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.

Tuesday 29 October 2019

29th Oct – Snow Bunting, Grey Heron & Brambling headline a windy day

Chris & Carol Baillie write:

Tuesday 29th October

"With easterly winds increasing overnight the only migrants evidently on the move were some Fieldfares first thing, but most chose to remain. A Grey Heron passed through Pondsbury and a Snow Bunting was on the track north of Threequarter Wall. A single Brambling fed among Chaffinches (175) and three Song Thrush made the best of a wind-blasted Millcombe."

Monday 28 October 2019

28th Oct – Chaffinches post a season's best

The latest news from Chris & Carol Baillie:

Monday 28th October

"The switch to lively east winds and no sunshine has meant birds have either been migging visibly or down-hunkering (i.e. in flight or in cover!). The first hour saw a Millcombe bottle-neck due to three Peregrines, a Merlin and the Sparrowhawk staking out all southern air space. Chaffinch numbers were far above recent levels at 1,600 by midday, whilst Starlings at least doubled to 500. Gull numbers continue to increase, though there were no Kittiwakes to follow through on yesterday’s 500. A Woodcock survived a close encounter with the (perhaps over-ambitious) Sparrowhawk in Millcombe, and another was on the Terraces. The Little Egret added a touch of elegance to Brambles pool and two Teal (female and emerging-from-eclipse male) were on Pondsbury."

Sunday 27 October 2019

27th Oct – After the deluge...

A further update from Chris & Carol Baillie:

Sunday 27th October

"The most striking feature of the day was a very quiet initial visible migration, followed by Chaffinch flocks moving north and northwest, as were a few Siskin, and a handful of winter thrushes. Late morning saw restoration of a light migration south through the island. Four Cormorants passed north, and a Little Egret fed on flooded pools (“Lake District”) by the water tanks. In other news were two Brambling, a Lesser Redpoll, and the Merlin and Sparrowhawk. 500 Kittiwake and 110 Herring Gulls fed in the Roads. Low numbers of Meadow Pipits (12) and Linnets (6) continue. That 8 Swallows could survive recent conditions and make it to this contrastingly clear and sunny day is impressive."

26th Oct – Wet, wet wet!

With Friday 25th seeing the island battered by severe gales from mid-day, leading to a 'splash & dash' early departure for MS Oldenburg on its last passenger-carrying service of the season, Chris & Carol Baillie report on less wild, but extremely soggy conditions the following day...

Saturday 26th October

"After yesterday's gale settled overnight, constant rain led to swollen water courses – a mountain stream from Brambles into Millcombe. Few birds at sea, and those on land hunkered down. Six of the fifty or so Chaffinches departed this afternoon. The rest remain feeding up with four Brambling and a few Goldfinch. Fourteen Siskin passed north over the Terraces, and a Lapland Bunting called overhead as skies cleared this evening. No warblers or crests, and a single Fieldfare was the only winter thrush. Also two Snipe, a Merlin and a single Kestrel."

Friday 25 October 2019

20th to 24th Oct – A stunning sunrise and some spectacular birding

Sunday 20th October
A day of moderate to strong north-easterlies and periods of sunshine and overcast.

Highpoints of the day included a decent arrival of Chaffinch first thing (132 in Millcombe) plus two very noisy Mistle Thrush feeding on berries in upper Millcombe, a grand total of six Snow Bunting (five of which were seen together just north of Threequarter Wall) and a Jack Snipe flushed from the Molinia grass just west of Pondsbury.

Other birds of note included two Teal on Pondsbury, a lone Fulmar in the Landing Bay, one south-bound Cormorant, the male and female Sparrowhawk together in Millcombe, a Water Rail, a fly-over Golden Plover, just three Skylark, four Swallow, three Chiffchaff,  five Blackcap, 26 Goldcrest, the Treecreeper, 202 Starling, four Blackbird, four Fieldfare, 10 Song Thrush, 49 Redwing, eight Robin, 11 Stonechat, a single Wheatear at Halfway Wall, 80 Meadow Pipit, a Greenfinch, 18 Goldfinch, 18 Siskin, just five Linnet and a Reed Bunting.

Redwing feeding on Hawthorn berries, Millcombe, 20 Oct © Dean Jones

Monday 21st October

A chilly, clear and overall very pleasant day weather-wise. Birding highlights included a Long-tailed Tit feeding in the Sycamores just above the Casbah in Millcombe. A whopping 107 Fieldfare, a count which included a spectacular flock of 80 birds flying NE over the Quarries in the early afternoon, and the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling, again with its head in the chicken feed box next to the farmyard.

Rose-coloured Starling with friends in the chicken coop, 21 Oct © Dean Jones

Other birds of note included two Teal on Pondsbury, the male and female Sparrowhawk, two Water Rail, a fly-over Golden Plover, three Snipe, one Woodpigeon, a male Kestrel, a female Merlin, three Skylark, four Chiffchaff, six Blackcap, 20 Goldcrest, the Treecreeper, 250 Starling, a Ring Ouzel, 10 Blackbird, 15 Song Thrush, 70 Redwing, nine Robin, 10 Stonechat, a Pied Wagtail, two unidentified alba wagtails, 25 Meadow Pipit, 50 Chaffinch, a Greenfinch, 13 Goldfinch, 10 Siskin, eight Linnet, a single fly-over Redpoll and a Reed Bunting over Quarter Wall.

Non-avian news featured 11 Portuguese Man o’war, 10 of which unfortunately had washed up along the shore of the Landing Bay (see photo below).

Portuguese Man o'War, Landing Bay, 21st Oct © Dean Jones

Tuesday 22nd October

An absolutely glorious day complete with clear skies, a stunning sunrise and next to no wind – perfect conditions for the newly arrived ringing team to get their mist-nets up and some truly superb visual migration, particularly during the first few hours of the morning.

