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Thursday 13 August 2020

7th to 11th Aug – First Pied Flycatcher & Tree Pipit of autumn; Lundy's 7th Great Crested Grebe

Whilst Warden Dean Jones takes a well-deserved short break, Tim Jones and Tim Davis report on the latest avian comings and goings and other recent wildlife sightings. 

The weather during this period has been largely settled and quiet, with light winds, plenty of sunshine and often balmy temperatures, both day and night. Sea fog resulted in murky mornings on both 8th and 11th, but soon gave way to warm sunshine. The exception to the generally fine conditions was the morning of 10th, when spectacular thunder and lightning storms rolled around the island for several hours, though actual rainfall amounts were small.

Sunrise over the Landing Bay, 9 Aug © Tim Jones

And a few minutes later from Millcombe, 9 Aug © Tim Jones

Sea fog burning off, Millcombe, 11 Aug © Tim Jones

Star bird of the period was a migrant Great Crested Grebe that stopped off in the Landing Bay close to Rat Island, where it was seen from the Jetty and Obsession II on the afternoon of the 7th. This is only the 7th record for the island, with the most recent previous occurrences being in Feb 2017 and Sep 2003.

Record shot of Great Crested Grebe, Landing Bay, 7 Aug © Jamie Dunning

Among the island's breeding birds, recently fledged later broods of Blackbirds, Wrens, Goldfinches and Linnets are still being fed by adults, whilst a familiar plaintive call coming repeatedly from dense cover near Quarter Wall on 11th was welcome proof that Water Rails have bred successfully in 2020. Increasingly fat – though still grey and fluffy – Fulmar chicks continue to occupy the ledges at Gannets' Rock, Jenny's Cove and elsewhere, and creches of juvenile Shags gather on rocks close to the water's edge eagerly awaiting the next delivery of food from their harassed parents.

The variety of autumn migrants passing through the island has continued to grow, with observations for the 9th, for example, including a stunning adult male Common Scoter below North Light, a flock of 12 Swift flying high to the south over Castle Hill in the morning, a Turnstone at North Light, a Grey Heron at Pondsbury, 6 Sand Martin, 7 Swallow, a House Martin, 8 Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Pied Flycatcher, a Whinchat, 36 Wheatear and 4 Tree Pipit. Other notable records during the period included a female Teal with two small ducklings on Pondsbury; single, calling, flyover Golden Plover (9th), Ringed Plover (8th) and Greenshank (11th); a ‘feeding frenzy’ of 190 Gannet off the East Side on 8th; a southbound flock of eight Cormorant over the Castle on 10th; the same or another Pied Flycatcher on 10th, and a continuing daily passage of small numbers of Willow Warblers, many feeding avidly around the insect-laden flowerheads of Angelica in Millcombe and St John’s Valley.

Stunning metallic Rosechafer beetle on Angelica flowerhead, near Brambles, 8 Aug © Tim Davis

Storm Petrel ringing near North Light in near-perfect conditions on the night of 10th & 11th resulted in the trapping of 23 different individuals in a single 40’ mist-net (without the use of a tape lure), of which 18 were new, four had been ringed on Lundy in 2018 (two individuals), 2019 (one) and earlier this year (one), and one had been ringed elsewhere (details to follow, once received from the British Trust for Ornithology – BTO). Also ringed were an adult Manx Shearwater caught in the petrel net and a fat, fluffy, but very well-grown Manx Shearwater chick sitting outside its burrow. A memorable night graced by a stunning sunset and moonrise, sheets of stars, frequent meteorites and a spectacular lightning show in the distance, further up the Bristol Channel.

Setting the Storm Petrel net at sunset, North Light, 10 Aug © Tim Jones

This shearwater chick should be in the South Atlantic in a few weeks' time! 11 Aug © Tim Davis

Non-avian news

The Landing Bay area produced a crop of marine wildlife sightings on the 7th, including a pod of 12 Common Dolphins, an estimated 800 Spider Crabs, as well as Compass Jellyfish and Comb Jellies.

Butterflies have been out in abundance during the often very warm, still and sunny conditions, with second-generation Common Blue, Small Copper and Small Heath now on the wing, joining large numbers of Meadow Brown, Red Admiral and whites, alongside a smattering of Gatekeeper, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock. Oak Eggar moths have been very noticeable, a blur of brown and ochre as they zig-zag wildly over the sunny sidelands. Other day-flying moths have included good numbers of Silver Ys and a single Hummingbird Hawk-moth feeding on Red Valerian in Millcombe's Walled Gardens.

The Millcombe Heath trap produced 65 moths of 27 species overnight on the 9th/10th, including Rosy, Dingy and Common Footman, Antler Moth, Crescent Dart, Lackey, Rosy Rustic, Flounced Rustic, Gold Spot, the dark form of Lesser Yellow Underwing that is unique to Lundy and Scilly, and a spectacular Garden Tiger, that went down a storm with some of Lundy’s younger visitors.

The Millcombe Heath trap in action, 10 Aug © Tim Jones

Garden Tiger moth trapped in Millcombe, 10 Aug © Tim Jones

Finally, both Emperor and Migrant Hawker dragonflies have been on the wing, alongside small numbers of Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies.

Compiled from sightings by Tim Davis, Chris Dee, Mandy Dee, Jamie Dunning, Rosie Ellis, Tim Jones and Rob Waterfield.


The massed blooms of hawkbits, South West Field, 10 Aug © Tim Davis

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful to see and read about all these sightings and activities. We’re on the island from 25 to 29 August - can’t wait!