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Thursday 31 December 2020

A Happy New Year to all Lundy birders

No doubt we will all be glad to see the back of 2020, but there's no doubt that it was another remarkable year for birds on Lundy, whether resident and migrant breeders, those stopping off to rest and feed up, or others just passing through. While Killdeer and Sora Rail were new species for the island (both still subject to acceptance by the British Birds Rarities Committee), others such as the long-staying White's Thrush and the island's first White-tailed Eagle in 140 years brought much excitement and regularly kept Lundy at the forefront of online news on BirdGuides and Rare Bird Alert.

Now begins the annual task of writing up the birding year for publication in the Lundy Field Society Annual Report and the Devon Bird Report. To everyone who filled in record sheets and handed them to Warden Dean Jones for inclusion in the LFS logbook, or emailed records and photos to the island's bird recorders, Tim Jones and Tim Davis, a huge thank you. 

May 2021 bring better times for all of us – and many more wonderful birding days on Lundy.

Martin Thorne captured this Lundy sunset behind Old Light during his recent week-long stay on the island.
Storm Petrels
Ever wondered where Lundy's growing number of breeding 'Stormies' go to gather food for their young? A four-year tracking study by Mark Bolton of breeding Storm Petrels in the UK's largest colony on Shetland has shown some intriguing results: rather than flying west to forage at the edge of the continental shelf, where boat surveys in past decades recorded high concentrations, birds were keeping to shallower waters to the south-east, though covering unexpectedly long distances, with feeding trips (of up to three days) averaging 159km from the colony. There's a nice non-technical summary here: https://community.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/b/biodiversity/posts/gps-tracking-reveals-new-insights-into-the-foraging-areas-of-the-atlantic-s-smallest seabird

Wouldn't it be amazing to find out where 'our' Stormies from the North Light colony go to feed? Surveys of Manx Shearwaters using data-loggers over a five-year period (2008-2012) and conducted by a team from the Zoology Department of Oxford University revealed the differing between-year foraging behaviour of Lundy's nesting shearwaters. Hopefully it won't be too long before we know more about the movements of their diminutive cousins.

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Additions for 7th to 14th Dec – A serendipitous ‘first’ for Lundy: not one but THREE Great White Egrets!

This post includes additional records from Martin Thorne for the period 7th to 14th Dec and should be read together with the previous post, from Dean Jones, covering sightings for 4th to 19th Dec.
On discovering that the Radio Room was available for a week following a cancellation, Martin Thorne grabbed the opportunity for a pre-Christmas break on the island. Here’s his summary, including an encounter with not one but three Great White Egrets – a new species for Lundy’s burgeoning bird list!

“My week started with a skua harassing Kittiwakes off the Landing Bay on 7th. It looked very much like a juvenile Herring Gull but had the distinctive raised wings of a skua but with no noticeable wing barring – a shame I didn't have my 25x100 binoculars handy as I feel certain it was a Pomarine (certainly the most likely skua species to occur in SW waters this late in the year – eds). The following day a Mediterranean Gull off the Jetty was showing an interest in a Grey Mullet dying of a severe infestation of gill parasites (see photo). Later on I saw a Yellow-browed Warbler feeding around the gateway opposite the Shop. On Wednesday a white-winged gull flew over the Airfield, possibly a Glaucous though it looked rather small. Looking through the gulls again on Thursday, I picked out one or more adult Yellow-legged Gulls. On Saturday there were two immature Glaucous Gulls, one white, one very brown (see photo). I would say from the markings on its head the latter was the same bird that turned up on Monkstone Beach, Pembrokeshire, due north of Lundy, on 14th Dec (see https://pembsbirds.blogspot.com/). The same day I made it up to the North End. It was very quiet bird-wise, with six Snipe around Pondsbury and just three Gannets off North End. On Sunday I noted well in excess of 450 gulls, split into roughly four flocks.
First-winter Mediterranean Gull off the Jetty, 8th Dec © Martin Thorne

An immature Glaucous Gull stands out among a gull flock...

... and also in flight, 12th Dec © Martin Thorne
On most days there were two or more Black Redstarts, four Stonechats and a Chiffchaff in Millcombe, a single Great Northern Diver off the East Side, and a Woodcock in and around St John's Valley at dusk. Standing outside the Radio Room at one point, a stone bounced off the roof and hit the ground hard. On closer inspection I realised it was a gastrolith, or gizzard stone, consisting of a piece of tarmac – no doubt purged by some high flying gull. 

