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Wednesday 24 June 2020

13th to 21st Jun – A smorgasbord of avian and other delights!

Warden Dean Jones presents another round-up of island wildlife in his latest missive from Lundy.

13th June

A beautiful summer's days albeit a tad breezy from the east.

Highlights included the first Kittiwake chicks of the year in Jenny’s Cove and at Threequarter Wall Buttress, and a grand total of 97 Red Admiral butterflies across the island.

Digi-scope shot of the first Kittiwake chick of the year,
Jenny's Cove, 13 June © Dean Jones
One of the 97 Red Admirals logged today,  Millcombe, 13 Jun © Dean Jones
The beautiful Twiggy Mullein is now in flower in Millcombe. Here's one of eight large plants currently in
bloom in the Walled Gardens, 13 Jun © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note included the Welsh-born colour-ringed Guillemot 0114 provisioning a young chick in Jenny’s Cove, lots of Wren fledglings making a commotion in Millcombe and along the east coast, handfuls of Rock Pipit fledglings foraging in the in-fields and a small number of Silver Y moths scattered across the island.

14th June

Sunny and warm for most give or take a few cloudy spells in the late morning and afternoon, and a light easterly breeze throughout.

Not much in the way of new birds but a smashing day nonetheless, with masses of seabirds busily delivering sandeels and sprats to developing chicks, heaps of young passerine fledglings haphazardly navigating the island and a number of warblers singing their hearts out in Millcombe.

Other than the birds there has been a mass arrival of hoverflies across the island, namely the Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus. Although lots of different hoverfly species are resident on the island, the easterly winds this week have definitely bolstered numbers with literal swarms, thousands strong, buzzing about the east coast, Millcombe and the Village. In fact a quick count around Millcombe revealed between 5 and 40 hoverflies per head of Hogweed (there are hundreds of plants in bloom currently), other than those which have been taken over by Parsnip Moth caterpillars.

Invasion on the hoverflies! Numerous Marmalade Hoverflies Episyrphus balteatus and a single
Eupeodes corollae
hoverfly (centre) on Hogweed, Millcombe, 14 Jun © Dean Jones
Lots of Parsnip Moth caterpillars were making their homes in some of the Hogweed too, 14 June © Dean Jones

15th June

Another lovely summer’s day with low winds and sunshine between periods of overcast – perfect conditions for a day on the west cliffs.

More and more Kittiwake chicks are starting to arrive in both Aztec Bay and Threequarter Wall Buttress colonies, though the vast majority of nesting birds are still incubating eggs, along with one or two pairs still in the process of completing late nests. The St Mark’s Stone Guillemot productivity plot is also covered in little squeaky chicks. So far it has been a fantastic year for this colony, with very few breeding failures – give or take a handful of eggs and young chicks that have been lost to hungry Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls.

How many Guillemot chicks can you see? St Marks Stone, 15 Jun © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note included five Swift heading south along the west coast, a singing Willow Warbler again in Millcombe, 21 Red Admiral on the wing and a handful of Silver Y.

The moth trap was deployed in Tent Field last night but unfortunately only a handful of very common moths were caught. 

16th June

It’s not often you see the island’s anemometer at a complete standstill! The wind did pick up come late morning, albeit only slightly, from the north and the east. Overcast for most with a few nice sunny spells – a few very light showers throughout the day and some incredible skyscapes offshore as thunderstorms rolled past along the North Devon coast.

With the weather being so fair, today was spent counting cliff-nesting seabirds around the entire island. Results included (totals show adult birds only): 191 Fulmar, 111 Shag, 8,252 Guillemot, 2,177 Razorbill, 400 Puffin, 242 Kittiwake, 602 Herring Gull, only 145 Lesser Black-backed Gull and 62 Great Black-backed Gull.

You could have easily mistaken Lundy's waters for somewhere in the Mediterranean today.
Threequarter Wall Buttress, 16 Jun © Dean Jones
Seabird heaven, Long Roost, 16 Jun © Dean Jones

Other highlights from the wrap around were a pair of Whitethroat feeding nestlings on the east coast and a male Cuckoo hiding away from mobbing passerines in Quarterwall Copse.

