"As you can probably tell by the lack of blog updates over the past few weeks (sincere apologies), the busy summer season of visiting school groups, working parties and of course, the monitoring of Lundy’s beautiful and unique assortment of wildlife has now arrived.
Luckily for us the island has continued to provide us with some truly spectacular birds during this period including the Squacco Heron, which lingered around Rat Island until May 31st (allowing some superb views for disembarking visitors) after being re-discovered in this area on April 28th. The island has also had two very brief but exciting visits from two other special birds; a female Red-backed Shrike near St Helen’s Copse on June 6th and a stonking Alpine Swift on June 8th (both found by Chris and Carol Baille).
|Squacco Heron, Rat Island, 31 May © Alex Sydenham
|Squacco Heron, Rat Island, 28 May © Dean Jones
Other than these rarities, more and more young birds are appearing around the island. For example, in the last few weeks we’ve seen the first Wheatear, Skylark, Dunnock and Linnet fledglings of the year as well as lots of food being delivered to chicks in nests for species such as Chaffinch, Starling, Robin, and Meadow Pipit (some of which should be fledging any day now). We have also been treated to at least one very noisy Water Rail chick in the evenings near Paradise Row, the first confirmed breeding since 2015.
Other avian delights throughout this period include small numbers of Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, Swallow, House Martin, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap each day, as well as two Cormorant flying south over the Ugly on the 6th, a Golden Plover on the 26th, a lone Whimbrel on White Beach on the 3rd, a Storm Petrel at the Old Light Manx Shearwater colony on the 27th, at least 1 Kestrel most days, a Merlin on June 1st & 2nd, a Turtle Dove on the Terrace on the 31st and again on the 2nd (where it narrowly avoided the clutches of a Peregrine), a Cuckoo on four dates from various areas of the island including Millcombe, Halfway Wall and Montagu Steps, singles of Collared Dove on three dates from the 1st, a Sand Martin on the 5th, a Garden Warbler on the 26th, a Sedge Warbler on the 25th, a fly-over Yellow Wagtail on the 4th, a Tree Pipit on June 1st, and four Swift on the 31st.
|Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe, 05 Jun © Dean Jones
Visiting ringers Tony, Ann, Rich and Rebecca Taylor have all been keeping themselves very busy re-sighting and colour ringing some of the island’s Northern Wheatears. So far the gang have managed to catch and re-sight good numbers of the island breeding birds and although the final numbers have yet to be crunched, it’s looking like a relatively good year for this iconic Lundy bird. Hiding within the island’s breeding population, Rich and Rebecca also managed to catch and ring a rather late passage Greenland bird (Oenanthe oenanthe leucorhoa) on the 6th, just south of the Forgotten Heinkel bomber on the West Coast. Somehow the gang also managed to conjure up energy for a few late evenings out on the west sidelands catching Manx Shearwaters too. Here the team have managed (so far) to catch and ring 40 new birds and retrap another 44 birds birds which had been ringed on Lundy in previous years, including some ringed here as chicks in 2013 & 2015.
|Calling male Wheatear, north of Jenny's Cove, Jun 2019 © Dean Jones
June 6th was a very special day for me as Warden and for the island, as we managed to get out for an afternoon colour ringing Peregrine Falcons, the first ever for the island! If all goes well in the upcoming years, we may be lucky enough to see these birds return one day to the breed on the island themselves. Visiting this nest site also allowed us to get a better understanding of what this particular pair have been feeding their young on. As you can see from the photo below, seabirds – including Puffin and Manx Shearwater have been the main source of food… as well as the odd Wheatear. A huge huge thank you to Luke Sutton, Seb Loram, Dan Donovan, Simon Fletcher and Carlo Fiori for this unforgettable experience.
|Peregrine kill remains 06 Jun © Simon Fletcher
Alan and Sandra Rowland (Lundy Field Society) and Janet Lister (National Trust) also managed a trip out to the island this month in order to count a very special resident on the island, our endemic Lundy Cabbage. Although numbers have yet to be finalised, this year seems to be a super year for flowering plants, particularly on the East Side cliffs! Full results for this year’s cabbage counts will be available in the near future.
|Alan Rowland & Dean Jones cabbage counting, 03 Jun © Siân Cann
And last but by no means least, we’ve received DNA results regarding feather samples from this springs unbelievable run of no less than five Subalpine Warblers! The DNA sequencing that was very kindly carried out by Thomas Shannon and Martin Collinson from the University of Aberdeen now shows that we managed to catch an amazing haul of three sub-species of Subalpine Warbler this spring! Unreal! These consisted of three birds of the Eastern race Sylvia cantillans albistriata (which breed in areas within Trieste, Balkans, Greece, Bulgaria, western Turkey), one Sylvia cantillans cantillans Eastern raced bird (breeds in Central and south Italy except Sardinia) and a Western raced bird Sylvia inornata inornata (which breed in Iberia, southern France, extreme north-west Italy). Special thanks to Thomas and Martin for all their help and enthusiasm with regards to these samples.
Lundy has truly delivered the goods this spring, fingers crossed we have some more super birds to come during the next few weeks!
|DNA tree for Subalpine Warblers
Report composed of sightings from Chris & Carol Baillie, Andrew Cleave, Dan Donovan, Carlo Fiori, Simon Fletcher, Paddy Keith, Dean Jones, Seb Loram, Luke Sutton, Alex Sydenham, Tony & Ann Taylor, Richard & Rebecca Taylor, Lucy Winder and Caitlin Worsey."