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Wednesday 25 September 2019

21st to 23rd Sep – Common Rosefinches and the autumn's first Jack Snipe

Saturday 21st September

A day of strong south-easterlies and sunshine for most. The birding highlight from what was a rather busy boat day had to be a young Common Rosefinch, which found itself in the shelf of a mist-net in Millcombe Valley in the late afternoon. Another bird of note during this lovely late September day was the first Jack Snipe of the autumn, flushed form the north-east corner of Pondsbury in the late afternoon.

Other sightings include 9 Mallard, 3 Teal on Pondsbury, a Sparrowhawk, a single Black-headed Gull circling the Oldenburg as she approached the island, 3 Woodpigeon, a lone Kestrel, 6 Sand Martin, 50 Swallow, just 1 House Martin, a single Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackcap, 10 Goldcrest, a Firecrest which was caught and ringed in Millcombe, 2 Robin, a Whinchat near Quarterwall, a flyover Grey Wagtail, 30 Meadow Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 4 Goldfinch and 90 Linnet.

Sunday 22nd September

A rather soggy one with numerous heavy downpours and squalls moving in throughout the day, coupled with strong south-easterlies again in the morning, veering west by the late evening.

Highlights include a second Common Rosefinch for the autumn, this time a stunning adult male which was proudly perched outside Bramble Villas for around three minutes or so before disappearing down the valley. Additionally, the third Wryneck of the autumn (following birds in Millcombe on 25th Aug and Jenny’s Cove on 30th Aug) was found perched upon one of the Willows just south of the Terrace in the afternoon.

Other sightings include a Grey Heron near Quarter Wall, a flyover Ringed Plover, 3 Sparrowhawk, 5 Woodpigeon, a Collared Dove, a single Merlin, 1 Kestrel, 12 Skylark (some of which were in full song near Pondsbury in the afternoon), 5 Sand Martin, 80 Swallow, 2 House Martin, a single Willow Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff, 10 Blackcap, 15 Goldcrest, 2 Firecrest, 9 Robin, 2 Stonechat, a Wheatear, 4 Yellow Wagtails, a White Wagtail in Barton Field, 82 Meadow Pipit, 10 Chaffinch, 43 Goldfinch and 80 Linnet.

Monday 23rd September

A breezy but pleasant start to the day turning rather wet and miserable by the early afternoon. Highlights include a superb fall of Goldcrest with an estimated 180 birds scattered across the island. Within these stunning and often noisy fluttering Goldcrest flocks were 5 Firecrest, strewn along the east sidelands from Millcombe as far as the Quarry willows!

Other sightings include a Sparrowhawk, a Water Rail calling from Quarters Pond, 6 Woodpigeon, a Kestrel, 2 Skylark, 10 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 20 Chiffchaff, 30 Blackcap, 9 Robin, a Stonechat, 2 Grey Wagtails, a single flyover alba wagtail, 11 Meadow Pipit, a Tree Pipit over the Village, 3 Chaffinch and 15 Goldfinch.

Report composed of sightings from Derek Baggott, Chris & Mandy Dee, Dean Jones, Bob Medland and Ben Rousseau.

Goldfinch and Storm Petrels among the latest bird ringing highlights

The latest batch of Lundy ringing recoveries and controls, provided by Lundy bird ringing coordinator Tony Taylor, makes for some fascinating reading.

Two controls (recaptures of birds ringed in locations away from the site of ringing), of a Goldfinch and a Storm Petrel, are particularly intriguing.

The Goldfinch (ring no. AVA4847), mist-netted on Lundy on 24th Aug, was ringed as an adult male on Cape Clear Island, Co. Cork, Ireland – 338 km to the west of Lundy – on 22nd April this year. Tony Taylor believes the Goldfinch is very likely to have bred on Lundy this summer, having started its wing moult and been caught in Millcombe together with a brood of recently fledged young.

