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Friday 31 December 2021

27th to 31st Dec – The end of an excellent year!

Stuart Cossey summarises the final few days of 2021 and looks back at some of the highlights of another amazing year of Lundy birds. As we look forward to what 2022 may bring, we'd like to take this opportunity of wishing all followers of this blog a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year, filled with many more birding highlights – whether on or off the island.

27th December

A wet start but strong south-westerlies left a dry and bright afternoon.

Nothing new appeared to have arrived but the four Golden Plover were seen again on Ackland’s Moor and the White-fronted Goose and Pink-footed Goose were still in Brick Field. A Merlin was on the East Side and the Cormorant was still on Rocket Pole Pond.
Cormorant beside Rocket Pole Pond, 27 Dec © Stuart Cossey
28th December

The strong south-westerlies continued with heavy rain midday.

A Pintail was recorded on Pondsbury. This could be the same bird that was seen on Rocket Pole Scrape (= Kistvaen Pond) on 20th Dec. This is only the 5th record for Lundy. Also on Pondsbury were six Teal and the Cormorant that has been seen at Rocket Pole for the last few days.

Pintail, Pondsbury, 28 Dec © Stuart Cossey
... and here pictured alongside a pair of Mallards the same day © Stuart Cossey
A Jack Snipe was flushed from Rocket Pole Scrape and a Snipe was on Ackland’s Moor. The now long-staying Whitefront and Pinkfoot were still in Brick Field.

Out at sea, 800 Kittiwakes, 80 Gannets, 40 Guillemots and 20 Razorbills flew past during a seawatch from the Ugly. A Great Northern Diver was seen in the Landing Bay in the morning and a small pod of around four Common Dolphins were off Quarry Beach.

29th December

Low cloud in the morning meant that no helicopter ran today. The cloud cleared up in the afternoon.

Due to the weather there were few birds recorded today. The highlights were two Goldcrests in Milcombe, the long-staying Whitefront and Pinkfoot, and eight Teal on Pondsbury.

30th December

Very low cloud and strong westerlies all day!

A very quiet day due to the strong winds and rain. Very few passerines were recorded with no Robin or Dunnock seen or heard all day. A walk round Millcombe only revealed a Wren and eight Redwings. The low cloud had forced down some large flocks of gulls, with 55 Herring Gulls in Lower Lighthouse Field and 40 more in Brick Field along with the two long-staying geese. A single Lesser Black-backed Gull and six Great Black-backed Gulls were seen in with the Herring Gulls.

Surprisingly, given the big waves, at least two Common Dolphins were seen off Benjamin’s Chair – they were only spotted due to the presence of 15 diving Gannets.
31st December

Low cloud all day but the helicopter finally managed to reach the island.

The final day of 2021 and the only apparent new arrivals were the new guests and four Wigeon on Pondsbury. The Great Northern Diver was seen again in the Landing Bay, and the two geese were in Brick Field. Millcombe was busier than yesterday with nine Chaffinches, four Redwings and a Goldcrest, as well as the more usual species.

2021 highlights

The year started off well with a Snow Bunting and Black Redstart seen in January. A Coal Tit and Firecrest were in Millcombe until March. Migration started off with the first Sand Martin on 26 Feb. It was an excellent year for Lapland Bunting with a maximum of five together in February. A Woodlark was seen on 27 Feb. Large flocks of seabirds were along the East Side throughout winter with some scarcer species such as Red-throated Diver, Little Gull, Mediterranean Gull and Common Gull.

A Pink-footed Goose stayed on the island from 6–18 Mar. Numbers of Blackcap and Chiffchaff were increased to double figures by the end of March. March also saw the arrival of the first Swallows, House Martins, Willow Warblers, Grasshopper Warbler and Wheatears. A single Tree Pipit was recorded at the end of the month. In Jenny’s Cove there were three Puffins on 6 Mar. Also in March there were two records of Long-Tailed Tit: two together in Quarter Wall Copse and a single in Millcombe that stayed until the end of the month.

Birds arriving in April included the first of the waders, among them a Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Whimbrel, Dunlin and Common Sandpiper. Also arriving in April were the first Cuckoo, Swift, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Yellow Wagtail, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Whitethroat. The last Fieldfares were recorded in April, with one Redwing seen on 2 May. Rarities recorded in April included two Hoopoes on the Terrace and a Corn Bunting in St John’s Valley.

Things were getting busier by May with rarities including two Golden Orioles and a Subalpine Warbler in Millcombe, an Osprey over Quarry Beach and a Common Rosefinch first seen in Millcombe and then ringed at the Lodge. June was an excellent month to be on Lundy, with a Rustic Bunting on the 1st and the bird of the year, a first for Britain, a Sulphur-bellied Warbler on the 8th. Other rarities in June were a Subalpine Warbler, Rose-coloured Starling and an Ortolan Bunting.

The long-term studies of breeding seabirds continued with the majority still increasing in population since the removal of rats. Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills and Manx Shearwaters all increased, while numbers of breeding Kittiwakes remained stable. Surveys undertaken of potential Storm Petrel nesting areas revealed at least 50 pairs.

July was a quiet month with the majority of birds being local breeders. A Turtle Dove was seen in Quarter Wall Copse at the beginning of the month. A few scarcities started migrating through towards the end of July, including a Green Sandpiper, Hobby, Little Grebe and a Marsh Harrier.

On 7 Aug two Balearic Shearwaters flew past Rat Island with Manx Shearwaters. The Marsh Harrier was seen again from 9th to 12th and a Wryneck was ringed in Millcombe on the 29th. There was another good passage of waders in August, with a Wood Sandpiper seen flying over Rat Island on 9th and another on the 15th. Also recorded were Black-tailed Godwit, Knot, Green Sandpiper, Turnstone, Redshank and Greenshank.

September was getting quieter for common migrants but with a few rarities recorded. Another Common Rosefinch was ringed, this time in Millcombe, staying for a few weeks. A Wryneck was recorded by the Terrace Heligoland Trap and an Ortolan Bunting was seen in Barton Field. Island scarcities in September included a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Wood Warbler, Pale-bellied Brent Goose and a ringtail Hen Harrier.

The first winter migrants started to arrive in October with Woodcock, Fieldfare, Redwing, Yellow-browed Warbler, Brambling, Lapland Bunting and Snow Bunting all recorded. There was also a massive influx of Siskins with 1,170 recorded on the 20th. A long list of rarities included a Twite, Red-backed Shrike, Red-eyed Vireo, Dartford Warbler, Great White Egret, Little Bunting, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Chough and Glossy Ibis.

A few rarities were recorded in December included a Red-breasted Flycatcher, Barred Warbler and Whooper Swan. A putative Buff-bellied Pipit was recorded in Barton Field early in the month. Island scarcities before the year's end were a Corn Bunting, Purple Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Pink-footed Goose, White-fronted Goose and a Pintail.

All records of British and Devon rarities subject to acceptance by the British Birds Rarities Committee or the Devon Birds Records Committee.

Monday 27 December 2021

20th to 26th Dec – Merry Christmas from Lundy!

Assistant Warden Stuart Cossey provides a festive update.

20th December

Overcast with strong easterly winds.

