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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.
If you have news to report, please consider signing up as a contributor or send in your sightings here.
See also the companion website The Birds of Lundy for comprehensive updates to the 2007 book of the same name.
Bird recording and ringing on Lundy are coordinated by the Lundy Field Society and general information about visiting the island can be found here.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

18th to 24th September – Part two of a two-week ringing expedition

The team of bird ringers under the leadership of Chris Dee that arrived on 11th have continued to catch steadily, but migrant numbers have often been very low in unusually warm and settled conditions for the second half of the month.

Saturday 18th

Finally a good day for nocturnal passerine migrants; 181 new birds were ringed, as follows:

2 Sand Martin, 52 Swallow, 17 Willow Warbler, 21 Chiffchaff, 74 Blackcap, 6 Whitethroat (of which 5 were adults), 1 Goldcrest, 1 Blackbird, 1 Stonechat, 4 Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Goldfinch.

Sunday 19th

Light rain at dawn didn't bring in many migrants. A total of 27 birds ringed:

1 Swallow, 16 Blackcap, 1 Robin, 1 Wren, 1 Dunnock and 7 Meadow Pipit.

Monday 20th

Another quiet day, despite ideal mist-netting conditions; 28 new birds ringed:

12 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1 Chiffchaff, 9 Blackcap, 1 Wren, 1 Stonechat,  2 Meadow Pipit and 1 House Sparrow.

Elsewhere, Dean Jones found an Ortolan Bunting and there was a ring-tail harrier in Tent Field in the afternoon.

Tuesday 21st

Perfect mist-netting conditions again, but very few birds in Millcombe. Swallow passage late morning and more Meadow Pipits about. A total of 130 birds were ringed:

44 Swallow, 7 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 8 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat, 66 Meadow Pipit, 1 House Sparrow and 1 Chaffinch.

Wednesday 22nd

Calm again, with few birds! A total of 64 new birds ringed, the great majority being Meadow Pipits: 

6 Swallow, 2 Chiffchaff, 6 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Robin, 1 Wren, 45 Meadow Pipit and 2 Goldfinch.

Observations included single Water Rail, Sparrowhawk and Merlin, and three Grey Herons.

Thursday 23rd

Another calm morning with few birds; just 13 new birds ringed:

1 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Song Thrush (the first of the autumn!), 1 Robin and 1 Wren.

Friday 24th

 Slightly more activity at dawn, light mist from 11.00 hrs; 61 new birds ringed:

36 Swallow, 2 Chiffchaff, 16 Blackcap, 6 Goldcrest, 1 Robin, 1 Stonechat and 1 Meadow Pipit.


Monday, 20 September 2021

1st to 17th September – A rich variety of autumn migrants

Lundy Warden Dean Jones reports that:
 
"The island is now radiating a glorious early autumn vibe. Following on from the last post, the emerald glow from the island's lush vegetation is now transitioning into a rustic brown as plants like bracken start to die back for another season. The clouds of flying ants from the last post have now been replaced with throngs of craneflies, more and more seal pups are turning up along the shore with each passing day (37 white coat pups have been recorded so far), and a steady procession of visiting bird ringers and general wildlife enthusiasts have graced the island, along with the first of four autumn work parties."
 
1st September
 
A mostly overcast day with a few sunny spells in the late afternoon – strong easterly/south easterly winds throughout. Max temperature 16°C.
 
Highlights included the first Wood Warbler of the autumn, seen periodically in the sheltered spots in Millcombe, particularly in pines trees at the top of the Valley.
 
Other sightings of note on what was a rather tricky day's birding owing to the strong wind were three Golden Plover, two Woodpigeon, a lone Kestrel, two Skylark, just four each of Swallow and Willow Warbler, two Blackcap, a single Whitethroat, three Spotted Flycatcher, two Pied Flycatcher (both in lower Milcombe), at least four fly-over Tree Pipit, 18 Goldfinch, 61 Linnet and small double-digit numbers of Wheatear and Meadow Pipit.
 
Pied Flycatcher, Millcombe, 1 Sep © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note were 10 Harbour Porpoise together off South West Point and a Herald moth in the General Stores.
 
2nd September
 
A mostly overcast day again, with strong easterly/south-easterly winds throughout. Max temperature 16°C.
 
Unfortunately the conditions made for tricky birding again, with most birds hiding away in thick scrub and sward, or well hidden in the canopies by rapidly flapping foliage.
 
Birds logged included four Woodpigeon, two Kestrel, a single Skylark, 12 Swallow, six House Martin, the Wood Warbler again in Millcombe, six Willow Warbler, a Reed Warbler in the sycamores above the Casbah, two Blackcap, a single Goldcrest, three each of Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, two Yellow Wagtails (one each at the Battery and in Barton Field), two Tree Pipit over St John’s Valley, a single Chaffinch, 16 Goldfinch and 20 Linnet.
 
Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe 2 Sep © Dean Jones

The Yellow-crowned Bishop is still going strong! The handsome chap was seen periodically outside Quarters and foraging in the long grass sward next to the Stonecrusher.
 
3rd September
 
Overcast start to the day but brightening up by mid-afternoon – light to moderate easterly winds throughout. Max temperature 18°C.
 
