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Tuesday 26 November 2019

18th to 24th Nov

Monday 18th to Sunday 24th November

A round-up of the last week's sightings from Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones:

Wet and windy has been the theme of the week with strong southerly and easterly winds for the most part, accompanied by frequent showers, mist and/or prolonged heavy downpours. There have been one or two really nice periods between the squalls, however, that have allowed for some decent birding, a trickle of migrants and the appearance of some scarce and rather surprising Lundy birds.

The most unexpected bird from this period came in the form of a very late Barn Swallow, a bird which was seen whizzing through the Village, dodging unfurled mist-nets, by Sparrow Researchers Lucy Winder and Jamie Dunning during the late morning of the 24th.

Snow Buntings have also been recorded throughout this period – all single birds apart from a very obliging pair on High Street track on the 24th.

Snow Buntings, High Street track 24 Nov © Dean Jones
Snow Bunting bathing in puddle on High Street track © Dean Jones
Snow Buntings, High Street track 24 Nov © Dean Jones

Chaffinches are still pushing through too in lulls in the wind – mostly in small numbers. There was, however, a decent late-autumn passage of 184 birds heading south on the morning of the 24th.

This week has also seen a number of late Manx Shearwater with three recorded on the 19th, one on the 20th and four on the 24th, all from the east coast of the island.

The last of these dates also saw a mass feeding frenzy of seabirds offshore from the Landing Bay in the first few hours of daylight – here a spectacular 327 Gannet were seen dive-bombing multiple shoals of bait-fish accompanied by three Shags, 626 Kittiwake, three Black-headed Gull, two Common Gull, two Mediterranean Gull, eight Great Black-backed Gull, 224 Herring Gull, four Lesser Black-backed Gull, two Great Skua and 186 auks.

Other notable sea-bird sightings from the period include addirtional Common Gulls (two on the 19th, six on the 20th, two on the 23rd), Mediterranean Gulls (two on the 19th and 24th, one on the 20th and 23rd) and a Great Skua on the 19th.

Further observations of note included: two Teal on the 21st and 3 on the 24th, two Water Rail on the 18th and singles on the 19th, 21st and 24th, 44 Fulmar on ledges in Jenny’s Cove on the 24th, a Sparrowhawk near St Helen’s Copse on the 24th, singles of Woodcock near Tibbetts on the 19th and one in Jenny’s Cove on the 24th (flushed from behind the Cheeses), two Snipe on the 24th, a Woodpigeon in Millcombe on the 19th, a male Kestrel on three dates, a Merlin hunting Chaffinch over High Street Field on the 20th, two Skylark on the 18th, 2 Chiffchaff on the 24th, a male Blackcap on the 19th and 24th, a Firecrest on the 20th, up to seven Goldcrest each day, a small scattering of Blackbird (max 15 on the 24th, Fieldfare (max 3 on the 22nd) and Redwing (max 27 on the 22nd), a single Mistle Thrush on the 22nd, Stonechat (max 4 on the 24th), up to three Meadow Pipit on some days, a lady Brambling at Sue’s feeder since the 22nd, a Greenfinch on the 20th, a Linnet on the 24th and up to four Goldfinch daily.

Monday 18 November 2019

11th to 17th Nov – Typical late-autumn migrants...and a lurking Cetti's Warbler

Monday 11th November

A driech aul day throughout composed of very strong NNW winds all day (perfect conditions for a helicopter ride), chilly temperatures and sporadic showers throughout.

Not much to shout about bird wise unfortunately, though a Kestrel, two Skylark, a Chiffchaff calling from the Laundry Garden Privet, a Goldcrest, and a smattering of thrushes and finches made it into the LFS logbook by the evening.

Tuesday 12th November

Yet another wild day of downpours and strong north westerlies. Highlights from this difficult day of birding comprised the appearance of a female Wigeon on Pondsbury and a total of six Manx Shearwaters past the island through the day.

Other sightings included four Mallard, seven Teal, at least 100 Fulmar off the West Coast, 20 Gannet, two Woodcock, one Guillemot, a Chiffchaff, three Redwing and four Stonechat.  

Wednesday 13th November

A gentler day today wind-wise though rather sporadic in its direction – swinging from the north to south west in the morning, back again by the afternoon and then north easterly in the evening. A few odd showers also occurred in the afternoon but all in all, a much nicer day than yesterday!

Birds of the day were the female Wigeon again – tucked away on the western side of Pondsbury – and a single Snow Bunting feeding in Tillage Field.

Other birds included: four Mallard, six Teal, two Woodcock, two Snipe enjoying the new Ackland's Moor marsh, 20 Herring Gull, two Merlin whirling together over Millcombe, a single Skylark, nine Goldcrest, 14 Blackbird, four Fieldfare, two Song Thrush, 31 Redwing, 14 Robin, a Black Redstart, a Stonechat, ten each of Dunnock and Meadow Pipit, 193 Chaffinch, six Brambling, seven Siskin and seven Linnet.

