird's presence has been widely discussed both in literature and online, and it's arguably surprising that an owner hasn't yet come forward to claim it. Perhaps its origins don't lie in Britain after all..." It will be interesting to see where its next port of call is. Back to Wales, perhaps?

Post-script: The Pied Crow quickly moved on from Lundy and was not seen after about 4pm on the day that it arrived (23 Apr). It cofounded predictions of an onward trip to South Wales, instead choosing to return to the North Devon mainland, where it was seen in Mortehoe on 25th, then neighbouring Woolacombe on 26th, where it was still present on 29th, affording excellent views along the sea front. Photos here and here.

Monday 22 April 2019

20th to 22nd Apr – Yellow-browed and Eastern Subalpine Warblers

Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones rounds up all the news from three eventful days on the island:

Saturday 20th April

A beautiful sunny, warm day brought with it the first full ship of the season as well as a superb array of migrant birds. Highlights include the female Sparrowhawk, 12 Woodpigeon, only 4 Swallow, 20 Willow Warbler, 15 Chiffchaff, 7 Sedge Warbler, a reeling Grasshopper Warbler in Millcombe, 300+ Blackcap (though this is probably a gross underestimate), 2 Whitethroats, 2 Pied Flycatcher, the first Spotted Flycatcher of the year, a Grey Wagtail in the Devil's Kitchen, 1 White Wagtail in Barton Field, the first Yellow Wagtail of the year at Pondsbury, a Tree Pipit over Millcombe, 5 Chaffinch, 10 Goldfinch and a single Lesser Redpoll over the Village in the evening. The bird of the day, however, came in the form of a Yellow-browed Warbler which was found by Andy Trout in the Sycamores at the top of Millcombe in the mid-afternoon. This is the first spring record for this hardy little Siberian warbler on Lundy, a superb find!

Sunday 21st April

Another sunny and very warm day saw another arrival of migrants including a Merlin, the female Sparrowhawk again, 19 Swallow, a single House Martin, 60 Willow Warbler, 15 Chiffchaff, 5 Sedge Warbler, 6 Grasshopper Warbler, 150 Blackcap, 4 Whitethroat and 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Black Redstart, a female Common Redstart, 4 Pied Wagtails, 1 White Wagtail again in Barton Field, along with a stonking male Yellow Wagtail, 4 Chaffinch, 10 Goldfinch, a single male Greenfinch, 1 Siskin, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 22 Linnet and a female Brambling feeding with the Chaffinch in Barton Field.

Ringing totals = 138 birds: 79 Blackcap, 31 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, 5 Sedge Warbler, 3 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 House Sparrow, 1 Wren, 4 Goldfinch and 1 Greenfinch. 

Monday 22nd April

Slightly cooler day today compared to the weekend due to the strong easterly winds, though all in all, still very sunny and pleasant. The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the presence of an Eastern Subalpine Warbler which turned up in a shelf of a mist-net in Millcombe and was subsequently ringed by David Kightley. The bird turned out to be a second calendar-year male and was in good health and carrying a small amount of fat. This is the 19th record of Subalpine Warbler for the island.

Other birds of note included the female Sparrowhawk hunting Woodpigeon in Quarter Wall Copse, a male Kestrel, a Dunlin on South West Point, a Collared Dove in the Village, the first Cuckoo of the year, only 8 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 22 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, the first Garden Warbler of the year, 53 Blackcap, 5 Whitethroat, 2 Yellow Wagtail, a Tree Pipit over Millcombe in the early morning, a female Stonechat at Quarter Wall, 3 Chaffinch, 14 Goldfinch, a Siskin, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 51 Linnet and the female Brambling.

Ringing totals = 54 birds: 30 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 10 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Meadow Pipit and singles of Goldcrest, Woodpigeon, Whitethroat and of course the Eastern Subalpine Warbler.

Unsurprisingly with all this sunny weather we have also had some nice diurnal Lepidoptera sightings this weekend, with Peacock butterflies, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Green-veined White, Small White, Orange-tip, Painted Lady, Silver Y and Emperor Moth all on the wing.

Report composed from sightings from Chris & Mandy Dee, Rob Duncan, David Kightley, Neil & Andy Trout and Dean Woodfin Jones.

