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Monday 1 February 2021

20th to 31st Jan – Breaks in the weather reveal tentative hints of spring

Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones writes:
Driech would be the word to describe the majority of this period, as the island has received what seemed to be a near constant deluge of rain, drizzle, fog and mist since the 19th, totalling 108.9mm (= just over 4¼ inches) in fact, which has transformed Lundy into something akin to a blanket bog. The island has also been hit by some burly westerly/southerly winds since the 19th, particularly so on the 21st (max gusts 50mph) and the 28th (60mph in the morning). Thankfully there were a few calmer and drier days between the deluges, including one really glorious (but chilly and frosty) winter’s day on the 23rd – conditions which provoked the first of the Blackbirds in Millcombe to burst into song, Rock Pipits to start their parachute displays at South Light, and a pair of Starlings to begin transporting nest material into the eaves of the General Stores. Then, after another brief respite on the 29th, the winds shifted to the east and picked up to force 9/10 by the morning of the 30th, bringing more rain, periods of thick mist and nippier temperatures.
Looking NE over Pondsbury on a glorious winter's day, 23 Jan © Dean Jones

All shepherds are hereby duly warned! Sunrise on 25 Jan © Dean Jones

The easterly gale gathers steam... 30 Jan © Dean Jones

Birding highlights from this period included the continuation of good numbers of Kittiwakes offshore along the east until the 25th, with the highest count of 2,090 on the 23rd, including a handful on old nests at Threequarter Wall Buttress.

The same lovely winter’s day (23rd) also produced two adult Mediterranean Gulls and a single Common Gull offshore along the east, together with a stonking sub-adult argentatus Herring Gull resting on the water off Miller’s Cake. Fulmars and Guillemots too were on breeding ledges in good numbers, with 62 and 1,320 birds, respectively, between Jenny’s Cove and St Mark's Stone.
Looking north from a Guillemot-filled St Mark's Stone, 23 Jan © Dean Jones

Guillemots back on their breeding ledges, Jenny's Cove, 23 Jan © Dean Jones

Further highlights included up to eight Red-throated Divers offshore on days where the visibility was good enough to allow for a bit of seawatching (the count of eight being on 25th). A Great Northern Diver was offshore from White Beach on 29th, and the male Snow Bunting remained on the island until the 22nd at least. Additionally, small numbers of Skylarks have been moving through (max 22 on the 23rd), as well as Lesser Black-backed Gulls, with 22 roosting next to the water tanks on the 29th. A Black Redstart was bobbing around Benjamin’s Chair on the 21st and the first Linnet of the year dropped into Barton Field on the same date.
Black Redstart, Benjamin's Chair, 21 Jan © Dean Jones
Other sightings of note included 18 Teal together on Pondsbury on the 23rd (the highest count so far this winter), a Water Rail calling from Millcombe most days, singles of Golden Plover on the 24th and 29th, four Lapwing sheltering from the strong westerlies in South West Field on 20th, a single Woodcock flushed from the Secret Garden (lower Millcombe) on the 29th, up to 24 Snipe foraging in the in-fields during the evening, and up to 349 Herring Gulls throughout the day. Finally, the Coal Tit and Firecrest have continued to kick about Millcombe, along with a smattering of Song Thrush, Redwing and Chaffinch.
Herring Gulls foraging for sheep feed, High St Field, 25 Jan © Dean Jones

Some of the 18 Teal and seven Mallard enjoying the morning sunshine at Pondsbury, 23 Jan © Dean Jones
A female Peregrine takes a rest near Halfway Wall, 23 Jan © Dean Jones

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