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Tuesday 30 March 2021

23rd to 29th Mar – Record Swallow count and first returning colour-ringed Wheatear

Tuesday 23rd March
A gloomy and overcast start to the morning, becoming progressively brighter as the day went on – light SSW winds first thing picking up to a stiff SW by the afternoon. Max temperature 11°C.

What a difference a lick of paint makes! Stoneycroft gleaming in the sun, 23 Mar © Dean Jones
Highlights from the day included the Long-tailed Tit which has remained in Millcombe from the last post (arriving 21st March). A Black Redstart dropped into the allotments at Paradise Row briefly in the mid-morning, a Jackdaw was foraging in High Street Field later in the day – possibly the same bird from earlier in the month – a single White Wagtail was in Barton Field, and nearby a lone Firecrest was in Millcombe. Three Cormorants circled high over Landing Bay shortly after daybreak – the first of the year!
Long-tailed Tit, Millcombe, 25 Mar © Dean Jones

Other birds logged included a number of Shag starting to build nests along the east coast, five Woodpigeon, 19 Skylark, seven Chiffchaff, one Blackcap, 14 Goldcrest, four Redwing, two Stonechat, two Wheatear, three Pied Wagtail, three un-raced alba wagtail, small numbers of Meadow Pipit, four Chaffinch, six Goldfinch, three Linnet and a single Siskin.
Wednesday 24th March 
A calm and cloudy morning, the cloud quickly clearing, resulting in some beautiful sunshine and blue skies for the majority of the morning – the cloud then rolled in again in the afternoon bringing with it a brief shower around 14:00 hrs. Winds were blowing but a breeze from the SW first thing, picking up gradually to a light wind throughout the day. Max temperature 10°C.  
A better day for visible migration with the first Merlin of the year flushed from Quarter Wall in the afternoon. A total of eight Sand Martin flew north in small groups throughout the morning and a nice arrival of Chiffchaff (18), Blackcap (three – all trapped and ringed) and Goldcrest (12) were scattered in Millcombe and along the lower east.
One of the three male Blackcaps ringed in Millcombe, 24 Mar © Dean Jones

Lingering scarcities included the Jackdaw, again in High Street Field, the Long-tailed Tit in Millcombe and a White Wagtail in Barton Field – presumably the same bird logged yesterday.  
Other sightings included four Woodpigeon, a single Water Rail calling from Smelly Gully, 14 Skylark, two Stonechat, three Wheatear, five Pied Wagtail, one Redwing, two Chaffinch, five Goldfinch and a Linnet.

Non-avian sightings included a Peacock butterfly on the Terrace and a Barrel Jellyfish offshore from Quarry Beach.  
Thursday 25th March 
A wet and overcast start to the day, which dried and brightened up by 07:30 hrs – low WSW winds first thing, gradually picking up to gale force by the late evening. Max temperatures 10°C.
Birds of note today included a Black Redstart briefly in Barton Field in mid-morning, two fly-over Sand Martin, a small arrival of six Wheatear along the south-west part of the island (still no colour-ringed breeders though), seven Cormorant that flew over the Jetty in the afternoon, and the Long-tailed Tit, Merlin and Jackdaw all remained for another day.
The Jackdaw resting near the water tanks, 25 Mar © Dean Jones