Four Woodpigeon and five Chaffinches were in Millcombe. Past Quarter Wall there were three Skylarks and a Kestrel, whilst two Common Gulls flew past North Light. A Golden Plover was recorded and a Purple Sandpiper was flushed off pools by Quarter Wall. A Merlin zoomed past Benjamin’s Chair on the lookout for Rock Pipits. An unseasonal male Blackcap was briefly feeding on the feeders by Paradise Row.

The bird of the day, however, was a female Pintail which was flushed off Rocket Pole scrape. The close views allowed the distinctive features to be seen – the long narrow neck and white trailing edge to the primaries.

21st December

Some sunshine but cold with strong easterly winds.

Interesting wildfowl continue to pass through this week with a visitor recording a Pink-footed Goose on the main track north of Quarter Wall in the morning. It then flew east before then heading off west. It was not seen again in the afternoon, although there was a very obliging male Snow Bunting on the track above Pondsbury. In addition there were six Wigeon on Pondsbury.

Four Water Rails were heard squealing in Millcombe today, the highest count so far this December. A Kestrel was seen again and three Fieldfares were recorded across the island. There was a small increase in finch numbers, with 11 Chaffinch and 9 Goldfinch recorded. A very pale Chiffchaff was seen by Paradise Row pond, possibly a candidate for the Siberian subspecies tristis.

Out at sea there was a large feeding flock off the East Side consisting of 15 Kittiwakes, two Common Gulls, 26 Great Black-backed Gulls, 180 Herring Gulls, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 30 Guillemots and 13 Gannets.

22nd December

Overcast early morning and heavy rain for the rest of the day.

There was a small flock of eight Chaffinches in St John’s Valley in the morning and more interestingly a Hawfinch was calling from above Brambles Villa. It was seen briefly as it flew off calling. The male Blackcap was still around Quarters and the three individual Fieldfares continue to be seen across the island. The usual Merlin was harassing the Starlings in the morning. Finally, two Common Gulls were on the sea below Benjamin’s Chair.

23rd December

Visibility down to 150m in the morning but clearing up in the afternoon. Strong winds from the south.

After heavy rain and fog overnight and in the morning it was no wonder there were a few new arrivals today. The best birds were a Pink-footed Goose and White-fronted Goose which were first seen together in Tent Field in the murky conditions. Fortunately, they were relocated in Brick Field in the afternoon after the fog had cleared and better photos could be taken. Other wildfowl seen included two Wigeon and seven Teal on Pondsbury.
The White-fronted Goose (left) and Pink-footed Goose in Tent Field © Stuart Cossey

Four Fieldfare were seen together at Stoneycroft, with another in Tillage Field. Whilst beyond Halfway Wall to fix a drystone wall, Assistant Warden Stuart and Ranger Matt saw a Snow Bunting and Merlin. After the fog lifted, two lone Golden Plovers flew over calling.

24th December

A calm day with periodic rain.

A Siberian ‘tristisChiffchaff was heard calling by Millcombe Pond in the morning and was then seen briefly before heading up the valley. There was a large influx of Chaffinches with 26 counted in Millcombe. The Pink-footed Goose and White-fronted Goose were still around in the east coast fields along with two Fieldfare
The two vsiting geese still present in the East Side fields © Rosie Ellis
An incredible interaction was witnessed by the pig-sty in the afternoon. A Merlin was constantly diving and harassing a Goldfinch before finally managing to catch it, flying off with its meal towards the Upper East Side Path.

25th December

A wet Christmas Day with persistent rain.

A quick survey was completed in the morning. A Cormorant was recorded flying low over Benjamin’s Chair, most likely having roosted on Rocket Pole Pond overnight. The Pink-footed Goose and White-fronted Goose remained in the east coast fields throughout the day. Also of note were four Golden Plover on the Airfield.

26th December

Mild and calm with beautiful sunshine for most of the day.

It was great to have some sunshine after a few overcast and wet days. The Pink-footed Goose and White-fronted Goose were in the east coast fields for their fifth day. Eight Teal were at Pondsbury as were a Water Rail and two Reed Buntings. The Reed Buntings may be the pair that were first seen on 25th Nov. A Chiffchaff was in Millcombe along with a further three Water Rails. Four Goldcrest were recorded, two in Quarter Wall Copse, one in Millcombe and one on the Terrace. 
The Pinkfoot and Whitefront photographed in sunnier conditions…
... and the Whitefront (still relaxing on one leg!) on its own © Rosie Ellis
At sea there was a large feeding flock of 2,000 seabirds. The majority seemed to be Herring Gulls and Kittiwakes. There has been a further increase in Fulmars on the West Coast, with 87 counted.
Jenny's Cove in bright West Side sunshine © Rosie Ellis
Additional observer: Kevin Waterfall.

Monday 20 December 2021

13th to 19th Dec – Some brief sunshine but cold easterly winds

13th December

Low cloud throughout the morning with some visibility possible in the afternoon.

Three Woodpigeon were in Millcombe and a Water Rail was seen below Brambles Villa. A Fieldfare was in Barton Field and a Merlin was seen in a few locations south of Quarter Wall.

The main interest was down by the coast with 15 Oystercatchers along the East Side, three Purple Sandpipers in Devil’s Kitchen and a Black Redstart on scree below South Lighthouse. The Great Northern Diver is still in the Landing Bay for its 7th day.

14th December

More low cloud in the morning and again clearing up around 10am.

Down at Pondsbury, 17 Great Black-backed Gulls were having a wash with five Teal hiding at the pond's edge. A Kestrel hunting below Tibbets flushed three Skylarks. A Mistle Thrush was seen in St Helen's Copse.

Fulmar numbers are steadily growing with 38 seen at Jenny’s Cove and singles seen along the east coast and over the Landing Bay. Three Great Northern Divers were also recorded.

15th December

A clear day with little wind.

A few new birds were around today, keeping things interesting. A Short-eared Owl was seen in the morning on the steep West Side near Monatagu Steps. It was not seen again despite searching at dusk around Ackland's Moor. Other birds of prey included two Kestrel and a Merlin. The Mistle Thrush seen yesterday was in Millcombe Valley, as were three Fieldfare. Two Pied Wagtails were noted and four Woodcock were also recorded.

Out to sea a 2cy Yellow-Legged Gull was close in off the East Side, and a Sooty Shearwater was reported off South West Point. Two Great Northern Divers were seen together in the Landing Bay.

Great Northern Divers were a feature of the week, this one in the Landing Bay on 15th © Stuart Cossey

16th December

Another clear and mild day with a slight wind from the east.

There was an obvious increase in migrants today. Millcombe was busy with 43 Redwing roosting in the trees before heading out to Barton Field. They were joined at one point by six Fieldfare. The Mistle Thrush was seen again, this time up at Stoneycroft. A Chiffchaff was seen feeding behind the Casbah. 

An increase in Meadow Pipits was noted with 11 birds present, and a large flock of 280 Starlings were counted in Upper Lighthouse Field, with small groups flying over from the north throughout the morning; the final count was 377. Also of note were three Linnets flying south over Threequarter Wall and a flock of 12 Turnstones in Devil’s Kitchen.

Eleven of the 12 Turnstones passing through Devil's Kitchen, 16 Dec © Martin Thorne

A large feeding flock of around 1,000 seabirds was distant off the East Side late morning, mostly consisting of large gulls.