1st calendar-year male Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Millcombe, 22 Apr 2019 © Dean Jones
Female Brambling, Millcombe, 22 Apr 2019 © Dean Jones
Male Orange-tip on Bluebell, Millcombe, 22 Apr 2019 © Dean Jones

Saturday 20 April 2019

14th to 20th Apr – More firsts for the year and a decent warbler fall

After a slow start to the week, when a fresh and chilly easterly no doubt hampered both ringing and observation, Chris & Mandy Dee report an improvement over the last couple of days or so as the wind eased and backed more to the SE, importing much warmer air. Highlights earlier in the week included a Whimbrel at North End on Wednesday 16th, two Ring Ouzels, a Sedge Warbler and a Siskin on Thursday 17th, when Dean Jones also saw a male Redstart. The 17th also saw a moderate arrival of Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps, and 58 birds were ringed. Friday 18th was a better day still, with new arrivals including a Lesser Whitethroat, two Common Whitethroats, three Sedge Warblers, a Tree Pipit and another Ring Ouzel, along with excellent numbers of Blackcaps (69 ringed) and Willow Warblers (21 ringed) and smaller numbers of Chiffchaffs. Lundy staff member Pete Lambden saw an Osprey along the East Side during the morning.

Dean adds that other sightings during the week have included:
  • A reeling Grasshopper Warbler outside Government House on the 15th and another outside Old School/Blue Bung on the 16th.
  • Tree Pipits on the 17th & 19th (both over Millcombe).
  • Collared Dove in the Village on the 18th and another (more than likely the same bird) was heard singing in Millcombe on the morning of the 19th.
  • A female Merlin looking for a meal around Pondsbury on the afternoon of the 14th.
  • Small numbers of hirundines on most days, max 7 Sand Martins, 59 Swallows and 3 House Martins on the 17th.
  • A female Whitethroat in the ivy next to Government House on the 17th (with a very shiny ring on it but not one of Chris Dee's).
  • Female Goldcrest on the 17th.
  • Song Thrush on the Terrace on the 19th (showing continental characteristics – perhaps the same bird Philip Lymbery saw a few days ago)?
  • Linnet, max 51 on the 19th
Saturday 20th saw a further (and even bigger) fall of Blackcaps and a total of 130 birds (all species) were ringed.

Thursday 18 April 2019

Chiffchaff ringing movement

Tony Taylor has recently received notification from the BTO of the following control (meaning recapture and release) of a Lundy-ringed Chiffchaff, showing fairly rapid onward movement to the coast of Co. Wexford during spring migration almost exactly a year ago. What's more the bird was actually ringed by a son of the island of Ireland, none other than Lundy's Warden, Dean Jones!

In summary, it was ringed on 20 April and recaptured on Great Saltee, some 171 km NW of Lundy, just over a week later on 28 April. When ringed, examination of the bird's plumage indicated that it had been hatched in 2017, so was undertaking its first spring migration. At 55mm the bird's wing length suggests that it was most likely a female.

Monday 15 April 2019

Wheatear colour-ringing update

Freshly returned from a week's fieldwork from 6th to 13th April, Tony Taylor reports on the latest instalment of the long-term study of Lundy's breeding Northern Wheatears

"Ann and I spent five or six hours each day looking for Wheatears from what shelter we could find in the cold east winds, mainly on the West Side but with some shorter spells on the south coast. We recorded 28 different colour-ringed birds, as well as seeing several others too briefly or distantly for individual identification. They tended to be feeding out of sight on the lower slopes and cliffs, and plenty of patience was needed for reasonable views.

We saw several birds we know well from past seasons, including the male at Benjamin's Chair and the ‘Dad of the year 2018’ near Montagu Steps. Of the 28 seen, one bird was originally ringed in 2015, seven in 2016, eight in 2017 and twelve in 2018. The jump in numbers between ’15 and ’16 ties in with the unusually low winter survival rate we recorded that year. We hope there will be plenty more colour-ringed birds arriving soon, for us and others to find later in the season. Please do send us your sightings!

In general the established pairs seemed settled on their territories and busy feeding, but we saw several spectacular bouts of displaying, chasing and fighting, including one which involved two males and three females that were all within a couple of metres of each other.

Up to about 20 unringed birds were around the fringes of the plateau in our study area (south of Halfway Wall). They seemed to be a mix of potential Lundy breeders and migrants heading further north."

