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Saturday 30 May 2020

24th to 29th May – Spring slips gently into summer

Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones finds time amidst the hectic, sleep-sapping demands of breeding seabird surveys to sum up six days during which the island and its wildlife continued their transition into summer. A time of long sunny days and warmer nights, with young birds, moths, damselflies and wild flowers in abundance, alongside a slowly dwindling trickle of late spring migrants.

24th May

Moderate/strong SW winds and overcast in the morning slackening off to a pleasant SW breeze and sunshine by the mid-afternoon.

Birds logged on a day of Puffin surveys included a Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay, the Quarters Water Rail, 24 Swallow, nine House Martin, two singing Willow Warbler in Millcombe, a single male Blackcap, the three male Whitethroat, multiple pairs of Dunnock feeding nestlings in Millcombe, three Chaffinch, ten Goldfinch and 15 Linnet.

Early-summer icon... a female Stonechat atop a Foxglove spire, Lower East Side Path, 24 May © Dean Jones

A total of 134 moths of 28 different species were caught in the Millcombe Heath trap last night. Included in this total were two Rusty-dot Pearls, the first Least Black Arches, Shoulder-striped Wainscot, Scalloped Hazel, Setaceous Hebrew Character and Small Square-spot of the year, as well as good numbers of Common Pug (35) and Pale Tussock (15).

The first Setaceous Hebrew Character Xestia c-nigrum of the year, Millcombe, 24 May © Dean Jones

25th May

A beautiful and clear start to the day; patches of mist then rolled in shortly after 09:00am. Thankfully the mist cleared up completely by noon. Light breeze throughout.

Highlights included the first two Puffins delivering sandeels to chicks in Jenny’s Cove and two Jackdaw calling from the roof of the Barn around 10:00am

'Jackdaws in the Mist', one of two calling birds on top of The Barn, 25 May © Dean Jones

Other birds logged included two Cormorant heading north over the island in the afternoon, the three male Whitethroat, two singing Chiffchaff, a single Willow Warbler, a Spotted Flycatcher in Millcombe, 34 Swallow, 15 House Martin, a single Sand Martin over the Terrace, two Swift, three Chaffinch, ten Goldfinch and a handful of Linnet.

Unfortunately there was very little of note in the moth trap. However the first Yellow Shell moth of the year was flushed from the bracken in Jenny’s Cove.

26th May

Periods of thick mist during the early hours; beautiful sunshine by the late morning, becoming overcast by the afternoon. Light breeze throughout.

The misty conditions overnight managed to ground a nice selection of migrants today. Birds logged in between Guillemot and Kittiwake surveys included a single Collared Dove in the Village, five Whitethroat (including one male on Halfway Wall), two male Blackcap, two singing Willow Warbler, four Chiffchaff, ten Swallow, four House Martin, a single Swift over the Village in the afternoon, seven Spotted Flycatcher, a gorgeous female flavissima Yellow Wagtail in Barton Field, six Pied Wagtail, 29 Skylark, three Chaffinch, 12 Goldfinch and 35 Linnet.

Other high points in the day included two Water Rail, one of which was calling from the tree nursery next to Quarter Wall Copse and the first Carrion Crow fledglings of the year along the east coast.

27th May

Today was one of those special Lundy days where a thick sea-mist lay low over the slopes and the sea, creating the illusion that the island was floating in the sky between the clouds.

Lundy afloat in the clouds – looking north along the East Side from Hanmers, 27 May © Dean Jones

The cool mist then cleared by mid-morning, giving way to wall-to-wall sunshine and some scorching late-spring temperatures – perfect conditions for some of the island’s butterflies like Small Heath and Common Blue and for one of the island's residents to run a FULL MARATHON!

Rachel Sylvia, who works in the island's General Stores, set off in the early hours to complete her first ever marathon in order to raise money for Devon Mind, a locally based mental health charity. Despite the relentless sun and stinging-nettle laden paths, Rachel managed to complete her run in an amazing 5 hours and 33 minutes! An incredible feat that all of the islanders are very proud of her for – go Rach!!