17th December

Dry and overcast with moderate winds from the east.

A quiet day with few new migrants. Five Woodpigeons were in Millcombe Valley and one of the Great Northern Divers was still in the Landing Bay despite the easterly winds. A Fieldfare and 10 Redwings were in the scrub at the bottom of Barton Field.

18th December

Some winter sunshine but cold with strong winds from the east.

A female-type Wigeon was seen on Quarter Wall Pond and a Jack Snipe was flushed from nearby. Two Skylark were in Brick Field and a Fieldfare and four Redwings remained near Barton Field. Three Goldcrests were recorded along the East Side and in Millcombe.

A pod of around 30 Common Dolphins was seen off the West Side in the morning with 15 diving Gannets.

19th December

Low cloud for the majority of the day with winds still blowing from the east.

It was fairly quiet in Millcombe with the five Woodpigeon remaining in the valley and nine Redwing. A small flock of 13 Golden Plover were hunkered down in Tent Field before flying off north calling. During a guided walk in the late morning, a Linnet, a Skylark and a Pied Wagtail were in Brick and Tillage Fields.

Out to sea there were six Common Gulls, four Great Northern Divers, 80 Guillemots, 250 Herring Gulls, 90 Great Black-backed Gulls and 35 Gannets.

Part of the Golden Plover Flock in Tent Field on 19th © Stuart Cossey

Observations contributed by Stuart Cossey and Martin Thorne.

Monday 13 December 2021

6th to 12th Dec – Another storm hits Lundy!

6th December

Low cloud and rain to start the day before strong westerlies left blue skies.

It was a fairly standard winter day on Lundy with very few new birds around. A Fieldfare and 26 Redwings were with some 150 Starlings in Barton and Tillage Fields. Three Goldcrests were seen,  including one making its way up Millcombe. A Skylark was seen South of Old Light and a Kestrel was briefly hovering along the Upper East Side.

Birds were still moving out at sea with a brief scan producing 2,500 Kittiwakes.

7th December

Strong gusts of over 60mph from the south in the morning with heavy rain. Winds staying strong but changing to the north-west in the afternoon.

With very poor visibility and strong winds very few birds were recorded. Large gulls continued to congregate in the fields above the East Side, with 40 Herring Gulls, five Lesser Black-backed Gulls and three Great Black-backed Gulls. The only passerines seen were a Goldfinch sheltering in Millcombe and a Redwing and two Blackbirds in Barton Field.

8th December

Continued strong winds from the north and west but dry and clear.

A small flurry of migration was recorded today with a Pied Wagtail outside the Marisco Tavern first thing, and late morning a Snow Bunting was briefly on the track in front of St Helen’s Church. Other passerines recorded included six Chaffinch, 10 Redwing and three Song Thrush. The number of gulls in Tillage Field has increased, including 170 Herring Gulls and four Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

It was busy off the East Side with a fishing vessel taking shelter from the strong winds. There were four Shags and a Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay, with a further two Shags out at sea. Around 1,000 Kittiwakes, 20 Gannets and 70 auks were recorded flying past 400m offshore.

There are quite a few pipits in the wet fields at the moment but with the strong winds it has been near impossible to hear them or get good views or photographs! Many are likely to be Rock Pipits that have moved south from further afield or are part of the local breeding population moving away from the rough seas.

9th December

Finally some calm weather with less wind and only a few showers.

Another excellent day of winter migration with a large flock of 50 Chaffinches in Millcombe in the morning along with nine Bramblings and a Siskin. A further 15 Chaffinches flew south over Rocket Pole later on. Four Woodpigeons were also in Millcombe. Also of interest were three Fieldfare and a Pied Wagtail which flew over the East Side.

A Merlin gave excellent views as it sat on the wall above Ackland's Moor. The few Rock and Meadow Pipits that were around kept a low profile!
Merlin, Ackland's Moor, 9Dec © Stuart Cossey
10th December

The wind picked up again today with 40mph gusts from the north-west.

It was a lot quieter today with only six Chaffinches in Millcombe. A pair of Goldcrests were in Quarter Wall Copse and there were 10 Blackbirds and three Song Thrushes along the Lower East Side. The most interesting sighting was a large male Grey Seal off Quarry Beach with a 1m-long Skate in its mouth.
Grey Seal with a Skate off Quarry Beach, 10 Dec © Stuart Cossey
A walk down to Pondsbury revealed the female Reed Bunting is still clinging on despite the recent high winds. There were also 159 Herring Gulls in Tillage Field in company with six Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

11th December

The island was covered in a thick fog, visibility dropping to only 20m in the afternoon.

Millcombe was quiet first thing with two Chaffinches and a Woodpigeon amongst the possible migrants. Two Water Rails were heard squealing from the dense vegetation. Down at the Landing Bay, visibility improved and a Great Northern Diver was seen along with five Shags and four Oystercatchers.

12th December

The fog lifted today thanks to a moderate wind coming in from the west.

This weekend we had a visit from RSPB Biosecurity Officer Jacklyn. The Conservation Team and a few of the other islanders learnt more about what to do in case of a rat sighting. On a trip down to the North End today she recorded a Redshank on one of the West Side pools, and a Little Egret flying past North Light.

Down in the Landing Bay the Great Northern Diver was around for another day. A Merlin was also seen bombing around the southern end of the island. There was a big movement of Redwing off the island, with only two left in Barton Field.
Update by Stuart Cossey, Assistant Warden

Tuesday 7 December 2021

1st to 5th December – An interesting pipit and farewell to Eleanor

Stuart Cossey summarises the start of December.

1st December

40mph winds from the north-west.

A relatively quiet day with an influx of large gulls in Tillage and Brick fields with 114 Herring Gulls, seven Lesser Black-backed Gulls and three Great Black-backed Gulls. Two Oystrecatchers were hanging around the Landing Beach, a Skylark was seen at Rocket Pole and a Merlin was still hunting thrushes around the East Side.

2nd December

Continued high winds from the north-west.

On a brief seawatch from the Ugly, a large flock of 160 Kittiwakes was seen feeding just off Rat Island. The female Reed Bunting remains around Pondsbury and there was a small influx of 56 Redwing, 16 Fieldfare and three Skylark. A Stock Dove was seen again in Barton Field.

Whilst out ringing House Sparrows, Jamie Dunning and Eleanor Grover heard an interesting pipit fly east over the Lodge Garden. From the description in the logbook, the call was “slightly drawn out, almost tree pipit/olive-backed”. It was located in Barton Field and seen through binoculars at 50m. “Nape and mantle greyish with no streaking, wing as upper parts but with pale/buffish wing bars on the greater and lesser coverts and fringes of tertials. Subtle streaking on breast but absent on belly which was clean whitish. Size was larger than Meadow Pipit but the behaviour was similar.” It has been identified as a probable Buff-bellied Pipit, which if accepted will be the first for Lundy.

3rd December

Calm and overcast.

After several checks during the day there was no sign of yesterday’s putative Buff-bellied Pipit. A good number of thrushes were still in Barton Field, including 28 Redwings and five Fieldfares. A Goldcrest was seen feeding along Quarter Wall and a Chiffchaff was in the Lodge Garden.