Other sightings included four Woodpigeon, a single Water Rail calling from Smelly Gully, a Common Snipe flushed from South West Point, nine Skylark, four Chiffchaff, three Goldcrest, one Redwing, five Stonechat, two Pied Wagtail, 30 Meadow Pipit, four Chaffinch, two Goldfinch and a single Linnet.   
Friday 26th March 
A rather driech start to the day with bouts of drizzle, low cloud and a stiff SW wind first thing. Things then brightened up somewhat by the late morning, though there were a few scattered showers and one bout of heavy hail in the afternoon. The winds then picked up to gale force again, gusting up to 48mph by the late afternoon. Max temperature 11°C.
Unsurprisingly due to the wet and wild weather, there wasn’t much in the way of migrants other than a small but steady movement of Manx Shearwater past Rat Island first thing. Some 222 birds passed through in about 30 minutes of observations before the low cloud rolled in.  
Other birds of note included the Long-tailed Tit, singles of Firecrest and Chiffchaff and six Goldcrest all in Millcombe, and small numbers of Stonechat, Chaffinch and Linnet scattered around the Village and the South End.    
Saturday 27th March 
A gorgeous sunny morning give or take a few brief spells of thick cloud – moderate/strong westerly winds in the morning, picking up to a chilly, gale-force northerly by the afternoon. Max temperature 9°C.
There wasn’t much in the way of birds overhead, so it was the island residents which provided much of the entertainment – be it the small gangs of frisky male Dunnocks, flicking wings and calling seductively to a number of female birds in the valley, the electric song of two singing male Goldfinches from breezy treetops, or the South End Ravens giving chase to passing Peregrines in the strong onshore winds.  
As the day went on, a few migrants showed face whilst exploring the breezy west coast. These included a Black Redstart flying down Punchbowl Valley and at least 11 Northern Wheatear scattered along the west coast from South West Point to Jenny’s Cove (the highest count so far this year), a total which included the first returning colour-ringed bird of the year – a female in Jenny’s Cove!
It was a day of strong winds along the West Side, 27 Mar © Dean Jones
One of the 11 Wheatears logged on 27th, this one along the Terrace... © Dean Jones

...and this the colour-ringed female 'yellow over black, right leg' at Jenny's Cove © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note included a Swallow foraging along the Terrace in the afternoon, the Long-tailed Tit and Jackdaw in their usual haunts, four Woodpigeon, two Chiffchaff, four Goldcrest, two Pied Wagtail, 47 Meadow Pipit, two Redwing, two Stonechat, three Goldfinch and two Chaffinch.

This chipping male House Sparrow was one of many resident birds showing signs
of breeding behaviour in Millcombe, 27 Mar © Dean Jones

Sunday 28th March 
Spells of drizzle, low cloud and mist throughout, coupled with gale-force SW winds in the morning – peaking at 53mph – swinging to the north by the afternoon. Max temperature 9°C.
A rather tricky day's birding due to the strong winds and poor visibility. The Lower East Side Path was much more pleasant to walk between the squalls, though birds here were few and far between and mostly hiding away in thick scrub or behind walls, rocks and grassy tussocks – and thus out of sight from any waterproof-clad birders.   
Much the same bird-wise to the 27th. Sightings included a Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay, the remaining Long-tailed Tit in Millcombe, the Jackdaw in the Camping Field, a single Firecrest  that provided a nice splash of colour in a rather driech Millcombe first thing, seven Woodpigeon, a calling Water Rail in Millcombe, 18 Skylark, 22 Meadow Pipit, four each of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, a single Stonechat, two Chaffinch and three Goldfinch.

Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay near Miller's Cake, 28 Mar © Dean  Jones

Monday 29th March
Another driech start with low cloud, drizzle and strong SW winds in the morning up until around 13:30 hrs. From here the mist gave way to some beautiful sunshine and blue skies, as well as a gradual drop in the wind to a SW breeze. Max temperature 11°C.

Well, what a day! Unsurprisingly, due to the very poor visibility first thing, there wasn’t much about migrant-wise throughout the morning. In fact, other than two Goldcrest and a single Chiffchaff in Millcombe, it was another morning of counting and enjoying the ongoing antics of the island's resident birds.  
Then, as the low cloud and mist dissipated in the early afternoon, there was a small eruption of birds moving north, particularly hirundines along the more sheltered east coast. By the end of the day a very unexpected 162 Swallows were counted moving north, either as single birds or in small groups of up to four birds. Sand Martins too were moving in big numbers, with a total of 212 logged northbound by the evening – most of which were moving together in small numbers, though two tight flocks of 16 and 19 birds were also noted! This is the highest number of Swallows yet to be counted in the month of March, albeit the end of the month, and although breathtaking to watch, the experience of seeing so many of these spectacular migrants so early in the spring was a rather unnerving one – one which has most definitely come about due to a changing climate.
Other birds of note included a Great Northern Diver offshore from White Beach, the Jackdaw again in High Street Field, four Woodpigeon, 28 Skylark, 84 Meadow Pipit, 10 Wheatear, six Pied Wagtail, a White Wagtail in South West Field, five Goldfinch, nine Linnet, three Siskin and a Reed Bunting at Quarter Wall.

