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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

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