This rather grumpy looking Cuckoo couldn't go anywhere without being mobbed, Quarter Wall Copse,
16 Jun © Dean Jones

Other sightings included 31 Oystercatcher, seven Raven, 31 Carrion Crow, six Peregrine, the Kestrel pair, four Woodpigeon, two Collared Dove, 16 Swift, eight Swallow, 102 Wheatear, seven Stonechat, four Whitethroat, two male Blackcap, a singing male Willow Warbler, two Chiffchaff, 33 Wren, six Robin, 39 Skylark, 89 Meadow Pipit, 16 Blackbird, 16 Goldfinch, 76 Linnet and four Chaffinch.

Non-avian sightings included two Harbour Porpoise off St Mark’s Stone, the first Emperor Dragonfly (Quarter Wall) and Giant Tachinid Fly (Tibbett’s) of the year, 26 Red Admiral, 28 Meadow Brown, 12 Small Heath and singles of Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell and Common Blue.

The first Giant Tachinid Fly Tachina grossa of the year, Tibbetts, 16 Jun © Dean Jones

17th June

A muggy but clear start to the day up until 07:15 hrs when a thick mist rolled in which pretty much stayed for the entire day other than two brief clear spells in the afternoon.

Highlights included a singing Reed Warbler in the Secret Garden shortly after sunrise, a Spotted Flycatcher above the Casbah and three Chiffchaff – two of which were singing males in Millcombe and St Helen’s Copse.

Sixty-seven moths of 24 species were caught in the Millcombe Heath trap last night, including singles of Northern Rustic, Rusty Dot Pearl and Grey Pug as well as the first Mother of Pearl and Udea olivalis micromoths of the year.

18th June

A very wet day with thick mist, fog and drizzle lingering over throughout – particularly by late morning when I struggled to see the Laundry Rooms from the front of Paradise Row! Heavy rain followed in mid-afternoon which continued into the wee hours.

A rather miserable and wet morning’s census was brightened enormously by the occurrence of a sub-adult male Golden Oriole singing from a fog-clagged Millcombe first thing. Luckily the mist lifted just enough for a decent but brief view of the bird on top of the Secret Garden Sycamore before it shot off down the valley and out of sight. This is the third Golden Oriole of the year following an adult male on 8th May and a sub-adult male/female on 20th May.

Luckily the mist and drizzle held off long enough to get some nice views of the Golden Oriole, 18 Jun © Dean Jones

Other birds of note included good numbers of Wren fledglings in Millcombe, two singing Willow Warblers, two Chiffchaff and a lone Whitethroat.

The Heath moth trap was deployed in the Ugly last night and managed to catch 149 moths of 37 different species. Highlights included the first Clay, Uncertain and Satin Waves of the year.

19th June

A mostly sunny day with a stiff westerly wind throughout.

Unfortunately it was too windy to pop down to check on the Guillemot and Kittiwake plots but luckily Jenny’s Cove was sheltered enough to get the scope up for a Puffin watch.

Puffins in Jenny's Cove, 19 Jun © Dean Jones

Highlights other than the seabirds included two female Crossbills feeding in the evergreens at the top of Millcombe first thing, the first Woodpigeon fledglings of the year, a lone Spotted Flycatcher doing what they do best – catching flies over the Casbah – and small numbers of Manx Shearwater foraging offshore from the east.

Female Crossbills in Millcombe, 19 Jun © Dean Jones

20th June

A beautiful, sunny and warm morning with a light westerly breeze – the wind then picked up by the early evening, ramping up to gale force by the end of the day, bringing with it bouts of heavy rain.

Avian highlights included the Crossbills again in Millcombe for their second day, a single Spotted Flycatcher in Millcombe, 11 Swift over the Village in the afternoon (Zoë Barton) and 166 Kittiwake either incubating eggs or brooding young chicks at Aztec Bay and Threequarter Wall Buttress.

A few Razorbill dropped in to check I was surveying the Kittiwakes adequately, Aztec Bay 20 Jun © Dean Jones
Small numbers of Heath Spotted Orchid are now in flower around Pondsbury, 20 Jun © Zoë Barton

21st June

Strong south-westerly winds throughout, overcast with a few sunny spells.