Between 23rd and 27th Aug Tony and his ringing team caught 86 Storm Petrels – most during two night-time sessions just east of North Light, but 10 on two nights of primarily Manx Shearwater ringing between Old Light and the Battery. In all, 61 ‘Stormies’ were newly ringed, 18 were retrapped Lundy-ringed birds – mainly from 2017 and 2018 – and 7 had been ringed elsewhere. Fourteen were judged on the state of their incubation patches to be young, prospecting birds, while all the others were of breeding age, several carrying full crops of food for chicks.

Among these captures were birds ringed at nearby Hartland Point; Skokholm Island off the Pembrokeshire coast; Wooltack Point, Pembrokeshire (opposite Skomer); The Lizard in Cornwall; Old Head of Kinsale in Co. Cork, Ireland; and, as with the Goldfinch, Cape Clear Island.

Among the list of these controls sent to Tony by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) was one in particular that raised the hairs on the back of Tony’s neck! Storm Petrel 2580670 (pictured below) had been ringed as a young bird on Lundy on 5th Oct 2014 – so far the ONLY chick ever to have been ringed on the island. It was controlled on Burhou Island, Alderney, Channel Islands on 27th Jul this year – 1,756 days after it was found outside its nest burrow on Lundy’s West Side.

Storm Petrel chick, 5th Oct 2014 © Tony Taylor

The ringing team of Tony Taylor, Warden Dean Jones, Paddy Keith, Richard & Rebecca Taylor were joined on different nights by a visiting ringer, Dawn Anderson and her partner Chris, Grant Sherman and Rosie Ellis.

Colour-ringed Guillemot

One other sighting of note concerns a colour-ringed Guillemot seen on the breeding ledges in Jenny’s Cove by Dean Jones on 26th Jun this year. Dean has recently received the news that the bird was ringed as a nestling on 8th Jul 2013 on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire. This bird was probably loafing on Lundy rather than breeding (there was no sign of either an egg or a chick). Professor Tim Birkhead, who ringed the Guillemot on Skomer, told Dean that it is actually very rare for birds to breed elsewhere other than their natal colony, adding “we very rarely get birds ringed elsewhere breeding on Skomer. However this year we had a bird found breeding on Skomer that had been ringed as a chick on Saltee in Ireland 35 years ago!”.

Monday 23 September 2019

17th to 20th Sep – First Lesser Redpoll and Ring Ouzel, and second Lapland Bunting of autumn

Warden Dean Jones sends the latest autumn update.

Tuesday 17th September

Much quieter on the bird front on an overcast day with stiff north-easterlies.

Sightings include 50 Gannet, the male and female Sparrowhawk, 3 Woodpigeon, 2 Kestrel, 18 Skylark, 100 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 5 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat, 35 Goldcrest, 3 Robin, 1 Stonechat, just 10 Meadow Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 12 Goldfinch and 50 Linnet.

Wednesday 18th September

An absolutely glorious day of sunshine, slight north-easterlies and a diversity of migrants. Highlights include the first Ring Ouzel of the autumn which dropped into the Sycamores below Bramble Villas in the mid-morning. Hirundines also put on a spectacular show from about 11:30 onwards with an estimated 3,200 Swallow, 13 Sand Martin and 500 House Martin passing the island throughout the day – a truly breath-taking sight!

Other sightings of note include a Teal on Pondsbury, a single flyover Grey Heron, the male and female Sparrowhawk, a Water Rail calling from Smelly Gully,  2 Golden Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, 3 Dunlin, 2 Snipe, 6 Woodpigeon, 2 Kestrel, 18 Skylark, 20 Willow Warbler, 50 Chiffchaff, a Grasshopper Warbler flushed from some nettles next to the Lambing Shed, at least 70 Blackcap, a single Garden Warbler, 4 Whitethroat, a Firecrest in the Terrace Willows, 20 Goldcrest, a whopping 20 Spotted Flycatchers, a Pied Flycatcher on the Battlements, 4 Robin, a Whinchat on South West Point, 7 Stonechat, 7 Wheatear, a Yellow Wagtail over Brick Field, a flyover Grey Wagtail, 2 Pied Wagtails and 6 unidentified alba wagtails, 3 Tree Pipit, 162 Meadow Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 10 Goldfinch and 30 Linnet.