Sadly it was time to say goodbye to our long-term volunteer, Eleanor Grover. After arriving in April to monitor the seabirds, she stayed on and has been amazing, helping out with all sorts of tasks. She has also found some excellent birds during her stay.

4th December

More winds from north-west with some heavy showers.

With the flooding in Lower Lighthouse Field it was unsurprising that a Teal and Snipe were flushed out during the morning census. The Stock Dove was still in Barton Field, along with 25 Redwing and a Fieldfare.

A Brambling was calling in Millcombe at dawn and a visitor reported a Snow Bunting on the cliff below South Light.

An afternoon seawatch from the Ugly included over 3,000 Kittiwakes heading north, 219 Herring Gulls, 300 auks and 36 Gannets. An Oystercatcher was heard calling in the Landing Bay.

5th December

Continued strong winds from the north-west with rain and hail in the morning.

There were still large numbers of Kittiwakes moving north along the east coast, with approximately 1,500 along the tide line. A walk along the East Side produced four Woodpigeons in St Helen’s Copse and a Goldcrest and Chiffchaff in Quarter Wall Copse.

The best bird of the day was a Corn Bunting seen taking shelter in the lee of the Tillage Field wall before flying off, calling, towards the Upper East Side Path.

Sunday 5 December 2021

21st to 30th Nov – Feeling wintry and Storm Arwen

The Lundy birds blog welcomes newly appointed Assistant Warden Stuart Cossey who rounds ups the last ten days of November birding on the island.

21st November

A calm day, remaining mild.

The majority of interest was over on the East Side with a Merlin, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk seen hunting amongst the copses. A Woodcock and Mistle Thrush were also flushed. An Oystercatcher also flew along at sea level.

At Pondsbury there were two Teal, a Water Rail and two Snipe. A Grey Heron was also seen in the mist-net ride below Government House. Two Bramblings were very confiding along the main track near Quarter Wall.

22nd November

Another calm and clear day with northerly winds.

It was an excellent day for migration with large numbers of birds on the move: 73 Blackbirds, the majority likely to be from northern Europe, 41 Redwing, 37 Fieldfare and a Mistle Thrush were counted across the island. Finches were also on the move with 78 Chaffinch, 23 Brambling, 26 Goldfinch and six Siskin recorded.

The Oystercatcher was still present and a small group of three Lapwing flew over Airfield. Two Woodcock were flushed along the East Side. The housekeeping team saw a Snow Bunting on the track below Old Light during the morning.

23rd November

A more overcast day but cold winds remained from the north.

After the big movement of birds yesterday it had quietened slightly, with only 35 Blackbirds and 154 Redwing seen. The Mistle Thrush was seen again, this time in Millcombe Valley. Four Bramblings were seen along with 34 Chaffinches and 12 Siskins, and a surprisingly high count of five Chiffchaffs was made.

Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen off the Landing Bay, the first since the 18th. The Woodcock and Sparrowhawk were still along the East Side.

24th November

A mild day with some showers.

A day off meant that Stuart was able to walk up to the North End of the island. At Jenny’s Cove 30 Fulmars were gliding around the clifftops and 17 Guillemots were resting on the ledges. A short seawatch from the North End produced three Puffins, 35 Kittiwakes and 14 Gannets. An unfortunate Guillemot fell prey to one of the five Peregrines seen today. Also on one Peregrine's menu was a Woodcock along the East Side which managed to escape by diving into clifftop scrub.
A Peregrine on the look out for prey along the East Side © Stuart Cossey
A Pied Wagtail was heard flying north and three Skylarks were seen beyond Halfway Wall. Numbers of Redwing were still high with 122 seen across the island.

Also of note was a Small Tortoiseshell seen in VC Quarry.

25th November

Strong winds from the Northwest with low cloud and rain.

The highlight of the day was a pair of Reed Buntings at Pondsbury – the sixth record of the year. Four Teal were also seen on the pond. It was otherwise quiet with two Woodpigeon in Millcombe along with the Mistle Thrush. A Chiffchaff and a Blackcap were seen around the Village, and the Merlin remains around the East Side.

26th November
The calm before the storm, with moderate winds from the north.

A quiet day, with three Teal on the scrape by Rocket Pole and a female Blackcap in Millcombe Valley being the highlights. A single Fieldfare, seven Redwing and six Blackbirds were the only thrushes seen.

Four of the Lundy Sparrow research team arrived today and will spend the week trapping House Sparrows. After the Galapagos Finches, the Lundy House Sparrows are probably the most intensely researched group of birds in the world!

27th November

Storm Arwen hits with 40mph winds through most of the day.

Very few birds were noted given the strong winds. The only species recorded were five Jack Snipe and three Snipe which were seen by Jamie Dunning in Lower Lighthouse field in the evening by torchlight.

28th November

A calmer day with winds of 20mph and showers.

It was time to see what the storm had left, with many branches off the trees in Millcombe. Two Woodpigeons were seen in the Valley as well as five Water Rails and a Brambling. A Great Northern Diver was in the Landing Bay, at times only 100m off the Jetty. A friendly Pied Wagtail was at Quarry Pond and another Brambling was along the track with a male Chaffinch. Six Snipe were flushed off Lower Lighthouse field in the evening.
The friendly Pied Wagtail near Quarry Pond © Stuart Cossey
29th November

A calm, dry day with winds picking up in the afternoon.

An excellent day to be out on the island, with several scarce species being recorded. At around 10:00hrs at the North End, Jamie Dunning watched a Whooper Swan fly in. This was later seen at Pondsbury and then over the Village. A Snow Bunting was heard at Brazen Ward. The female Reed Bunting was still present during a trip to Pondsbury in the afternoon. Five Teal, a Jack Snipe and three Snipe were also seen. A Stock Dove was in Barton Field and two Chiffchaffs were noted. Two flocks of Siskin totalling 35 birds were seen along the East Side.

A female Reed Bunting at Pondsbury © Stuart Cossey
30th November

Moderate winds from the west.

Another quiet day to finish off the month, with the Great Northern Diver heard calling all the way up to the top of Millcombe Valley during the early morning. Other sightings of note were a Brambling heard in the Lodge garden and small flock of six Siskin.

Monday 22 November 2021

13th to 20th Nov – Autumn migration not done yet!

Eleanor Grover summarises eight days of avian activity on Lundy.

13th November

A bright and calm day – decidedly warmer than the past few days.

The heat and sunshine did not feel like November! The insects were testimony to this: three Red Admirals, an unidentified white butterfly and several Buff-tailed Bumblebees were on the wing.

The day started off with three very confiding Bramblings feeding around Brambles Villa. Other finches seen included 13 Chaffinches, three Goldfinches and seven Siskins. Five thrush species were recorded: seven Blackbirds, 22 Fieldfares, 55 Redwings, two Song Thrushes and a Mistle Thrush. A tiny Goldcrest and, not much larger, three Chiffchaffs were logged. On the slightly larger ‘little brown job’ front, four Skylarks, six Meadow Pipits and five Rock Pipits were counted.

A Blackcap and four Stonechats were along the Upper East Side Path, along with a potential sighting of a Short-eared Owl. Unfortunately, the bird was only glimpsed before it dropped out of sight and so its identity couldn't be confirmed.