Black Redstart © Martin Thorne
Chiffchaff, Millcombe © Martin Thorne
Undoubtedly the high point of my stay came on 8th when, from below the South Light, I saw what I first thought were three Cattle Egrets approaching from the west. As they loomed into view I became aware of their much larger size, brilliant white plumage, dark legs, yellow bill and rather heron-like cranked neck posture – three Great White Egrets (which I later learned from the two Tims were new for Lundy!). Without stopping, they headed away east toward the mainland. Oh, and I mustn’t forget also two speedy Teal at dusk!
The first Great White Egrets to be recorded in Lundy's rich ornithological history fly in from the west past South End...

...and head on eastwards towards the mainland, 8th Dec © Martin Thorne

Teal zooming along at dusk over Brick Field Pond, 8th Dec © Martin Thorne
Non-avian sightings included a superb stag Sika Deer in Middle Park, and a Grey Seal emerging from kelp and various bits of 'human' waste along the East Side."
Stag Sika Deer, Middle Park © Martin Thorne

A Grey Seal noses its way to the surface through kelp and various bits of plastic and nylon cord © Martin Thorne
Congratulations Martin on your serendipitous ‘first’ for Lundy, and nicely captured on camera for posterity!

Saturday 19 December 2020

4th to 19th Dec – Partridge in Pear Tree usurped by Glaucous Gull in Tillage Field

The Marisco Tavern is now draped in decorative garlands and sparkly tinsel, twinkling fairy lights illuminate the window of the General Stores, and more and more Christmas packages, ready for wrapping, are arriving on the bi-weekly helicopter service. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas on Lundy!
Other than mass festive decorating, Lundy staff have been keeping very busy with lots of other bits this period, including socially distanced training for the island's Coastguard and Fire Service teams, fixing leaky windows and repairing drystone walls, lots of digging to facilitate new drains around the Village, and cracking on with end-of-season reports and reviewing applications for next year’s volunteer positions.
Regarding the latter – if there are any bird brains out there who would like to contribute to the island's seabird, seal and migratory bird studies – we are now looking for a number of long-term volunteers to come and spend some time with us on the island during the 2021 season! If this is something you might be interested in, please pop over to the Lundy Landmark website to find out more:
2018 Volunteer Assistant Warden Caitlin surveying Kittiwakes in Aztec Bay © Dean Jones
Weather-wise, it has been a wet and windy affair – as you’d expect from the month of December. In fact, the island is now sodden due to several days of heavy rain, which has resulted in lots of puddles and pools forming in various spots, as well as the return of the temporary Ackland’s Moor Marsh which is currently filling up nicely, to the joy of the visiting gulls.

Ackland's Moor Marsh returns! © Dean Jones
With the late sunrises, early sunsets and heavy cloud cover, particularly in the mornings, it’s been a rather gloomy period but again, like the autumn, we have been spoiled with one or two beautiful 'red sky' mornings warning us of an approaching chill and foul weather to come.
Shepherd's Warning... December sunrise © Dean Jones
Unsurprisingly, being mid-December, the birding has been rather quiet on the island. Saying that though, there have been a few smashing birds to keep us going until the spring. Highlights included a juvenile Glaucous Gull roosting in various in-fields throughout the day of the 11th – a bird that allowed some superb views, particularly in Tillage Field in the afternoon.

What a beast! What a bill! Juvenile Glaucous Gull, Tillage Field, 12 Dec © Dean Jones
Other highlights included a stunning Purple Sandpiper which was photographed by visitor Jonny Morgan up on top of the island along the west on the 11th, a lone Snow Bunting sheltering from the strong winds on the Main Track by Quarter Wall on the 6th, two late Manx Shearwater were foraging offshore along the east on the 11th and 16th, as well as the odd Mediterranean and Common Gull on the 7th. Finally, a Great Northern Diver was in the Landing Bay on the 17th and a single Firecrest and the lingering Coal Tit were seen and heard off and on in Millcombe at the start of the period.
Purple Sandpiper, West Side, 11 Dec © Jonny Morgan

Snow Bunting, Quarter Wall, 6 Dec © Dean Jones
With Christmas just around the corner, I would like to take this opportunity to say a massive 'thank you' to everyone who managed to visit and support Lundy this year and of course, all those who submitted any wildlife sightings whilst on the island. Thank you all so much! I hope everyone has enjoyed reading the blog this year as much as I’ve enjoyed writing parts of it (a huge thank you to Tim Davis and Tim Jones for managing the site). It really has been a stupendous year for Lundy birds with ever-increasing seabird numbers, some stonking rarities like Killdeer, Bridled Tern, Sora Rail, White-tailed Eagle and White’s Thrush and of course, like always, all the amazing birders, bird ringers, researchers and general wildlife enthusiasts who managed to get over to the island this year!

