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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

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