The seasonal wetland that forms near the water tanks in wet winters has filled up early this year... © Dean Jones

Redwing on the farmyard wall, Nov 2019 © Dean Jones

Thursday 14th November

A truly miserable day weather wise with strong and chilly north-easterlies coinciding with a constant deluge of rain throughout the day. Unsurprisingly due to these poor conditions, bird sightings were few and far between. The best of the bunch included a Sparrowhawk, two Stonechat, four Brambling and a Snow Bunting.

Friday 15th November

The strong and chilly north-easterlies continued though luckily dropped away somewhat by the afternoon. A rather quiet day bird wise with an adult Common Gull in the Landing Bay taking the crown of star bird for the day.

Other birds recorded included a single Teal, a Sparrowhawk, one Kestrel, four Skylark, five Blackbird, 11 Fieldfare, two Song Thrush, 17 Redwing, three Stonechat, a Pied Wagtail, three Meadow Pipit, 12 Brambling, four Linnet and a Snow Bunting

Song Thrush on Halfway Wall, Nov 2019 © Dean Jones

Saturday 16th November

The winds continued to drop away overnight leaving a very welcome breeze come the morning – conditions which encouraged a decent arrival of thrushes overnight. Thankfully the weather stayed like this for the daylight hours at least with the winds only picking up slightly from the west during the dark hours of the evening.

Highlights from today included a stunning Mistle Thrush, probing the now sodden earth in Barton’s Field in hope for a meal and a rather startling Cetti’s Warbler – flushed from the thick brambles above St Helen’s Copse on the Upper East Side Path in the afternoon (next to the stream). Unfortunately views of the little beauty were rather brief and therefore I did not manage to see whether the bird was ringed or not. Could this little sneak be the same Cetti’s as the one from October in Millcombe, hopefully it’ll show itself again!

Other sightings included nine Mallard, two Oystercatcher, a single Snipe, ten Great Black-backed Gull, 43 Herring Gull, a single Lesser Black-backed Gull, four Skylark, a male Blackcap in Millcombe, c300 Starling, 41 Blackbird, 29 Fieldfare, 24 Song Thrush, 64 Redwing, five Robin, three Stonechat, nine Dunnock, six Meadow Pipit, 15 Rock Pipit (most of which were feeding together next to the Earthquake), 26 Chaffinch, a fly-over Greenfinch and two Goldfinch.

Sunday 17th November

The day started off with a whirlwind of wing beats as a flock of around 900 Starling arrived together from the south to forage in Barton Field. The noise of these calling birds as they arrived to the island came very suddenly and was near deafening at times – so much so that it startled poor Bill (one of our Lundy Ponies) making him rear up on his hind legs and bolt across the field as the birds alighted at his hooves.

Part of the early-morning Starling influx to Barto Field on 17 Nov © Dean Jones

Weather-wise, the island was blessed again with some beautiful late-autumn conditions with next to no wind, warm sunny spells and zero precipitation.

Highlights from this glorious autumnal day included a Cetti’s Warbler, this time calling from the vegetation in Millcombe Pond. A beautiful ringtail Hen Harrier – looking for a meal along Pyramid Slope, two Mistle Thrush upon the Sycamores in Millcombe first thing, a Firecrest in North Wood, 5 Reed Bunting (three together at Quarter Wall Pond and two at Pondsbury) and two Snow Bunting – feeding on the track at the top of St John’s Valley.

Other birds of note were: ten Mallard, nine Teal on Pondsbury, five Fulmar (four of which were on ledges in Jenny’s Cove), three Shag, singles of Woodcock and Water Rail in Millcombe, two Oystercatcher, two Snipe, 56 Herring Gull, a male Kestrel with Starling in talons over Barton Field, a female Merlin at Tibbetts, three Skylark, a male Blackcap in Millcombe, eight Goldcrest, 40 Blackbird, 18 Fieldfare, 17 Song Thrush, 77 Redwing, three Robin, three Stonechat, seven Dunnock, five Meadow Pipit, six Rock Pipit, 64 Chaffinch, four Brambling, a Greenfinch, six Goldfinch and a Linnet.

Report composed of sightings from Zoe Barton, Mike Jones, Pete Lambden and Martin Thorne.