The Conservation Team wishes you all a festive, love-filled Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Hope to see you all on the island during 2021!

All the very best,

Dean Woodfin Jones

We'd like to send our own festive greetings to all readers of the blog – we know that there are a lot of you out there! We'd especially like to thank Dean for his heroic efforts in keeping up the flow of bird and other wildlife news from Lundy throughout the trials and tribulations of 2020, enabling all of us to share in the reassuringly familiar rhythms of nature's calendar on our favourite island, even when we haven't been able to visit in person. Merry Christmas and all the best for a happy, healthy, peaceful and bird-filled year ahead.

Tim & Tim

Here are just a few of the birding highlights from the last 12 months...
A total of three Golden Oriole graced the island this spring © Dean Jones
As did this beautiful female Rustic Bunting, Millcombe, 10 May © Dean Jones

It was a fantastic year for Storm Petrel ringing at North End, here on 16 Jul © Dean Jones

Sora, 12 Sep – one of the more unorthodox of Lundy's many 'firsts' © Dean Jones

The long-staying White's Thrush was ringed on 9 Oct © Dean Jones

Lundy's first White-tailed Eagle for 140 years graced the island on 16 Oct © Tim Jones

Friday 4 December 2020

23 Nov to 3 Dec – A flurry of Siberian Chiffchaffs and a very late Swallow

After a breezy and chilly day on the 23rd, the rest of the month of November was blessed with some very pleasant and tranquil weather for most, accompanied by a number of truly awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets and, of course, a small trickle of migrants. Despite the sunny and clear days, the winter woollies have finally been hoaked out of storage as the temperature dropped throughout this period – with wind chill it’s felt close to 0°C some mornings and evenings – particularly on 1st December when the wind picked up to a stiff northerly throughout the afternoon. It has also been a relatively dry period with only a few squalls and spells of drizzle to top up the puddles and pools up on the plateau.
One of the many glorious sunrises over the Village this November, 24th Nov © Dean Jones

Avian highlights from the week included the female Goosander for her second day on Rocket Pole Pond – but there was no sign of her on the 24th – as well as a small flurry of Siberian Chiffchaffs on the 26th (four birds) across the island, and another vocal bird in Millcombe on 1st December. Furthermore, Black Redstarts are still moving through, with single birds on three dates and two together on the 25th up on the Marisco Tavern roof. Another star bird of the period was a stunning Great Northern Diver which spent three days scoffing various flatfish and rays close into the Landing Bay from the 25th.
Out at sea – due to the glorious, still conditions, seabirds have been feeding much further offshore throughout the majority of this period which made identifying any of the birds to species very difficult other than the more conspicuous adult Great Black-backed Gulls and Gannets (max 22 of the latter on the 30th). Currently there seems to be lots of food available for these birds offshore, particularly along the east coast, with some large concentrated gulls flocks on a number of dates, as well as a small pod of six Common Dolphin on the 25th and singles of Harbour Porpoise in the Southern Races on the 26th & 27th. Scarce gulls logged on days when birds were foraging much closer to shore include up to ten Common Gulls on three dates and a small number of adult Mediterranean Gulls (max six on the 27th).  