Thursday 19th September

Another glorious day of sunshine though the cool easterly winds had picked up a bit from the previous day.

Highlights were the first 2 Lesser Redpoll of the autumn and another stunning Ring Ouzel, this time in VC Quarry in the afternoon.

Other sightings of note include 2 Common Scoter past North End, a Golden Plover, a Water Rail, the male and female Sparrowhawk, a Merlin, 4 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 200 Swallow, 10 House Martin, 15 Willow Warbler, 30 Chiffchaff, 25 Blackcap, a Garden Warbler, 10 Goldcrest, 6 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Stonechat, a Whinchat in Brick Field, 6 Chaffinch and 6 Goldfinch.

Friday 20th September

A lovely clear, sunny day with strong south-easterly winds throughout.

Much trickier for birding today, though there were still some nice birds out there for those willing to brave the winds. Highlight of the day was the second Lapland Bunting of the autumn calling loudly over the Village at 08:15.

Other sightings logged included a Water Rail calling from Quarters Pond, the male and female Sparrowhawk, 5 Woodpigeon, 2 Kestrel, a Merlin, 12 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 100 Swallow, 6 House Martin, 6 Chiffchaff, 15 Blackcap, 1 Firecrest, 10 Goldcrest, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Stonechat, 3 Wheatear, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 unidentified alba wagtails, 20 Meadow Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 6 Goldfinch and 65 Linnet.

Report composed of sightings by Keith Dean, Paul Dean, Chris Dee, Dean Jones, Sue Sabin, Jan Swan and Martin Thorne.

Grasshopper Warbler, High Street, 17th Sep © Dean Jones
Spotted Flycatcher, 19th Sep © Martin Thorne
Spotted Flycatcher hiding from the strong SE wind near Benjamin's Chair, 20th Sep © Dean Jones

Tuesday 17 September 2019

10th to 16th Sep – Barred Warbler, record Grey Heron passage, first Firecrests and much more besides!

A bumper update follows, courtesy of Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones:

Tuesday 10th September

All in all a rather pleasant, dry day with an accompanying stiff northerly.

The undoubted highlight of the day was the occurrence of a Barred Warbler which was found by Nik Ward in Millcombe in the late afternoon. Unfortunately the bird took off up the valley immediately after it was discovered and was not found again despite searching.

Other sightings of note included 4 fly-by Cormorant, a Water Rail, 8 Woodpigeon, 2 Swift, 20 Sand Martin, 150 Swallow, 6 House Martin, 5 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 35 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 5 Whitethroat, 12 Goldcrest, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Robin, 8 Wheatear, 1 Pied Flycatcher, a single fly-over Grey Wagtail, 11 fly-over alba wagtails, 150 Meadow Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 17 Goldfinch and 30 Linnet.

Wednesday 11th September

A day of strong westerly winds and scattered showers and squalls which resulted in some trickier birding conditions, particularly in the mid-afternoon. Sightings includes a Water Rail, a Grey Heron found dead by Quarter Wall Pond, a Sparrowhawk, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 20 Blackcap, 2 Garden Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 6 Goldcrest, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Pied Flycatcher, 2 fly-over alba wagtails, 5 Chaffinch  and 3 Goldfinch.

Thursday 12th September

Not much to note on this very wet and windy day, other than a scattering of Blackcap and Goldcrest in Millcombe as well as 2 young Woodpigeons (which have prematurely fledged from a rather late nest, perhaps due to the presence of the two Sparrowhawks in the valley this week), huddling together underneath one of the memorial benches in Millcombe.

Soggy young Woodpigeons sheltering in Millcombe, 12 September © Dean Jones

Friday 13th September

A much better day weather wise, characterised by some lovely sunshine and a NE breeze – perfect conditions for passage hirundines.

Sightings included a Grey Heron at Ladies Beach, 6 Woodpigeon, 20 Sand Martin, 700 Swallow, 50 House Martin, just one Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 30 Blackcap, 3 Whitethroat, 14 Goldcrest, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, a single fly-over Grey Wagtail, 4 fly-over alba wagtails, a single Tree Pipit, 94 Meadow Pipits, 3 Chaffinch, 13 Goldfinch and 37 Linnet.