A fantastic and exciting day of Lundy birding with a diverse array of migrants which included a juvenile Knot (the second so far this autumn) roosting on Rat Island in the evening, and a Green Sandpiper over the Village in the early morning. The first two Common Redstarts of the autumn were also logged (singles at the Lambing Shed and 'Pointless Wall') along with 10 Whinchat (a count which included four birds together at the Stonecrusher), 10 Pied Flycatcher scattered around Millcombe and along the East Side, and at least eight Tree Pipit – a count which included a gang of four birds in Millcombe throughout the day.
 
One of ten Whinchats present on 3 Sep – this individual on Brick Field fenceline © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note were four Woodpigeon, a single fly-over Golden Plover, two Curlew on the Airstrip, a single Dunlin overhead, a flock of 27 Oystercatcher roosting in Jenny’s Cove, two Kestrel, a Merlin, two Skylark, 11 Sand Martin, 16 Swallow, 17 Willow Warbler (including one acredula type bird), two Chiffchaff, five Sedge Warbler, a Grasshopper Warbler, seven Blackcap (the first obvious arrival of autumn migrants), a single Goldcrest, 12 Spotted Flycatcher, three Stonechat, 40 Wheatear, five Yellow Wagtails together in Brick Field, seven Pied Wagtails, two White Wagtails, 30 Meadow Pipit, 22 Goldfinch and 92 Linnet.
 
A 'washed out', acredula-type Willow Warbler, Millcombe, 3 Sep © Dean Jones

Male Northern Wheatear, Brick Field, 3 Sep © Dean Jones

More of the Wheatears hoaking out a meal along Brick Field wall, 3 Sep © Dean Jones

In addition, the Yellow-crowned Bishop was outside Quarters again early in the day.
 
4th September
 
A hazy start to the morning quickly gave way to beautiful clear blue skies – light easterly winds in the morning then picked up and switched to the north later in the day. Max temperature 18°C.
 
Other than 12 Whinchat scattered between St Helen’s Field fence and Quarter Wall, all in all it was a rather quiet day for migrants.
 
Wren enjoying the beautiful morning weather on 4 Sep © Dean Jones

Also logged were six Woodpigeon, a single Cormorant, three Kestrel, a lone Sand Martin, just 10 Swallow, 18 Willow Warbler, two Blackcap, a single Spotted Flycatcher, two Stonechat, two Pied Flycatcher, five Yellow Wagtail, four Tree Pipit, 17 Goldfinch and 29 Linnet.
 
The Yellow-crowned Bishop was still present outside Quarters in the morning.
 
5th September
 
A stunning day of blue skies and light winds from the east. Max temperature 19°C.
 
Highlights included a first-year Common Rosefinch which was caught and ringed in Millcombe Valley. A very showy Wryneck also turned up on the old Terrace Trap in the afternoon – the second of the autumn so far! A Little Stint was seen and heard over the Village in the evening – the first since 2014 – a Storm Petrel was caught and ringed along the west coast in the wee hours, and a nice arrival of 83 Willow Warbler were logged across the island.
 
Record shot of the Wryneck on the Terrace Trap, 5 Sep © Dean Jones
 
First-year Common Rosefinch, Millcombe, 5 Sep © Richard Taylor

Also logged were a single Swift, eight Woodpigeon, singles of Curlew, Ringed Plover, Snipe, Common Sandpiper and Cormorant, five Kestrel hovering together above the Upper East Side Path, two each of Skylark and Sand Martin, 12 Swallow, seven House Martin, five Chiffchaff, a Sedge Warbler, 12 Blackcap, singles of Whitethroat and Firecrest, four Spotted Flycatcher, seven Whinchat, 15 Stonechat (the first proper arrival of the autumn), seven Pied Flycatcher, five Yellow Wagtail (all foraging in Brick Field), three Grey Wagtail (the first of the autumn), 25 Meadow Pipit, four Tree Pipit, 23 Goldfinch and 170 Linnet.
 
"Which way's south again?" Pied Flycatcher, Millcombe, 5 Sep © Dean Jones

The non-avian highlight was a Migrant Hawker dragonfly quartering upper Millcombe in the morning.
 
6th September
 
The day started with Lundy enveloped in a thick mist which thankfully cleared by late morning to mainly clear and bright conditions, with a few short-lived spells of low cloud throughout the afternoon – winds light and from the east again. Max temperature 20°C.
 
A much quieter bird day, especially compared to the previous day, with two Woodpigeon, two Kestrel, two Sand Martin, just 10 Swallow, 20 Willow Warbler, singles of Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler and Blackcap, two Whitethroat, one Spotted Flycatcher, four Stonechat, two Pied Flycatcher, a fly-over Yellow Wagtail, four Tree Pipit, 30 Meadow Pipit, 17 Goldfinch and 150 Linnet (single flock near the Old Hospital).
 
Spotted Flycatcher on High Street wall, 6 Sep © Dean Jones
 
The Yellow-crowned Bishop was in Tent Field in the afternoon.
 
A total of 49 moth species were caught overnight (5th & 6th) in the Millcombe Heath trap. Among them were the first Frosted Orange and Autumnal Rustic of the year, a handful of Silver Y, a single Devonshire Wainscot (a nationally scarce species) and the second record of Pinion-streaked Snout for the island!
 
7th September
 
A very warm midsummer-like day of clear blue skies throughout and light winds from the east, picking up to a moderate wind by the evening. Max temperature 24°C.
 