Highlights from this spectacular day of birding include a Cetti’s Warbler caught and ringed in Millcombe in the afternoon, possibly the same bird that was found by Andy Jayne & Tim Jones by Millcombe Pond on October 14th. Three Jackdaws (a Lundy rarity) were also briefly present on the main track near Quarter Wall first thing. A rather late Lesser Whitethroat was found in the brambles next to the Timekeeper's Hut in the afternoon, two Yellow-browed Warbler were in Millcombe (one of which was caught and ringed) and the fourth Lapland Bunting of the year flew over Middle Park in the early morning, closely followed by two fly-over Snow Bunting!

Other birds of note include a lone female Teal on Pondsbury, the female Sparrowhawk, 2 Water Rail, a fly-over Golden Plover, a single Snipe, a single Lesser Black-backed Gull, one Woodpigeon, a female Merlin, 30 Skylark, a late Sand Martin, 11 Swallow, two House Martin, seven Chiffchaff, 13 Blackcap, 25 Goldcrest, the Treecreeper (caught and ringed in Millcombe), 203 Starling, a Ring Ouzel, 40 Blackbird, 25 Fieldfare, 10 Song Thrush, 100 Redwing, a single Mistle Thrush in Millcombe, six Robin, three Stonechat, a Grey Wagtail, a White Wagtail in Barton Field, six unidentified alba wagtails, 100 Meadow Pipit, 200 Chaffinch, four Brambling, a Greenfinch, 19 Goldfinch, 56 Siskin, 19 Linnet, two fly-over Redpoll and a Reed Bunting over Millcombe.

Sunrise over Millcombe, 22 Oct © Dean Jones
Cetti's Warbler, Millcombe, 22 Oct © Dean Jones

Wednesday 23rd October

Another fantastic day of birding and clear/calm conditions. The undoubted highlight of the day was the occurrence of a Little Bunting in the shelf of a mist-net in Millcombe mid-morning, the 20th record for the island and the 7th to be ringed – a spectacular start to the day!

Following the star bird, birders on the island were also blessed with some spectacular numbers of Chaffinches. A very conservative estimate of 1,000 birds passed Lundy during the day, along with some good numbers of Siskin (100) and a smattering of Brambling (one of which was trapped and ringed). Additionally the first Woodcock of the year was seen, flushed from the path below the Ugly whilst checking the slope mist-net. Nearby a female Bullfinch spent most of the day flying around Millcombe – the second of the year following a stunning male at the top of the valley on January 5th. A Yellow-browed Warbler was busily feeding in Quarter Wall Copse in the afternoon. The first Black Redstart of the autumn was also seen, bobbing away upon the roof of Government House in the evening. A very late female Common Redstart was trapped and ringed in Millcombe and the fifth Lapland Bunting of the autumn shot over St John’s in the early afternoon.

Other birds of note on this glorious autumn day included a single Fulmar, a Manx Shearwater calling in the early hours, the female Sparrowhawk, three Water Rail in Millcombe, a fly-over Golden Plover, one Woodpigeon, a Merlin, nine Skylark, six Swallow, a late Willow Warbler on the Terrace, seven Chiffchaff, 20 Blackcap, the Lesser Whitethroat again near the Terrace, a Firecrest (caught and ringed in Millcombe), 26 Goldcrest, the Treecreeper, 285 Starling, a Ring Ouzel in Upper Millcombe, 40 Blackbird, 30 Fieldfare, four Song Thrush, 250 Redwing, 20 Robin, six Stonechat, two Grey Wagtail having a rest on the roof of the Radio Room, two Pied Wagtail, 31 Meadow Pipit, three Brambling, three Greenfinch, nine Goldfinch, three Linnet and a single Reed Bunting.

Little Bunting, Millcombe, 23 Oct © Ellie Zantboer

Thursday 24th October

A rather dim and overcast start to the day but slighter warmer despite the winds picking up overnight and the lack of morning sunshine.

All in all, today was much quieter bird-wise with most of yesterday’s thrushes and finches moving off in the clear and relatively calm overnight conditions. Highlights included a Little Egret on Pondsbury in the early afternoon and the female Bullfinch again – this time outside Bramble Villas on the now foliage-devoid Sycamores. Herring Gull numbers also made a massive jump up today (total 140) with multiple flocks moving north along the east coast throughout the morning – perhaps moving in anticipation of tomorrow's storms!

Other birds of note included the female Sparrowhawk, two Water Rail in Millcombe, five Golden Plover (the highest count of the autumn so far), a Woodcock, one Snipe, 16 Kittiwake, two Lesser Black-backed Gull, a female Kestrel, a Merlin, five Skylark, four Swallow, three Chiffchaff, eight Blackcap, two Firecrest (one caught and ringed in Millcombe), 17 Goldcrest, the Treecreeper, 230 Starling, 13 Blackbird, six Fieldfare, four Song Thrush, 17 Redwing, 10 Robin, two Black Redstart, three Stonechat, one Grey Wagtail, two Pied Wagtail, just 10 Meadow Pipit, 170 Chaffinch, three Brambling, two Goldfinch, 11 Siskin, three Linnet, a Snow Bunting and a single Reed Bunting.

Report composed of sightings from Chris & Carol Baillie, Zoë Barton, James Booty, Sam Bosanquet, Rob Duncan, Paul Goodwin, Mark & Jo Harris, Dean Jones, Dan Zantboer, Ellie Zantboer and Justin Zantboer.

Sunday 20 October 2019

16th to 19th Oct – More action-packed days and a potential 'first' for the island!

Wednesday 16th October

The day started bright but with a stiff and distinctly chilly WNW wind, which gradually eased during the day, when broken cloud gave long sunny intervals and pin-sharp light in the afternoon.