Two Woodpigeons exploded out of the treetops and below them a Woodcock performed a similarly sudden take-off. Other waders of the day included a Snipe and three Oystercatchers. Out at sea, four Shags, two Great Black-backed Gulls and 10 Herring Gulls were counted. Another seabird was seen closer to shore: an exhausted-looking Guillemot taking shelter in the Landing Bay.

14th November

Very light rain in the morning, eventually lifting to a bright, if grey, day. Temperatures remained mild.

Despite the gloomy weather, it was a good day for birds. A Stock Dove hunkered down at the top of Barton Field, perhaps seeking to hide from the noisy flock of well over 1,500 Starlings that dominated the lower half of the field. This rabble could be heard from the far end of the Village! Admixed into the squabbling mass were 14 Fieldfares and 45 Redwings.

Blackbirds were also very prominent, with 15 counted in Millcombe Valley alone. Also in Millcombe were five Chiffchaffs, four Blackcaps, a Goldcrest, four Song Thrushes, a Mistle Thrush, 23 Chaffinches, three Bramblings, a Goldfinch and a Siskin. Two Woodpigeons clapped their way across the valley and two Woodcocks chose the same bush to explode out of, one after the other.

Pausing to search the Walled Gardens once again paid dividends, revealing a surprise Barred Warbler! Whist not much to look at, this subtle bird had a very charming personality – often feeding out in the open and becoming more confiding as the day went on. Only disappearing a handful of times, the warbler always returned to the Walled Gardens and remained there for most of the day. This constitutes the latest ever record of Barred Warbler for Lundy.
Lundy's latest ever Barred Warbler feeding in Millcombe's Walled Gardens © Eleanor Grover

Elsewhere around the island, two Oystercatchers, a Great Black-backed Gull, two Herring Gulls, nine Skylarks, two Stonechats, a Meadow Pipit and a Linnet were logged. Another pleasant surprise was a single Whinchat.

15th November

Once again unseasonably warm – grey with occasional blue skies interspersed – mist out at sea fortunately did not shroud the island.

A quiet day, in part because the noisy Starling flock had dispersed and moved on. Yet, over 200 individuals were still scattered around the island in smaller flocks. On the other hand, Blackbirds appeared to be everywhere, 38 counted, alongside 19 Fieldfares and 107 Redwings. Some highest counts for the week included seven Mallards, six Ravens and nine Dunnocks.

Millcombe Valley revealed mostly finches (six Chaffinches, three Bramblings, four Goldfinches and 18 Siskins) and a Goldcrest. Around the southern end of the island, counts included three Great Black-backed Gulls, 16 Herring Gulls, a Skylark, a Stonechat, three Meadow Pipits and a Rock Pipit.

16th November

Intermittent showers of very fine drizzle.

Unfazed by the wet day, wet-loving species seen included an Oystercatcher, a Woodcock, a Snipe, two Great Black-backed Gulls, 15 Herring Gulls and a Shag. A total of 43 House Sparrows huddled together around the Farmyard and two rather soggy-looking Stonechats were seen together on Ackland’s Moor.

On the thrush front, counts included 24 Blackbirds, three Fieldfares, 57 Redwings and four Song Thrushes. The rattling call of a Mistle Thrush was once again heard in Millcombe Valley, along with two Blackcaps, a Firecrest, five Goldcrests, 11 Chaffinches, four Bramblings, four Goldfinches and 17 Siskins. Three Chiffchaffs were noted, including a very pale individual. Unfortunately, this bird refused to call and hastily dropped out of sight, avoiding further scrutiny.

Flyovers included two Skylarks, a Pied Wagtail, two Meadow Pipits and a Rock Pipit. A Sparrowhawk laboured its way along the East Side and two Snow Buntings were seen on the main track near Threequarter Wall.

17th November

A fine day with blue skies and warmer temperatures.

Better weather for people but not for birds! Eight Blackbirds, one Fieldfare and 22 Redwings were the only thrushes recorded throughout the day. Finches were even scarcer, with just two Chaffinches and two Goldfinches. However, things were picking up again out at sea, with three Herring Gulls being joined by 10 Gannets and 20 Fulmars.

The screeching calls of two Peregrines were heard mixing in with the deep ‘cronks’ of six Ravens. A single Snow Bunting delighted many visitors as it stuck to the track between Halfway and Threequarter Walls. Other species recorded included: three Woodpigeons, three Snipe, a Skylark, two Chiffchaffs, two Stonechats (a male and a female), four Meadow Pipits and two Rock Pipits.
Blending in with the gravel – this Snow Bunting seemed oblivious to the rain © Eleanor Grover

18th November

Once again, back to rain showers and mizzle.

A little bit of seawatching once again provided records of a few extra species: five Great Black-backed Gulls, seven Herring Gulls, a Lesser Back-backed Gull, 15 Gannets, four Shags and one Cormorant were all recorded from the East Side. The shrill calls of two Oystercatchers were heard from further down the coast, and two Woodcocks were flushed from the undergrowth.

Two Song Thrushes mixed with 71 Redwings and 11 Blackbirds. Counts of small birds included a Skylark, three Chiffchaffs, four Meadow Pipits, five Bramblings, five Goldfinches and two Siskins. Two Goldcrests were joined by a single Firecrest. Ten Chaffinches were kept on their toes throughout the day by the presence of a female Merlin, espied hunting in Millcombe Valley, Barton Field and St John’s Valley, though not having a very successful day. In chasing prey, she would relentlessly streak after it, twisting and turning as she attempted to snatch it in mid-air. The two Woodpigeons were large enough to just laugh at her presence and 11 Carrion Crows took it upon themselves to mob her. Not a good day to be a Merlin!

19th November

Continuing with this week’s theme: intermittent mizzle showers.

Even the birds seemed to be getting fed up with the weather, with relatively few species logged. Counts included: three Woodpigeons, a Great Black-backed Gull, two Herring Gulls and two Gannets. Also recorded were three Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest, 26 Redwings, a Song Thrush, a Pied Wagtail, one Meadow Pipit, 10 Chaffinches and a Siskin. Blackbird numbers have decreased, just three noted. Highlights included 21 Bramblings and four Water Rails that were heard calling from their respective territories. What with their squeals, shrieks and various screams, perhaps they should be called ‘Water Wails’ instead!
One of the 21 Bramblings recorded on Lundy on 19th Nov © Eleanor Grover
Also seen flying in was not a bird but a birder! Our new Assistant Warden, Stuart Cossey, and his partner Megan arrived on the helicopter. We look forward to working with Stuart and, as an all-round excellent birder, we are sure that he will find many great bird sightings for this blog. Welcome to the team, Stuart!

20th November

Grey and drizzly, with occasional dry breaks.

A Ringed Plover was heard calling first thing and remained vocal, if invisible, throughout the morning. A Stock Dove was in Barton Field, and later joined four Woodpigeons in Millcombe Valley. Five Water Rails were heard calling, one of them sighted for once. Normally shy and skulking birds, it was a pleasure to see one trot across the path in Millcombe in the early morning.

