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This page is run by Lundy Bird Observatory (LBO) as a source of news for everyone interested in the birds and wildlife of Lundy, situated 12 miles out in the Bristol Channel, UK. If you have sightings to report, please consider sharing your observations or photographs with the Bird Obs team here. While you're here, check out the companion website The Birds of Lundy for comprehensive updates to the book of the same name (Davis & Jones, 2007). All bird recording and ringing activities on Lundy are coordinated by LBO and general information about visiting the island can be found here.

Monday 26 October 2020

18th to 25th Oct – A rich and diverse array of autumn migrants

Dean Jones brings us up to date with an eight-day roundup of all that's been happening on Lundy.

18th October

A glorious autumnal day! Light south-easterlies and beautiful sunshine for most – becoming overcast for a few hours in the late afternoon but clearing again in the evening – conditions which allowed for some superb star-gazing!  

A rich and diverse day of Lundy birding with numerous star birds including a very vocal first-year Red-breasted Flycatcher at the back of Quarter Wall Copse in the afternoon – the second record of this species for 2020 following a bird found by Paul Holt in the same area on 6th October.

Red-breasted Flycatcher, Quarter Wall Copse, 18 Oct © Dean Jones
Another very exciting find was a Cetti’s Warbler which was trapped and ringed in Millcombe first thing – the 6th record for the island. Additionally, a total of four Yellow-browed Warblers were logged, including two which were trapped and ringed in Millcombe throughout the course of the day (one of the others was an unringed bird busily feeding in the canopy in Quarter Wall Copse).

Cetti's Warbler, Millcombe, 18 Oct © Dean Jones
Lots of excitement offshore too with good numbers of Herring Gull foraging along the east coast (385 logged) accompanied by 18 Mediterranean Gull, one adult Black-headed Gull and 93 Common Gull, the latter being the second highest count ever recorded for this species on Lundy.

The male and female Great Spotted Woodpeckers remained for their fourth day and a total of four Firecrest were scattered across Millcombe and the east coast.

Other birds logged included eight Mallard, ten Gannet, two Water Rail, a male Sparrowhawk, two Kestrel, a single Merlin, six Kittiwake, eight Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 44 Swallow, seven House Martin, five Chiffchaff, 17 Blackcap, six Goldcrest, 180 Starling, 19 Blackbird, 33 Redwing, 14 Song Thrush, 66 Fieldfare, 180 Starling, 22 Robin, three Stonechat, 12 Dunnock, two Coal Tit (including the lingering hiburnicus type), singles of Grey Wagtail and alba wagtail, ten Meadow Pipit, 83 Chaffinch, seven Siskin, six Goldfinch, two each of Linnet and Greenfinch and a single Lesser Redpoll.

Ringing totals: one Cetti’s Warbler, two Yellow-browed Warbler, 15 Blackcap, six Chiffchaff, one Firecrest, two Goldcrest, one Wren, two Redwing, two Blackbird, three Robin, one Greenfinch (36 birds of 11 species).

Non-avian sightings included a Humming-bird Hawkmoth in Millcombe.

19th October

Light south-easterly wind first thing, picking up to a strong SSE wind by the evening – peak gusts 46mph – clear skies and sunshine for most of the day, becoming overcast in mid-afternoon – heavy rain just before midnight.

A much quieter bird day, with the light winds and clear skies on the night of the 18th allowing for a mass exodus of migrants overnight. Despite the reasonably birdless start to the day, Rob Duncan continued to man the mist-nets in Millcombe. Thankfully he did, as by the late morning Rob was rewarded with a superb Little Bunting in one of the Secret Garden nets. This is the 21st record of Little Bunting for the island (of which eight now have been trapped and ringed), with the last being found on 23rd October 2019. Bravo Rob!

Little Bunting, Millcombe, 19 Oct © Dean Jones
Other highlights included a single Yellow-browed Warbler in Millcombe, the first Black Redstart of the autumn outside Bramble Villas, and ten Mediterranean Gull, a Great Skua and 15 Common Gull offshore.

Additional birds logged were 20 Gannet, a male and female Sparrowhawk, one Water Rail, a single Kittiwake, a single Lesser Black-backed Gull, 410 Razorbill, two Kestrel, a single Merlin, five Skylark, singles of Chiffchaff and Blackcap, three Firecrest, six Goldcrest, eight Blackbird, five Fieldfare, three Song Thrush, just one Redwing, 100 Starling, seven Robin, one alba wagtail, 57 Chaffinch, 11 Goldfinch, two Siskin and three Linnet.