How to report sightings of colour-ringed Wheatears on Lundy: Each bird has a standard BTO metal ring plus a striped ring (which signifies the Lundy project) on one leg, and two colour rings on the other leg. Please take care to note which rings are on which leg and make sure you specify the order of rings on each leg. The bird in the photo below, for example, would be recorded as: "Left leg, striped over metal; Right leg, yellow over green". Please record sightings in the  LFS Logbook in the Tavern, via the Lundy Wheatear Study Facebook page, or email them directly to Tony Taylor using the link here. In addition to the ring sequence, date, time and specific location, the bird's sex and any notable activity (e.g. singing, mating, nest-building, feeding young) would also be useful. Photos are particularly welcome.

Lundy colour-ringed Wheatear © Elisabeth Price

2nd to 13th Apr – Chill winds and a flood of spring migrants

Philip & Helen Lymbery have kindly contributed the following vivid account of their recent 12-day visit to the island, from 2nd to 13th April:

"Our first trip in early April will be remembered for the strong easterly winds that lashed the islands, as well as for spring migrants including Sandwich Tern, Pied Flycatcher and Common Redstart. The fierceness of the winds caused a stricken Oldenburg to be towed away for repairs, stranding about 70 visitors for an extra couple of days. Those same winds also brought a distinct chill to the air. So much so that, for the first time on Lundy, we wished we’d brought gloves!

Strong easterlies meant that Millcombe Valley was often ‘blown out’ by the wind, forcing birds to keep their heads down and making birding at times slow.

However, calm days saw bushes come alive with migrant warblers. Willow Warblers were everywhere. We had a personal maximum count of 36 on the 8th and 12th. Blackcaps came to the island in waves, firstly all males and then mixed with females. Peak count was of 26 on the 8th. However, with plenty of bushes and scrub for cover, the real bird-count could well have been much higher. As we know well from bird ringing, the number seen can often be but a fraction of those actually present.

Passerine highlights for us during the period included a striking male Pied Flycatcher (3rd and 4th), several Common Redstarts including handsome males (8th, 11th, 12th and 13th), a female Black Redstart (6th), and a Firecrest on the 7th. A single Lesser Redpoll (5th and 8th) and 1-2 White Wagtails (8th and 11th) were also present. Amongst more than a dozen Chiffchaffs at any one time was a fleeting bird showing characteristics of the Siberian race, ‘tristis’ (5th); lacking green tones above or yellow below, but with black legs and a solid black bill.

Male Common Redstart beside Bramble Villas, 12 Apr 2019 © Philip Lymbery

Female Common Redstart near The Ugly, 08 Apr 2019 © Philip Lymbery

Male Pied Flycatcher on a windy day... 12 Apr 2019 © Philip Lymbery

A young female Sparrowhawk buzzed the burgeoning passerine flocks on the east coast. A single Kestrel hovered regularly around Millcombe and Castle Hill. The island’s Peregrines patrolled the coastline daily, although their activity levels seemed to vary from day to day. We particularly enjoyed watching a male chasing off a rival before displaying triumphantly over the south with winnowing wingbeats.

Female Sparrowhawk over Millcombe, 6 Apr 2019 © Philip Lymbery

Amongst uncommon non-passerine sightings was a single Sandwich Tern in the Landing Bay area on the 3rd, 2 adult Cormorant flying northeast over Castle Hill (5th) and a Stock Dove (12th) around Barton’s Field. Perhaps our favourite was a Curlew calling evocatively whilst flying over Quarter Wall Cottages toward the Devon mainland (8th).

Record shot of Sandwich Tern, Landing Bay, 3 Apr 2019 © Philip Lymbery

Although the weather felt wintry - cold, misty, gusty, a sprinkling of rain, even hail - there were more than enough birdlife, sunshine and photo opportunities to keep the motivation high.

Lundy can sometimes be a frustrating place to photograph birds. Those Puffins can be too far away, the Peregrines just won’t play ball, and songbirds can often be little more than a flit of a tail disappearing into a bush full of leaves.

Female Peregrine playing ball for the camera over the Terrace, 7 Apr 2019 © Philip Lymbery
Puffin back on the breeding slopes at Jenny's Cove, 7 Apr © Philip Lymbery

However, on this trip, the most magic moments happened when the wind subsided to reveal bushes bouncing with birds just waiting to have their picture taken. Normally elusive warblers in such numbers and so unusually showy, you could soak up their features and see the gleam in their eyes.

Then, after dark, was the strangely fascinating sound of Manx Shearwaters, back to breed along the rat-free sidelands.

The weather may not have been mild nor the sun particularly warming, but there is surely nowhere better than Lundy to watch the changing of the seasons.

