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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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Thursday, 12 November 2020

1st to 11th Nov – Autumn moves on… with a Grey Seal surprise!

Dean Jones describes the happenings of the first eleven days of November, as autumn gradually moves towards winter.
1st November

A blustery start with the south-westerly winds becoming progressively stronger throughout the day (peak gusts of 57mph in mid-afternoon) – dry for most other than a few short-lived spells of drizzle in mid-afternoon.
A very tricky day's birding due to the strong winds. Sightings of note included five Teal on Pondsbury, a Water Rail in Millcombe, 12 Gannet, 266 Kittiwake off the east coast, a dark morph Arctic Skua, singles of Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, the Coal Tit for its 18th day (perhaps the bird will overwinter on the island), two Swallow, a Chiffchaff, four Blackcap, six Goldcrest, one Firecrest (ringed), two Redwing, seven Blackbird, one Song Thrush, 16 Meadow Pipit, 15 Rock Pipit (which included a group of 13 at the North End), a Grey Wagtail in Millcombe Pond, one Pied Wagtail, seven Goldfinch, four Chaffinch, and singles of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin
Song Thrush, St Helen's Copse, 1 Nov © Dean Jones

2nd November

A wet and very windy start to the day – thick mist and drizzle first thing coupled with winds from the north gusting over 60mph – the winds dropped away throughout the afternoon and into the evening which allowed for a small passage of Redwing over the Village (around two calls per minute before the rain set in).

Other than this brief spell of nocturnal passage, not much had changed on the island bird-wise compared to the previous day. The only real highlight from this stormy day was the reappearance of the female Bullfinch in Millcombe – her seventh day on the island.  

Other birds logged included two Water Rail, eight Oystercatcher in flight past White Beach, a Snipe, 55 Kittiwake, one Black-headed Gull in the Landing Bay, singles of Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, a lone Swallow, the Coal Tit, four Blackcap, two Goldcrest, the ringed Firecrest, two Stonechat, ten Meadow Pipit, four Chaffinch, and three Goldfinch.  

Non-avian sightings included a single Red Admiral on the wing in Millcombe.  

3rd November

Light showers, drizzle and moderate northerly winds throughout the early hours, picking up rapidly to gale force once again by 09:00hrs – a few squalls in the afternoon as the wind dropped away, falling light by the evening.

A bit more variety today, highlights being the female Bullfinch in Millcombe, a Great Skua past Rat Island shortly after 07:30hrs, a female/immature type Black Redstart on the Upper East Side Path, a Reed Bunting at Quarter Wall and a small arrival of Redwing (52) and Fieldfare (30).  

Blackcap too were making their way through the island in decent numbers for early November, with 32 logged throughout the day (18 of which were trapped and ringed by Chris Dee). The biggest surprise of the day however came in the form of a late Whitethroat in Millcombe – only the second occurrence of this species on Lundy in the month of November, the first being on 5th Nov 1959 (the latest autumn date recorded). 

Other birds logged included a Water Rail, 45 Kittiwake, a first-year Black-headed Gull in St Helen’s Field, singles of Kestrel, Merlin and Sparrowhawk, a lone Swallow, four Skylark, the Coal Tit, six Chiffchaff, three Goldcrest, the ringed Firecrest, 10 Blackbird, nine Song Thrush, five Stonechat, a Grey Wagtail, 15 Meadow Pipit, three Rock Pipit, 25 Chaffinch, a single Brambling, five Siskin, two Linnet and singles of Lesser Redpoll and Goldfinch.
Record shot of the Whitethroat in Millcombe, 3 Nov © Dean Jones

Black-headed Gull, St Helen's Field, 3 Nov © Andy Jayne
Non-avian sightings included a single Silver Y flushed form the bracken on the Lower East Side Path.   

4th November

At last a change in winds! Instead of the relentless westerly gales, today the island was blessed with clear skies and a slight north-easterly wind which allowed for some superb passage during the first few hours of daylight.

A glorious autumn sunrise from Millcombe, 4 Nov © Dean Jones

Chaffinches in particular were moving in very good numbers, with a conservative estimate of 950 birds logged throughout the day. Starlings too were present in large numbers, with some 4,000 logged overhead throughout the day – a count which included a single flock of around 3,000 birds out over the sea to the east in the early morning.