The calm before the Siberian Chiffchaff invasion, 26 Nov © Dean Jones

 One of the four Siberian Chiffchaffs, Millcombe, 26 Nov © Dean Jones
Up top, Common Snipe have been heard on a number of evenings flying over the Village. A search of the in-fields on the 1st revealed a decent count of 11 individuals, which would have been but a small proportion of birds around the island on this date. Woodcock too are still arriving and making use of the in-fields during the night, with three individuals sighted on the 1st and two on the 3rd. Other waders included singles of Golden Plover over on Village on the 30th and 1st, as well as the odd Oystercatcher calling from the east sidelands on a number of dates.
In Millcombe, up to three Water Rail have been screaming from the undergrowth most days and the Woodpigeon – which has been in the valley since 5th November – remained on the island until the 27th at least. Another bird which lingered was the male Sparrowhawk, seen daily in the valley up until the 28th – generally with an angry Carrion Crow or two in tow. Other raptors have included up to two female Peregrines on a number of dates, a single Kestrel on the 24th and a female/immature Merlin hunting Starlings in lower Lighthouse Field on the 28th and 29th.
The Millcombe Woodpigeon foraging in a clump of Lundy Cabbage, 25 Nov © Dean Jones
A portly Lundy Robin – one of the many island residents enjoying the beautiful late autumn weather, 28 Nov © Dean Jones
Passerines of note during the period were the long-staying hibernicus type Coal Tit – a bird which has been with us since 15th October. Additionally, there have been a few late Swallows – the most recent of which was on 30th November in lower Millcombe.
Other birds logged included single Blackcaps on the 26th and 30th, up to five Chiffchaffs (excluding the Siberian birds) on eight dates – among them a very pale and vocal abietinus type bird in Rüppell’s Quarry on the 26th. At least one Firecrest is still managing to find enough food in Millcombe each day, and small numbers of Goldcrest, Stonechat and Meadow Pipit have been trickling through the island, in addition to singles of Pied Wagtail (26th) and Grey Wagtail (30th).
More typical late November/early December migrant passerines like Blackbird, Song Thrush, Redwing and Fieldfare are also moving through in decent numbers on top of small numbers of Chaffinch (max 76 birds on the 26th), Goldfinch (max 11 on the 1st), singles of Siskin on the 26th, 30th and 1st, and up to six Linnet on three dates.
Report by Lundy Warden Dean Jones.
Sunset behind Old Light, 25 Nov © Dean Jones

Monday 30 November 2020

What the eagle did next...

As some readers will already have seen, the latest blog from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation is full of fascinating insights into the story of White-tailed Eagle 'G471' who graced Lundy with his presence (for we now know that G471 is a young male) on 16 October.
G471 left the Isle of Wight reintroduction area on 11 October and headed west along the south coast of mainland England, reaching east Devon on 13th. On 14th he flew steadily north-west, arriving on the north Cornish coast near Bude on 15th, the eve of his day-trip to Lundy. After leaving Lundy at around 13.00hrs on 16th, G471 crossed back to Hartland Point and roosted overnight in woodland near Clovelly, before spending two weeks in the upper Tamar valley, again close to Bude. On 4 November he flew further south-west, roosting close to Stithians and then overflying Penzance and on towards Land's End on 5th, before doing an about turn and roosting near Camborne on the night of 5th/6th. As of 10 November, G471 remained in Cornwall. All fingers and toes are firmly crossed for him and the other members of the "Class of 2020"!

Monday 23 November 2020

12th to 22nd Nov – An array of late migrants and Lundy's second Goosander

Dean Jones reports on the latest avian goings-on from 'Lundy in Lockdown' – including an unexpected encounter with a Goosander.

Damp and blustery has been the theme for the majority of this period, with strong winds for the most part (gusting between 38mph and 56mph) apart from a few mornings and afternoons where the winds dropped to a moderate westerly/south-westerly – conditions which allowed for some more comfortable birding and of course, a trickle of migrants. Sunday the 22nd, however, was a glorious late-autumn day with barely a breeze throughout, warmer temperatures, some decent passage first thing and lots of very welcome sunshine.
Small gatherings of Rock Pipits have now formed in sheltered parts of the south and west coasts, flocks of hungry Herring Gulls are chasing the Farmer daily as he puts down supplementary feed for the sheep, and avian migration has slowed to a trickle. Winter on Lundy is well and truly just around the corner! 

Despite the foul weather and time of the year, there have been some real birding gems to behold throughout this period, one of which was a very unexpected Red-throated Pipit (not a bird you’d expect to find in a force 6/7 westerly) over Millcombe shortly after 08:00hrs on the 13th. Luckily the bird was very vocal as it flew overhead which, permitted a few wind-battered recordings as it made its way over the valley towards the South End. If accepted this will be the 12th record of this species for the island, the previous occurrence being one on 27 October 2017.  

Another star bird of the period was a female Goosander fishing for Mirror Carp on Rocket Pole Pond on the 22nd. This was only the second record of this saw-billed duck for Lundy, the first seen 86 years ago by Felix Gade on the 17th December 1934. Thus, a true Lundy mega! 

