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This page is run by volunteer contributors as a source of news for everyone interested in the birds of Lundy, in the Bristol Channel, UK.
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See also the companion website The Birds of Lundy for comprehensive updates to the 2007 book of the same name.
Bird recording and ringing on Lundy are coordinated by the Lundy Field Society and general information about visiting the island can be found here.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

14th to 22nd Feb – A gathering of gulls scarce and rare...

It has been truly dreich on Lundy of late, particularly last weekend when Storm Dennis battered through, halting helicopter flights, flattening fences, whipping off roof tiles and preventing the shipping of well-needed fuel and provisions to the island. In fact, not much has changed since Dennis, with a constant flow of gale-force winds from the Atlantic following on since the weekend, along with periods of pelting rain and hail, thick mist and fog, and a wee bit of sunshine on Thursday afternoon.

Despite the nasty weather, it has been a superb period for the bold birders who have managed to get out and brave the storms. This is particularly so for rare and scarce gulls on the island, with a 3rd calendar year (2nd-winter) Yellow-legged Gull being found in Tillage Field on the 18th –  only the second record for the island following an adult bird in May 1999! This rather hefty gull stuck around for at least another day, being seen foraging around the edges of Ackland’s Moor Marsh on the 19th.

Yellow-legged Gull, Tillage Field, 18th Feb © Dean Jones
Yellow-legged Gull, Tillage Field, 18th Feb © Dean Jones
A gathering of gulls, Brick Field, 18th Feb © Dean Jones

A glorious 1st-winter Glaucous Gull was seen hunkering down from the gale-force winds next to Ackland’s Moor Marsh on the 20th where it stayed pretty much all day. Another bird, perhaps the same individual, was seen here again on the 22nd.

Glaucous Gull, Ackland's Moor Marsh, 20th Feb © Martin Thorne
Glaucous Gull, Ackland's Moor Marsh, 20th Feb © Dean Jones
Glaucous Gull, Ackland's Moor Marsh, 20th Feb © Dean Jones

The long-staying 1st-winter Little Gull was again seen foraging in the southern races with a small group of Kittiwakes on the 18th. The next day an adult Little Gull turned up in the Landing Bay, feeding with a small group of gulls below the Ugly. Both were seen close together on the 23rd in the Landing Bay and southern races. In addition, a 4th calendar year ‘Northern’ type Herring Gull (Larus argentatus argentatus) has been present on the island since 20th, mostly seen roosting on Miller’s Cake with other argenteus type Herring Gulls, Lesser Black-backs and a Kittiwake on the 22nd (see photo).

Adult Little Gull, Southern Races, 22nd Feb © DeanJones

'Northern' Herring Gull argentatus with Lesser Black-backed Gull,
Herring Gull and Kittiwake, Millers' Cake, 22nd Feb © Dean Jones

Up to four Purple Sandpipers have been resting around the Devil’s Kitchen area and the Beach Building at high tide on two dates within this period, and nearby up to three Red-throated and six Great Northern Divers have been feeding/sheltering off Rat Island and in the lee of the east coast.

Purple Sandpiper, Rat Island © Martin Thorne
Great Northern Diver, Jetty, 22nd Feb © Dean Jones

Other notable sightings include a female Peregrine stuffing her face with beakfuls of drake Mallard in Barton Field on the 22nd, 16 Teal on Pondsbury on the 20th, an adult Common Gull off Rat Island on the 22nd and a Water Rail on the outside doormat of the Warden’s house on the night of the 17th.

A trickle of brave Meadow Pipit have started to make their way north, with 16 birds seen flittering through the storms on the east coast during the morning of the 21st. Up to four Pied Wagtails have been sheltering from the storms behind the pig enclosures too, and nearby some nice flocks of Skylark have been busily foraging between the tussocks in both High Street and Brick Fields most days (peak count 42 on the 20th). Other passerines include two Song Thrush on the 20th, a Stonechat on the 18th, the lonely Goldcrest, a male and female Chaffinch and a single Goldfinch.

Report composed of sightings from Dean Jones and Martin Thorne.

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