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Thursday 27 August 2020

26th Aug – Stormies at North Light

Tim Frayling reports on a quiet day that ended stupendously...

We woke up this morning to find Millcombe very quiet. Mist-netting only produced a Robin, a recently fledged Wren, a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff. Bart went sea-watching and saw a number of tern species too far out to identify with certainty. Whilst looking through a large group of Kittiwakes, one bird stood out as different, and when it took off it was clear it was an adult Sabine’s Gull. When we met up with Warden Dean later, he too had seen the Sabine’s (Lundy's fifth and the first since 10th September 1997).

The main event we had been looking forward to had arrived: a visit to North End to try to catch Storm Petrels. Dean picked us up after 20:00hrs, together with volunteers Sophia, Ben, Matt and Jo. We set a single 12m mist-net and, just a few minutes later, aided by our night-vision scope, we could see we had already caught our first bird at 21:30hrs. Without the aid of a tape lure, we caught a steady flow of birds until around midnight when the catch rate slowed, at which point we put on a tape lure for 30 minutes. The final total was 50 Storm Petrels (30 newly ringed birds and 20 retraps, excluding same-night retraps).

As there was a large team, we also managed to pick up 12 Manx Shearwaters in the vicinity, and together with two caught in the mist-net we added 14 Manxies to our totals.

What an absolute pleasure to spend an evening in such an awesome place and in the company of lovely people and some very special birds.

Dusk settles over North End, 26 Aug © Tim Frayling
North Light glimmers in the darkening sky, 26 Aug © Tim Frayling
One of 50 Storm Petrels caught at North Light, 26 Aug © Tim Frayling

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