Highlights from a day largely spent on paperwork and catch-up (too windy for the cliffs today) included a superb adult Rose-coloured Starling in Millcombe within a small flock of juvenile Common Starlings first thing. The bird was rather flighty at first, providing only brief views on the wing, before it finally settled upon the Sycamores near Bramble Villas for a brief rest before disappearing towards the Village.

Today's special treat: an adult Rosy Starling with young Common Starlings, Millcombe, 21 Jun © Dean Jones
Please join at the back of the line! An orderly queue at Sue Waterfield's feeders, 21 Jun © Dean Jones

Additionally the two female Crossbills remained for their third day on the island, a single Spotted Flycatcher was again foraging over the Casbah in Millcombe and two House Martin shot over the South End at around 08:00 hrs.

Saturday 13 June 2020

6th to 12th Jun – Chick-rearing in full swing as the rain pours down...

6th June

A rather miserable day with gale-force westerlies. Frequent showers in the morning, followed by periods of heavy rain in the late afternoon and evening.

With the weather being so poor along the west (no seabird surveys today), the morning was spent roaming the east coast in order to check-in on some of the island's breeding landbirds.

Birds logged included small numbers of Manx Shearwater (68) foraging offshore along the east, eight Woodpigeon, two Collared Dove in Millcombe, a male Kestrel, two apiece of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, four singing Whitethroat, a lone male Blackcap in Millcombe, a number of Wren gathering food for nestlings in Millcombe, two Spotted Flycatcher, four Chaffinch, 21 Goldfinch (lots of  fledglings about now), a handful of Linnet, and the male Siskin on Sue Waterfield’s feeder again in the afternoon.

7th June

Another overcast day, give or take a few sunny spells in the afternoon. A much less windy day, thankfully, with light westerlies throughout.

With the welcome drop in the wind, most of the day was spent roaming up and down the west slopes in search of more colour-ringed Wheatears. So far a total of 40 colour-ringed birds have been re-sighted, many of these today, now that they are feeding recently fledged young up on top of the island.

Colour-ringed female Wheatear green over pale blue (right leg), stripe over metal (left), 7 Jun © Dean Jones

Ever get that feeling you're being watched? Peregrine watching the Warden watching Wheatears,
West Side, 7 Jun © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note included the first Pied Wagtail fledglings of the year in Millcombe, 71 Wheatear between Halfway Wall and South West Point – most of which were the aforementioned recently fledged chicks – and a single Spotted Flycatcher.

The first Pied Wagtail fledgling of the 2020 vintage, Millcombe, 7 Jun © Dean Jones

There were some very bold Wheatear fledglings around the South End! 7 Jun © Dean Jones

On another topic, Lundy made it to prime-time telly as part of the new Channel 4/More 4 series Devon and Cornwall. This beautifully filmed piece was shot last spring and is part of an eight-part series covering a multitude of heart-warming stories and gorgeous landscapes here in the South West. If you missed the show and would like to catch up with this series, you can do so via this link https://www.channel4.com/programmes/devon-and-cornwall. I would like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to everyone who has got in touch to say that they enjoyed the show.

Warden Dean Jones talks seabird recovery and biosecurity in the new series of Devon and Cornwall © Channel 4

8th June

A cool, overcast start to the day coupled with a light westerly breeze, which picked up to a moderate wind by mid-afternoon, bringing with it some beautiful blue skies.

Birds of note from a day of Kittiwake and Guillemot surveys included a Cuckoo in Millcombe first thing and a small push of Swallow (11) with a single House Martin.

It was a very quiet night for moths on 7th/8th, with just 37 individuals of nine species caught, all of which were common species, such as Shoulder-striped Wainscot, Silver-ground Carpet and Small Square-spot.

It was a beautiful evening up on Tibbetts Hill... 8 Jun © Dean Jones

...though Boris the bull was intrigued by all the funny-looking moth-trapping paraphernalia! 8 Jun © Dean Jones

9th June

A beautiful clear morning, becoming overcast shortly after sunrise with a few sunny spells mixed in later on in the day. Stiff westerlies first thing, which dropped away to nothing by the late afternoon.