Skylark taking a well-deserved rest from singing all day, 29 Mar © Dean Jones

Wednesday 24 March 2021

16th to 22nd Mar – First falls of spring migrants

Lundy Warden Dean Jones pens another colourful walk on Lundy's wild side…
Tuesday 16th March 

A slight and chilly westerly breeze first thing, which brought some brief spells of sea-mist and fog in throughout the morning. The rest of the day saw glorious blue skies and sunshine, with the winds remaining low and swinging to a northerly orientation by the late morning. Max temperature 11°C.   
Birding highlights included the first Swallow of the year, low over the Village around 15:00 hrs and the Pink-footed Goose, which has remained in and around Ackland's Moor marsh since the last blog post.  
Other birds of note included a Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay, 15 Teal on Pondsbury, small numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls moving north offshore in the afternoon (40), a single Puffin on the water in Jenny’s Cove – along with small numbers of both Guillemot and Razorbill onshore, two Woodpigeons, 96 Meadow Pipit, three each of Pied Wagtail, un-raced alba wagtail and Grey Wagtail, 17 Skylark, the Millcombe Firecrest, three Goldcrest, nine Blackbird, six Redwing, 13 Chaffinch and a single Goldfinch.
Blackbird – Millcombe Valley came alive with bird song post sea-mist, 16 Feb © Dean Jones

There was no sign of the long-staying hibernicus-type Coal Tit despite searching for it. Fingers crossed the bird has managed to get back to the Emerald Isle safe and sound.
Wednesday 17th March 
Blue skies and sunshine first thing with a light northerly wind – mostly overcast for the remainder of the day and a slight increase in wind speed by the evening. Max temperature 10°C.   
Highlights included two each of Swallow and House Martin overhead late morning, the latter being the first of the year. The first Puffin to make landfall this year was also spotted amongst the Guillemots and Razorbills in Jenny’s Cove by 'Team Cargo' – Peter Hayes and Matt Scantlebury – in the afternoon, with a handful of others rafting together on the water also. Nearby, a Black Redstart was busily bobbing around Pyramid Slope, a single Great Northern Diver was again offshore along the east coast and the Pink-footed Goose remained on Ackland's Moor for its 12th day.   
Other migrants of note included: two Golden Plover, eight Snipe (all flushed from the Pondsbury area), three Woodpigeon, 23 Skylark, 138 Meadow Pipit, two Pied and six un-raced alba wagtails, a single Grey Wagtail, two Chiffchaff, seven Goldcrest, the Firecrest still, 16 Blackbird, three Redwing, nine Stonechat, two Wheatear, six Chaffinch, five Goldfinch and four Linnet

There's been lots of Peregrine action, with at least four pairs now defending territories across the island, 17 Mar © Dean Jones

Non-avian sightings included the first Peacock butterfly of the year at St Helen’s Copse.  
Thursday 18th March
A bright start with a chilly northerly breeze, which quickly turned murky with bouts of sea-fog rolling in periodically for the first few hours. The sun then re-emerged briefly by the late morning, before becoming overcast by the mid-afternoon as the wind picked up. Max temperature 9°C.   
The morning saw the first decent fall of early spring migrants, the bulk of which came in the form of 22 Chiffchaff scattered around the island – some sporting conspicuous 'pollen horns'. Surprisingly, a rather early Willow Warbler also made landfall in St Helen’s Copse, six days earlier than the first of 2020, though six days behind the earliest ever record for this species on 10th Mar 1994. Other firsts for the year included a male Blackcap singing in Millcombe and a single White Wagtail above Benjamin’s Chair.

Although it is always a thrill to see the first Willow Warbler and Blackcap of the year, the day's star birds actually came in the form of two Long-tailed Tits in Quarter Wall Copse – only the fifth March occurrence of this species for Lundy. Here the birds were seen foraging through the smorgasbord of epiphytes covering the still-dormant trees in the copse before they headed north towards the Terrace and out of sight.
Record shot of one of the Long-tailed Tits in Quarter Wall Copse, 18 Mar © Dean Jones

Other migrants logged included the Pink-footed Goose on Ackland's Moor for its 13th day, nine Teal on Pondsbury (including a number of displaying drakes), five Woodpigeon, 20 Skylark, a single Sand Martin over South West Field, 116 Meadow Pipit, four Grey Wagtail, six Pied Wagtails and two other un-raced alba wagtails, eight Goldcrest, the Firecrest again, eight Blackbird, singles of Redwing and Song Thrush, four Stonechat, eight Chaffinch, 19 Goldfinch (the highest count so far this year) and three Linnet.  