The island was graced by a fantastic fall of migrants. Spotted Flycatchers were present in very good numbers (60 birds logged), most unsurprisingly found in Millcombe and along the east coast, but with some really nice gangs of birds on top of the island too, e.g. seven together flycatching from the water tank fence. Wheatears too were well represented with at least 110 birds across the island.
 
Other highlights included a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker in the 'Rüppell’s Quarry' willows (the 35th record for Lundy) in the afternoon, a Wood Warbler in the Terrace willows, and a Garden Warbler in Millcombe which was caught and ringed.
 
A more typical lemon-yellow autumn Willow Warbler ruffled by the easterlies, 7 Sep © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note were a Teal on Barton Pond, one Swift, a single fly-over Golden Plover and Snipe, three Kestrel, two Skylark, just four Swallow (a poor autumn so far for hirundines on the island), 38 Willow Warbler, three Chiffchaff, 16 Whitethroat (the highest count so far this autumn), a lone Goldcrest, six Whinchat (including five together at Quarter Wall), one Redstart, five Stonechat, three Pied Flycatcher, two Yellow Wagtails, a White Wagtail in Barton Field, three Tree Pipit, two Chaffinch, 17 Goldfinch and 200 Linnet (most of which were part of one large flock near the Old Hospital).
 
Our old friend the Yellow-crowned Bishop was seen again at the corner of the camp site.
 
8th September
 
A bit more autumn-like today! Grey and overcast for most with short-lived periods of mist and heavy rain, winds strong from the east/south-east for the most part, dropping away and swinging north-west by the evening. Max temperature 20°C.
 
Yet another magical day of Lundy birding! Highlights included a Hobby which flew south past Millcombe in the late morning, the juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker for its second day in either St Helen’s Copse or Millcombe, and a rather noisy Wood Warbler seen and heard in Quarter Wall Copse – perhaps the same bird seen on the Terrace the previous day. Spotted Flycatchers were still present in good numbers (22), along with four Common Redstart and nine Tree Pipit.
 
Whinchat, Upper East Side Path, 8 Sep © Dean Jones
 
A beautifully calm evening up at the North End with the mist-nets produced a small but pleasing catch of six Storm Petrels.
 
Other sightings of note were singles of Swift, Ringed Plover and Dunlin, 13 Cormorant, one Grey Heron, a handsome male Sparrowhawk, three Kestrel, a single Woodpigeon, five Skylark, 12 Sand Martin, 30 Swallow, 40 House Martin, 17 Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff, four Blackcap, 10 Whitethroat, three Goldcrest, seven Stonechat, two Whinchat, just five Wheatear, three Pied Flycatcher, five Yellow Wagtail, seven Pied Wagtails and singles of Grey and White Wagtail, six Chaffinch, 25 Goldfinch and 173 Linnet.
 
9th September
 
A grey start to the day with bouts of light drizzle and rain throughout the morning until 10:00hrs, after which the clouds dissipated, giving way to some beautiful summery weather – light south-east winds first thing picked up and shifted to the north by the afternoon. Max temperature 18°C.
 
A much quieter day for migrants with the Wood Warbler again in Quarter Wall Copse taking the title of star bird.
 
Other birds logged were a Swift, two Woodpigeon, a fly-over Dunlin, a single Kestrel, seven Sand Martin, six Swallow, four Willow Warbler, singles of Chiffchaff, Sedge and Reed Warbler, two Blackcap, two Whitethroat, singles of Firecrest (Quarter Wall Copse) and Goldcrest, just one Spotted Flycatcher, eight Wheatear in the in-fields, singles of Stonechat, Grey and White Wagtail, two Tree Pipit, 13 Goldfinch and 250 Linnet.
 
10th September
 
A wet and windy day with heavy rain first thing, followed by mostly grey overcast conditions and a moderate northerly throughout. Max temperature 17°C.
 
A day of avian surprises, the first of which came in the form of a Pale-bellied Brent Goose floating in the Landing Bay in the late morning – the 20th record of Brent Goose for the island. Even better though is that only four of these previous records have involved the pale-bellied race Branta bernicula hrota (a race which breeds in the Canadian Arctic) – all other records have been of the dark-bellied form B. b. bernicula (which breed in Russia).
 
Another exciting discovery came later in the day when a Great Tit turned up in Millcombe Valley – a very common and familiar bird on the mainland but here on Lundy it is the scarcest of the tits species (Great, Blue and Coal) with records in only 38 years since 1947, the last of which was in September 2011!
 
Other birds logged were the Great Spotted Woodpecker for its third day, two Teal, a Swift, four Golden Plover, a single Ringed Plover overhead, one Kestrel, two Skylark, two Sand Martin, 53 Swallow, 17 Willow Warbler, five Chiffchaff, eight Blackcap, six Whitethroat, one Firecrest, two Goldcrest, five Spotted Flycatcher, a single Common Redstart, three Whinchat, three Stonechat, 30 Wheatear, one Pied Flycatcher, two each of Yellow and Grey Wagtail, 11 Pied Wagtail, two White Wags, a single Tree Pipit, 42 Meadow Pipit, 19 Goldfinch and 140 Linnet.
 
Juvenile Blackbird making the most of fruiting brambles around the Ugly, 10 Sep © Dean Jones

11th September
 
A mostly cloudy day with the odd shower and sunny spell dotted throughout – winds were moderate and from the north/west up until the evening when they dropped to a breeze. Max temperature 18°C.
 