Post-dawn migration was much quieter than Tuesday 15th, with 75 minutes on Castle Hill from 07.30 hrs yielding <100 Meadow Pipit, a dozen Linnet and a handful each of Redwing and Chaffinch. Three House Sparrow appeared to be leaving the island quite high to the SE, though we couldn't rule out the possibility that they turned back at some point.

From mid-morning onwards, the East Side afforded shelter for passage hirundines, including 200 Swallow, 15 House Martin and a single late Sand Martin. Small flocks of Siskin flying south (totalling some 90 birds) were also a feature, alongside a steady trickle of Skylark (30) and Meadow Pipit (400 logged, including foraging/resting flocks on top of the island).

Numbers of grounded migrants were well down on 15th, though two Ring Ouzel remained (singles in Millcombe and along the Terrace), together with a scattering of Redwing (25), Song Thrush (12), Blackcap (6), Chiffchaff (9) and Goldcrest (12). Notable sightings included two Teal (Pondsbury), two Merlin in the northern half of the island, a Willow Warbler, a Firecrest, the Treecreeper, the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling (feeding in the chicken run again), six Reed Bunting and a lone Snow Bunting calling in flight over Tibbetts.

The calmer seas and clear light afforded excellent conditions later in the day for watching seabirds feeding and moving off the East Side, with consolidated totals comprising: three Common Scoter, three Manx Shearwater, 54 Gannet, 15 Shag, 140 Kittiwake, two Mediterranean Gull, an adult Black-headed Gull, an adult and 1st-w Common Gull, a Bonxie, a pale-phase Arctic Skua and 200 auk sp.

Treecreeper, Millcombe, 16 Oct 2019 © Dean Jones

Thursday 17th October

A strong and gusty southerly wind put paid to any thoughts of standing on Castle Hill to monitor visible migration. Although there were small numbers of Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch and Siskin on the move, they were wisely keeping low down in the lee of the East Side as they battled into the headwind. Conditions remained pretty blowy all day, but the wind gradually veered to the SW, and heavy showers developed in the afternoon.

The highlight of the day was the discovery of a first-winter Barred Warbler feeding (together with a small group of Blackcaps) on blackberries, initially just south of the Terrace and later on a bramble clump in the middle of the Terrace Heligoland Trap willow thicket. Whilst enjoying the Barred Warbler, observers were also treated to sightings offshore of a Manx Shearwater, at least four Mediterranean Gulls (still a scarce, if increasingly regular, species for the island), a Bonxie and a juvenile Pomarine Skua, alongside feeding Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks.

Other notable records included a single Cormorant, a Stock Dove (in flight off the Ugly), two Merlin, a male Kestrel, a Common Redstart (Terrace/quarries), Ring Ouzel (Terrace), the Treecreeper, the juv Rose-coloured Starling, the third Lapland Bunting of the autumn (calling as it flew S past Old House South and the Church) and a Snow Bunting over the Terrace.

First-winter Barred Warbler, Terrace Trap thicket, 17 Oct 2019 © Dean Jones

Friday 18th October

A really wild day of weather, with the southwesterlies that were already pretty boisterous at dawn getting stronger and gustier during the day and blowing in a rash of showers, some of which were of almost tropical intensity, bringing a mix of huge raindrops, hailstones and the odd rumble of thunder.

The West Side and plateau were completely blown out, meaning that observations were restricted to the East Side, with the sea getting the most attention as observers crammed into the small shelter on the Ugly. An early expedition to the Terrace to try and relocate the Barred Warbler ended in cold and soggy failure, though there were sufficient sunny intervals to tempt the bird out, had it still been present.

Seawatching yielded five Manx Shearwater, an adult & 2nd-w Mediterranean Gull, a 1st-w Common Gull, 3 Bonxies, and a pale-phase Arctic Skua, among the commoner species. Tim Davis found a Short-eared Owl that briefly flew out over the Landing Bay and dropped back into cover below the Beach Road, whilst a Brambling was seen near Blue Bung.

Sighting of the day – and potentially one of the sightings of the year – came late in the afternoon when Martin Elcoate photographed a very pale, sandy wheatear with a prominently contrasting black alula, which appears to be a strong candidate for Lundy's (and indeed Devon's) first Isabelline Wheatear. What was almost certainly the same bird whipped past Martin, James Diamond, Dean Jones and Tim Jones standing on the Ugly at just after 14.00 hrs (almost taking Martin's head off in the process!), and was very briefly seen again in flight on the other side of the valley near Hanmers a few minutes later, by Dean and Tim. However, it was not until after 16.30 hrs that Martin encountered it on the Beach Road just below the Goat Path, when he was able to snatch a few photos, including the one below. The bird flew up the sidelands and appeared to land somewhere below Hanmers, but in failing light and deteriorating weather conditions could not be relocated by Martin, Tim or James (who had quickly responded to a text message from Martin).

Candidate Isabelline Wheatear, Beach Road, 18 Oct © Martin Elcoate

Saturday 19th October

A complete change of weather brought a dry day of light WNW winds and blue skies, enabling birds and birders alike to bask in long sunny spells, making it feel positively summery in the shelter of the East Side.

Although there was no immediate pulse of visible migration after dawn, things got going a bit more as the morning wore on, with combined totals of 50 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 25 Skylark, two Grey Wagtail, five alba wagtail, 120 Meadow Pipit, 25 Chaffinch, a Brambling, 30 Goldfinch, 30 Siskin and 40 Linnet, as well as a passing flock of 8 Cormorant, by early afternoon. It was also quickly evident that there had been a significant overnight arrival of grounded migrants, notably Goldcrests, which were all over the place as they filtered south, 150 being a very conservative estimate. Also to be seen were 15 Blackcap, 8 Chiffchaff, 150 Redwing and 40 Robin, whilst a high count of 16 Dunnock also suggested a small influx. Other notable records included a single Yellow-browed Warbler in Millcombe (giving prolonged, close-range views at times) plus a second bird calling in bracken below the Timekeeper's Hut, a Willow Warbler in bracken along the Lower East Side Path, five Ring Ouzel (one in Millcombe and four around the Terrace/quarries), a Fieldfare in Barton Field, the Treecreeper in Millcombe, the Rose-coloured Starling (still feeding in the chicken run), a Reed Bunting and a Snow Bunting. The undoubted highlight was a Quail, only the third on Lundy in the last decade and the first autumn record since 1989, flushed from the Lower East Side Path above White Beach during the late morning.