Over the line! Rach completes her incredible feat of endurance in impressive style, 27 May © Ash Garfoot

If you would like to learn more about Rachel’s touching story and for information on how you can donate to Rachel’s chosen charity, please refer to the following link:


Birds logged on this special day included an unexpected Grey Wagtail next to Millcombe Pond, three Collared Dove in the Village, six Whitethroat, three Blackcap, one apiece of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, two Spotted Flycatcher in Quarter Wall Copse, five Swallow, two House Martin, three Chaffinch, 20 Goldfinch and 26 Linnet

Unusually for the time of year, this Grey Wagtail graced a misty morning in Millcombe, 27 May © Dean Jones

Another quiet night for the moth trap with the only moth of note being the first Mottled Beauty of the year. Other non-avian sightings included the first Common Blue Damselfly of the year at Quarter Wall Pond.

The first Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum of the year, Quarter Wall Pond, 27 May © Dean Jones

28th May

Another beautiful summer-like day with clear skies, high temperatures and a pleasant easterly breeze.

Not much of note, unfortunately, other than five Spotted Flycatcher in Millcombe and along the east, a Willow Warbler singing in Millcombe first thing, four Whitethroat, two Swift and a small number of passing hirundines.

29th May

A light easterly breeze in the morning picking up to a stiff wind in the afternoon. Sunshine and clear skies throughout.

Today saw a nice selection of late spring migrants across the island, including the first Grey Heron of the year at Pondsbury, eight Spotted Flycatcher along the east, a Lesser Whitethroat below Brambles and a Garden Warbler in the Terrace Willows.

There were lots of noisy young birds about too, including the first Chaffinch fledglings of the year, chasing Mum and Dad for grub in Millcombe, two fledgling Blackbird at Quarter Wall, two young Stonechat in St John’s Valley and around 40 young Starling together in Brick Field.

This male Chaffinch took time out from feeding fledglings for a quick preen and a sing-song, 27 May © Dean Jones

Other birds logged from another day of seabird surveys included a female Sparrowhawk hunting in Millcombe in the afternoon, two Collared Dove, just ten Swallow, eight House Martin, a single Sand Martin over Ackland’s Moor, a Sedge Warbler at Quarter Wall, six Whitethroat, seven Blackcap, two each of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, 10 Goldfinch and 31 Linnet.

Non-avian sightings included the first Grayling of the year in Millcombe and good numbers of both Small Heath butterflies and Brown Silver-line moths across the island.

The first Grayling Hipparchia semele of the year, Millcombe, 27 May © Dean Jones

Sunday 24 May 2020

19th to 23rd May – A veritable array of spectacular wildlife!

Dean Jones reports on another five days of birding and wildlife activity on our favourite island.

19th May

Thick mist during the early hours becoming clear but overcast around 08:00 hrs – sunshine by the late morning which continued through the afternoon – south-west breeze throughout.

Today saw a superb north-bound passage of hirundines with 1,794 Swallow, 471 House Martin and 36 Sand Martin logged throughout the day. Other highlights included a Great Northern Diver offshore from Quarry Beach, a Cuckoo being mobbed by Meadow Pipits whilst perched on the Tillage Field fence, a Tree Pipit flying over Middle Park in the late morning, and three Spotted Flycatcher along the east coast. The first Robin fledglings of the year were making a racket in the Walled Gardens in Millcombe.

A thrift-covered North End – one of the best places to watch spring hirundine migration on the island © Dean Jones
Great Northern Diver, off Quarry Beach, 19 May © Dean Jones

Other sightings included a first-year Cormorant at North End, six Woodpigeon, one Kestrel, two Willow Warbler, three Chiffchaff, two each of Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Blackcap, two Swift, 20 Skylark, 30 Meadow Pipit, 11 Goldfinch, 37 Linnet and four Chaffinch (two breeding pairs).

A good selection (25 species) and number (101) of moths turned up in the Heath trap in Millcombe last night. Among them were four Dark Sword Grass, another Vine’s Rustic, the first Cream-spot Tiger, Peppered Moth, White Ermine and Large Yellow Underwing of the year, and a good number of Bright-line Brown-eye (43 in total).