Birds of note included, 241 Puffin and a lone Collared Dove in Jenny’s Cove, a gorgeous Golden Plover in Middle Park, another little push of 15 Swallow as well as three House Martin and seven Swift.

Two of the 241 Puffins in Jenny's Cove, 9 Jun © Dean Jones

Guillemot City! Jenny's Cove, 9 Jun © Dean Jones

The moth-trap was set at Tibbetts on the night of the 8th/9th and amazingly yet another new species for Lundy was caught – the micromoth Neofaculta ericetella. This is a common little moth of heathland and moorland habitats, where its larvae feed on Ling, Bell Heather and Cross-leaved Heath, so not a rare or unusual find but rather one that has likely been overlooked in the past.

Neofaculta ericetella – a new moth for Lundy, 9 Jun © Dean Jones

Finally, a total of 104 Atlantic Grey Seals were hauled out between the North End and Gannets’ Bay.

10th June

Rain in the early hours followed by mizzle for the rest of the morning. Thick mist and fog then rolled in around 11:30, lingering for the rest of the day. Heavy downpours throughout the evening.

With the constant rain and mist, there wasn’t much done in the way of seabird monitoring! There were, however, a few bits and bobs of note in the south of the island in the morning, including a lone Spotted Flycatcher in the Sycamores above the Casbah, and a pair of Chiffchaff copulating in lower Millcombe. There was also another small arrival of hirundines first thing with nine Swallow and two each of House and Sand Martin making their way north before the mist rolled in.

After narrowly avoiding the rain, the computer was then fired-up for an afternoon of paperwork and data entry. My email inbox brought news of a number of interesting ringing recoveries and controls, two of them involving birds caught on Lundy earlier this spring!

Firstly, the already ringed Reed Warbler that was caught in Millcombe on 19th April this year had originally been ringed at Nanjizal, Land's End, Cornwall on 8th July 2019, so had popped down to sub-Saharan Africa and back in the meantime!

The Sedge Warbler caught in the Secret Garden (lower Millcombe) on 8th May this year was originally ringed at Blackditch, Wicklow, Ireland on 17th July 2016, when it was already an adult, meaning that this little bird has at least ten Sub-saharan migrations (five southbound, five northbound) under its belt. Incredible stuff!

And finally, a first-year Bullfinch ringed on Lundy on 8th April 2015 (itself a notable event, as only 29 have been ringed on the island since 1972) was unfortunately found dead on 2nd June this year at Redmonsford, Devon. Similar to the Sedge Warbler, this bird lived to the grand age of six years – well above the average lifespan in the wild for this species, which is only about two to three years.

A massive thank you to Tony Taylor for forwarding on details of these ringing movements.

11th June

Rain and strong easterly winds in the morning slaking somewhat by the evening. More heavy rain again come the evening.

As you can probably tell from this week’s blog, it has been a very wet few days on the island. In fact, a total of 59.2mm of rain has fallen over the past few days, which is more than the rainfall recorded for the whole of April and May combined!

Luckily for us, the strong easterly winds meant that the west coast was reasonably calm, which allowed us to crack on with our Puffin productivity monitoring. It was slightly quieter on the slope today, with noticeably fewer birds out and about. Nevertheless, Team Puffin still managed to see birds provisioning over 70 burrows within the productivity slope, some of which were provisioned up to three times in little over three hours of observations.

Unsurprisingly with the weather, not much of note in the way of other birds, but a lone Swallow zoomed past Jenny’s Cove in the morning and there was a Spotted Flycatcher in Millcombe.

Next to Government House, up to 40 Starlings were hiding away from the strong winds, 11 Jun © Dean Jones

12th June

Overcast first thing, giving way to some beautiful sunshine by the mid-morning. More rain by the late afternoon and a stiff north-easterly throughout.

Most of the morning was spent checking-in on the St Mark’s Stone Guillemots. The energy was incredible on the slope, with nearly all 200-odd birds now looking after young chicks.

Other sightings of note included another Cuckoo at Threequarter Wall (a different bird to the one on the 8th), a Spotted Flycatcher in Millcombe (fingers crossed there is another bird sat on eggs somewhere in the Valley), two House Martin over the South End first thing, a female Kestrel hunting next to the Church, and a decent arrival of 20 Red Admirals along the main track and in the Village.