Yellow-browed Warbler, Millcombe, 19 Oct 2019 © Martin Elcoate

Common and Rose-coloured Starlings, chicken run, 19 Oct 2019 © Martin Elcoate

Compiled from sightings by Tim Davis, James Diamond, Martin Elcoate, Andy Jayne, Dean Jones, Tim Jones, David Oddy, and Mark & Julia Webber.

Tuesday 15 October 2019

15th Oct – A spectacular day of migration

Tuesday 15th October

A predominantly dry, bright day with patchy cloud, long sunny spells and a light to moderate WSW wind.

A memorably migrant-filled day from first light, when flocks of Redwings began flying out of Millcombe and out to sea against the orange glow of the sun rising in the south east. Totals (beginning with thrushes, the stars of the day) included:

450 Redwing, 60 Song Thrush, 25 Ring Ouzel (including 16 around the Terrace and Quarries), 4 Mistle Thrush, 4 Fieldfare, 17 Blackbird, 8 Cormorant, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlin, 100 Skylark, 250 Swallow, 7 House Martin, 20 Chiffchaff (including 1 tristis), 17 Blackcap, 2 Firecrest, 15 Goldcrest, 400 Starling, 320 Meadow Pipit, 30 alba wagtail, 130 Siskin, 1 redpoll sp., 50 Chaffinch, 3 Greenfinch,14 Snow Bunting (just N of Threequarter Wall) and 6 Reed Bunting. Scarcities and late migrants included 1 Manx Shearwater, 2 Grey Heron, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier (near Montagu Steps), 1 Black-headed Gull (off the Landing Bay), the Treecreeper (Millcombe), the Cetti's Warbler (St John's Valley), 1 Willow Warbler (St Helen's Copse & lower Millcombe), a Richard’s Pipit (Airfield), 1 Spotted Flycatcher (Millcombe) and 1 Yellow Wagtail (in off the sea at Threequarter Wall).

Snow Bunting, north of Threequarter Wall, 15 Oct © Martin Elcoate

One of at least 25 Ring Ouzels that made landfall along the East Side of Lundy on 15 Oct © Martin Elcoate

On the non-avian front, the sun brought out quite a lot of butterflies, including 35 Red Admiral, 4 Painted Lady, 2 Peacock and 3 Small Copper.

Compiled from observations by Zoe Barton, Belinda Cox, Tim Davis, Mandy Dee, James Diamond, Martin Elcoate, Andy Jayne, Dean Jones and Tim Jones.

Monday 14 October 2019

12th to 14th October – Red-eyed Vireo, Cetti's Warbler and a Blackcap fall

Saturday 12th October

A significant drop in the wind gave migrants a welcome weather window to push south and there was a large overnight fall of Blackcaps, with 150 being a very conservative estimate. There were 60 along the Terrace in the morning and at least 100 in Millcombe during the afternoon, with every bramble and blackthorn clump seeming to hold multiple birds, which had formed into several loose flocks. Alongside the Blackcaps were 50 Goldcrests and 8 Chiffchaffs. There were strong movements of Swallow (100) and Meadow Pipit (600) during the day, whilst other sightings included a Cormorant, 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Water Rail, a Golden Plover, 14 Snipe over Pondsbury, 2 Kestrel, 30 Skylark, 11 House Martin, 3 Redwing, 3 Wheatear, 12 Pied/alba Wagtails, 15 Rock Pipit, 1 Greenfinch, 15 Goldfinch, 1 Siskin and 4 Linnet.

The most unusual species of the day was a juvenile Whooper Swan flying SW over the Castle early in the morning. There was also a Yellow-browed Warbler by the gas store in Millcombe, the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling was seen by the lambing shed, and a Snow Bunting was flushed from the track at the Battlements.

Sunday 13th October

An overcast and increasingly damp morning with squally showers gave way to long sunny spells in the afternoon.

Most of Saturday’s Blackcaps and Goldcrests had moved on overnight. Highlight of the day was a Red-eyed Vireo, the 9th for the island, which was discovered in Quarter Wall Copse at around 13.30. After perching prominently in the open for several minutes when it was first seen on the northern edge of the copse, the bird dropped back into the trees and eluded all binoculars for the next hour or so, but was eventually seen by all those present, between 15.00 and 15.30 as it fed in the tree tops, along with several Goldcrest and two Firecrest for company.

Other notable records included the juvenile Dotterel, which was relocated on the Airfield, a Merlin, a Jack Snipe at Pondsbury, a Yellow-browed Warbler in lower Millcombe (Smelly Gully), the Treecreeper, 3 Reed Bunting in the Pondsbury and Quarter Wall area, and a Snow Bunting calling in flight over the Terrace. Among the commoner migrants were 35 Swallow, including some that were clearly struggling in the windy and often very wet conditions and an emaciated juvenile was found dead near Brambles. Also 2 Teal, 1 Grey Heron, 20 Gannet, 1 Cormorant, 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Water Rail, 5 Oystercatcher, 3 Golden Plover, 7 Snipe, 19 Kittiwake, 11 Woodpigeon, 1 Kestrel, 35 Skylark, 10 House Martin, 12 Chiffchaff, 13 Blackcap, 15 Goldcrest, 2 Redwing, 17 Robin, 8 Stonechat, 200 Meadow Pipit, 2 Siskin and 20 Linnet.