Cream-spot Tiger, Millcombe, 19 May © Dean Jones
The expertly camouflaged Peppered Moth, Millcombe, 19 May © Dean Jones

20th May

Shortly after sunrise, a thick mist rolled in on an easterly breeze, coming and going sporadically through the morning up until midday – winds then switched to the south-west, bringing with them some beautiful sunshine between a few cloudy spells – thunder and lightning offshore to the south shortly after midnight.

Sea mist rolling out of the Landing Bay, 20 May © Dean Jones

Another spectacular day of Lundy birding, topped off by a beautiful female or sub-adult male Golden Oriole in Millcombe – the second record so far this spring following a singing adult male in Millcombe on 8th May. As these birds tend to be rather shy, observations were again limited to brief fly-bys as the bird moved from both sides of the valley.

A record shot of the Golden Oriole in Millcombe, 20 May © Dean Jones

Additionally, the Conservation Team enjoyed a fairly productive evening of Manx Shearwater ringing along the west coast. Here a total of 22 birds were caught, which included 13 new birds and nine retraps (birds caught and ringed in previous years), the oldest of which was a bird ringed as an adult in 2008.

Other sightings from another wonderful day of Kittiwake and Guillemot surveys included the first of the island's breeding Wheatear and Rock Pipit collecting food for nestlings along the south and east sidelands. Yet another pair of Chaffinch were seen building a nest in Millcombe (bringing the total number of breeding pairs this year to three). Also logged were four Woodpigeon, a singing Collared Dove in Millcombe,  a Golden Plover on the Airfield (Rosie Ellis), 41 Swallow, seven House Martin, a Swift over Tibbetts in the afternoon, a Willow Warbler singing in Quarter Wall copse, two Chiffchaff, three singing male Whitethroat, four Blackcap, one Sedge Warbler, two Tree Pipit, a lone Spotted Flycatcher on the Terrace, eight Goldfinch and 17 Linnet.

Out at sea, Andrew Bengey and the Obsession II crew, who delivered lots of yummy fresh fruit and veg to the island today, were joined by a Minke Whale about halfway across from Ilfracombe. The whale accompanied the boat for around 10 minutes, along with numerous Common Dolphin!

Finally, the Heath moth-trap was deployed at Benjamin’s Chair last night. It proved to be a less fruitful night of catching than the previous night, with just 23 moths of nine different species caught. Highlights were two apiece of Cream-spot Tiger and Fox Moth, and two early Northern Rustics.

21st May

Another misty start to the day which thankfully cleared by 07:30 hrs – overcast for a few hours in the morning before the sun came out and temperatures rose – a light south-west breeze for the most part, picking up to near gale force by the end of the evening.

Most of the day (post-mist) was spent watching Puffins at Jenny’s Cove. A total of 297 burrows have now been mapped, and although we expect the first of the 'pufflings' to hatch in the very near future, there were still a number of birds collecting nest material and excavating new burrows in the study plot.

Birds logged today included the first Starling fledglings in the Farmyard, a male Cuckoo singing his heart out on the Terrace for most of the morning and afternoon, a Kestrel hovering over Castle Parade, five Woodpigeon (including one bird in Jenny’s Cove), a singing Collared Dove on the Tavern roof, 35 Swallow, 13 House Martin, two singing Chiffchaff, the three territorial male Whitethroat, three male Blackcap, one Sedge Warbler, a Tree Pipit over the Church in the morning, a lone Spotted Flycatcher, four Stonechat, nine Goldfinch and 22 Linnet.

The year's first Starling fledgling, Farmyard, 21 May © Dean Jones

One of this year's breeding pairs of Chaffinch are currently incubating eggs in a rather unusual
nest attached to the side of a dead branch in Millcombe, 21 May © Dean Jones

Non-avian sightings included the first Blue-tailed Damselfly of the year at Quarter Wall Pond.

22nd May

Gale force south-west winds throughout – sunshine for most of the day with a few overcast periods.

Unsurprisingly, due to the strong winds, it was a much quieter day bird-wise. As the team couldn’t get out along the west coast cliffs for seabird surveys, most of the day was spent checking in on breeding birds along the east coast and catching up with paperwork and data entry.

