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Monday 20 April 2020

17th to 20th Apr – More 'firsts' for the year, including Cuckoo & Swift

17th April

A day of strong easterly winds, frequent showers – particularly in the late morning – and a few spells of heavy rain. The first drop of rain in nearly four weeks!

Unsurprisingly, due to the poor weather conditions, it was a rather quiet day on the Lundy bird front. There was very little shelter for anything along the east coast, so most of the birds logged were from sheltered spots along the west coast. These included a fine male Pied Flycatcher and a Ring Ouzel in Jenny’s Cove, a single Whitethroat and Redstart feeding within the boulders down on The Battery slope, a lone Grasshopper Warbler reeling in in the brambles at the top of the 'Steps of Doom', small numbers of Swallow low on the west cliffs, two Song Thrush and the female Merlin with a Wheatear in its talons at Quarter Wall.

A Dunnock serenading from his windswept perch along the Upper East Side Path, 17 Apr © Dean Jones

The escaped Black Kite from yesterday was seen again this afternoon, battling through the strong winds and hordes of upset gulls in Jenny’s Cove, and later seen over the Village by Sue Waterfield.

18th April

A windy and cold start to the day, warming up in the afternoon as the wind speed eased and the skies cleared.

Birding highlights included the reappearance of the female Hawfinch (on Sue Waterfield’s feeders!), and the first Lesser Whitethroat and Cuckoo of the year – both seen on the Terrace.

The year's first Cuckoo, Terrace Quarry willows, 18 Apr © Dean Jones

Other migrants included three Whimbrel, 42 Swallow, singles of House and Sand Martin, two female Redstart, a fly-over Tree Pipit, three Grasshopper Warblers, five Sedge Warblers, five Whitethroat, 18 Blackcap, 44 Willow Warbler (including one very grey, pale acredula type bird), three Chiffchaff, 40 Wheatear (including three candidates for the Greenland race leucorhoa), four Ring Ouzel, three Song Thrush and 71 Linnet.

Ringing totals from a brief afternoon's ringing included: Whitethroat 2, Sedge Warbler 2, Blackcap 3, Willow Warbler 5, Blackbird 1, Goldcrest 1 and Goldfinch 1.

Non-avian sightings included the first two Lundy Cabbage plants in bloom in Smelly Gully.

19th April

Light easterly winds for the first few hours, picking up again around 10:00, short-lived spells of fog on top of the island first thing, becoming sunny and clear by the late morning.

Another glorious sunrise, Millcombe, 19 Apr © Dean Jones

It was another fantastic day for migrants on the island with four new species making their way onto the year list. The first of these came in the form of a Reed Warbler in the shelf of a mist-net first thing – a bird which was already sporting a BTO ring from somewhere else in the UK! Update: This bird was originally ringed at Nanjizal, Land's End, Cornwall on 8th July 2019.

More firsts included a Swift over Battery Slope in the afternoon, a Garden Warbler which was caught and ringed in the Secret Garden, and two Whinchats in South West Field.

Male Whinchat, South West Field, 19 Apr © Dean Jones

It was another decent day for hirundine passage with at least 429 Swallow, nine House Martin and 33 Sand Martins passing north throughout the day.

Other migrants included a Whimbrel in the Landing Bay, a stunning male Redstart caught and ringed in Millcombe, a fly-over Tree Pipit, four Grasshopper Warblers, nine Whitethroat, 30 Blackcap, 45 Willow Warbler, four Chiffchaff, 30 Wheatear (including two candidates for the Greenland race leucorhoa), a female Ring Ouzel in St John's Valley, three Song Thrush (which includes at least two nominate philomelos-raced birds) and 73 Linnet.

Ringing totals (retraps in brackets): Reed Warbler (1), Whitethroat 1, Garden Warbler 1, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 1, Blackcap 5, Willow Warbler 9, Chiffchaff 1, Redstart 1, Dunnock (1), Chaffinch 1 and Goldfinch 1.

The first Garden Warbler of the year, caught in
the Secret Garden, 19 Apr © Zoë Barton
Grasshopper Warbler, Millcombe, 20 Apr © Zoë Barton
Male Redstart, Millcombe, 19 Apr © Zoë Barton

Non-avian news included the first Red Admiral of the year, basking on the Terrace, and a number of newly emerged sundew plants.

The first Red Admiral of the spring, Terrace, 19 Apr © Dean Jones

20th April

A beautiful sunny spring day, though very windy – more so in the afternoon.

A quiet bird day due to the hefty easterly winds, conditions again which had most of the birds hiding out of sight in dense scrub/tussocks or low down on the West Side cliffs.

Best of the bunch today included a Rook – the first of the year – in the upper Aerogenerator Field, a female Ring Ouzel in St John’s Valley for her second day, a handful of Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Swallow, Sand Martin and House Martin, and singles of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest.

Female Ring Ouzel, St John's Valley, 20 Apr © Dean Jones

Lundy is currently closed to visitors as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The latest update from the Landmark Trust, dated 14 April, can be found here.

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