Monday 14th October

An overcast but mainly dry day, with some patchy light drizzle in the afternoon, and a stiff SE that gradually eased later in the day, falling light by evening.

It was evident first thing that there had been a further clear-out of migrants, which was unsurprising given plenty of clear, moonlit spells overnight. At times it was difficult to find a migrant in Millcombe or along the Lower East Side Path. Nevertheless, there were still new birds to be found, with the highlight being Lundy’s 5th Cetti’s Warbler, which called and showed briefly twice around the edge of Millcombe Pond mid-morning.

Other notable sightings included the Yellow-browed Warbler in lower Millcombe, a late Willow Warbler in the sallows in St John’s Valley, the Treecreeper in Millcombe, the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling in the chicken run, 3 Reed Bunting (one in flight over Castle Hill and two at Quarter Wall), and a Snow Bunting at the western end of Quarter Wall. The supporting cast included 2 Teal, 2 Grey Heron flying north-east off the East Side, a Cormorant, 3 Sparrowhawk, 3 Water Rail, a Golden Plover, 2 Kestrel, a Merlin, 25 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 8 Goldcrest, 8 Chiffchaff, 5 Blackcap, 200 Starling, 2 Song Thrush, 5 Redwing, 11 Stonechat, 3 Wheatear, 7 Pied/alba Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 150 Meadow Pipit, 14 Rock Pipit, 19 Chaffinch, 40 Goldfinch, 6 Siskin and 31 Linnet.

Compiled from observations by Zoe Barton, Tim Davis, Mandy Dee, James Diamond, Darrin Dowding, Ken Ebsworthy, Martin Elcoate, Andy Jayne, Dean Jones, Tim Jones and Ryan Miller.

Friday 11 October 2019

9th to 11th Oct – Rosy Starling & Dotterel remain; good seawatching

Wednesday 9th October

A day of strong westerlies; overcast with a number of heavy downpours in the afternoon.

Birding highlights included the continued presence of the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling which was seen resting on top of one of the sparrow nestboxes in the farmyard in the mid-afternoon. The young Dotterel also remained on the island for another day in its new favoured spot next to Quarry Cottages.

Other sightings from a rather soggy day's birding included 7 Cormorant past Rat Island, the long-staying Grey Heron, the female Sparrowhawk, 12 Skylark, 8 Swallow, 3 Goldcrest, a Firecrest, a Robin, 2 Stonechat, a Pied Wagtail, just 15 Meadow Pipit, a Chaffinch, 3 Goldfinch and 2 Snow Buntings on the track next to Tibbetts.

Juvenile Rose-coloured Starling in the farmyard, 9 Oct © Dean Jones

Juvenile Dotterel near Quarry Cottages, 9 Oct © Dean Jones

Thursday 10th October

Not much has changed weather-wise since yesterday with strong west-south-westerlies throughout, overcast and a number of showers or out-and-out downpours again...

Star birds from today included the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling, this time feeding within the chicken enclosure in the farmyard. Additionally the first Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn was seen flitting through the canopy behind the Millcombe gas store, accompanied by a number of Goldcrest and the Treecreeper.  Lastly a Little Egret was seen flying north along the east coast in the late morning. 

Other sightings include the Grey Heron again, a male and female Sparrowhaw, a flyover Golden Plover, a single Snipe, 7 Woodpigeon, 10 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 2 Chiffchaff, a Blackcap, 10 Goldcrest, 2 Blackbird, 7 Robin, a single Stonechat, 2 Pied Wagtail, 33 Meadow Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 12 Goldfinch, a single Lesser Redpoll, 12 Linnet and a Snow Bunting on the track next to Tibbetts.

Friday 11th October

A morning seawatch produced a nice selection of 4 Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Arctic Skuas, a Mediterranean Gull and a Great Northern Diver, amongst good numbers of auks and Kittiwakes. Records from later in the day will be added in due course.

Report composed of sightings from Zoë Barton, Paul Bullock, Darrin Dowding, Ken Ebsworthy, Andy Jayne, Dean Jones, Pete Lambden, Ryan Miller, Tim Smith and Martin Thorne.

Wednesday 9 October 2019

5th to 8th Oct – Rose-coloured Starling, Dotterel & Snow Buntings head a varied cast

The latest update from Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones on the remarkable variety of birds still managing to make landfall on the island, in spite – or maybe because – of the continuing very changeable, at times stormy, conditions of recent days...

Saturday 5th October

A beautiful still day throughout – conditions which were a very welcome change from the strong winds as of late. Lots of sunny spells in the early morning up until 11:00, then thick fog for about an hour or so – clearing by the early afternoon, though staying mainly overcast for the rest of the day.

Sightings included the Grey Heron, the female Sparrowhawk, a single Water Rail, a number of calling Manx Shearwater over the Village in the evening, 15 Swallow, 8 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, a lone Firecrest, 10 Goldcrest, 4 Blackbird, 2 Redwing, 8 Robin, 1 Stonechat, a Wheatear, 2 alba wagtails, 50 Meadow Pipit, 5 Chaffinch, 2 Goldfinch and 3 Linnet.

Sunday 6th October

The winds return! Once again it was a day of strong north-westerlies coupled with scattered clouds and sunny spells in the morning – giving way to beautiful clear skies by the afternoon.

Today saw a small overnight arrival of migrants in clear, calm conditions, including a small fall of Goldcrest (40) and Blackcap (30) as well as some decent October Swallow passage throughout the day (totalling 107). Highlights includes a young Dotterel which was found foraging around the Old Hospital in the afternoon, a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling that made a brief appearance in the High Street pig sty, and a total of 3 Snow Bunting were recorded along the main track up to North End.