A female Stonechat on her blustery perch in Millcombe, 12 Jun © Dean Jones

Lundy is currently closed to visitors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the latest information, please refer to the Landmark's Trust website, here

Saturday 6 June 2020

30th May to 5th Jun – Seabirds, fledglings & moths galore, plus a singing Rosefinch!

Pour a glass of something nice, find somewhere comfy to sit, and immerse yourself in a whole week's worth of Lundy wildlife, thanks to a bumper update from Warden Dean Woodfin Jones. When does that man sleep?!

30th May

Overcast with sunny spells – light easterlies in the morning picking up in the late afternoon – perfect conditions for a full wrap around the island's coast to count cliff-nesting seabirds!

A beautiful day for counting seabirds! The West Side looking south from Long Roost, 30 May © Dean Jones

Birds logged included 191 Fulmar, 89 Shag (some of which had large chicks in their nests at Long Roost), a Whimbrel at the Castle, 28 Oystercatcher, 330 Kittiwake, 7,637 Guillemot, 2,384 Razorbill, 397 Puffin, the Quarters Water Rail, three Woodpigeon, a single Swift, a Kestrel hunting in Tent Field, 14 Raven (there have been four successful nests this year), 26 Skylark, 11 Swallow, two House Martin, a singing Willow Warbler in Millcombe, four Blackcap, five Whitethroat, eight Blackbird (including singing males in Gannets’ Combe and Threequarter Wall Bay), five Spotted Flycatcher, four Stonechat, the first Dunnock fledglings of the year in Smelly Gully, 54 Wheatear (including the first fledgling of the year waiting on a meal from Dad at Halfway Wall), 69 Meadow Pipit, 21 Rock Pipit, three Chaffinch, 12 Goldfinch and 47 Linnet.

"What's that funny smell?" First Dunnock fledgling of 2020, 'Smelly Gully' (lower Millcombe), 30 May © Dean Jones

And the first freshly minted Wheatear of the year at Halfway Wall, 30 May © Dean Jones

Non-avian sightings included the first Meadow Brown butterfly of the year on the Lower East Side Path, two Silver Y, hundreds of Turnip Sawfly on the wing at North End and a Black Rabbit in Gannets’ Combe – the first for many years, due to myxomatosis.

May 31st

Stiff easterly winds in the morning, dropping to a gentle breeze by the evening – clear skies and sunshine for most, give or take a few cloudy spells.

Highlights from another wonderful day of Puffin and Fulmar productivity studies included a pair of Bullfinch foraging in the Turkey Oaks behind Bramble Villas. Additionally, there were lots of new fledglings around the island, including the first Goldfinch fledglings in Millcombe and Meadow Pipits at the Quarries.

Auks in Jenny's Cove, 31 May © Dean Jones

Other birds logged included four Woodpigeon, a Collared Dove, one Kestrel, 20 Skylark, seven Swallow, one each of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, five each of Blackcap and Whitethroat (the latter all singing males), four Spotted Flycatcher, four Stonechat, five Pied Wagtail, five Chaffinch, 12 Goldfinch and a handful of Linnet.

Today also saw a small arrival of Red Admiral along the east coast and Millcombe, and the first Hummingbird Hawk-moth of the year – feeding on the Red Valerian in the Secret Garden.

1st June

An absolute scorcher of a day! Clear skies and wall-to-wall sunshine and very little in the way of wind throughout.

The day’s avian highlight was a first-year male Common Rosefinch singing in Millcombe first thing. Although views of the bird were brief and distant, this handsome chap sang his heart out for around 20 minutes or so before going quiet and disappearing into the canopy. A real treat to start the day!

The rest of the day was spent down the cliffs surveying Kittiwakes at Aztec Bay and Threequarter Wall and Guillemots at St Mark’s Stone.

So far our Kittiwakes are doing OK with most now sitting on complete clutches. Saying that, there are still a number of late nests where birds have yet to lay, along with a few re-builds where nests have been lost due to strong winds or poor nest-building. All in all, it looks as though it may be a poor year for productivity, with both sites showing reductions in nest numbers. Currently over both sites there are 112 active nests, down 20 nests since last year.