Birds logged included a late adult Mistle Thrush in Barton Field, the Quarters Water Rail, eight Woodpigeon, two Collared Dove, six Swallow, three House Martin, four Blackcap, three Whitethroat, singles of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, five Chaffinch, 18 Goldfinch and 12 Linnet.

23rd May

Another day of strong south-west winds, clear skies and sunshine.

Not an awful lot of note bird-wise other than a single Spotted Flycatcher and two singing Willow Warbler in Millcombe, another pair of Stonechat collecting food for nestlings along the east coast (bringing the total number of breeding pairs this year to four), a fly-over Swift, the three territorial male Whitethroats again, 17 Goldfinch and a handful of Swallow and House Martin.

Hundreds of Round-leaved Sundews are now adding a splash of colour to the boggy areas of the island
– here's one from the Quarries, with its invertebrate prey, 23 May © Dean Jones

Lundy is currently closed to visitors. The latest Covid-19 update from the Landmark Trust can be found here.

Tuesday 19 May 2020

15th to 18th May – Migrants, moths macro & micro and more dolphins

Dean Jones sends his latest bulletin from Lundy in lockdown.

15th May

A lovely spring day with lots of sunshine between periods of overcast and a light northerly wind.

Highlights from another wonderful day of seabird surveys included a Hooded Crow in Tent Field first thing, a feeding pod of c.30 Common Dolphin (including at least four calves) which spent around an hour foraging offshore from St Mark’s Stone before heading north, and the first Kittiwake egg of the year within the Threequarter Wall buttress colony.

Other sightings of note included a handsome male Cuckoo at Threequarter Wall, the male and female Kestrel over Pondsbury, 207 Kittiwake, five Woodpigeon and two Collared Dove (including one of each at Aztec Bay!), 19 Swallow, two Sand Martin, five House Martin, seven Blackcap, three Whitethroat, three Willow Warbler, two Chiffchaff, a male Stonechat, 32 Skylark, two Pied Wagtail (including a male collecting food for nestlings in the Village), a female Chaffinch delivering food to chicks in Millcombe, eight Goldfinch and 34 Linnet.

"What are you looking at? Haven't you ever seen a Hooded Crow before?", Tent Field, 15 May © Dean Jones
Male Cuckoo, Threequarter Wall, 15 May © Dean Jones
Kittiwake with egg, Threequarter Wall buttress colony, 15 May © Dean Jones

16th May

Clear skies and sunshine in the morning becoming chilly and overcast by 15:00 – light north to north-westerly winds all day.

Today’s highlight from what was a rather quiet bird day was a group of c.24 Common Dolphin foraging off South West Point in the morning.

Other sightings included a lone Collared Dove, just two Woodpigeon, 39 Swallow, three Sand Martin, 11 House Martin, six Blackcap, two Whitethroat, a Sedge Warbler singing in St John’s Valley, two each of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, three Stonechat, two Pied Wagtail, 21 Meadow Pipit (including a bird collecting food for nestlings near Quarry Cottages), three Chaffinch, eight Goldfinch and 46 Linnet (which included a flock of 23 birds at Stoneycroft).

Male Chaffinch with food for nestlings, Millcombe, 16 May © Dean Jones

17th May

Cloudy with sunny spells and a light westerly wind.

A very quiet bird day today. Not much of note other than a handful of passing hirundines and a number of singing warblers (Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff) which, after a few days of observations, are seemingly holding territories in Millcombe and along the east.

A total of 84 moths of 18 different species were caught in the Millcombe Heath trap last night – including a single Dark Sword Grass, the first Buff-tip, Small Angle Shades and Pale-shouldered Brocade of the year, as well as good numbers of Angle Shades, Spectacle, Pale Tussock and Lychnis.

Buff-tip, Millcombe, 17 May © Dean Jones

The aptly named Spectacle, Millcombe, 17 May © Dean Jones

18th May

An overcast day with one or two short-lived sunny spells – stiff south-westerly winds throughout.