Counts of ‘common’ species included two Oystercatchers, 16 Wrens, 11 Robins, 19 Blackbirds, 14 Meadow Pipits, three Rock Pipits, 12 Chaffinches, two Goldfinches, a Pied Wagtail and approximately 90 Starlings. Migratory species included 19 Bramblings, 137 Redwings, 26 Fieldfares, a Skylark and eight Siskins. Some migrants may have already made themselves at home on Lundy for the winter, such as the six Chiffchaffs, three Goldcrests and three Blackcaps that were recorded.

A lonesome female Teal was on Quarter Wall Pond and a Snow Bunting hopped along the track between Quarter Wall and Halfway Wall. An exciting find was three small ‘bait balls’ off the East Coast. Flocks of birds swirled around and minimum counts of 88 Herring Gulls, 16 Great Black-backed Gulls, eight Shags, three Gannets and 70 Kittiwakes gorged themselves on the underwater feast.
A solitary female Teal on Quarter Wall Pond © Eleanor Grover

Records from Eleanor Grover, Roger James, Alan & Sandra Rowland and Matt Stritch.

Sunday 14 November 2021

6th to 12th Nov – A wide array of autumn birds, and more fungi

6th November

Just enough clouds to make for a glorious sunrise, leading to a sunny morning with rain showers in the afternoon and strong winds throughout.
The East Coast looks aflame during a glorious sunrise © Eleanor Grover

With the prevailing strong winds, it is hardly surprising that a spot of seawatching yielded results, with some 250 Kittiwakes, seven Great Black-backed Gulls, 30 Herring Gulls and 30 Gannets being seen. Closer to the coastline, an Oystercatcher and a Grey Heron were sighted.
A Grey Heron searches fruitlessly for lunch in the Landing Bay © Eleanor Grover

In Millcombe Valley, the highlights were a Stock Dove, a Chiffchaff, three Blackcaps, two Firecrests, three Goldcrests and two Greenfinches. Other records throughout the day included one Merlin, seven Blackbirds, 15 Fieldfares, 98 Redwings, a Black Redstart, a Stonechat, five Dunnocks, two Pied Wagtails, a Meadow Pipit, six Rock Pipits, 10 Chaffinches, four Goldfinches and eight Siskins.

7th November

Cloudy skies with the occasional blue spell – remaining dry throughout, the winds dropping to become a very calm day.

The calm of the morning was disturbed by a Woodcock exploding out from beside the path in Millcombe Valley. Four Snipe were also flushed later in the day. Also in Millcombe, the absence of howling wind allowed a single Mistle Thrush to be heard. Other thrush counts included six Blackbirds, 32 Fieldfares and 53 Redwings.

Once again the day's totals included a single Merlin, as well as a Woodpigeon, four Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap, two Goldcrests, seven Robins, a Stonechat, over 20 House Sparrows, a Pied Wagtail, four Meadow Pipits, 17 Chaffinches, five Goldfinches and two Siskins.

Seawatching was a bit quieter, with one Great Black-backed Gull, 20 Herring Gulls and six Gannets, alongside a highlight of five Common Scoters.

8th November

A brief clearer spell at first light but fog soon rolled in, eventually lifting into an overcast afternoon.

The Stock Dove was seen again, this time in Barton Field, as well as two Woodpigeons. Also in Barton Field, first light revealed a flock of 96 Herring Gulls. Amidst the murk it was often easier to pick up birds on calls, with a Woodcock, two Water Rails, two Skylarks, a Snipe, a Chiffchaff, two Stonechats, a Pied Wagtail, five Meadow Pipits, three Rock Pipits, 12 Chaffinches, a Brambling, two Greenfinches, three Goldfinches and five Siskins. Other birds spotted before they dived back into the fog included a Merlin, two Blackcaps, a Firecrest, a Goldcrest, 13 Blackbirds, three Song Thrushes and a Mistle Thrush.

Once the fog cleared, it was time for some seawatching from the Ugly, with totals of 30 Common Scoters, 20 Kittiwakes, six Great Black-backed Gulls, 300 unidentified auks, two Great Northern Divers, six Gannets and 17 Dark-bellied Brent Geese (flocks of five and 12). All in all, not a bad day!
The Ugly's cheeky young Robin surveys his kingdom © Eleanor Grover

During a dusk stroll a second Woodcock was discovered and five Siskins were seen coming to land near Tibbetts. Once it grew darker, Fieldfares and Redwings were heard calling overhead, adding to the day’s totals of 97 and 188, respectively. Slightly more unexpected, two Manx Shearwaters were heard calling and coming down to land on the West Side just north of Quarter Wall.

9th November

A stiff breeze in the morning carried with it a veil of very fine rain.

The morning flock of 21 Herring Gulls in Barton Field were this time joined by a Great Black-backed Gull and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. Two Cormorants were in the Landing Bay and a Great Northern Diver was seen further out off the East Side.

Unfortunately, rain stopped play and poor visibility meant that fewer birds were logged. They included a Stock Dove, a Merlin, a Chiffchaff, two Firecrests, a Goldcrest, three Blackbirds, 15 Fieldfares, 31 Redwings, six Meadow Pipits, a Rock Pipit, 24 Chaffinches, seven Bramblings, a Greenfinch, a Goldfinch and two Siskins.

A lost Redwing mixes in with some House Sparrows © Eleanor Grover

10th November

Barely a breath of wind disturbed an otherwise overcast day.

A good day for birds with a nice variety of species logged. Seawatching was conducted near Montagu Steps instead of the regular haunt of The Ugly. Thirty Common Scoters, three Great Black-backed Gulls, 14 Herring Gulls, a Great Northern Diver, three Fulmars, a Gannet, four Shags and two Cormorants were recorded. The star bird, however, was a Sooty Shearwater that flew south towards Hartland Point. Another individual was seen later but it is unknown if it was a different bird or the same individual that had looped back around.

Two wader species were seen, two Oystercatchers and a Curlew heard calling in the late afternoon over Tillage Field. A Sparrowhawk and a Merlin added some raptor variety to the usual Peregrines. Warblers and crests stood at a Chiffchaff, two female Blackcaps, a Firecrest and two Goldcrests, while thrush totals for the day were nine Blackbirds, 63 Fieldfares, 78 Redwings and three Song Thrushes. Finch counts included 43 Chaffinches, two Goldfinches, 20 Siskins, and it was a delight to see a flock of 41 Bramblings flying low over Government House.

Other species logged included seven Mallards, a Stock Dove, two Water Rails, 11 Carrion Crows, four Skylarks, 12 Wrens, c.200 Starlings, seven Robins, four Stonechats, five Dunnocks, a Pied Wagtail, 18 Meadow Pipits and one Rock Pipit.

11th November

Grey overhead but remaining dry and warm, with the winds determinedly picking up throughout the day.

For the first time this autumn, Fieldfares outnumbered Redwings, with counts of 67 and 49 logged respectively. On the finch front, 72 Chaffinches, nine Bramblings, one Goldfinch and three Siskins were noted. Uncounted numbers of finches and thrushes were streaming south above Benjamin’s Chair, being hunted by five Peregrines. A high count of 23 Ravens were an exciting addition to the day.
A dapper Fieldfare grubs around in Barton Field © Eleanor Grover
The day’s Stock Dove was joined by a Woodpigeon, and another Woodcock yet again erupted from the undergrowth at the last possible moment. A Black Redstart was sighted, along with the more regular species: a Merlin, two Skylarks, a Firecrest, a Goldcrest, nine Blackbirds, a Pied Wagtail and two Meadow Pipits.