The title of star bird however went to a first-winter Iceland Gull which flew over Quarry Beach with two first-winter Herring Gulls in mid-afternoon. Additional highlights included a Woodlark (the fourth to be recorded this year) over Millcombe, a Lesser Whitethroat at Quarter Wall, a Garden Warbler trapped and ringed in Millcombe, a Lapland Bunting on Ackland’s Moor, a Reed Bunting at Pondsbury, a total of four Mistle Thrush, at least six Brambling and 10 Mediterranean Gulls offshore.
One of the hundreds of Chaffinch logged on the island in Millcombe, 4 Nov © Dean Jones
Other sightings of note were 12 Mallard, nine Teal, six Cormorant over the Village, a Grey Heron in the Landing Bay, two each of Water Rail and Snipe, a Collared Dove, a male Sparrowhawk, one Kestrel, a Merlin, four Guillemot, 14 Razorbill plus c.100 other distant auks, seven Kittiwake, three Common Gull, 176 Herring Gull, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 29 Skylark, four Swallow and House Martin, six Blackcap, two Chiffchaff, four Goldcrest, two Firecrest, the Coal Tit, 102 Redwing, 33 Blackbird, 22 Fieldfare, 24 Song Thrush, 15 Robin, eight Stonechat, 24 Meadow Pipit, twelve Rock Pipit, singles of Pied and Grey Wagtail, 18 Goldfinch, a Greenfinch, 10 Siskin, two Lesser Redpoll and two Linnet.
Mistle Thrush, Barton Field, 4 Nov © Dean Jones

Collared Dove in the morning light, Millcombe, 4 Nov © Dean Jones
Birds trapped and ringed by Chris Dee were two each of Blackbird, Song Thrush and Redwing, five Blackcap, the Garden Warbler and singles of Wren, Linnet and Chaffinch.  

5th November

Another spectacular late autumn day complete with clear skies, warm temperatures, a slight easterly wind and, of course, some superb visual migration!
Jenny's Cove on a glorious afternoon out west, 5 Nov © Dean Jones
Come dawn there was a steady arrival of birds, particularly Chaffinch (400) and Blackbird (128), some of which dropped into Millcombe for a quick rest whilst others passed high overhead and on towards the mainland. Redwing (234), Song Thrush (35) and Fieldfare (69) were also moving in decent numbers, and yet another huge flock of c.4,000 Starling was seen flying north over the Village shortly after dawn – a truly spectacular sight!

Additional highlights were a male Great Spotted Woodpecker making his way along the fence posts in Barton Field, a Lapland Bunting near Pondsbury, a single Ring Ouzel in with the Blackbirds first thing, at least seven Woodcock flushed in various places around the island throughout the morning, the female Bullfinch again in Millcombe, and two Reed Bunting south of Pondsbury.
One of the many Redwing logged today, Barton Field, 5 Nov © Dean Jones

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Barton Field, 5 Nov © Dean Jones
The title of star bird however went to a stunning ringtail Hen Harrier which was initially spotted over Quarter Wall by Andy Janye in mid-morning. The bird was then seen a few times throughout the afternoon up until dusk when it was quartering around Pondsbury looking for a cosy spot to roost.  

Other sightings of note included three Teal, two Snipe, a Merlin, two each of Water Rail, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, one Woodpigeon, three Common Gull, one Mediterranean Gull, 22 Skylark, four Swallow and House Martin, 11 Blackcap, one Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, two Firecrest, the Coal Tit, 4,750 Starling, 10 Robin, four Stonechat, 21 Meadow Pipit, five Pied Wagtail, one fly-over Grey Wagtail, five Brambling, 17 Goldfinch, four Lesser Redpoll and three Linnet.

Birds trapped and ringed were 33 Redwing , six Blackbird, seven Blackcap, one Lesser Redpoll, two Goldcrest and a Goldfinch.

6th November

A dry day with clear skies throughout and moderate easterly winds first thing, picking up to a strong and chilly east/south-east wind by noon – a sad day all-in-all as the island went into a second lockdown which will continue for a least four weeks.  

Despite the easterly winds there wasn’t much in the way of visual migration first thing other than a small number of thrushes, namely Redwing (66), Fieldfare (15), Song Thrush (10) and a handful of Blackbird.

A Lapwing on Ackland's Moor was a nice treat but disappointingly only the second to be recorded this year. Three Woodcock were also logged – two of which were trapped and ringed in St John’s Valley first thing. The male Great Spotted Woodpecker remained for his second day and a Mistle Thrush was logged in Millcombe in the morning.  

Other sightings were two Sparrowhawk, singles of Kestrel and Woodpigeon, 10 Kittiwake, one Mediterranean Gull, six Skylark, one Swallow, two Chiffchaff (including one pale abietinus type bird), two Goldcrest, one Firecrest, 13 Chaffinch, one Siskin and two each of Goldfinch and Linnet.

A Kestrel resting after a meal, Millcombe, 6 Nov © Dean Jones
Birds ringed included the two Woodcock, seven Redwing and a Blackbird.  

7th November

Strong east/south-east winds in the morning gradually dropped away throughout the day – clear with sunny spells for most of the morning – becoming overcast later in the day.  