Saturday 14th September

A gorgeous summer-like day, complete with clear skies, scorching temperatures and a slight northerly breeze. The highlight of the day was the occurrence of a south-bound flock of 19 Grey Heron over the island in the early afternoon, shortly after the Oldenburg arrived. This is the highest number of this species ever to be recorded on Lundy in a day smashing the previous record of 16 birds (composed of 4 groups) on July 1975! Another highlight was a Turnstone (an increasingly scarce bird for Lundy) flying along the east coast in the early morning.

Other sightings includes a Teal at Brick Field Pond, a male and female Sparrowhawk, a Dunlin over the Village in the evening, 6 Woodpigeon, 2 Swift, 4 Sand Martin, 200 Swallow, 30 House Martin, 5 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 7 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 12 Goldcrest, a small movement of Skylark (3 over South End first thing), 10 Spotted Flycatcher, a single Stonechat, 10 Wheatear, 3 Pied Flycatcher, a single fly-over Grey Wagtail, a fly-over alba wagtail, 70 Meadow Pipits, 2 Chaffinch and 8 Goldfinch.

Sunday 15th September

A very pleasant day all around, with lots of sunshine and a westerly breeze throughout the day.
Highlights included 2 female Tufted Ducks resting on one of the green islands in Pondsbury (only the 25th record for the island), a stunning male Crossbill perched briefly on top of the spruce trees in Millcombe Valley and the first Lapland Bunting of the year, seen and heard flying over High Street Field at around 08:00am.

Other birds of note include 7 Mallard, a male and female Sparrowhawk, a fly-over Golden Plover, 6 Kittiwake, 6 Woodpigeon, a Kestrel, 8 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 800 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 5 Chiffchaff, 23 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat, 33 Goldcrest, a Spotted Flycatcher, 8 Robin, 3 Wheatear, a Grey Wagtail, 2 alba wagtails, 28 Meadow Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 8 Goldfinch and 167 Linnet.

Monday 16th September

A lovely but gloomy start to the day with thick mist and squalls moving in for much of the afternoon.
Slightly quieter day bird-wise, with sightings of note including 3 Sparrowhawk, 2  fly-over Golden Plover, a calling Water Rail, 4 Woodpigeon, 2 Kestrel, 4 Skylark, 2 Sand Martin, 300 Swallow, 34 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 15 Blackcap, a Whitethroat, 20 Goldcrest, the first Firecrest of the autumn in the Secret Garden, a Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Robin, a Grey Wagtail, 4 alba wagtails, 60 Meadow Pipit, 6 Chaffinch, 8 Goldfinch and 90 Linnet.

Tuesday 10 September 2019

8th & 9th Sep – Superb visual migration

September 8th

A truly beautiful day of clear skies, warm temperatures and a slight northerly breeze, perfect conditions for some superb visual migration throughout the day, particularly with regard to passage Swallow, Sand Martin and Meadow Pipits which arrived here in their hundreds.

Sightings of note included, 2 Sparrowhawk together in Millcombe, a flyover Ringed Plover, a Dunlin over the Village in the evening, 9 Woodpigeon, 2 Swift, a Kestrel, 4 Skylark, 408 Sand Martin, 1,195 Swallow, 26 House Martin, 20 Willow Warbler, 10 Chiffchaff, a single Sedge Warbler in Millcombe, 30 Blackcap, a Garden Warbler, 5 Whitethroat, 18 Goldcrest, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Robin, a Pied Flycatcher, 2 flyover Grey Wagtail, a Pied Wagtail and 12 unraced alba wagtails, 350 Meadow Pipit, a Tree Pipit over the Camping Field in the morning, 3 Chaffinch, 24 Goldfinch and 122 Linnet.

Non-avian sightings included a Migrant Hawker dragonfly outside the General Stores and a small number of By-the-wind Sailors (see photo below) washed up next to Rat Island.