Other sightings included the Grey Heron in Barton Field, 20 Gannet, a single Cormorant, 2 fly-over Golden Plover, female Sparrowhawk, a calling Water Rail, 30 Kittiwake, 30 Woodpigeon, a Merlin, 5 Skylark, a Sand Martin, 10 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, a lone Firecrest, 6 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, a late Spotted Flycatcher, 14 Robin, 10 Stonechat, 3 Wheatear, 12 Pied Wagtails, 6 Chaffinch, 40 Goldfinch and 20 Linnet.

The long-staying Grey Heron outside Barton Cottages, 6 Oct © Dean Jones

Small Coppers took advantage of some sunny shelter to feed on Yarrow in Millcombe, 6 Oct © Dean Jones

Monday 7th October

A very wet start to the day with frequent squalls and fog rolling in on strong south-westerly winds up until 13:00 at least. The winds then shifted to the west/north-west by the afternoon and the fog gave way to a mix of sunny spells and overcast periods.

The birding highlight today was undoubtedly the presence of a Kingfisher in the late morning – a bird which whizzed past Martin Thorne as he was taking photographs of a number of tagged seals (animals which have been rescued and rehabilitated) in the Devil’s Kitchen.

Other sightings included 7 Fulmar on ledges in Jenny’s Cove, the Grey Heron again, 6 Gannet, a single Cormorant, 19 Oystercatcher, a Snipe, the female Sparrowhawk, 2 Water Rail, a Great Skua, 2 Woodpigeon, 2 Skylark, 2 Sand Martin, 30 Swallow, 10 House Martin, 2 Blackcap, 5 Goldcrest, 3 Blackbird, 5 Robin, 4 Stonechat, 1 Wheatear, 46 Meadow Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 8 Goldfinch and 20 Linnet.

The wind and waves pile into Jenny's Cove on a stormy afternoon, 7 Oct © Dean Jones

Tuesday 8th October

Breezy westerlies again this morning picking up to a strong wind by the afternoon. Lots of lovely sunny weather and scattered clouds today with only one or two brief showers in the late morning.

Highlights included the second Treecreeper of the autumn in Millcombe and the re-appearance of the young Dotterel, this time around the Quarry Cottages.

Juvenile Dotterel, Quarry Cottages, 8 Oct © Ester Spears

Other sightings included the long-staying Grey Heron, 20 Gannet, 2 Cormorant, 2 Sparrowhawk, a Water Rail, 16 Kittiwake, 10 Woodpigeon, 2 Skylark, 80 Swallow, 10 House Martin, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 10 Goldcrest, 2 Blackbird, 6 Robin, 2 Stonechat, 2 Wheatear, 2 Pied Wagtail, 50 Meadow Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 8 Goldfinch and single Linnet.

Report composed of sightings from Zoë Barton, Paul Bullock, Darrin Dowding, Ken Ebsworthy, Jane Harding, Dean Jones, Ryan Miller, Dawn Murphy, Grant Sherman and Martin Thorne.

Saturday 5 October 2019

1st to 4th Oct – Stiff winds, a red dawn and birds aplenty

 Lundy Warden Dean Jones sends the latest roundup of bird and other wildlife news.

Tuesday 1st October

Stiff westerly winds during the morning with a switch to strong southerlies in the afternoon; generally overcast, with the occasional shower, particularly in the early morning and late evening.

Highlights include a Clouded Yellow butterfly found by Andrew Cleave in Millcombe just before he boarded the Oldenburg and a Snow Bunting over the Village in mid-morning.

Other sightings include 2 Teal, a calling Water Rail, 2 Golden Plover, a single Cormorant, 43 Shag, the long-staying Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 110 Kittiwake, 2 Guillemot, 12 Razorbill, 6 Woodpigeon, 2 Kestrel, 13 Skylark, 70 Swallow, 20 House Martin, a Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 32 Goldcrest, 4 Firecrest, 4 Blackbird, 11 Robin, 4 Stonechat, 4 Wheatear, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 63 Meadow Pipit, 18 Chaffinch, 7 Goldfinch and 6 Linnet.

Wednesday 2nd October

A beautifully clear but very chilly morning turning overcast in the afternoon. Winds remained strong throughout the day from the north-east, dropping to a slight westerly breeze in the late evening.

Despite the cold and blustery start, Meadow Pipit (272), Swallow (127) and Skylark (27) were all passing in moderate numbers throughout the day. The title of star bird however went to the long-staying juvenile Common Rosefinch which was seen feeding on a bounty of blackberries in Millcombe in the late afternoon (with its shiny new leg accessory compliments of Chris Dee – photo below). Additional to this, another Snow Bunting was seen/heard over John o’Groats House shortly after noon.

Other birds logged include a calling Water Rail, 2 Golden Plover, 9 Oystercatcher at North End, a Snipe in South West Field, 23 Shag, the Grey Heron in Lamentry Bay, a male and female Sparrowhawk, 14 Great Black-backed Gull, 20 Herring Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 8 auk spp, 3 Woodpigeon, a Kestrel, a young Merlin in Gannets' Combe, 14 House Martin, 14 Chiffchaff, 15 Blackcap, 31 Goldcrest, 3 Firecrest, 3 Blackbird, 15 Robin, 6 Stonechat, 3 Wheatear, 4 Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 16 Goldfinch and 52 Linnet.

Thursday 3rd October

Red sky at dawn, 3rd Oct © Dean Jones

Today started off in a blaze with what was probably one of the best sunrises of the autumn so far. However, as the old saying goes – red sky in the morning, shepherds' warning – this stunning light display was a warning of foul weather to come. Shortly after leaving my cosy abode to get ready for an early 'splash-and-dash' ship (no day-trippers), I was immediately met with some very strong southerly winds, and after a short potter through the somewhat sheltered Millcombe Valley, it was evident that there had been a mass exodus of birds from the island in the calm overnight conditions. The best of the bunch from what was a very difficult and very wet afternoon of birding included: 2 Firecrest, a Pied Flycatcher in St Helen’s Copse sheltering from the rough weather, and a handful of Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and Swallow.