Seabird sightings included two Shags, a Great Black-backed Gull, 20 Herring Gulls, eight Gannets and a Great Northern Diver.

Another very successful Fungi Foray was led by John Hedger, this time with 45 species being found. The species composition was much the same as last week, missing a few but gaining new ones, namely Giant Puffball, Shaggy Parasol, Pink Waxcap, Pleated Inkcap, Rootlet Brittlestem, Brownedge Bonnet, Gallerina vittiformis and Agaricus macrosporus. On top of this, one Mycena species and three pinkgills are yet to be identified.

12th November

Strong gusts of wind throughout the day – first light was overcast, quickly developing into rain showers.

Records were rather sparse, many birds no doubt hiding away from the rain. Counts included seven Mallards, three Stonechats, a Pied Wagtail, one Great Black-backed Gull, eight Gannets and four Shags. Millcombe Valley once again saw most of the action, with a Woodcock, one Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest, nine Blackbirds, six Fieldfares, 13 Redwings, a Song Thrush, a Meadow Pipit, 23 Chaffinches, two Bramblings and a Goldfinch logged.
This ringed Chaffinch refused to allow his ring to be read... © Eleanor Grover

Records from Eleanor Grover, John Hedger and Martin Thorne.

Monday 8 November 2021

2nd to 5th Nov – Red-breasted Flycatcher and a whopping Fungi Foray!

Eleanor Grover relates the latest happenings on Lundy.

2nd November

Showery at dawn, becoming bright and sunny with mild temperatures – hard to believe it’s November!

Not only a good day for the weather but also a good day for birds, with a nice variety of species being seen. Totals included: four Skylarks, five Swallows, 12 Chiffchaffs, six Blackcaps, 13 Goldcrests, 23 Wrens, nine Robins, five Stonechats, five Dunnocks, 30 Meadow Pipits, nine Rock Pipits, 74 Chaffinches, a male Brambling, 19 Goldfinches, 117 Siskins and nine Linnets. Two Pied Wagtails flew over the Village and a flock of eight Greenfinches were heard calling all the way around Millcombe Valley, then again (possibly the same flock) flying south over South West Field. Two Fieldfares added to the variety of thrushes, which included 10 Blackbirds, 20 Redwings and 11 Song Thrushes.

Checking through a group of feeding Chiffchaffs in the Walled Garden in Millcombe revealed a surprising find: not a warbler at all but a Red-breasted Flycatcher. Flitting about in the trees, it paused only to seemingly smirk at the camera being pointed at it, before dropping down into thicker branches and being lost from view. A delightful little bird, it appeared and then disappeared all in the space of the time it took to check the mist-nets and, unfortunately, was not resighted again.

Along the Lower East Side Path, a Snipe was flushed near the Terrace Trap. Singles of Snow Bunting and Ring Ouzel flew overhead calling and a Sparrowhawk was seen hunting at Quarter Wall Copse. Two Oystercatchers and a Grey Heron hugged the coastline, while out at sea a total of eight Shags, nine Great Black-backed Gulls and 114 Herring Gulls were logged during the day. Three Water Rails were scattered around the island, along with three Peregrines and seven Ravens.
Eighteen birds were ringed: Song Thrush (2), Blackbird (1), Blackcap (3), Chiffchaff (2), Goldcrest (5), Siskin (4) and Brambling (1).

3rd November

Another sunny day, with the winds picking up a little.

Another Snipe was sighted, and nine Mallards were present at Rocket Pole Pond. Out at sea, a single Kittiwake, 26 Great Black-backed Gulls, 12 Herring Gulls, 10 Gannets and 20 Shags flew past. Blackbirds were prominent with 27 being logged, including eight together that were feeding up on the late blackberries in VC Quarry. Eight Song Thrushes were recorded, as well as 180 Redwings. A flock of 50-60 Redwings were grubbing around in Barton Field, though not all birds were able to pass through so happily: a mass of Redwing feathers in Millcombe suggested that at least one of these migratory thrushes provided a nice meal for one of the island’s Peregrines.

At dusk, a flock of 29 Carrion Crows were congregating in Tillage Field. The smaller birds, however, were recorded in smaller numbers, with counts of four Skylarks, one Swallow, three Chiffchaffs, five Blackcaps, two Goldcrests, two Stonechats, five Meadow Pipits, four Rock Pipits, 19 Chaffinches, two Greenfinches, one Goldfinch and eight Siskins recorded throughout the day.

Thirty-four birds were ringed: Redwing (17), Song Thrush (1), Blackbird (8), Blackcap (1), Goldcrest (2), Siskin (4) and Chaffinch (1).

On the non-avian front, two Red Admirals were a testimony to the warmth of the day.

4th November

Cloudy with sunny spells and a stiff breeze – there was a definite chill in the air that gave the day almost a wintry feel.

Two Fieldfares joined the 60 Redwing that passed overhead. Seven Gannets soared past out at sea, four Skylarks called as they flew over the Airfield, and a flock of 150 Starlings made a mini-murmuration over the Village. In Millcombe Valley there was one Swallow, one Goldcrest, seven Blackbirds, two Song Thrushes, 32 Chaffinches, six Greenfinches, six Goldfinches and 12 Siskins.

Whilst not birds, the day’s excitement came from a fantastic Fungi Foray led by John Hedger and Mandy Dee. A total of 42 different fungi species were located: Crimson Waxcap, Scarlet Waxcap, Vermillion Waxcap, Spangle Waxcap, Goblet Waxcap, Blackening Waxcap, Meadow Waxcap, Orange Waxcap, Oily Waxcap, Heath Waxcap, Glutinous Waxcap, Honey Waxcap, Butter Waxcap, Golden Waxcap, Persistent Waxcap, Snowy Waxcap, Cedarwood Waxcap, Slimy Waxcap, Yellowfoot Waxcap, Parrot Waxcap, Fool’s Funnel, Drab Bonnet, Ivory Bonnet, Lilac Bonnet, Lilac Pinkgill, Silky Pinkgill, Star Pinkgill, Common Conecap, Field Mushroom, Horse Mushroom, Yellow Club, Apricot Club, White Spindles, Meadow Coral, Meadow Puffball, Smoky Spindles, Dewdrop Mottlegill, Turf Mottlegill, Brown Mottlegill, Magic Mushroom, Dung Roundhead and Peppery Roundhead!

Just 10 birds were ringed: Redwing (8), Blackbird (1) and Siskin (1).

A single Red Admiral was also espied to be braving the cold weather.

5th November

The winds dropped and the temperature rose, leading to a remarkably pleasant day.

Despite the pleasantness of the day, relatively few birds were recorded. Ninety-four Redwings were logged in the morning, whilst an evening stroll through Millcombe Valley revealed two Chiffchaffs, 11 Blackbirds, two Song Thrushes, four Robins, three Wrens, three Ravens, three Carrion Crows, two Dunnocks, one Stonechat, 13 Chaffinches, one Water Rail, a Greenfinch, and a single Siskin.