Highlights were the Pale-bellied Brent Goose, present for a second day, the reappearance of the Common Rosefinch from the 5th, and the first fall of Blackcap of the autumn, albeit a small one (30 birds).
 
Martin Thorne, one of the few regular birders to the island, also had a pleasant day-trip with some productive seawatching at the North End, the highlights of which were six Common Scoter flying east, four each of Great Skua (harassing small numbers of Kittiwakes) and Balearic Shearwater, two Harbour Porpoise and four Common Dolphin.
 
Other migrants logged were a Swift, four Woodpigeon, a single Golden Plover, 20 Kittiwake, eight Cormorant, a Grey Heron, one Kestrel, three Sand Martin, seven Swallow, 15 Willow Warbler, 10 Chiffchaff, singles of Sedge and Reed Warbler, seven Whitethroat, five Goldcrest, seven Spotted Flycatcher, a Common Redstart, six Stonechat, 70 Wheatear, three Pied Flycatcher, two Yellow Wagtail, three Grey Wagtail, 14 alba wags, 30 Meadow Pipit, 14 Goldfinch and 200 Linnet.
 
Ringing: A team of bird ringers under the leadership of Chris Dee arrived for a two-week stay, based in Brambles, ringing as often as conditions permit in Millcombe and St John's Valley. Totals for 11th: 1 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Wren, 2 Robin, 1 Redstart, 1 Spotted Flycatcher and 1 Linnet.
 
Lastly, Martin also noted seven additional Balearic Shearwaters close into the bow of the Oldenburg about halfway across from Bideford to the island. Mandy Dee found two new species of fungi for the Lundy list within 50m of Brambles!
 
12th September
 
A wet, misty and overcast day for the most part, though the sun did shine briefly in the afternoon – a light westerly breeze first thing turning east again by the evening. Max temperature 16°C.
 
Highlights included the first-year Common Rosefinch (see below) and the Great Spotted Woodpecker in Millcombe again.
 
Other migrants of note on what was a rather quiet day of birding were a Swift, two Woodpigeon, one Kestrel, 145 Swallow, 10 Willow Warbler, five Chiffchaff, a Reed Warbler, 20 Blackcap, one Whitethroat, two Goldcrest, three Spotted Flycatcher, one Whinchat, six Stonechat, 13 Wheatear, two Grey Wagtail, 60 Meadow Pipit, three Chaffinch, 14 Goldfinch and 30 Linnet.
 
Ringing totals: 5 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 15 Blackcap, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Robin and a Manx Shearwater that had crash-landed at night by the gents' loo outside the Marisco Tavern. The Common Rosefinch ringed the previous week was retrapped.

A pod of 10 Common Dolphin were seen feeding off South West Point.
 
13th September
 
A very similar day to the 12th: wet and with a light breeze from the south-east/east. Max temperature 16°C.
 
Highlights were a Knot on the Airfield (the third of the autumn so far) together with 20 Golden Plover, the Great Spotted Woodpecker and the first Mistle Thrush of the year.
 
The best of the rest included four Woodpigeon, 31 Gannet, two Kestrel, seven Skylark, just two Swallow, singles of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, five Blackcap, a Garden Warbler, two Whitethroat, six Goldcrest, singles of Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart and Whinchat, six Stonechat, 14 Wheatear, two Yellow Wagtail, 40 Meadow Pipit, seven Chaffinch, seven Goldfinch and 20 Linnet.
 
Ringing was severely weather-impacted. A small window late morning produced singles of Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Redstart and Wren, plus 4 Stonechat.
 
The non-avian highlight was at least four Common Dolphin feeding off the west coast.
 
14th September
 
A very pleasant autumn day with sunny spells and a light easterly breeze. Max temperature 18°C.
 
Birds of note were the juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker which was trapped and ringed in St John’s Valley, 20 Mallard (the highest count so far this year), two Teal, four Woodpigeon, 14 Golden Plover, one Ringed Plover, a Grey Heron, two Kestrel, three Skylark, just five Swallow, two House Martin, two Chiffchaff (no Willow Warbler on this date), a Reed Warbler, five Blackcap, one Garden Warbler, one Whitethroat, two Goldcrest, one Spotted Flycatcher, three Stonechat, 18 Wheatear, one Pied Flycatcher, one Tree Pipit, 80 Meadow Pipit, two Chaffinch, 18 Goldfinch and 300 Linnet.
 
Ringing: the male Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Wren, 1 Pied Flycatcher and 13 Meadow Pipit.
 
A single Harbour Porpoise was noted in the southern races.
 
15th September
 
Another lovely autumn day with wall-to-wall sunshine and pleasant temperatures throughout and a light easterly breeze. Max temperature 18°C.
 
Migrants logged included the Great Spotted Woodpecker in Millcombe, two Woodpigeon, 13 Golden Plover on the Airfield, a Grey Heron, singles of Kestrel and Merlin, seven Skylark, 27 Sand Martin, 253 Swallow, 30 House Martin, one Willow Warbler, a Reed Warbler, three Blackcap, one Whitethroat, one Whinchat, two Stonechat, 10 Wheatear, one Grey Wagtail, nine Pied Wagtails, a Tree Pipit, 40 Meadow Pipit, six Goldfinch and 130 Linnet. (For the first time since 24th August there was no Spotted Flycatche!)