A slightly quieter day with most of the birds hiding away from the stiff and chilly easterlies. Highlights included the Lapwing for its second day on Ackland's Moor, a single Woodcock in Millcombe and a nice scattering of Redwing (123) and Fieldfare (17) across the in-fields.
Additional sightings were the Millcombe Woodpigeon, singles of Kestrel, Merlin and Snipe, a single Chiffchaff, four Goldcrest and a lone Firecrest, the Coal Tit, 14 Blackbird, four Song Thrush, 140 Starling, three Stonechat, 30 Chaffinch and nine Goldfinch.    

Other excitement was news of three tagged Atlantic Grey Seals (animals that had been rescued, rehabilitated and released, each with a flipper tag) which were photographed on the island last year. Two were local animals which were picked up in Newquay, Cornwall and Dyfed, Wales and released in Cornwall and North Devon respectively after rehabilitation. The third seal however (orange flipper tag 083), photographed by both Dean Jones and Martin Thorne on the 27th Sep 2019 in the Devil’s Kitchen, had travelled much further. In fact, this animal was found injured and picked up in north-west France on 5th Mar 2016 and sent to the Océanopolis rehab centre in Brest, before being released in an area of Plouarzel on the 4th May 2016! Who knew that some of Lundy’s seals were coming from areas of mainland Europe? Incredible stuff! Special thanks to Kate Williams and the Cornwall Seal Group and Research Trust for sending on this amazing recovery. 
Orange taggie 083, photographed in the Devil's Kitchen (Landing Bay) on 27 Sep 2019

The origins of orange taggie 083
8th November

A day of light south/south-easterly winds which picked up to a stiff SE by the evening – low sea mist surrounded the island first thing, enveloping us for a short period around 09:00hrs before clearing but remaining overcast for the rest of the day.

Sightings from a lovely day of Lundy birding included 22 Gannet,  four Manx Shearwater offshore from the Landing Bay, three Golden Plover in Brick Field, two Lapwing together over Ackland's Moor, three Oystercatcher in the Devil’s Kitchen, two Woodcock, four Water Rail in Millcombe, 250 Kittiwake, eight Mediterranean Gulls, 15 Common Gull, 80 Herring Gulls, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a lone adult Black-headed Gull, 300 distant auks, the Millcombe Woodpigeon, singles of Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, one Skylark, 28 Redwing, 10 Blackbird, 28 Fieldfare, three Rock Pipit, two Blackcap, six Goldcrest, two Firecrest, the Coal Tit, four Stonechat, 72 Chaffinch, seven Goldfinch, two Siskin, a Lesser Redpoll, two Brambling, and a Reed Bunting next to the Old Hospital.    

Golden Plover in Brick Field, 8 Nov © Dean Jones
Non-avian sightings included six Portuguese Man o' War washed up in the Landing Bay.

9th November

Light/moderate south-easterly winds in the morning which swung around to the SW by late afternoon – a wet start to the day with numerous light showers and spells of drizzle – becoming dry but overcast in the afternoon.  

With a mass exodus of birds overnight, today's birding had a distinctly wintery feel to it, with only a handful of migrants logged. These included a female Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel, the Millcombe Woodpigeon, four Common Gull and an adult Mediterranean Gull offshore, 32 Kittiwake, just 11 Redwing, eight Blackbird, three Song Thrush, singles of Blackcap and Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, one Firecrest, the Coal Tit still, 38 Chaffinch, three Goldfinch and a Brambling.  

10th November

A beautiful November day with sunshine, clear skies and a light WSW wind for most – becoming overcast by mid-afternoon as the winds picked up.

An even quieter day with a further exodus of migrants overnight (no Redwing or Fieldfare on the island today). Not much of note bird-wise unfortunately, though the fine autumn weather more than made up for the lack of birds. Sightings included a Firecrest in Millcombe, a lone Common Gull offshore, 30 Chaffinch and a scattering of Goldcrest, Goldfinch and Siskin.  

11th  November

A day of strong southerly winds which reached gale force by mid-morning – overcast for the most part give or take a few brief sunny spells and a few bouts of rain in mid-afternoon.  
Due to the stormy weather not much in the way of birds up top, other than a handful of Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin and a Firecrest in Millcombe . Offshore however there was a bit more going on, with a Great Skua harassing good numbers of Kittiwake (180), 43 Gannet, two Mediterranean Gull, 110 Herring Gull, six Lesser Black-backed Gull, a single Common Gull and a handful of distant auks.   

Report composed of sightings from Chris & Mandy Dee, Rosie Ellis, Andy Jayne, Dean Jones, Saeed Rashid and Matt Stritch.

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