A few nice birds moving through today including two Spotted Flycatcher and a Tree Pipit in Quarter Wall Copse, 16 Woodpigeon along the east coast and a decent arrival of 38 Goldfinch (which included a flock of 24 birds past St Helen’s Copse in the morning) and 58 Linnet.

Tree Pipit, Quarter Wall Copse, 18 May © Dean Jones

Other sightings included the Quarters Water Rail, three Pied Wagtail, 27 Skylark, 46 Swallow, 25 House Martin, a single Sand Martin, four Willow Warbler, three Chiffchaff, four Blackcap, three Whitethroat, 24 Meadow Pipit, two Stonechat and two Chaffinch.

Small numbers of the stunning micromoth Esperia sulphurella have been recorded in Millcombe
this week, 18 May © Dean Jones

Lundy is currently closed to visitors. The latest Covid-19 update from the Landmark Trust can be found here.

Friday 15 May 2020

11th to 14th May – First fledglings of the year – and a Minke!

The latest news from Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones – who's having a whale of a time!

11th May

Gale-force winds through the night reaching gusts of over 51mph in the early hours – strong and cold NE winds throughout the day, slackening slightly by the late afternoon – cloudy for parts but mostly sunny.

Unsurprisingly, due to the very strong and cold winds, there wasn’t much in the way of migration today. Highlights included the first Skylarks delivering food to young ones in the nest and a day of seabird surveys along the west.

Birds of note were two Collared Dove in Millcombe, two Blackcap, singles of Sedge and Willow Warbler and a handful of Swallow.

12th May

A beautiful late-spring day with wall-to-wall sunshine and a light north-east breeze.

A bit better today for migrants but still rather quiet overall. Highlights included the first two Raven fledglings of the year along the South End and the first Small Copper butterfly of the year on the Terrace.

Fledgling Raven, South End, 12 May © Dean Jones
Small Copper, Terrace, 12 May © Dean Jones

Other birds logged included a male and female Sparrowhawk high over St John’s Valley, a young female Peregrine along the east coast, six Woodpigeon, a single Collared Dove, 39 Swallow, a single Sand Martin, nine House Martin, one Swift, two Sedge Warbler, four Blackcaps, three Willow Warbler, three Chiffchaff, a small arrival of Wheatear along the south coast, one Spotted Flycatcher in Millcombe, two male Chaffinch and a small arrival of Goldfinch (20) and Linnet (37), the latter of which included a flock of 17 birds in Brick Field.

Another survey of the Village, Church and Old Lighthouse revealed five more Starling nests, bringing the total number of pairs this year to 53! This figure is still down on the 2019 total (56) but only slightly, and all seem to have very noisy and healthy chicks tucked away in their respective nests.

13th May

Another day of strong, chilly north easterlies; clear and sunny in the early hours becoming overcast by the late morning; sunny spells in the afternoon.

Birds logged on another day of seabird surveys included two Ringed Plover on South West Point, yet another Cuckoo at the watertanks (Rob Waterfield), the Quarters Water Rail, eight Woodpigeon, a single Collared Dove along the west coast with a Peregrine in hot pursuit, nine Blackcap, four Whitethroat, three apiece of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, 24 Swallow, singles of House and Sand Martin, at least three pairs of Stonechat feeding chicks, 30 Linnet and 20 Goldfinch.

Today’s highlight came about during the Puffin watch, where colour-ringed Guillemot 0114 – ringed as a nestling on 8th Jul 2013 on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire – was seen incubating an egg! It is very rare for Guillemots to breed anywhere other than their natal colony so this is quite the find. We will be keeping a keen eye on 0114 throughout the season and will make sure to keep you updated on the bird's progress. Fingers crossed he or she will manage to hatch and raise a healthy chick this season!

Most of the Guillemots are incubating eggs now in the productivity plot but there are probably
a few late breeders still to lay, 11 May © Dean Jones.

14th May

Sunshine and clear skies throughout, coupled with moderate and chilly north-easterlies again.

It was another beautiful day on Lundy – topped by a number of Manx Shearwater incubating eggs in their artificial burrows!