Further high points between the rains include a Hummingbird Hawk-moth feeding from the Valerian in the Secret Garden and a stunning Pale Tussock caterpillar, which landed on my shoulder in Quarter Wall Copse whilst I failed miserably at trying to differentiate hundreds of falling leaves from possible flitting Yank vagrants within a very windswept canopy.

Friday 4th October

Today was a bit of a write-off, with the winds picking up again as the tail-end of Storm Lorenzo met with the South West. There was very little in the way of shelter anywhere on the island despite the wind's westerly orientation – consequently resulting in another very quiet day on the bird front on Lundy.

There was some action out at sea however, with modest numbers of Kittiwake and Gannet navigating the often colossal swell off Rat Island. Present also were 2 Manx Shearwater in the afternoon, a single Arctic Skua and a lone Harbour Porpoise.

Report composed from sightings by Chris & Carol Baillee, Dean Jones, Alan & Sandra Rowland and Alex Sydenham.

Sparrowhawk, 1st Oct © Alex Sydenham

Common Rosefinch, Millcombe, 2nd Oct © Dean Jones

Pale Tussock caterpillar, Quarter Wall, 3rd Oct © Dean Jones

Pied Flycatcher, St Helen's Copse, 3rd Oct © Dean Jones

Thursday 3 October 2019

28th Sep to 1st Oct – Long-stayers, passers-by and butterflies

Chris & Carol Baillie summarise their recent short stay on Lundy:

Dominated by south-westerlies, birds were mostly on the move during brief lulls and short clear spells. Perhaps aided by the autumn exodus of gulls, a long-staying Grey Heron worked the low tides around Rat Island, Lametry and the southern East Side, and the high tides around the island's ponds. Two Teal remained on Pondsbury, Water Rail were heard daily in lower Millcombe and two Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk were routinely noted, mostly on the East side.

Four (possibly more) Firecrests graced the parties of Goldcrests which were driven to creative wet-weather foraging. A Spotted Flycatcher worked Millcombe on the last and first days of the months, and a Pied Flycatcher chose the quieter air at Quarry Pond on 1st Oct. Swallows and House Martins passed through in modest numbers during breaks in the wind and rain, as did small groups of Meadow Pipits and Chaffinches and a few Wheatears. Stonechats seemed to keep drifting through, with 7 noted on 29th Sep. Blackcaps were mostly hunkered down with a maximum count of 23 on 30th Sep, while a handful of Chiffchaffs and a single Willow Warbler brightened up the first day of October.

29th Sep saw an afternoon build up of Kittiwakes (229 in the main flock) in the Roads [off Lundy's East Side] and this number remained during the rest of the period. A Bonxie passed on the same day.

1st Oct brought a good dose of sunshine and much-reduced wind with a fair amount of north in it for much of the day. This brought out the butterflies, including Painted Lady, Small Copper, Peacock, Small White and Red Admiral, and led to a gentle 'vis mig' of common migrant birds to round off a brief but memorable stay.

Wednesday 2 October 2019

24th to 30th Sep – Birds, seal pups, a fungus foray and a 50th Anniversary celebration

Tuesday 24th September

A day of strong south-westerly winds and frequent showers made for tricky birding conditions. The birding highlight of the day came in the form of a Treecreeper which was found by Mike Jackson in Millcombe Wood in the afternoon.

Other sightings of note include a Grey Heron, a female Sparrowhawk, a Water Rail, 3 Woodpigeon, 60 Swallow, 3 Chiffchaff, 20 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat, 20 Goldcrest, 4 Robin, 5 Stonechat, a Grey Wagtail, 30 Meadow Pipit, 5 Chaffinch, 5 Goldfinch and 9 Linnet.

Wednesday 25th September

The theme of strong south-westerlies and periodic squalls continued on from yesterday. Highlights include the continued presence of the Treecreeper in Millcombe and a stunning male Common Rosefinch, which ended up in the shelf of Chris Dee’s mist-net – possibly the same bird seen in the Valley on 22nd.

Other birds of note include 2 Teal on Pondsbury, a Water Rail, a Snipe at Brick Field Pond, 4 Woodpigeon, just one Skylark, 50 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 2 Chiffchaff, 20 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 25 Goldcrest, 3 Firecrest, 10 Robin, 2 Wheatear, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 2 alba wagtails, 103 Meadow Pipit, 4 Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 6 Goldfinch and 13 Linnet.

Thursday 26th September

More strong winds and rain! Unfortunately there was no further sign of the Treecreeper though a juvenile Common Rosefinch – perhaps the same bird as on the 21st – made a brief appearance in Millcombe at around 08:15.

Other sightings include the Grey Heron, a Sparrowhawk, a Water Rail, a flyover Golden Plover, 5 Woodpigeon, a Kestrel, 3 Skylark, 25 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 3 Chiffchaff, 15 Blackcap, 15 Goldcrest, 2 Firecrest, 7 Robin, 1 Stonechat, a Wheatear, 325 Meadow Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 6 Goldfinch and 95 Linnet.

Friday 27th September

Today saw a shift in the strong winds from south-westerlies to due west and the continued presence of heavy showers throughout the day. The bird of the day came in the form of a young Red-breasted Merganser, which spent most of the late afternoon paddling around the Landing Bay. This is only the 10th record of this superb saw-billed duck for Lundy, a fantastic find! Also present was the first Snow Bunting of the year, photographed along the main track roughly halfway up the island.

Other sightings include the Grey Heron, a female Sparrowhawk, 7 Woodpigeon, 10 Swallow, 2 Chiffchaff, 10 Blackcap, 10 Goldcrest, 1 Firecrest, 2 Robin, 3 Chaffinch, 6 Goldfinch and 11 Linnet.