September 9th

Torrential rain in the morning up until around 11:00 but brightening up thereafter with strong northerly winds.

Sightings of note included a Turnstone flying low over Quarter Wall in the morning, a flyover Ringed Plover, 9 Woodpigeon, a Kestrel, just 2 Skylark, 250 Sand Martin, 500 Swallow, 30 House Martin, 10 Willow Warbler, 10 Chiffchaff, 15 Blackcap, 6 Whitethroat, 22 Goldcrest, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 6 Robin, a single Whinchat, 36 Wheatear, a flyover Grey Wagtail, 3 unraced flyover alba wagtails, 70 Meadow Pipit, 16 Chaffinch, 20 Goldfinch and 114 Linnet.

Report composed of sightings from AJ Bellamy, Dean Jones, Peter Slader and Nik Ward.

Above and below: Hirundines in Lighthouse Field, 8 Sep © Dean Jones

By-the-wind Sailor, off Rat Island, 8th Sep © Dean Jones

Sunday 8 September 2019

7th Sep – No show from the Black-headed Bunting

Thanks to Ivan Lakin for sending in notes on his day-trip to the island yesterday:

Only three birders made it across today to day-trip Lundy and not see the bunting. That was expected (given that it had been seen on Thursday, though not on Friday), but a Green Sandpiper was an unexpected bonus – Lundy  tick for me. Had it calling as it flew along East Side, then it was heard and seen independently by the other two observers on top. One saw it head towards Pondsbury. Other sightings included quite a few Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers, a few Goldcrest and three Woodpigeon.

Oldenburg very quiet outbound, but much better returning with 5 Bonxie, 1 dark Arctic Skua, 7 Manx Shearwater, auks etc, though all well outside the Lundy recording area.

Friday 6 September 2019

31st Aug to 2nd Sep – Wind, gloom, sun and... Black-headed Bunting!

August 31st

A windy and gloomy day overall and rather quiet bird wise with very few new arrivals to the island. A brief seawatch from The Ugly produced 633 Manx Shearwater, 21 Gannet, 6 Guillemot and 2 Razorbill in an hour. The stunning male Black-headed Bunting appeared again on the track bordering Tibbetts in the late afternoon.

Other than these, birds of note included a Grey Heron sheltering off Lamentor in the early afternoon as well as small numbers of Goldcrest, Swallow, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff scattered throughout Millcombe and the east sidelands.

September 1st

Another blustery day but with a bit more northerly element than yesterday which encouraged a small movement of Goldcrest (19) and Blackcap (12) to the island overnight.

Other sightings of note included a Sparrowhawk in Quarter wall copse, a Merlin hunting Blackbirds near Tibbetts, the Grey Heron in Quarry Pond, singles of Guillemot and Razorbill off the North End, a Whimbrel – which perched upon the Beer Garden wall in the late morning – 8 Swallow, 15 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, a Reed Warbler below St Helen’s Copse (photo below), 48 Meadow Pipit and 6 flyover unidentified alba wagtails.

Grey Heron, Quarry Pond, 1st Sep © Dean Jones
Reed Warbler, below St Helen's Copse, 1st Sep © Dean Jones

September 2nd

A beautifully sunny yet breezy day with some nice migrant birds again. Firstly the long-staying Black-headed Bunting turned up in its favoured foraging spot next to Tillage Field again in the late afternoon.

Goldcrest numbers continued to grow with at least 31 birds scattered across the island – most of which were found in Millcombe and along the east sidelands. Additionally the first Lesser Whitethroat of the autumn was found in the gnarled elder at the top of Smelly Gully in the early morning.

Other sightings of note included a flyover Golden Plover, 27 Swallow, 22 Sand Martin, 10 Blackcap, 10 Willow Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff, a Sedge Warbler, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, 3 alba  wagtails, 23 Meadow Pipits and a flyover Tree Pipit.

Report compiled by Dean Woodfin Jones.


Below is a Tweet from Antony Bellamy showing the latest photos of the Black-headed Bunting, taken yesterday, Thursday 5th Sep.