Ringing totals: one Little Bunting, one Blackcap, one Chiffchaff, four Goldcrest, one Dunnock, six Chaffinch and one Goldfinch (15 birds of seven species).

20th October

A day of overcast skies, brief sunny spells and a strong SSW wind throughout.

Unsurprisingly the strong winds made birding rather difficult and had most of the birds on the island hidden out of sight in vegetation.

Highlights from this wild day included the male Great-spotted Woodpecker in Millcombe (no sign of the female), a Black Redstart in the Landing Bay and more scarce gull excitement along the east with a total of 29 Mediterranean Gull logged – the highest single count for Lundy on what is becoming an increasingly common species around the island.

Other birds logged included a single Kestrel, 14 Common Gull, 30 Herring Gull, six Lesser Black-backed Gull, three Kittiwake, singles of Chiffchaff and Blackcap, five Goldcrest, one Firecrest, 13 Chaffinch, two Goldfinch, four Siskin and one Linnet.
21st October

A light westerly breeze in the morning, picking up slightly around 13:00hrs, swinging WNW – drizzle first thing, clearing up for a few hours in mid-morning, then drizzle for the rest of the day – heavy showers in late afternoon.

Today’s highlight was the reappearance of the White’s Thrush in Millcombe after remaining hidden in the Valley for three days! The bird was seen by Rob Duncan at around 14:00hrs flying up from the path just below the Casbah, perching briefly on a low branch in a tree before flying up the Valley. The other highpoint included yet another Yellow-browed Warbler trapped and ringed.

Yellow-browed Warbler, Millcombe, 21 Oct © Dean Jones
Other birds recorded were a Golden Plover over the Village, the second Woodcock of the autumn flushed from the Terrace, a single Manx Shearwater offshore, two Water Rail, an adult male Sparrowhawk, a Merlin, ten Kittiwake, a single adult Mediterranean Gull, seven Blackcap, four Chiffchaff, two Firecrest, six Goldcrest, the hiburnicus type Coal Tit, six Swallow, 16 Robin, six Wheatear, four each of Redwing and Fieldfare, 13 Blackbird, two Song Thrush, 10 Dunnock, seven Grey Wagtail flying over after the rain, two Pied Wagtail, 43 Meadow Pipit, 19 Goldfinch, 94 Chaffinch, 14 Siskin, and a single Reed Bunting by Blue Bung.

Ringing totals included the Yellow-browed Warbler, six Blackcap, one Robin, one Redwing, 12 Chaffinch, three Siskin and one Goldfinch (25 birds of seven species).
22nd October

Another glorious, sunny autumn day on Lundy – light north-westerly winds first thing, slacking off to a light westerly breeze by late morning.

A superb day full of migrants! As dawn approached, the calls of Redwing and Chaffinch filled the air, with multiple small flocks moving south overhead up until 10:15hrs or so. Blackcap and Stonechat too were passing in decent numbers, with 59 and 26 birds logged throughout the day respectively.

The day's highlight however was once again the White’s Thrush which, instead of lurking in the undergrowth like it usually does, spent much of the morning feeding on the more open paths, for example next to Government House, and flying around the Valley, allowing multiple superb in-flight views.

Other notable birds included a very showy Woodlark above Benjamin’s Chair, a total of five Yellow-browed Warbler in Millcombe and along the east coast, a female Crossbill which dropped into the pines at the top of Millcombe in the afternoon, a Short-eared Owl which was flushed by the culling team next to Pondsbury in the afternoon, two Mistle Thrush south over the Valley first thing and a late Reed Warbler was trapped and ringed in Millcombe.

Woodlark, Benjamin's Chair, 22 Oct © Dean Jones
Yellow-browed Warbler foraging in ivy in Millcombe's Walled Gardens, 22 Oct © Dean Jones

Other sightings included four Cormorant, three Water Rail, a Golden Plover, singles of Merlin and Kestrel, ten Kittiwake, eight Common Gull, ten Mediterranean Gull, four Lesser Black-backed Gull, 200 Herring Gull, 18 Skylark, 36 Swallow, two House Martin, seven Chiffchaff, 16 Goldcrest, three Firecrest, the hibernicus type Coal Tit, two each of Pied and Grey Wagtail, 19 Meadow Pipit, 17 Blackbird, a Ring Ouzel, 12 Song Thrush, 26 Fieldfare, 278 Redwing,  21 Robin, 13 Dunnock, 300 Chaffinch, 17 Siskin, 37 Goldfinch, 23 Linnet, a single Brambling and two Lesser Redpoll.