On the non-avian front, today brought a mass relocation of Atlantic Grey Seal pups, presumably from more cryptic and hostile areas of the island, into the sheltered Landing Bay. Here a total of 7 white-coat pups (6 large pups and a young’un) and 2 weaners managed to escape the strong winds, hefty swell and high spring tides, to the delight of numerous visitors on the island. So far this season the conservation team has managed to find a grand total of 30 pups (already up on 2018's total of 27), though we expect to find a few more in the upcoming weeks.

Grey Seal pup, Landing Bay © Dean Jones

Today also saw a very special event on the island: the first of the annual Fungi Forays! Here, 30 visitors turned up to learn about all things Lundy fungi from the mushroom legends Professor John Hedger and Mandy Dee, and to try their hands at finding specimens across High Street fields and Quarter Wall. All in all, despite the constant battering of strong winds and it being rather early in the season for some emerging fungal fruiting bodies, it was a spectacular morning of exploration, the team manging to find a total of 30 fungal species in two hours, including some stunning specimens of Goblet Waxcap, Azure Pinkgill, Sphagnum Brownie and a pristine example of the beautiful Petticoat Mottlegill.

Saturday 28th September

The strong westerly winds continued, shifting to southerly in the evening. Luckily it stayed dry for most, though turned very wet from about 16:30 onwards.

Sightings include the Grey Heron, a Sparrowhawk, a Water Rail, 2 flyover Golden Plover, 7 Woodpigeon, 2 Kittiwake, 5 Skylark, 43 Swallow, 3 Chiffchaff, 5 Blackcap, 9 Goldcrest, 2 Firecrest, 8 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 2 White Wagtails at Paradise Row, 10 Chaffinch and Goldfinch.

Sunday 29th September

A very wet start to the day gave way to some lovely sunshine by late morning, with strong west/south-west winds throughout.

Today marked a very special day for the island: the start of the Landmark Trust's new 50-year lease of the island from the National Trust. Supplementing this, 50 years ago on this day also marked the 50th anniversary of the original lease, which saw huge developments to the island to ensure its extraordinary character remained, as well as warranting the island accessibility for visitors, and that its rich history and wildlife, above and below the waves, was protected for future generations to enjoy.
Although the original plan for the day was to get a boatful of VIPs over for a day of festivities, Mother Nature had another plan, strong winds preventing our beloved Oldenburg from sailing. However, we managed to ferry a small fraction of the original guest list over via the island's helicopter service, and in spite of the blustery weather and reduced the numbers of visitors, the day turned out splendidly. Everyone who did manage to get over was treated to a lovely service in St Helen’s Church, some spectacular speeches by the island's General Manager and associated Directors, a free bar in the Square, and a knees-up in the Tavern with the Devon-based folk legends the Dambuskers.

Despite the lure of ever flowing prosecco and delightful desserts in the Wheelhouse, a small number of birders did manage to get out between events. By the afternoon the winds were well and truly battering through, which unsurprisingly made the birding up on the island somewhat tricky – thus the sea got most of the attention throughout the day.

Sightings from the Ugly between 15:30 and 17:15 included 3 adult Arctic Tern, an adult Common Tern, 5 distant ‘commic tern’, 3 Arctic Skua amongst good numbers of Kittiwake (229), Shag (23), Razorbill (231) and Gannet (30). The highlight however from this very exciting seawatch had to be the adult Pomarine Skua, which whipped in from the south in late afternoon to harass a number of Kittiwakes for their crop. In addition to this stunning bird, a first-winter Little Gull was also found and watched for around 30 minutes or so as it foraged between the swell in the bay – only the 7th record of this gorgeous little gull for the island.

Other sightings include 2 Teal, a calling Water Rail, a flyover Golden Plover, a Great Skua past Rat Island in the morning, the Grey Heron in the Landing Bay, 5 Woodpigeon, a Kestrel, 2 Skylark, 14 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 2 Chiffchaff, just 2 Blackcap, 5 Goldcrest, 5 Robin, 7 Stonechat, 1 Pied Wagtail, 130 Meadow Pipit, 2 Goldfinch, 29 Linnet and the Snow Bunting again along the main track.

Snow Bunting, High Street, 29th Sep © Alex Sydenham

Monday 30th September

Despite the very breezy south-westerly winds, an overcast sky and frequent downpours, today was surprisingly very good for passage. Meadow Pipits put on quite the show with at least 476 birds passing the island between the bouts of rain. Today also saw the arrival of the first Redwing (6) of the year, perched upon the Barn roof within a flock of Starling, as well as the first decent arrival of Chaffinch (22) of the autumn. Also present was a second Snow Bunting (this time a male), joining the female bird who has been on the island since Friday 27th, both along the main track.

Blackcap (41) and Goldcrest (51) also made landfall, mostly in the island's sheltered bays, copses and valleys, in the calmer and clear overnight conditions.

Other sightings include a calling Water Rail, a Sparrowhawk, the Grey Heron in the Landing Bay, 13 Kittiwake, 19 Great Black-backed Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Guillemot, 32 Razorbill, 4 Woodpigeon, 2 Kestrel, 9 Skylark, 6 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 6 Chiffchaff, a lone Willow Warbler, a single Firecrest, the first Song Thrush of the autumn, a Spotted Flycatcher in Millcombe, 9 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 5 Wheatear, 1 Pied Wagtail, 3 alba wagtails, 11 Goldfinch,  50 Linnet.

Report composed of sightings from Derek Baggott, Chris & Carol Baillee, Zoë Barton, Richard Breese, Andrew Cleave, Chris & Mandy Dee, Simon Dell, Mike Jackson, Dean Jones, Bob Medland, Claire Mitchell, Ben Rousseau, Alan & Sandra Rowland and Joanne Wilby.