Although one Swallow does not make a spring, a steady stream heading north from the 4th was a sure sign of better weather on the way. House Martins followed them from the 6th and a rush of Sand Martins came through on the 11th.

As our 18th time on the island concluded with shining sun, it seemed we were leaving just as spring was really hitting her stride."

Philip and Helen Lymbery

Saturday 13 April 2019

12th April – Hirundine passage picking up

Chris Baillie reports:

"Strong Swallow movement through late morning to mid-afternoon. Fair smattering of House Martins (40 logged) and Sand Martins (19 logged). Male Redstart in Millcombe. Female Sparrowhawk still present and a male yesterday (11th). Willow Warblers over the island in moderate numbers (50 logged). Cormorants in two groups passed N today. Pair of Teal on Pondsbury."

Auk counts by Dean Jones totalled: 4,543 Guillemots, 2,396 Razorbills and 207 Puffins.

In other news, last autumn's Lundy records of three major rarities have now all been accepted by the British Birds Rarities Committee, namely the Green Warbler (7th Oct), Red-eyed Vireo (19th Oct) and American Robin (26th Oct).

Friday 12 April 2019

6th to 11th Apr – Ring Ouzel, Rook, Redpoll, Redstarts & Reed Bunting

The last few days have seen a wide range of migrants passing through, albeit it in small numbers, in often clear conditions with a chilly E wind. Highlights for the period 6th to 11th have included:

Three pairs of Teal on Pondsbury, a Curlew on 8th, 68 Puffins on 10th, a Merlin on 8th & 11th, a Rook on 6th & 8th, a trickle of hirundine passage – with a peak Swallow count of 54 on 7th, a steady passage of Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, a single Firecrest on 6th, a male Ring Ouzel feeding on the slopes above Jenny's Cove on 10th, single Black Redstarts on 6th & 10th, Common Redstarts on 8th (3 birds) and 11th (2), a Greenfinch on 6th, a Redpoll on 8th and a Reed Bunting on 6th.

Compiled from sightings by Dean Jones, Philip Lymbery, and Ann & Tony Taylor.

Tony also reports that fieldwork for the ongoing Wheatear colour-ringing study has been very productive so far.

Wednesday 3 April 2019

30th Mar to 2nd Apr

Andrew Cleave and Michael Foord report on their sightings for the period.

Saturday 30th March
After a day's delay due to thick fog at Hartland Point it was possible to get to the island in beautiful sunny conditions. At the South End the Skylarks were singing and several Wheatears were found, although none appeared to have colour-rings. A party of six Cormorants, in good breeding plumage, flew in from the south and headed north up the East Side. These may have been the same birds that were seen at Hartland Point earlier in the morning. The two Ringed Plovers were still present in South West Field, spending most of their time feeding near one of the streams. Small numbers of warblers were feeding along the walls and around Rocket Pole Pond; they all appeared to be Chiffchaffs.

Sunday 31st March 
Another sunny day, and a walk to the North End produced many more Wheatears and still more Chiffchaffs, with many of them seen feeding on the ground. There was an obvious passage of Swallows and Sand Martins, with a single House Martin seen eventually. At Jenny's Cove there were no auks to be seen, but at least 150 Kittiwakes were very active and very vocal, making repeated visits to the cliffs and then returning to form rafts offshore.

Monday 1st April 
Sunny and slightly less breezy. There appeared to have been a significant fall of warblers overnight, with Blackcaps being found in every likely spot in Millcombe and along the Terrace. Almost every individual was a male and there may have been over 50 birds noted in a walk along the East Side towards Tibbetts and back to the Village via Pondsbury, where more Blackcaps were found feeding amongst Purple Moor Grass. Similar numbers of Chiffchaffs were present, and at least two Willow Warblers were heard singing. A smart male Ring Ouzel flew out of the Quarries and landed on a wooden gate in the Tillage Field. A commotion amongst the gulls and corvids alerted us to a female Marsh Harrier which flew high over the island and headed out to sea towards the mainland. 

Tuesday 2nd April 
The breezy conditions had returned but in the shelter of the Quarries there were still plenty of Blackcaps feeding, with a few more females spotted. A male Pied Flycatcher was present in St Helen's Copse. The return boat trip to Ilfracombe was quite lively in Force 6 conditions but there was plenty to see, with rafts of Guillemots and Razorbills, smaller numbers of feeding Kittiwakes and Fulmars and some close encounters with Manx Shearwaters.

Peregrine © Andrew Cleave

Raven © Andrew Cleave