Female Chaffinch on Tillage Field wall – one of the many logged on the island today, 22 Oct © Dean Jones
Ringing totals: a Yellow-browed Warbler, one Reed Warbler, 37 Blackcap, one Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, two Firecrest, one Wren, three Blackbird, two Song Thrush, two Redwing, one Dunnock, two Robin, one Goldfinch, eight Chaffinch, four Siskin, two House Sparrow (73 birds of 16 species).

Non-avian sightings included a Harbour Porpoise off South West Point, a Small Copper butterfly on the Lower East Side Path and a Silver Y in Millcombe.

23rd October

Strong northerly winds in the morning dropping away by 11:00hrs – in mid-afternoon the winds slowly gathered pace again, blowing a gale by late evening – dry and cloudy for the most part other than a bout of heavy rain for around an hour or so shortly after 09:00hrs.

A much quieter day compared to the 22nd, though there were still some great birds to be enjoyed by the last of the season’s day-trippers.

Highlights were another unringed Yellow-browed Warbler in Millcombe, a good candidate for Siberian (tristis) Chiffchaff* and a Garden Warbler, both of which were tapped and ringed in the afternoon.

*NB Subsequent MtDNA analysis of shed body feathers from this bird indicated maternal lineage as P. c. abietinus (Prof. J. Martin Collinson & Thomas Shannon, University of Aberdeen per Dean Jones).

Other birds logged included a young Cormorant on Rocket Pole Pond, singles of Merlin and Kestrel, two Skylark, seven Swallow, one House Martin, 32 Blackcap, two Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, a lone Firecrest, the hiburnicus type Coal Tit, 69 Redwing, 11 Blackbird, three Song Thrush, five Fieldfare, nine Robin, four Stonechat, the feathered remains of a Common Redstart next to the Quarries, five Dunnock, 12 Meadow Pipit, a Grey Wagtail, 37 Chaffinch, 27 Siskin and ten Goldfinch.

A Merlin looking for some lunch in Barton Field, 23 Oct © Dean Jones
Ringing totals: one Garden Warbler, 20 Blackcap, the Chiffchaff, one Goldcrest, two Blackbird, one each of Robin and Dunnock, six Chaffinch, four Goldfinch and a single Siskin (38 birds of 10 species).

A beautiful thrush-filled sunset to end a superb day's birding, Quarter Wall, 23 Oct © Dean Jones
24th October

Strong westerly/north westerly winds throughout – thick cloud and frequent downpours throughout the day.

Another quiet day on the bird front which wasn’t unexpected due to the wet and very windy weather. Highlights included the White’s Thrush again near the Casbah in Millcombe in the early evening.

Other birds logged were the Cormorant, again on Rocket Pole Pond, singles of Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Merlin, 67 Kittiwake, ten Mediterranean Gull and one Common Gull offshore, four Swallow, a single Blackcap, four Goldcrest, 20 Robin, a Black Redstart in the Landing Bay area, three Stonechat, seven Dunnock, three Grey Wagtail, four Redwing, seven Blackbird, two Song Thrush, 27 Chaffinch, 23 Linnet and two Siskin.
25th October

The strong north-westerly winds continued – cloudy with sunny spells and a number of heavy downpours and hailstorms – conditions which produced some beautiful cloud formations and rainbows.

A rainbow shines through a hailstorm over the Village, 25 Oct © Dean Jones
Another quiet bird day due to the weather, with a very similar cast of migrants as for the previous day. Highlights included the White’s Thrush showing well in Millcombe again, a ringed Yellow-browed Warbler in Millcombe Wood, and a Great Skua and two adult Mediterranean Gulls offshore.

Other birds noted were the Cormorant, again on Rocket Pole Pond, two Water Rail, two Snipe (one of which was trapped and ringed in Brick Field in the evening), 60 Kittiwake, two each of Skylark and Swallow, a single Blackcap, two Firecrest and a handful of Goldcrest, the hiburnicus type Coal Tit, 10 Robin, three Grey Wagtail, four Redwing, five Blackbird, two Song Thrush, 20 Chaffinch, three Goldfinch and three Siskin.

Report composed of sightings from Ed & Vick Crane, Rob Duncan, Dave Fairhurst, Hugo Fletcher, Dean Jones and Ali Sheppard.

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