The purpose of these artificial burrows is to allow us to get a sneaky peak into the lives of Lundy’s shearwaters. This provides us with insights into their productivity and how well their chicks develop throughout the season, and enables us to ring individuals so that we can learn about their migration and other aspects of their life histories, e.g. how long they live.

A total of five birds were found today, three of which have attempted to breed in the boxes before, and two new birds. The former included bird EA10081 which has been using the same box since 2017 – the year after the boxes were installed by volunteers from the Lundy Field Society. It is such a massive privilege to see and learn from these birds throughout the season and to re-acquaint myself with birds that I met four seasons ago when I first came to Lundy.

Manx Shearwater, Old Light colony, 14 May © Dean Jones

Manx Shearwater egg in nestbox, Old Light colony, 14 May © Dean Jones

And as if things couldn’t get any better, a Minke Whale cruised past the Old Light shearwater colony shortly after we closed the last nest box. What an afternoon!

Minke Whale off the West Side, 14 May © Dean Jones.

Other birds of note included a Cuckoo in Millcombe first thing, two young female Peregrine together over the island, the Quarters Water Rail, six Woodpigeon, a single Collared Dove in the Village, two each of Blackcap, Whitethroat and Willow Warbler, a single Chiffchaff, 47 Swallow, two each of House and Sand Martin, a White Wagtail at Pilot’s Quay, 16 Linnet, nine Goldfinch and the first House Sparrow fledglings of the year.

Fledgling House Sparrow, Paradise Row, 14 May © Dean Jones
There was a good selection of butterflies on the wing today, including numerous Small Heaths (pictured here),
Small Copper, Green-veined White and a number of Common Blue, 14 May © Dean Jones

Lundy is currently closed to visitors. The latest Covid-19 update from the Landmark Trust can be found here.

Sunday 10 May 2020

7th to 10th May – Golden Oriole and... Rustic Bunting!

News of an action-packed few days from Warden Dean Woodfin Jones:

7th May

A windy start to the day becoming very still by the mid-afternoon – sunshine and clear skies throughout.

Highlights from another great Lundy bird day included the first Turtle Dove of the year – singing its heart out in Millcombe in the mid-afternoon. Nearby a female Cuckoo was calling in the scrub between Government House and Old School in the morning, and it was another good day for Spotted Flycatchers with 12 logged across the island.

Other sightings of note included three Cormorant flying south over Millcombe in the afternoon, two Whimbrel in the Landing Bay, a fly-over Dunlin, a small arrival of Woodpigeon along the east (9), two Collared Dove in the Village, one Kestrel, five Blackcap, two Garden Warbler, two Reed Warbler in Millcombe (one which was caught and ringed), 14 Whitethroat, 13 Sedge Warbler, nine Willow Warbler, two Chiffchaff, 152 Swallow, 52 Sand Martin, 48 House Martin, two Swift, a single Stonechat, eight Pied Wagtails, 15 Goldfinch (including a pair of collecting nest material in Millcombe) and 25 Linnet (including a few pairs also collecting nest material).

Garden Warbler, Terrace willows, 7 May © Dean Jones

One of the two Reed Warblers in Millcombe on 7 May © Dean Jones

Resting hirundines below Hanmers, 7 May © Dean Jones

Non-avian sightings included clouds of Cocksfoot Moths Glyphipterix simpliciella in Millcombe and along the Beach Road and a Silver Y flushed from the Lower East Side Path.

Cocksfoot Moths on Oxeye Daisy, Beach Road, 7 May © Dean Jones

8th May

Another beautiful still, calm day; sunshine, hazy in the morning, becoming overcast by the early afternoon.

The unquestionable highlight of the day came in the form of a male Golden Oriole which was singing and calling in Millcombe just above the Casbah first thing. Although the bird was being very vocal, I didn’t managed to actually see it until later in the day due to the now lush-green canopies in Millcombe providing perfect camouflage. Luckily though, come the afternoon, Tom was driving down the Valley in his ATV, after his umpteenth lamb check of the day, and flushed the bird, allowing brief but spectacular views in flight. Thanks Tom!