Ringing totals: 9 Swallow, singles of Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Reed Warbler, 3 Robin, 3 Dunnock and 26 Meadow Pipit.
 
16th September
 
A cloudy start to the day which quickly brightened up – winds very light and from the north/north-east. Max temperature 17°C.
 
Migrants logged were a Whimbrel, four Razorbill offshore, 10 Cormorant, a single Kestrel, three Skylark, six Sand Martin, 1,500 Swallow, two House Martin, four Willow Warbler, five Chiffchaff, six Blackcap, five Whitethroat, three Goldcrest, four Spotted Flycatcher, a Whinchat, six Stonechat, 28 Wheatear, one Pied Flycatcher, two Yellow Wagtail, a Grey Wagtail, six Pied and two White Wagtail, 30 Meadow Pipit, three Chaffinch, 19 Goldfinch and 164 Linnet.
 
Ringing totals: 13 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 6 Blackcap, 3 Whitethroat (all adults), 1 Goldcrest, 1 Wren, 1 Robin, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 14 Meadow Pipit and 1 Linnet.
 
17th September
 
A sunny start with a cool easterly wind – cloud then rolled in come the afternoon, followed by some light rain and thick mist in the evening. Max temperature 17°C.
 
A very quiet day for birds considering the time of year, those logged being 36 Gannet, a Grey Heron, two Kestrel, three Skylark, six Swallow, three Chiffchaff, four Goldcrest, three Stonechat, six Wheatear, a single Pied Flycatcher, four Yellow Wagtail, two Grey Wagtail, a Tree Pipit, 80 Meadow Pipit, five Chaffinch, seven Goldfinch and 150 Linnet.
 
It was too breezy for mist-netting, so no birds were ringed on 17th.
 
Report composed of sightings from Louise Bartlett, Johnny Cayford, Chris & Mandy Dee, Paul Dietrich, Jamie Dunning, Eleanor Grover, Rosie Hall, Dean Jones, Lucy Mortlock, Joe Parke, Sue Sabin, Jan Swan, Richard & Rebecca Taylor, Tony Taylor and Peter Ward.
 
The pupping season for our Atlantic Grey Seals is now well under way; how many pups can you see?!
10 Sep © Dean Jones


Thursday, 2 September 2021

10th to 31st Aug – Steady passage of autumn migrants, and a lost bishop!

The island's resident Starlings are now forming big pre-roost flocks around the Village, a handful of Lundy Cabbage flowers hang on from delicate stems as they protrude from clumps of browning bracken, the first Fulmar chicks have left their cosy ledges for a new life on the open sea, and the cries of young gulls along the sidelands have now been replaced by the wails of hauled-out seals ready for the breeding season. The end-of-summer season is blending magically into the start of autumn but summer isn’t going out without a wildlife-filled bang!
 
Weather-wise – from the end of the last post (9th) up until the 21st, Lundy was subjected to some rather prolonged, grey, overcast and wet conditions, with frequent spells of mist and low cloud and, of course, a number of days with strong westerly winds – particularly on the 15th when gusts were just shy of gale force. Thankfully, a much-welcomed spell of high pressure arrived on the night of the 22nd bringing more summer-like conditions up until the 30th. Skies cleared, temperatures rose and the winds turned to the east – ideal conditions for bringing a wonderful diversity and number of southbound migrants to the island.
 
The warm, settled weather over the last week has urged more ants to take to the wing,
including this swarm at South West Point, 26 Aug © Dean Jones


Birding highlights from this period included the Marsh Harrier, which remained on the island from earlier in the month until the 12th at least, mostly seen quartering the slopes and combes in the north-east of the island. However, it did travel further south on the 11th when it was perched upon a recently deceased sheep on Ackland's Moor, being seen by Ash Garfoot from his bathroom window in Old Light Cottage.
 
Record shot of the Marsh Harrier, Ackland's Moor, 11 Aug © Dean Jones

Other star birds included a Wryneck, which found itself in the shelf of a mist-net in Millcombe on the 29th. The second Wood Sandpiper of the year flew low over the Village on the 15th, two Little Egrets (the first of the year) were present together in the Devil’s Kitchen on the evening of the 29th, and adult and young Water Rails were heard calling to one another from Quarter Wall on the 25th – confirming breeding for another year. Nearby, the first Whinchat of the autumn was perched at the end of 'Pointless Wall' (on the northern side of the Airfield) on the same date, with another at Quarter Wall on the 28th, and Spotted Flycatchers started moving through the island from the 23rd, with spectacular numbers on the 26th (24) and 27th (35). Pied Flycatchers too have been arriving in good numbers since the 25th, with higher counts including eight on the 25th, four on the 26th and a super 20 birds on the 27th – though this is still a ways off the record of 100 on 2nd September 1989!
 
Wryneck, Millcombe, 29 Aug © Dean Jones

Whinchat, Brick Field, 28 Aug © Dean Jones
 
Pied Flycatcher, Millcombe, 25 Aug © Dean Jones

Spotted Flycatcher, Brick Field, 28 Aug © Dean Jones

Other south-bound migrants included a juvenile Cuckoo on the 23rd & 24th, single Swifts on four dates, a lone Teal periodically on Brick Field Pond, up to 12 Woodpigeon logged each day, a single Collared Dove singing in Millcombe on the 23rd, lone Cormorants perched on South West Point and South East Point on the 18th and 29th respectively, a Grey Heron over the Beach Road on the 29th, a stunning adult male Merlin perched below the Terrace on the 28th, and up to three Kestrels present daily.
 