Lundy's second Goosander in flight from Rocket Pole Pond, 22 Nov © Dean Jones
Additional highlights included a juvenile Glaucous Gull roosting within a flock of 24 Lesser Black-backed Gulls in Lower Lighthouse Field on the 15th, a Yellow-browed Warbler busily searching each and every epiphyte for a meal in Quarter Wall Copse on the 12th, singles of Snow Bunting on the 13th, 21st and 22nd, and a scattering of Black Redstart throughout (max four birds on the 22nd). 
Male Black Redstart on the roof of Old House South,
22 Nov © Dean Jones

Offshore, birds of note were a drake Common Scoter past Rat Island on the 12th and six birds (two drakes and four ducks) on the 22nd, a Great Northern Diver sheltering and foraging in the Landing Bay from the 12th to the 15th (with a second bird passing Rat Island on the 15th), a Great Skua present offshore along the east on the 12th, two Mediterranean Gulls on the 13th and seven on the 22nd, three Common Gulls on the 13th and four on the 19th, a single Manx Shearwater on the 15th, and small numbers of Gannet, Shag and Kittiwake (max 70 birds on the 18th) along with auks offshore each day. Fulmar and Guillemot too have been periodically visiting their breeding ledges along the West Side.  

Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay, 15 Nov © Dean Jones
Up on top of the island, sightings included up to four Water Rail in Millcombe, a freshly predated Woodcock on the Lower East Side Path on the 22nd, the hibernicus type Coal Tit for its sixth week, singles of late-occurring Swallows on 13th, 16th and 22nd, a Black-headed Gull roosting in Tillage Field on the 12th, the Millcombe Woodpigeon, which remained in the Valley throughout this period, and up to three Firecrest logged daily – along with a handful of Goldcrest and singles of Blackcap and Chiffchaff.

Furthermore, there have been singles of Sparrowhawk, Merlin and Kestrel terrorising the Starling flocks on a near daily basis, and small numbers of larks, thrushes and finches have continued to move south during the fairer weather – with Skylark logged most days (max 21 on the 22nd), Redwing on six days (max 21 on the 13th and 22nd), Fieldfare on three days (max 19 on the 13th) and small numbers of Chaffinch each day, with the exception of the 22nd when 68 flew south. 

Merlin taking a rest from chasing passage Starlings near Pondsbury, 21 Nov © Dean Jones
Small numbers of Blackbird, Song Thrush, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Stonechat, Goldfinch and Siskin have also been logged most days, as well as five Linnet on the 22nd and singles of Brambling on the 13th and 22nd. 

Female Teal sheltering from the winds on Barton Pond © John Lambert

Friday 20 November 2020

A November Hoopoe!

News came in a few days ago from Jonathan Williams of a Hoopoe that he and his wife Elizabeth were lucky enough to watch from the main window of Castle Cottage as the exotic avian visitor probed the short turf of Castle Parade during the late morning of 5th November. Jonathan writes: "My wife first noticed the bird and called me to see it as well. The most obvious features were the clearly delineated black and white stripes of its wings and back, its pinky/orange chest, neck and head, long, slightly downwardly curved beak and orange/pink & black spotted crest which was mainly in the ‘down’ position rather than ‘fanned’. It pecked at the grass and the stony margins of the 'walled garden' area for at least a minute and a half. With a flash of its black and white wings, it took off and flew over the back wall facing the South Lighthouse".
The great majority of Lundy Hoopoe records – as for Britain and Ireland in general – are in spring. This was only the seventh autumn record and by some way the latest ever, the others (in month order) being:
10 August 1967
28 August 1999
25-30 August 1967 (2 birds)
30 August 2004
15-17 September 1974
25 October 1981

Many thanks to Jonathan and Elizabeth for getting in touch; as the only ones to have seen the Hoopoe they have made an important contribution to the annals of Lundy bird recording!

Thursday 12 November 2020

1st to 11th Nov – Autumn moves on… with a Grey Seal surprise!

Dean Jones describes the happenings of the first eleven days of November, as autumn gradually moves towards winter.
1st November

A blustery start with the south-westerly winds becoming progressively stronger throughout the day (peak gusts of 57mph in mid-afternoon) – dry for most other than a few short-lived spells of drizzle in mid-afternoon.
A very tricky day's birding due to the strong winds. Sightings of note included five Teal on Pondsbury, a Water Rail in Millcombe, 12 Gannet, 266 Kittiwake off the east coast, a dark morph Arctic Skua, singles of Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, the Coal Tit for its 18th day (perhaps the bird will overwinter on the island), two Swallow, a Chiffchaff, four Blackcap, six Goldcrest, one Firecrest (ringed), two Redwing, seven Blackbird, one Song Thrush, 16 Meadow Pipit, 15 Rock Pipit (which included a group of 13 at the North End), a Grey Wagtail in Millcombe Pond, one Pied Wagtail, seven Goldfinch, four Chaffinch, and singles of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin
Song Thrush, St Helen's Copse, 1 Nov © Dean Jones

2nd November

A wet and very windy start to the day – thick mist and drizzle first thing coupled with winds from the north gusting over 60mph – the winds dropped away throughout the afternoon and into the evening which allowed for a small passage of Redwing over the Village (around two calls per minute before the rain set in).