Monday 11 November 2019

10th Nov – Buntings & Bramblings

Sunday 10th November

Richard Campey reports a gloomy start to the day, with a small movement of thrushes and finches over Millcombe, including 19 Redwing, 16 Chaffinch, two Brambling and four Goldfinch. Out and about under clearing skies and increasing sunshine later in the day, Richard found: a Brambling in the High Street, two on the wall of Lighthouse Field and three more overhead; two Snow Buntings just to the west of the main track next to Tillage Field; a single Linnet near the pig sty; a Lapland Bunting calling in flight at Quarter Wall; a calling Golden Plover; a female Sparrowhawk off the East Side Path in the late afternoon; a male Blackcap at the top of Millcombe; and totals of six Stonechat and five Blackbird. Other visitors logged two Teal, two Gannet, plus a Buzzard being mobbed by Carrion Crows and a Peregrine at mid-day.

Sunday 10 November 2019

9th Nov – A quiet day

Richard Campey reports a quiet day birdwise, with blustery conditions limiting birding opportunities. His few sightings during the day comprised: a Snipe, five Goldcrests, two Chiffchaffs, a Redwing and a Song Thrush around the Terrace and Quarries; 11 Lesser Black-backed and 23 Herring Gulls on Pondsbury; and a Feral Pigeon and 18 Carrion Crows. Other visitors had logged six Redwings.

Saturday 9 November 2019

8th Nov – Lapland Bunting & Black Redstart

Friday 8th November

Richard Campey reports a "Beautiful day, with the wind dropping in the afternoon, but getting colder with a clear night following". Sightings included: a Lapland Bunting and three Fieldfares at Old Light; a male Black Redstart, a Stonechat and two Rock Pipits at Halfway Wall; two Goldcrests, a female Blackcap and a Redwing along the Terrace; the same or another Lapland Bunting on the path just south of Quarter Wall, with three more Stonechats in the same area; and a Linnet along the High Street. Totals logged included 2 Chiffchaffs (one if which was in the Tavern garden), 5 Stonechats, 30 Redwings, 4 Fieldfares, a Song Thrush and 372 Starlings.

Additional observers Mandy Dee and John Hedger.

Afternoon sun on the newly renovated Brambles Pond © Richard Campey

Old Light is also getting attention, but a Lapland Bunting here was more diverting still... © Richard Campey

Friday 8 November 2019

6th Nov – Whooper Swans on Pondsbury

Wednesday 6th November

Two Whooper Swans were seen on Pondsbury, then in Lighthouse Field. There were also three Snow Buntings near the Rocket Pole. Continuing passage of Chaffinches and Starlings gave totals of 216 and 425 respectively. Other notable sightings included single Woodcock, Snipe and Merlin, small numbers of passage thrushes (15 Blackbird, 24 Redwing, 4 Fieldfare), six Goldcrest and a female Blackcap.

Record shot of adult Whooper Swans on Pondsbury, 6 Nov © Alan Rowland

Report compiled from observations by Chris & Mandy Dee and Alan & Sandra Rowland.

Sunday 3 November 2019

2nd & 3rd Nov – Hatches battened down...but Swallows battle through

Chris & Carol Baillie, have had a rather quiet time (bird-wise, at least...) on a storm-bound island, with their departure delayed by weather for two days.

Saturday 2nd November

"Strong westerlies have limited bird activity. Of note were two Swallows past Millcombe, a Firecrest and the on-staying Chiffchaff, Sparrowhawk and Merlin."

Sunday 3rd November

"Two Swallow, three overhead Skylark and a few Chaffinches on the move. Firecrest and Chiffchaff and five Goldcrests in Millcombe. Sea quiet."

Friday 1 November 2019

1st Nov – Cetti’s Warbler reappears and seabirds on the move

Friday 1st November

The new month brought some murky conditions, but good birding as Chris & Carol Baillie relate:

"Overnight the winds calmed and moved south and south-southwest bringing fog to the plateau most of the day. Many Chaffinches and some Fieldfare and Redwing headed early into the mist. The Cetti’s Warbler reappeared in the same place it was first seen almost three weeks ago. The two Firecrests remained together with a Chiffchaff and (at least) six Blackcap. Six Teal were on Pondsbury. Feature of the day was a morning passage of seabirds passing Rat Island from the east and east-north-east. This was noticed shortly before 08.00 and involved more than a thousand auk sp. (estimating at least 700 being Guillemots), 750 Kittiwakes, and 40 Gannets. Noticeable was the presence of all Gannet age groups, the last nine days having featured nearly all adults. The passage stopped fairly abruptly, though some birds remained a while to feed off Surf Point. The direction of passage is notable as recent winds have also been easterly."

30th & 31st Oct – Easterly gales relent, migration resumes

Chris & Carol Baillie emerge from a gale-lashed Little St. John's...

Thursday 31st October

After two days of easterly gales the wind eased overnight and some modest movements of Chaffinch, Starling and Fieldfares was noticeable. Two each of Firecrest, Brambling and Chiffchaff, and singles of Golden Plover, Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Kestrel and Song Thrush. Seven Stonechat.