Flyovers during the day included a Pied Wagtail, three Skylarks, a Meadow Pipit and four Fieldfares. A further dozen Fieldfares were chattering away in Millcombe Valley and it is likely that more birds passed overhead unrecorded during the day. Gliding around the coast were two Peregrines, a Great Black-backed Gull and nine Herring Gulls. A flock of approximately 100 Starlings were around the Lambing Shed and the single Feral Pigeon was once again snuggled up in the Farmyard.

Forty-one birds were ringed: Redwing (40) and Fieldfare (1).

Records from Chris & Mandy Dee, Eleanor Grover, John Hedger and Rachel Sprosen.

Tuesday 2 November 2021

29th Oct to 1st Nov – Sunshine, squalls, a Purple Sandpiper and a Glossy Ibis!

The Lundy Birds blog welcomes Rosie Ellis, the newly appointed Lundy Warden, who, along with volunteer Eleanor Grover, provides the latest update on happenings in the 2021 autumn season.

29th October

Sunshine interspersed with very heavy squalls and strong winds meant that the last boat of the year turned out to be the first helicopter of the winter season.

Finches were still moving through in dribs and drabs, with 125 Chaffinches, three Bramblings and 180 Siskins being logged throughout the day. Thrushes were present in small numbers, with totals of five Blackbirds, 37 Redwings and one Song Thrush recorded. A handful of warblers (one Chiffchaff and three Blackcaps) were present in Millcombe Valley, alongside four Goldcrests. Other migrants moving through included a flyover Grey Wagtail, two Skylarks and eight Swallows.
A lone Swallow heads south for southern African climes.

Seawatching was relatively quiet, with morning counts of four Gannets, eight Shags, four Great Black-backed Gulls, 10 Herring Gulls and five Kittiwakes. However, watchers were treated to an adult Great Northern Diver, although this was eclipsed by the sighting of a Glossy Ibis from Millcombe, which circled around before dropping down out of sight below St Helen’s Copse – only the second ever to be seen on Lundy after one in May 1987!
Walls and squalls on a blustery day.
29th marked Rob Duncan's departure after a three-week stint, during which he and a regularly changing cast of other ringers achieved the superb total of 1,043 birds ringed, including no fewer than 535 Siskin (!), along with 152 Blackcap, 109 Goldcrest, 71 Chaffinch, 65 Chiffchaff, 49 Redwing, 29 Robin, 12 Song Thrush and small numbers of 17 other species and distinct sub-species, among them 5 Yellow-browed Warbler, 5 tristis-type Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Firecrest, and single Water Rail, Spotted Flycatcher, Garden Warbler, eastern Lesser Whitethroat, Grey Wagtail and Bullfinch.
There was also a last sighting of a flying volunteer. Assistant Ranger Adam has been with us since April and has been a massive help, leading volunteer groups walling and helping with all manner of tasks for the island and the Conservation Team. He goes on to a paid position with Natural England in his native Yorkshire. Thank you, Adam!

Adam flies away to his new job with Natural England.

30th October

Glorious sunshine and more settled conditions, with only the occasional light shower threatening. The Landing Bay looked positively tropical, too inviting to resist a dip.

The better weather saw another movement of Redwings, with 154 being logged in Millcombe Valley in the early morning, a constant movement of small flocks flying overhead until around 11:00hrs, and a further 23 individuals counted in the evening. On the other hand, finches were much less abundant, with just two Linnets, 31 Goldfinches, 29 Chaffinches and nine Siskins logged.

A Grey Wagtail flew overhead, while totals of 16 Meadow Pipits and six Rock Pipits were counted. Two Chiffchaffs and a male and female Blackcap were feeding up in Millcombe. In St John’s Valley, two Song Thrushes were heard calling and a Skylark was chased by a Merlin, diving to safety just in time. Mallards were scattered about the island, with small flocks being recorded at Rocket Pole Pond, Barton Pond and Pondsbury.

A flock of 31 Kittiwakes flew along the East Side but otherwise seawatching was quiet.

The title of Bird of the Day goes to a dapper Purple Sandpiper, spotted on the rocks at Rat Island a few metres away from a bottling Grey Seal. The pupping season is now drawing to a close and the Landing Bay was full of adults and recently weaned pups, with four individuals – including a young tagged seal from one of the mainland’s rehabilitation centres – battling it out for the coveted Hell's Gate cave haul-out.

Bird of the Day on 30th Oct was this Purple Sandpiper on Rat Island © Rosie Ellis

The tagged young Grey Seal seeks a spot in the Hell's Gate haul-out.
31st October

The winds picked up once again, gusting Force 9. Despite this, there were mostly blue skies, interspersed by occasional heavy hail or rain showers.

The changing of the clocks brought about a much-anticipated extra hour of birding before work. However – owing to the gusty weather – it was no surprise that the majority of birds were spotted hiding away in Millcombe Valley and along the Lower East Side Path. Totals included one Song Thrush, three Blackbirds, 49 Redwings, eight Robins, two Stonechats, seven Goldcrests and 39 Siskins. A female Brambling briefly showed itself in flight, otherwise hiding amongst the 34 Chaffinches that were logged.

A male and female Stonechat cling to a granite boulder on a wild Lundy day.
Three Skylarks and a Pied Wagtail were hunkered down by Barton Cottages, while the recurring Feral Pigeon made itself at home in the farmyard. A Water Rail managed to make itself heard above the wind, and a Snipe lifted off from the track past Quarter Wall. Eight Swallows were tossed about in the skies, adding an extra challenge when trying to avoid the hungry claws of an immature Peregrine! A Carrion Crow was not so lucky, its fresh remains found in St Helen’s Copse.

Off the east coast, little was seen out at sea except for white horses, with four Shags and two Great Black-backed Gulls hugging the coastline. A Cormorant was seen taking shelter in the Landing Bay and seven Gannets zoomed past along the west coast. 
A Lundy Pony grazes within sight of Tibbetts.

1st November

The winds dropped but it remained relatively gusty in the morning. A short sharp shower at first light gave way to a very pleasant morning.

Down in sheltered Millcombe Valley, it seemed strangely quiet without the near constant calls of Siskins or Redwings flying around, with only 12 Siskins and 21 Chaffinches logged in the morning. However, this just made it easier to pick up the calls of 11 Goldfinches, three Goldcrests and a Greenfinch. Two Bramblings were especially vocal, with one eventually lifting off and flying south whilst the other remained flitting in and out of the treetops. Also noted were four Blackbirds, six Dunnocks, six Robins, three Chiffchaffs, a female Blackcap, seven Wrens and a Song Thrush.

Slightly gustier up top, a walk around the South End nevertheless revealed two Herring Gulls, five Meadow Pipits, a Rock Pipit, six Carrion Crows, six Ravens, a Stonechat and eight Linnets. Eleven Mallards were at Rocket Pole Pond, whilst a single Swallow and Skylark flew over the Village.

A Stonechat finds a perch along a windy South End.
Mist-nets were set up in Millcombe in the late afternoon when the few birds around included two Redwings, three Siskins, three Goldcrests and a Firecrest, the latter the only bird actually ringed.
Records from Chris & Mandy Dee, Rob Duncan, Rosie Ellis, Eleanor Grover and Justin, Ellie & Dan Zantboer.