The Guillemots at St Mark’s Stone are faring very well, however, with the first chicks appearing today and at least 200 other birds incubating eggs – a figure which is up slightly on the 2019 totals.

Other birds of note included a Sparrowhawk, three Woodpigeon, one Collared Dove, 211 Kittiwake (Aztec Bay and Threequarter Wall Buttress), a Swift, three Willow Warbler (all singing birds in Millcombe and the Terrace), three Blackcap, three Whitethroat, four Spotted Flycatcher and five Swallow.

On the non-avian front, it was a very productive evening of moth-trapping on the night of 30th/1st, with 228 individuals of 41 different species turning up in the Millcombe Heath trap. Highlights included two new species for the island: the stunning micro-moth Tinea semifulvella and a Grey Arches!

The handsome micro-moth Tinea semifulvella – a first for Lundy, 1 Jun
© Dean Jones

Grey Arches Polia nebulosa was also new for Lundy, 1 Jun © Dean Jones

Also in the trap were two nationally rare/scarce moths: Nothris congressariella (2) and Barrett’s Marbled Coronet (1), as well as a number of firsts for the year, including several Light Emeralds, singles of Sandy Carpet, Clouded Silver, Lime-speck Pug and Green Carpet. Nothris congressariella occurs only at a handful of sites in the UK. It feeds on Balm-leaved Figwort – itself an extremely localised plant.

The extremely localised micro-moth Nothris congressariella,
1 Jun © Dean Jones

The nationally scarce Barrett's Marbled Coronet Conisania andalusica,
1 Jun © Dean Jones

2nd June

Another scorcher of a day!

Not an awful lot to note from another day of Puffin surveys, other than the first Linnet fledglings of the year in South West Field, a single Spotted Flycatcher in Millcombe, three Whitethroat, singles of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff and another Hummingbird Hawk-moth feeding along South West Point.

3rd June

A day of overcast, with moderate northerly winds throughout. We also managed to get a bit of rain in the late afternoon and evening, albeit only a brief shower. This was the first drop of rain for some time; in fact only 15.1mm fell throughout the whole of May – mostly in the form of drizzle and mist rather than actual rainfall. Looking back through our records (1971–2019), this will be the second driest May on record for Lundy (only 2.8mm fell in May 1991) – 39.7mm below the May average for the island.

With the very welcome overcast conditions providing less heat haze and therefore better visibility, today was spent roaming up and down the cliffs along the south and west coasts looking for colour-ringed Wheatears as part of an ongoing RAS project on the island (see blog post for 24th to 27th March for further details). Some of these birds are very good at hiding, particularly those that nest lower down on the sidelands and cliffs. However, at this time of year when they are feeding large nestlings or recently fledged chicks, they become much more conspicuous as they come up to the top of the island to forage for invertebrates.

We also managed a visit to the Manx Shearwater nestboxes this afternoon to try and catch the few missing partner birds currently incubating eggs.

Avian highlights – other than the shearwaters and Wheatears – included a fly-over Crossbill in Millcombe first thing. Other than this magic bird, sightings were very similar to the previous day, with a number of singing warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher in Millcombe and a Swift over the Village in late afternoon.

The moth trap was again very productive overnight (2nd/3rd), with 373 moths of 25 different species – most of which were Bright-line Brown-eye (186) and Heart & Dart (117). Among all these common brown jobbies, however, a further three new species for the island were caught, including Marbled White Spot, the micro-moth Acrobasis suavella and a rather surprising Sycamore – the latter is a species that is very localised here in the South West and, going by the National Biodiversity Network Atlas, absent from North Devon, so this individual was quite the find.

Sycamore Acronicta aceris – another new moth for Lundy!
3 Jun © Dean Jones

4th June

Overcast with intermittent sunny spells and a stiff SW wind – picking up more so in the evening – light showers in the evening also.

Another wonderful morning was spent watching the island's Puffins bringing fish to their chicks in Jenny’s Cove – part of our annual productivity studies. There were good numbers of birds – their bills chock full of sandeels – most of which were seen rushing down their burrows from flight in order to avoid the hungry Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls which are also nesting on this slope.