Love is in the air at Pondsbury – courting Teal, 18 Mar © Dean Jones
18th Mar saw the highest count of Goldfinch so far this year, including this gorgeous
individual fresh in off the sea at Benjamin's Chair © Dean Jones

Friday 19th March 
After a misty sunrise, cloudy conditions set in for the rest of the day, though the sun did shine periodically throughout the afternoon. Moderate northerly wind in the morning dropping away gradually throughout the day. Max temperature 10°C.
The morning mist made for a spooky sunrise on 19 Mar © Dean Jones

19th Mar was certainly a day of awesome skies and seascapes, with Old Light reflected in Ackland's Moor marsh © Dean Jones

A much quieter day for northbound migrants. Sightings of note included two Red-throated Divers behind Rat Island, a second-year Common Gull offshore along the east, eight Woodpigeon, 14 Skylark, 141 Meadow Pipit, two fly-over alba wagtails, eight Redwing, two Chiffchaff, the Millcombe Firecrest, eight Goldcrest, two Stonechat, four Chaffinch and six Goldfinch. There was no-sign of the Pink-footed Goose.  
Saturday 20th March 
The morning started off with barely a breath of wind, glass-like seas and mostly overcast conditions which became progressively brighter and slightly breezier as the day went on. Max temperature 9°C.    
The day kicked off with a decent fall (for spring) of Goldcrest along the South End (41 birds in total by the end of the day), as well as two very handsome male Firecrests that found their way into the mist-nets in Millcombe first thing. Another was found flitting round Quarry Pond in the afternoon, resulting in a total of three birds for the day).

One of the two Firecrests caught and ringed in Millcombe on 20 Mar © Dean Jones

Other early spring migrants logged included four Sand Martin together over Jenny’s Cove, a Blackcap on the Terrace, 11 Chiffchaff, the second White Wagtail of the year in Barton Field, a female Sparrowhawk in Millcombe (the first of the year), and 11 Fieldfare, 19 Redwing and a single Song Thrush spread between Barton and Helicopter Fields.  
Additional highlights included the first Great Skua of the year past South West Point in the late morning, along with some small rafts of Manx Shearwater totalling 160 birds. The Great Northern Diver was once again in the Landing Bay and an excellent count of 29 Harbour Porpoise was spread along the west coast in the afternoon!

Other birds of note included small numbers of Kittiwake ashore in Jenny’s Cove, two Water Rail in Smelly Gully, seven Woodpigeon, 13 Skylark, 243 Meadow Pipit (including a flock of 82 birds in Brick Field), singles of Pied and Grey Wagtail, four Stonechat, eight Chaffinch and five Goldfinch.   
Ringing totals: 15 Goldcrest, two Firecrest, three Chiffchaff, a single Chaffinch and three Robin.  

The first Soay lambs have been born – here's one particularly adorable individual resting at Halfway Wall, 20 Mar © Dean Jones

Sunday 21st March 
A chilly, breezy and overcast start becoming sunny and warm by the early afternoon. The northerly winds also dropped away as the day went on. Max temperature 11°C. 
A glorious spring afternoon looking across the Landing Bay, 21 Mar © Dean Jones

Highlights included a Treecreeper – the first to be logged this year and only the third to be recorded in the month of March – foraging on a sycamore in Millcombe next to another Long-tailed Tit.
The first Treecreeper of the year, Millcombe, 21 Mar © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note included singles of Manx Shearwater, Red-throated and Great Northern Diver offshore, 13 Teal on Pondsbury, five Woodpigeon, 75 Puffin in Jenny’s Cove (of which 25 were ashore), 24 Skylark, 167 Meadow Pipit, three Pied and one alba wagtail, a single Grey Wagtail, 17 Goldcrest, one Firecrest, four Chiffchaff, 26 Redwing, four Wheatear (including the first female bird of the year at Jenny’s Cove), four Stonechat, six Chaffinch, four Goldfinch and two Linnet.