Other than this brief spell of nocturnal passage, not much had changed on the island bird-wise compared to the previous day. The only real highlight from this stormy day was the reappearance of the female Bullfinch in Millcombe – her seventh day on the island.  

Other birds logged included two Water Rail, eight Oystercatcher in flight past White Beach, a Snipe, 55 Kittiwake, one Black-headed Gull in the Landing Bay, singles of Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, a lone Swallow, the Coal Tit, four Blackcap, two Goldcrest, the ringed Firecrest, two Stonechat, ten Meadow Pipit, four Chaffinch, and three Goldfinch.  

Non-avian sightings included a single Red Admiral on the wing in Millcombe.  

3rd November

Light showers, drizzle and moderate northerly winds throughout the early hours, picking up rapidly to gale force once again by 09:00hrs – a few squalls in the afternoon as the wind dropped away, falling light by the evening.

A bit more variety today, highlights being the female Bullfinch in Millcombe, a Great Skua past Rat Island shortly after 07:30hrs, a female/immature type Black Redstart on the Upper East Side Path, a Reed Bunting at Quarter Wall and a small arrival of Redwing (52) and Fieldfare (30).  

Blackcap too were making their way through the island in decent numbers for early November, with 32 logged throughout the day (18 of which were trapped and ringed by Chris Dee). The biggest surprise of the day however came in the form of a late Whitethroat in Millcombe – only the second occurrence of this species on Lundy in the month of November, the first being on 5th Nov 1959 (the latest autumn date recorded). 

Other birds logged included a Water Rail, 45 Kittiwake, a first-year Black-headed Gull in St Helen’s Field, singles of Kestrel, Merlin and Sparrowhawk, a lone Swallow, four Skylark, the Coal Tit, six Chiffchaff, three Goldcrest, the ringed Firecrest, 10 Blackbird, nine Song Thrush, five Stonechat, a Grey Wagtail, 15 Meadow Pipit, three Rock Pipit, 25 Chaffinch, a single Brambling, five Siskin, two Linnet and singles of Lesser Redpoll and Goldfinch.
Record shot of the Whitethroat in Millcombe, 3 Nov © Dean Jones

Black-headed Gull, St Helen's Field, 3 Nov © Andy Jayne
Non-avian sightings included a single Silver Y flushed form the bracken on the Lower East Side Path.   

4th November

At last a change in winds! Instead of the relentless westerly gales, today the island was blessed with clear skies and a slight north-easterly wind which allowed for some superb passage during the first few hours of daylight.

A glorious autumn sunrise from Millcombe, 4 Nov © Dean Jones

Chaffinches in particular were moving in very good numbers, with a conservative estimate of 950 birds logged throughout the day. Starlings too were present in large numbers, with some 4,000 logged overhead throughout the day – a count which included a single flock of around 3,000 birds out over the sea to the east in the early morning.

The title of star bird however went to a first-winter Iceland Gull which flew over Quarry Beach with two first-winter Herring Gulls in mid-afternoon. Additional highlights included a Woodlark (the fourth to be recorded this year) over Millcombe, a Lesser Whitethroat at Quarter Wall, a Garden Warbler trapped and ringed in Millcombe, a Lapland Bunting on Ackland’s Moor, a Reed Bunting at Pondsbury, a total of four Mistle Thrush, at least six Brambling and 10 Mediterranean Gulls offshore.
One of the hundreds of Chaffinch logged on the island in Millcombe, 4 Nov © Dean Jones
Other sightings of note were 12 Mallard, nine Teal, six Cormorant over the Village, a Grey Heron in the Landing Bay, two each of Water Rail and Snipe, a Collared Dove, a male Sparrowhawk, one Kestrel, a Merlin, four Guillemot, 14 Razorbill plus c.100 other distant auks, seven Kittiwake, three Common Gull, 176 Herring Gull, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 29 Skylark, four Swallow and House Martin, six Blackcap, two Chiffchaff, four Goldcrest, two Firecrest, the Coal Tit, 102 Redwing, 33 Blackbird, 22 Fieldfare, 24 Song Thrush, 15 Robin, eight Stonechat, 24 Meadow Pipit, twelve Rock Pipit, singles of Pied and Grey Wagtail, 18 Goldfinch, a Greenfinch, 10 Siskin, two Lesser Redpoll and two Linnet.
Mistle Thrush, Barton Field, 4 Nov © Dean Jones