By mid-morning, the productivity slope was covered in birds! It’s hard to think that this time 15 years ago there were only five Puffins counted on the whole island – none of which were present in Jenny’s Cove. Whereas today there were 115 birds running around, fighting and affectionately billing on the productivity slope, and 317 birds in total between the Battery and the Pyramid – a truly incredible recovery of numbers since the eradication of rats was confirmed in 2006.

Puffins galore! It's great to see their recovery since the eradication of rats from the island, 4 Jun © Dean Jones

Just below the Puffin slope, Welsh-born Guillemot 'Red 0114' (see blog post for 1st to 3rd May) was still sat tight on its egg, which should be hatching very shortly. Amazingly, there was another colour-ringed bird not far from Red 0114 today. This bird was wearing two unmarked orange rings on its left leg and a metal ring on its right. Fingers crossed we’ll hear back shortly about where this individual has come from – watch this space!

Puffins don't have a monopoly on orange legs! The new colour-ringed Guillemot at Jenny's Cove, 4 Jun © Dean Jones

The rest of the day was spent looking for more colour-ringed Wheatears and making another visit to the Manx Shearwater nestboxes.

Colour-ringed male Wheatear 'red over green' (right leg) at Pilot's Quay, 3 Jun © Dean Jones

Other birds of note included two Chiffchaff together in Millcombe (fingers crossed we’ll have another breeding attempt this year), 44 Wheatear between Jenny’s Cove and Old Light, most of which were recently fledged birds, and two Spotted Flycatcher in Millcombe.

5th June

Moderate north-westerlies picking up by the late evening, cloudy for most but with a few sunny spells by the late morning and some more rain in the evening.

It was a bit too windy for seabird surveys, unfortunately, so instead the day was spent looking for more colour-ringed Wheatears in sheltered parts of the south-west of the island, and then catching up with paperwork and data-entry.

More and more cute Wheatear fledglings are appearing across the island – these at the Battery, 5 Jun © Dean Jones

Birds logged included a lovely male Siskin on the feeders outside Paradise Row (Sue Waterfield), a single Spotted Flycatcher in Millcombe, and two each of Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff.

94 moths of 21 species were caught in the Millcombe Heath trap overnight on 4th/5th. Highlights included yet another Vine’s Rustic and the first L-album Wainscot of the year.

Finally, the first Painted Lady of the year was on the wing below the Castle.

Lundy is currently closed to visitors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The latest information from the Landmark Trust (dated 4th June) can be found here.

British & Devon rarities on Lundy in 2019 – a round-up of accepted records

All decisions from the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC) and Devon Birds Records Committee (DBRC) concerning 2019 records have now been received, so the time is ripe for looking back on a truly outstanding year for rare birds on Lundy!

In pride of place were three 'firsts' for the island: a much-anticipated Cattle Egret in March, followed by a Squacco Heron in May and then, in October, an Isabelline Wheatear – the first accepted record for the whole of Devon.

The Cattle Egret (below) was found by Dean Jones on the morning of 24 March, resting on Lametor. Though now so regular in mainland Devon that detailed submissions are no longer required by DBRC, this was nevertheless an outstanding record for Lundy!

 Cattle Egret, 24 March 2019 © Dean Jones

The Squacco Heron (below) was originally seen by Dean Jones, Seb Loram and Luke Sutton along the shoreline at Gannets' Bay on 23 May but disappeared for a while, before being relocated around Rat Island on 28th, where it lingered until 31st.

Squacco Heron, 23 to 31 May 2019 © Dean Jones
 Squacco Heron in flight off Rat Island, 28 May 2019 © Alex Syndenham

The accolade for 'find of the year' must go to Martin Elcoate, the sole observer of the Isabelline Wheatear (below) that showed itself briefly just above the Beach Road on 18 October. In the face of deteriorating weather conditions and failing light, Martin rattled off a series of snatched photos and undertook painstaking research and analysis to clinch the bird's ID.

Isabelline Wheatear, 18 October 2019 © Martin Elcoate

The 'wee dram' with which Martin celebrated the news of acceptance by BBRC was thoroughly deserved!

