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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.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

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

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