More and more Puffins are starting to arrive at Jenny's Cove in preparation for a busy breeding season, 21 Mar © Dean Jones

A male Wheatear between bursts of song in Jenny's Cove, 21 Mar © Dean Jones
Tibby the Lundy Pony trying to get in on the Wheatear-watching action in Middle Park, 21 Mar © Dean Jones
Monday 22nd March 
Another windless start to the day, picking up to a gentle (and at times nippy) breeze by the afternoon. Mostly overcast first thing, giving way to sunshine and partially blue skies for the remainder of the day. Max temperature 11°C. 
A brief hello from the sun between mist-net checks before it disappeared into the clouds, 22 Mar © Dean Jones
A slightly quieter day for migrants, though Chiffchaff (23) and Goldcrest (20) were in decent numbers in Millcombe first thing. A singing Collared Dove near the gas store was the first of the year and the Long-tailed Tit from yesterday remained in Millcombe throughout the day. 

Long-tailed Tit in Millcombe – the second record so far this spring! 22 Mar © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note from a busy day painting Stoneycroft included five Carrion Crows leaving the island on a northward trajectory mid-morning (whilst at the same time others remained and were seen building nests along the east coast), a single Water Rail calling from the Secret Garden, four Woodpigeons, two fly-over alba wagtails and a handful of Meadow Pipits. Four Fieldfare and a single Redwing were foraging in Barton Field, four Linnet went overhead first thing, 10 Goldfinch dropped into Millcombe in mid-morning, and a single Siskin was calling from a pine tree in the valley later in the day.

Ringing totals: seven Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, one Robin and a House Sparrow (the first to be colour-ringed this year). 
Stoneycroft half painted by lunch time, 22 Mar © Dean Jones

Finished! Just the windows to do now. Well done gang (l-r): Rosie, Pete and Matt from the Conservation Team © Dean Jones 

Tuesday 16 March 2021

10th to 15th Mar – Wind, mist, rain, hail…and birds!

The period started off in a whirlwind of seafoam and loose vegetation, with gale-force south-westerlies on the morning of Wednesday the 10th, which then switched to the north and picked up more-so as the day went on (gusting 66mph by the evening). The 10th was also a very wet day, with light to moderate rain first thing, becoming misty and drizzly by the mid-morning up until 17:30 hrs. From this date, the gale-force hoolies continued from the north, bringing with them a noticeable drop in temperature. Luckily, other than a brief but heavy spell of hail in the afternoon of the 11th, things remained dry and sunny for most. The winds then picked up again on the evening of the 13th (gusts 68mph) before dropping significantly by the afternoon of the 14th, conditions which spurred on a number of Lundy’s avian residents to burst into joyful song, as well as the first White-tailed Bumblebee to emerge along the east coast.
Herring Gulls battling the strong winds over High Street Field, 13 Mar © Dean Jones
15th March saw the winds drop further, allowing for the first decent bit of passage since the last blog post. Meadow Pipits put on a decent show with 87 birds overhead in small flocks first thing. Two Grey Wagtails, one Pied and six alba wagtails, and 12 Chaffinch (the highest count so far this year) were also moving north in the first few hours after dawn.
Migrants on the windier days were few and far between, though there was a noticeable trickle of Meadow Pipits battling through the winds on the 13th and 14th. Unbelievably, there was also a small arrival of three Goldcrest together in Millcombe on the 11th – it is truly incredible how these birds, which weigh not much more than a teaspoon of sugar, can fly in such conditions. Additionally, two Siskins arrived on the 12th, one of which showed very well on Sue Waterfield’s feeder in mid-morning, and a Water Rail was calling from the slope above Quarry Beach on the afternoon of the 14th.
Siskin, Paradise Row, 12 Mar © Dean Jones
Other sightings of note included 310 Herring Gull in High Street Field on the 13th, small numbers of Stonechat along the east on a number of days (max five on the 12th), up to six Woodpigeon (13th), singles of Chiffchaff on three days, and offshore a handful of Manx Shearwater each day, up to 101 Kittiwake and on the 13th, a raft of 105 Shag sheltering from the winds in the Landing Bay.
Male Stonechat, Terrace, 13 Mar © Dean Jones