The winner in the category 'Most Improbable Circumstances for a Rarity in 2019' goes to the Roller (below) that perched in the rigging of David Milledge's yacht as he sailed from Milford Haven to Lundy on 30 June.

Not typical Roller habitat! Waters off Lundy, 30 June © David Milledge

Though technically not a Lundy record, since the bird left the yacht whilst still several kilometres offshore and was never seen on (or from) the island, it seems very likely that this beautiful, but clearly tired and lost bird would have made landfall on Lundy – by far the nearest place of shelter.

Also accepted by BBRC were the unprecedented FIVE Subalpine Warblers in spring 2019. It is expected that the British List will shortly be amended to reflect the findings of a recent international review. This recommended a 'split', recognising Eastern Subalpine Warbler and Western Subalpine Warbler as two distinct species. Fortunately, in addition to detailed descriptions from observations in the hand and in the field, DNA evidence (in the form of shed body-contour feathers) was collected from all of last year's birds on Lundy, enabling identification to be confirmed beyond doubt to species and (in the case of Eastern Subalpine Warbler) sub-species level. They comprised four Eastern Subalpine Warblers and one Western Subalpine Warbler – all second calendar-year birds – as follows:
  • male Eastern (race cantillans) on 22 April
  • female Eastern (race albistriata) on 30 April
  • male Western on 1 May, subsequently seen in the field on 5th
  • male Eastern (race albistriata) on 6 May (see photo below)
  • female Eastern (race albistriata) on 11 May
The observers and ringers involved were (in alphabetical order): Richard Campey, Tim Davis, Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, Tim Jones & David Kightley.

Male Eastern Subalpine Warbler (race albistriata), 6 May 2019 © Rob Duncan

Also accepted by BBRC were the records of Lundy's fourth Black-headed Bunting, found by Dean Jones perched on the roof of Paradise Row on 26 August, remaining to 5 September (photo below), and ninth Red-eyed Vireo, found by Tim Jones at Quarter Wall Copse on 13 October.

Black-headed Bunting, 26 August to 5 September 2019 © Dean Jones

Records accepted by DBRC are as follows (in chronological order during the year):
  • Nightingale – One ringed, Millcombe, 28 April (Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, David Kightley)
  • Continental Coal Tit – One, Millcombe, 1 to 5 May (Tim Jones et al.)
  • Hooded Crow – One flying past the Church, 5 May (Dean Jones, David Kightley, Lucy Winder)
  • Red-footed Falcon – First-summer male, Middle Park, 18 May (Tim Davis, Dean Jones, Tim Jones et al.)
  • Alpine Swift – One, Terrace/Quarries, 8 June (Carol & Chris Baillie)
  • Golden Oriole – Singing male, Millcombe, 21 June (Zoë Barton & Dean Jones)
  • Icterine Warbler – One, Millcombe, 23 to 26 August, ringed on 26th (Dean Jones et al.)
  • Nightingale – One, Millcombe, 25 August (Dean Jones, Rebecca & Richard Taylor et al.)
  • Barred Warbler – First-winter, Millcombe, 10 September (Nik Ward)
  • Common Rosefinch – First-winter, 21 September to 2 October, ringed on 21st (Derek Baggott, Chris Dee, Bob Medland et al.)
  • Common Rosefinch – Adult male, 22 to 25 September, ringed on 25th (Derek Baggott, Chris Dee, Bob Medland et al.)
  • Richard's Pipit – One calling in flight, Airfield, 15 October (Andy Jayne)
  • Little Bunting – First-winter trapped and ringed, Millcombe, 23 October (Rob Duncan, Ellie & Justin Zantoboer et al.)
  • Rose-coloured Starling – First-winter, around the farm, 6 to 21 October (Ryan Miller et al.)
  • Barred Warbler – First-winter, Terrace, 17 October (James Diamond et al.)

Continental Coal Tit, 1 to 5 May 2019 © Richard Campey
Red-footed Falcon, 18 May 2019 © Tim Jones
Icterine Warbler, 23 to 26 August 2019 © Dean Jones
Barred Warbler, 17 October 2019 © Dean Jones
Litttle Bunting, 23 Ocober 2019 © Justin Zantboer