Coming a close second was a spectacular pod of c.60 Common Dolphin off the east coast in mid-morning. This big group – which included a number of small calves – spent around 30 minutes feeding only a few hundred metres offshore from the Terrace before moving north and out of sight. A brilliant start to the day.

Other birds logged included 35 Shag along the east coast (obviously lots of food about today), a lone Whimbrel, another small arrival of Woodpigeon along the east (11), four Collared Dove, eight Blackcap, a Reed Warbler in the Terrace willows, two Whitethroat, seven Sedge Warbler (including a bird sporting a ring from elsewhere in the UK), seven Willow Warbler, six Chiffchaff (which included a nice abietinus-type bird), 30 Swallow, five Sand Martin, three House Martin, a single Swift, two Pied Wagtail, six Spotted Flycatcher, a Whinchat below the Terrace, 10 Goldfinch and 12 Linnet.

Collared Doves on the Laundry Room roof, 8 May © Dean Jones

Possible abietinus Chiffchaff. It called on release and sounded better for this race than tristis, Millcombe, 8 May © Dean Jones

The rest of the morning was spent finding and counting Starling nests around the Village, Church and the Old Lighthouse. So far there are 48 active nests – most of which have big noisy chicks in them – a figure which is unfortunately down on the 2019 total (56). There were a few birds still collecting nest material around the farm, however, so fingers crossed this figure will increase by the end of the spring.

Male Starling  – we are so lucky to have such beautiful birds nesting all around us here in the Village, 8 May © Dean Jones

Non-avian sightings included another Silver Y on the Lower East Side Path, six male Emperor Moths around Pondsbury and a Barrel Jellyfish in Halfway Wall Bay.

Ringing totals from a quiet morning session included: 2 Sedge Warbler (including the control bird), 1 Blackcap, 3 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff and a Goldfinch.

9th May

Another beautiful summer-like day with wall-to-wall sunshine and a very light easterly breeze.

Highlights included the male Golden Oriole for his second day (much showier today but I still didn’t manage a photo), a rather tatty Common Buzzard over the Village, two Common Sandpiper foraging along the shoreline in the Landing Bay, two Pied Flycatcher having a wash in the stream next to the Casbah and two female Common Redstart flitting around the Quarries.

The best of the rest included a lone Whimbrel, six Blackcap, six Whitethroat, ten Sedge Warbler, three Willow Warbler, just one Chiffchaff, 18 Swallow, two House Martin, two Pied Wagtail, three Stonechat (including a female bird delivering food to chicks on the east coast), a big Greenland-type Wheatear on the main track and nine Spotted Flycatcher.

Spotted Flycatcher,  Bramble Villa, 9 May © Dean Jones

Non-avian sightings included the first Common Blue of the year next to the Beach Road.

Good numbers of the micro-moth Cydia ulicetana were flying around the sunlit gorse on the East Side, 9 May © Dean Jones

10th May

A beautiful, sunny and clear morning with a light north-east breeze, becoming cloudy and very windy by the early afternoon.

It was a rather quiet start in Millcombe first thing, with very few migrants moving up the Valley and into the mist-nets. A secretive Lesser Whitethroat near the Walled Gardens got the heart racing and a few singing Sedge Warbler and a fly-over Tree Pipit raised the spirits during empty net rounds. Then as the forecast predicted, the wind picked up and the nets had to be furled.

It was then – as I was tying up the last of the nets in the Secret Garden – that I heard a bird “zitting” high up on the Sycamore in the heart of the garden. Luckily I could just about see its head through the canopy and, as I raised my binoculars, I was immediately met with a beautiful chestnut-and-white face pattern – the markings of a female Rustic Bunting!

The bird then flew around the Valley for a few minutes or so, perching briefly again in the trees next to Millcombe House before flying towards St John’s Valley and out of sight. This is the first spring record of this beautiful bunting for Lundy and the seventh overall – the last of which was on 1st October 2015.