A lone Cormorant (left) with Shags, South West Point, 18 Aug © Dean Jones

Waders have also continued to move through, with singles of Curlew logged on the 10th and 12th, the first southbound Whimbrel of the year on Rat Island on the 13th and five in Barton Field on the 19th. One or two Dunlin were logged on seven dates, mostly flyovers apart from a bird at Brick Field Pond on the 23rd, and a single Snipe was logged at Pondsbury, also on the 23rd. A Green Sandpiper flew south past the Landing Bay on the 18th and three were logged overhead on the 31st, two Common Sandpiper were heard calling along the east coast on the 23rd, single Ringed Plovers flew over the island on the 21st and 28th, with two on the 23rd, two Golden Plover were on the Airfield on the 23rd, 24th and 31st, and single flyover Turnstones were logged on the 24th and 31st, whilst another spent two days in the Landing Bay on the 26th & 27th. Finally, a Greenshank flew over the island on the 26th, single Redshanks were logged on the 28th (Pondsbury) and the 30th (Village), and a juvenile Knot dropped into Rocket Pole Pond on the 30th – the first for Lundy since 2018.
 
Dunlin, Brick Field Pond, 18 Aug © Dean Jones

Onto the songbirds, and Willow Warblers continued moving through in good numbers each day, with high counts of 28 on the 12th, 36 on the 16th and at least 70 on the 27th. The first Reed Warblers of the ornithological autumn were logged in the Secret Garden on the 26th, followed by two together in the Government House tree nursery on the 27th. A single Grasshopper Warbler was flushed from St John’s Valley on the 20th, two Garden Warblers were in Millcombe on the 12th, with a single bird on the 26th, and small numbers of Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat were logged each day – the first of these including a pair feeding a second brood of three chicks in Millcombe on the 21st.
 
Hirundine passage has picked up a bit too over the past few weeks – namely Swallow (max 38 on the 23rd) and Sand Martin (max 25 on the 26th). The first Firecrest of the autumn was in Millcombe pines on the 28th and still present on 31st, accompanied by a single Goldcrest on the 30th and 31st. Two southbound Yellow Wagtails were logged on the mornings of the 27th and 30th, followed by four in Brick Field on the 31st, a single White Wagtail was next to the water tanks on the 31st, and the first southbound Tree Pipits arrived on the 16th and have since been logged on nine days (max six over the Village/Millcombe area on the 28th), along with a small but noticeable increase in Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits across the island. Wheatears too were logged in low double-digit counts most days and the post-breeding Linnet flocks are still growing, particularly in Middle Park where a flock of 170  was seen on the 27th.
 
One of four Yellow Wagtails in Brick Field, with Boris-the-Bull, 31 Aug © Dean Jones

Wheatear ruffled by the easterly breeze, Brick Field, 25 Aug © Dean Jones

Young Linnet, Rocket Pole Pond, 18 Aug © Dean Jones

There have been a few later Goldfinch broods this month too! Millcombe, 28 Aug © Dean Jones

Reports over the radio on the 24th of a bright yellow finch-like bird on the fence of the Lodge garden had members of the Conservation Team running up the hill to investigate. By the time we got there, however, the bird had gone but luckily the finder, Paul Sofield, managed to get some shots of the mystery bird on his mobile phone. As you can see from the record shot below, the bird in question turned out to be a Yellow-crowned Bishop, a species native to numerous African countries south of the Sahara, occurring also in parts of Spain and Portugal where it was accidently introduced.
 
The exotic-looking Yellow-crowned Bishop in the Lodge garden, 24 Aug © Paul Sofield

Despite this bird being of captive origin from an aviary in North Devon, it is incredible that it made the jump over the sea to the island. It just goes to show, you never know what you’re going to find on Lundy! Since the 24th, the bird has taken a liking to South West Field and the Aerogenerator (Lighthouse) Field, where it was seen periodically up until the 31st.
 
Other exciting avian news included a breeding colour-ringed Kittiwake in Jenny’s Cove, found by Eleanor Grover whilst surveying Puffins on the 18th July. FX21721 or orange/red/metal (left leg), red/blue/blue (right leg) was hatched at Pointe du Raz, Plogoff, Finistère, Brittany, France in 2009 and had not been resighted until now. It is highly possible that this bird may have bred at Jenny’s Cove for several years but gone unnoticed until now. Bravo Eleanor!
 
The coming of August not only brings wonderful migrant birds but also numerous Atlantic Grey Seals to the island, as they arrive en masse to give birth in sheltered coves and tucked-away beaches. At the moment the pupping season has been rather slow and late compared to most years, with the first pup arriving on 21st August – nearly four weeks later than the first of 2020. So far we have found four 'white coat' pups; fingers crossed we’ll be finding plenty more in the weeks to come (we found 50 pups in 2020). A full seal count along the east coast on the 11th resulted in a super 244 animals – the highest number of these playful pinnipeds yet to be recorded around Lundy!
 
Atlantic Grey Seals, Mousehole & Trap, 11 Aug © Dean Jones

Nine species of butterfly were noted during this period, including a few Painted Ladies on four dates, a single Gatekeeper on the 25th, and good numbers of Common Blue and Small Heath on a few days – particularly on days with settled weather.
 