Collared Dove in the morning light, Millcombe, 4 Nov © Dean Jones
Birds trapped and ringed by Chris Dee were two each of Blackbird, Song Thrush and Redwing, five Blackcap, the Garden Warbler and singles of Wren, Linnet and Chaffinch.  

5th November

Another spectacular late autumn day complete with clear skies, warm temperatures, a slight easterly wind and, of course, some superb visual migration!
Jenny's Cove on a glorious afternoon out west, 5 Nov © Dean Jones
Come dawn there was a steady arrival of birds, particularly Chaffinch (400) and Blackbird (128), some of which dropped into Millcombe for a quick rest whilst others passed high overhead and on towards the mainland. Redwing (234), Song Thrush (35) and Fieldfare (69) were also moving in decent numbers, and yet another huge flock of c.4,000 Starling was seen flying north over the Village shortly after dawn – a truly spectacular sight!

Additional highlights were a male Great Spotted Woodpecker making his way along the fence posts in Barton Field, a Lapland Bunting near Pondsbury, a single Ring Ouzel in with the Blackbirds first thing, at least seven Woodcock flushed in various places around the island throughout the morning, the female Bullfinch again in Millcombe, and two Reed Bunting south of Pondsbury.
One of the many Redwing logged today, Barton Field, 5 Nov © Dean Jones

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Barton Field, 5 Nov © Dean Jones
The title of star bird however went to a stunning ringtail Hen Harrier which was initially spotted over Quarter Wall by Andy Janye in mid-morning. The bird was then seen a few times throughout the afternoon up until dusk when it was quartering around Pondsbury looking for a cosy spot to roost.  

Other sightings of note included three Teal, two Snipe, a Merlin, two each of Water Rail, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, one Woodpigeon, three Common Gull, one Mediterranean Gull, 22 Skylark, four Swallow and House Martin, 11 Blackcap, one Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, two Firecrest, the Coal Tit, 4,750 Starling, 10 Robin, four Stonechat, 21 Meadow Pipit, five Pied Wagtail, one fly-over Grey Wagtail, five Brambling, 17 Goldfinch, four Lesser Redpoll and three Linnet.

Birds trapped and ringed were 33 Redwing , six Blackbird, seven Blackcap, one Lesser Redpoll, two Goldcrest and a Goldfinch.

6th November

A dry day with clear skies throughout and moderate easterly winds first thing, picking up to a strong and chilly east/south-east wind by noon – a sad day all-in-all as the island went into a second lockdown which will continue for a least four weeks.  

Despite the easterly winds there wasn’t much in the way of visual migration first thing other than a small number of thrushes, namely Redwing (66), Fieldfare (15), Song Thrush (10) and a handful of Blackbird.

A Lapwing on Ackland's Moor was a nice treat but disappointingly only the second to be recorded this year. Three Woodcock were also logged – two of which were trapped and ringed in St John’s Valley first thing. The male Great Spotted Woodpecker remained for his second day and a Mistle Thrush was logged in Millcombe in the morning.  

Other sightings were two Sparrowhawk, singles of Kestrel and Woodpigeon, 10 Kittiwake, one Mediterranean Gull, six Skylark, one Swallow, two Chiffchaff (including one pale abietinus type bird), two Goldcrest, one Firecrest, 13 Chaffinch, one Siskin and two each of Goldfinch and Linnet.

A Kestrel resting after a meal, Millcombe, 6 Nov © Dean Jones
Birds ringed included the two Woodcock, seven Redwing and a Blackbird.  

7th November

Strong east/south-east winds in the morning gradually dropped away throughout the day – clear with sunny spells for most of the morning – becoming overcast later in the day.  