Other birds of note from today included two Whimbrel, the fifth Cuckoo of the spring – singing in Millcombe in the early afternoon (Sue Waterfield), two Collared Dove, two Kestrels (defending a possible breeding territory from passing Carrion Crow), eight Blackcap, four Whitethroat, two Sedge Warbler, five Willow Warbler, five Chiffchaff, 29 Swallow, three House Martin, a single Sand Martin, three Pied Wagtails, a male Yellow Wagtail in Brick Field, three Spotted Flycatcher and 30 Linnet.

Record shot of the female Rustic Bunting, Millcombe, 10 May © Dean Jones

Cropped copy of the same image © Dean Jones

Non-avian news included the first Small Heath of the year next to the Tennis Lawn and a Slow-worm and two Rosechafer beetles on the Terrace.

Ringing totals from a brief morning session before the wind got up included: 2 Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Linnet, 1 Robin and a retrap House Sparrow.

Lundy is currently closed to visitors. The latest Covid-19 update from the Landmark Trust can be found here.

Thursday 7 May 2020

4th to 6th May – Migrants, moths and a flush of wildflowers

The latest instalment of spring migration highlights, other avian goings-on and general nature news from the Lundy Warden, Dean Woodfin Jones:

4th May

A beautifully calm and sunny early morning before the stiff easterly winds returned around 10:00am, becoming overcast in the afternoon.

Another reasonably quiet day for migrants apart from another good push of Swallows (303), House Martin (60) and Sand Martin (26) throughout the day.

The best of the rest included six Dunlin in flight along the west coast, two Collared Dove in the Laundry Garden, ten Swift, two Willow Warbler, two Chiffchaff, three Sedge Warbler and seven Blackcap.

A Meadow Pipit sheltering from the stiff easterlies near The Battery, 4 May © Dean Jones
This lovely Ruby Tiger moth joined us during our Swallow counts, 4 May © Dean Jones

Ringing totals from a brief early morning session included: Sedge Warbler 2, Blackcap 6, Chiffchaff 2, Willow Warbler 1 and Goldfinch 1.

5th May

Horrible weather today unfortunately, with easterly gales during the morning easing to just below gale force in the afternoon. Heavy rain up until 11:00am followed by overcast skies and a few sunny spells later in the afternoon.

Hirundines again pushed on through despite the strong winds, with 42 Swallow, 17 House Martin and four Sand Martin logged after the rain. Other birds of note included three Swift low over Quarter Wall, a Blackcap in Millcombe (the only warbler logged today) and a small fall of eight Pied Wagtail sheltering on High Street track.

6th May

Today was one of those magical Lundy bird days characterised by a fantastic diversity of migrants, beautiful weather (other than a stiff easterly wind) and seabird-covered cliffs!

The East Sidelands are now awash with wildflowers, namely Bluebells, gorse, Foxgloves and, of course,
our beloved Lundy Cabbage, 6 May © Dean Jones

Highlights included a superb arrival of 26 Spotted Flycatcher across the island and the best day yet of spring hirundine passage!

Birds logged included four Manx Shearwater off the South West Point, two Dunlin, four Whimbrel, a young male Sparrowhawk in Millcombe, two Kestrel, a female Merlin, a super 1,916 Swallow, 478 Sand Martin and 341 House Martin throughout the day, two Swift, 3,722 Guillemot, 1,426 Razorbill, 107 Puffin, 202 Kittiwake, four Sedge Warbler, a Grasshopper Warbler in the Walled Garden, a Reed Warbler in Smelly Gully, nine Whitethroat, ten Blackcap, a Garden Warbler on the Terrace, seven Willow Warbler, three Chiffchaff, at least three Greenland-type Wheatear, two Stonechat, two Whinchat, seven Pied Wagtail, three fly-over unraced alba wagtails, two White Wagtail at Benjamin’s Chair, a male and two female Yellow Wagtail in Barton Field, three Chaffinch, ten Goldfinch and 41 Linnet.

Lots more Guillemots with eggs in the St Mark's Stone study plots now (147 to be precise), 6 May © Dean Jones
Swallows taking a rest near Quarters Pond, 6 May © Dean Jones

Non-avian sightings included the first two Rosechafer of the year near St Mark’s Stone and two Silver Y.

Lundy is currently closed to visitors. The latest Covid-19 update from the Landmark Trust can be found here.