Common Blue butterfly, South West Field, 26 Aug © Dean Jones

The Millcombe mothtrap has also provided some exciting finds throughout – including two new species for the island! The first of these came in the form of a Slender Brindle on the 11th, a rather localised species here in the UK where its larvae feed on a range of woodland grasses. The second, a Small Dusky Wave on the 24th, is a much more common and widespread species on the mainland.
 
Another exciting find, on the 13th, was the island's second record of the fabulous-looking Burnished Brass. Again this is a common species on the mainland, but the last to be found on Lundy was 78 years ago in 1943!
 
The first Burnished Brass moth for Lundy since 1943! Millcombe, 13 Aug © Dean Jones

The best of the rest included good numbers of Scarce Footman on the 11th (35), as well as a handful of migrants including Rush Veneer, Silver Y, Dark Sword Grass and Diamond-backed Moth.
 
Report composed of sightings from Dan Brown, Pete Clabburn, Charles Crundwell, Jamie Dunning, Ash & Kobe Garfoot, Eleanor Grover, Dean Jones, Alan Rowland, Chloe Woolfenden and Amanda Yates.
 
Raven hiding from the brisk easterly behind High Street Wall, 25 Aug © Dean Jones

Spotted Flycatcher snoozing in the afternoon sun, 23 Aug © Dean Jones

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

13th Jul to 9th Aug – A surprise grebe, first warbler falls of autumn, plus three new moths for Lundy

In the midst of a frantically busy summer season, Lundy Warden Dean Jones has made the time to put together another compelling and evocative read for blog aficionados, summing up the latter part of the breeding season for most birds and the start of southbound migration, as well as sharing the latest non-avian wildlife highlights from the island. Thanks Dean for another fantastic round-up!
 
Towering stands of bracken are at present coating the island's east coast, quilts of purple blossoms from flowering heather now lighten up the North End, cries of young gulls echo from the cliff-tops, seals are strewn out along the low shoreline, resting up before the busy breeding season, and fabulous post-breeding flocks of passerines such as Linnet grow with each passing day. Lundy’s busiest part of the summer for visitors has now begun and what a start it has been!
 
Weather-wise, the start of the period was mostly warm, dry and settled (max temp 26°C on 18th) with the winds being light and from the north up until the 17th when they shifted easterly until the 23rd. Things changed again come the 24th, when the weather became more unsettled and very wet. The next two days were then dry and calm before Storm Evert made his way across the Atlantic between the 28th & 30th, bringing with him lots of rain and strong winds (max 56mph gusts on 30th). Post-storm, things then became settled once again, particularly on the 3rd & 4th which were characterised by some lovely warm, sunny conditions, encouraging the first small emergence of flying ants across the island. This is always a very interesting time to be on Lundy, with the island's Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls taking to mimicking Swallows as they hawk for the aerial bonanza. It is always a great time for spotting pods of Common Dolphin close into shore too, as ants on the water’s surface encourage their fishy prey to move closer to shore. From the 5th the winds once again picked up, this time from the west, bringing with them spells of rain and mist which continued to the end of the period.
 
Sunset on flying ant day! 3 Aug © Dean Jones

A Wheatear enjoys the evening light show from the lower Lighthouse Field wall, 3 Aug © Dean Jones

Avian sightings of note included small numbers of Swift on 11 dates (max 16 on the 4th), singles of juvenile Cuckoo in various locations on the 25th, 27th, 28th, 29th & 2nd, a small movement of Woodpigeons was also noted at the end of July (max 12 on 27th), along with a few accompanying Collared Doves on the 23rd, 27th & 30th. Waders were also on the move with singles of Curlew on six dates, a lone Golden Plover on the 16th, singles of Snipe on the 3rd and 5th, two Green Sandpipers over the Village on the 23rd, and another at the bottom of Aztec Bay on the 26th. A Common Sandpiper dropped into the Landing Bay beach on the 8th, and a small number of Dunlin moved through on three dates – e.g. seven past Rat Island on the 5th.
 
Juvenile Cuckoo, 29 Jul © Liz Barrett

Furthermore, the first juvenile Black-headed Gull of the autumn was present in the Landing Bay on the 21st, a young Cormorant flew over the island on the 25th, up to two Grey Herons have been present across eight dates, as well as up to six Kestrels hovering around the island each day – one of which was found eaten by a Peregrine along the Lower East Side Path on the 2nd.
 
On the passerine front, autumn hirundine passage has started to pick up, particularly with regard to Sand Martin (max 32 on the 4th) and Swallow (max 28 on the 5th). Warblers are trickling through most days too, including low single-digit counts of Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and Blackcap, though Sedge Warbler reached a peak of 17 on the 1st.
 
Willow Warblers too are moving in low double-digit numbers each day, though the island has also seen a number of falls since the last blog post, e.g. 70 birds on 25th, a super 230 on 28th, 73 on 1st, and 210 on  9th.
 