A slightly quieter day with most of the birds hiding away from the stiff and chilly easterlies. Highlights included the Lapwing for its second day on Ackland's Moor, a single Woodcock in Millcombe and a nice scattering of Redwing (123) and Fieldfare (17) across the in-fields.
Additional sightings were the Millcombe Woodpigeon, singles of Kestrel, Merlin and Snipe, a single Chiffchaff, four Goldcrest and a lone Firecrest, the Coal Tit, 14 Blackbird, four Song Thrush, 140 Starling, three Stonechat, 30 Chaffinch and nine Goldfinch.    

Other excitement was news of three tagged Atlantic Grey Seals (animals that had been rescued, rehabilitated and released, each with a flipper tag) which were photographed on the island last year. Two were local animals which were picked up in Newquay, Cornwall and Dyfed, Wales and released in Cornwall and North Devon respectively after rehabilitation. The third seal however (orange flipper tag 083), photographed by both Dean Jones and Martin Thorne on the 27th Sep 2019 in the Devil’s Kitchen, had travelled much further. In fact, this animal was found injured and picked up in north-west France on 5th Mar 2016 and sent to the Océanopolis rehab centre in Brest, before being released in an area of Plouarzel on the 4th May 2016! Who knew that some of Lundy’s seals were coming from areas of mainland Europe? Incredible stuff! Special thanks to Kate Williams and the Cornwall Seal Group and Research Trust for sending on this amazing recovery. 
Orange taggie 083, photographed in the Devil's Kitchen (Landing Bay) on 27 Sep 2019

The origins of orange taggie 083
8th November

A day of light south/south-easterly winds which picked up to a stiff SE by the evening – low sea mist surrounded the island first thing, enveloping us for a short period around 09:00hrs before clearing but remaining overcast for the rest of the day.

Sightings from a lovely day of Lundy birding included 22 Gannet,  four Manx Shearwater offshore from the Landing Bay, three Golden Plover in Brick Field, two Lapwing together over Ackland's Moor, three Oystercatcher in the Devil’s Kitchen, two Woodcock, four Water Rail in Millcombe, 250 Kittiwake, eight Mediterranean Gulls, 15 Common Gull, 80 Herring Gulls, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a lone adult Black-headed Gull, 300 distant auks, the Millcombe Woodpigeon, singles of Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, one Skylark, 28 Redwing, 10 Blackbird, 28 Fieldfare, three Rock Pipit, two Blackcap, six Goldcrest, two Firecrest, the Coal Tit, four Stonechat, 72 Chaffinch, seven Goldfinch, two Siskin, a Lesser Redpoll, two Brambling, and a Reed Bunting next to the Old Hospital.    

Golden Plover in Brick Field, 8 Nov © Dean Jones
Non-avian sightings included six Portuguese Man o' War washed up in the Landing Bay.

9th November

Light/moderate south-easterly winds in the morning which swung around to the SW by late afternoon – a wet start to the day with numerous light showers and spells of drizzle – becoming dry but overcast in the afternoon.  

With a mass exodus of birds overnight, today's birding had a distinctly wintery feel to it, with only a handful of migrants logged. These included a female Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel, the Millcombe Woodpigeon, four Common Gull and an adult Mediterranean Gull offshore, 32 Kittiwake, just 11 Redwing, eight Blackbird, three Song Thrush, singles of Blackcap and Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, one Firecrest, the Coal Tit still, 38 Chaffinch, three Goldfinch and a Brambling.  

10th November

A beautiful November day with sunshine, clear skies and a light WSW wind for most – becoming overcast by mid-afternoon as the winds picked up.

An even quieter day with a further exodus of migrants overnight (no Redwing or Fieldfare on the island today). Not much of note bird-wise unfortunately, though the fine autumn weather more than made up for the lack of birds. Sightings included a Firecrest in Millcombe, a lone Common Gull offshore, 30 Chaffinch and a scattering of Goldcrest, Goldfinch and Siskin.  

11th  November

A day of strong southerly winds which reached gale force by mid-morning – overcast for the most part give or take a few brief sunny spells and a few bouts of rain in mid-afternoon.  
Due to the stormy weather not much in the way of birds up top, other than a handful of Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin and a Firecrest in Millcombe . Offshore however there was a bit more going on, with a Great Skua harassing good numbers of Kittiwake (180), 43 Gannet, two Mediterranean Gull, 110 Herring Gull, six Lesser Black-backed Gull, a single Common Gull and a handful of distant auks.   

Report composed of sightings from Chris & Mandy Dee, Rosie Ellis, Andy Jayne, Dean Jones, Saeed Rashid and Matt Stritch.