Just one of the juvenile Willow Warbers with which the island was hopping on 28 Jul © Philip Lymbery

Many Willow Warblers have also been caught and ringed over the last week or so, 3 Aug © Dean Jones

Sedge Warbler resting in Millcombe © Philip Lymbery

Small numbers of Sedge Warblers have also been ringed, 3 Aug © Dean Jones

Other birds of note included the first returning Garden Warbler in Millcombe on 2nd of August, singles of Song Thrush on 18th, 19th & 25th of July, and a smattering of Wheatear each day – including a count of  41 on the 4th. Additionally, species such as Linnet have seemingly had a great breeding season, with numerous three-figure counts throughout the period. Up to 34 Goldfinch have been present also and a single Lesser Redpoll flew over the Village on the 15th.
 
Juvenile Wheatear © Liz Barrett
 
The title of star bird however was taken by a stunning summer-plumaged adult Little Grebe in the Landing Bay – a bird which was expertly found by Paul Holt and his family as they made their way down to the Jetty on the 30th. This is only the fifth record of this species for Lundy, the last of which was 21 years ago on July 26th 2000. Bravo Paul!
 
Record shot of the Little Grebe, Landing Bay, 30 Jul © Dean Jones
 
Other highlights have included a female/immature Marsh Harrier over Pondsbury on the 24th – a bird which has remained on the island and has been seen periodically up until the 9th. Additionally, an adult Hobby was logged hunting over Barton/St Helen’s Field on the 23rd, two Balearic Shearwaters (the first of the year) flew past Rat Island on the 7th, a lone Black-tailed Godwit flew south past Rat Island with three Oystercatchers on the 8th, and a noisy Wood Sandpiper flew low over the Jetty area/Rat Island on the 9th. The last record of Wood Sandpiper was, like the Little Grebe, in 2000, so more than two decades ago.
 
Hobby hunting over Barton Field, 23 Jul © Philip Lymbery

Finally, a stunning male Yellow Wagtail was foraging in St Helen’s Field on the 21st, and a female or immature Crossbill pitched down briefly into Millcombe pines on the 24th.
 
Male Yellow Wagtail, St Helen's Field, 21 Jul © Philip Lymbery
 
Meadow Pipit © Philip Lymbery

Out on the cliffs, things have become much quieter now with the departure of the island's breeding auks. Fulmar chicks are still occupying ledges, however, along with small numbers of young gulls, including a handful of Kittiwakes that are seemingly reluctant to fledge in both Aztec Bay and Jenny’s Cove. A visit to the Manx Shearwater nestboxes on the 4th revealed that all six of the incubating pairs recorded at the start of the season now have healthy young chicks inside. Five of these were still very much covered in fluffy grey down, though the chick in box D1 was much further along, looking more like an adult and thus probably thinking of fledging in the next week or so. How time flies!
 
One of the last Puffins of the season – all are now back out at sea for yet another year © Philip Lymbery

Lesser Black-backed Gull, Jenny's Cove, 13 Jul © Dean Jones
 
Some of the Manx Shearwater chicks have grown up fast! 4 Aug © Dean Jones
 
On to the invertebrates! Highlights included the first Migrant Hawker dragonfly of the year at Quarter Wall on 1st August, a male Black-tailed Skimmer at Pondsbury on 2nd (only the second record for the island following a male on 30th June in the same location) and small numbers of Emperor Dragonfly, Common Darter, Blue-tailed Damselfly and Common Blue Damselfly most days.
 
Emperor Dragonfly, Quarter Wall Pond, 14 Jul © Dean Jones
 
There has also been a nice diversity of butterflies on the wing throughout – though all have been logged in relatively small numbers.
 
Clockwise from top left: Small Tortoiseshell, Small Copper, Red Admiral, Painted Lady,
Five-spot Burnet moth, Meadow Brown, 3 Aug © Ben Arkless

 
Common Blue outside the Marisco Tavern, 3 Aug © Dean Jones
 
Other Lepidoptera of note have included three more new moth species for the island. These comprised the micro-moths Pseudargyrotoza conwagana and Gypsonoma dealbana found at 'Rüppell’s Quarry' (south of VC Quarry) on the 13th, and an Amphipoea species of macro-moth (commonly known as 'Ear' moths), which unfortunately could not be narrowed-down to species level without dissection (we decided to let the wee critter go!), in the Paradise Row Heath trap on 3rd August.
 
Pseudargyrotoza conwagana, 'Rüppell's Quarry', 13 Jul © Dean Jones
 
Gypsonoma dealbana, 'Rüppell's Quarry', 13 Jul © Dean Jones
 
Additional moth records of note included the second record of White Plume – found by Alice Waterfield in the Tavern on 28th July – a species last recorded here in 1989. Bravo Alice! Another second record for Lundy was a Tawny Shears caught outside Paradise Row on the 3rd (previously recorded in 2012), along with singles of Silver Y, Rush Veneer and Dark Sword-grass.
 
A huge thank you to everyone who submitted sightings during this period: Liz Barrett, Chris & Sharron Blackmore, Janet Chik, Rosie Ellis, Eleanor Grover, Dean Jones, Philip & Helen Lymbery, Jackie, Nicole & Paul Holt, Alan & Sandra Smith, Sophie Smith, Matt Stritch, Adam Waters and Mark Webber.
 
I would also like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to Volunteer Assistant Warden Ben Arkless for all his hard work and top-class company during the past four months on the island. All the staff on Lundy are missing you already and sending you lots of luck and good vibes for your new venture on Brownsea Island! Thanks Ben!
 
Volunteer Assistant Warden Ben Arkless (left) and Warden Dean Jones counting seabirds © Jaclyn Pearson