Highlights from this period included the Pink-footed Goose, which has lingered on Ackland's Moor despite the burly westerlies throughout this period. Another Jackdaw (or perhaps the same bird from earlier in the month) was with the Carrion Crow gang in High Street Field on the 14th & 15th. Out at sea, singles of Red-throated Diver were offshore from Rat Island on the 11th & 15th, and two Great Northern Divers were together off the Terrace on the 14th. Finally, the second Stock Dove of the year flew in off the sea on the afternoon of the 15th and the long-staying Firecrest and Coal Tit have hung on for yet another five days.
The Pink-footed Goose continued its stay on Ackland's Moor, 15 Mar © Dean Jones
Non-avian sightings included a pod of eight Common Dolphin on the 12th and a single Harbour Porpoise on the 11th and 14th.
One of the island's resident Dunnocks bursting into song as the weather improved, 14 Mar © Dean Jones

Wednesday 10 March 2021

6th to 9th Mar – First Puffins, Manx Shearwaters & Wheatears return, alongside a rare spring Pink-foot

Dean Woodfin Jones (Lundy Warden) sums up an exciting few days, marked by the arrival of several of the island's keystone breeding birds.

Saturday 6th March

The weekend started off beautifully but bitterly cold with wind-chill temperatures barely exceeding 2°C for the entire day. It had been even colder the night previous, with thin layers of ice on Kistvaen and Rocket Pole ponds first thing. Bright and sunny with partial cloud cover for most, other than some brief periods of overcast in the afternoon. Light to moderate easterly winds throughout – perfect conditions for a complete wrap around Lundy’s coast!

Beautiful morning light through Millcombe, 6 Mar © Dean Jones

Highlights included the first three Puffin of the year, all of which were seen paddling around within some small rafts of Guillemot and Razorbill in Jenny’s Cove. Another star bird, and one which is rarely seen on Lundy, was a Pink-footed Goose, which dropped in from the south into Lower Lighthouse Field for all of two minutes before flying north. This is only the third spring record for the island and the 12th overall – the last of which concerned four birds past the Castle on 22nd October 2014.

One of the highlights of spring is welcoming back our Lundy Puffins,
these at Jenny's Cove on 6 Mar © Dean Jones

The Puffins were close to rafts of Guillemots & Razorbills, Jenny's Cove, 6 Mar © Dean Jones

Still reasonably quiet for now, Long Roost will soon be heaving with nesting seabirds, 6 Mar © Dean Jones

Other highlights included the first Manx Shearwater of the year, flying offshore from the Battery first thing. The first Stock Dove and Siskin of the year were also logged, both over Millcombe in the early morning. Two Red-throated Divers, seven Common Gulls and a Mediterranean Gull were foraging offshore along the east coast. Just one Lapland Bunting was present on High Street track and a Black Redstart was zipping around Jenny’s Cove in the afternoon.

Just one of the three Lapland Buntings present earlier the month was still
lingering along the High Street on 6 Mar © Dean Jones

Additional migrants logged included a small movement of Chiffchaff (5 birds in total), Meadow Pipit (55), Stonechat (5), Pied Wagtail (4) and three unraced alba wagtails.
The best of rest included 21 Teal on Pondsbury, 11 Gannet, 66 Fulmar, 34 Shag, 476 Guillemot, 599 Razorbill, 29 Great Black-backed Gulls, 506 Herring Gulls, 26 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 170 Kittiwake, 33 Oystercatcher, a single Snipe, two Woodpigeon, 35 Skylark, the Firecrest, three Song Thrush, four Chaffinch and one Goldfinch.  
Sunday 7th March
Very similar weather-wise to the 6th, with sunshine, partial cloud and a light easterly wind.
Highlights included the first two Wheatear of the year, both stunning males – one at Jenny’s Cove and the other near South West Point. Meadow Pipits were trickling through in small numbers throughout the morning up until noon, with 105 logged in total. The Pink-footed Goose reappeared on Ackland's Moor, where it remained all day, offering some spectacular views as it rested amongst the juncus.

One of the first two Wheatears of 2021 – this one near South West Point, 7 Mar © Dean Jones

The Pink-footed Goose on Ackland's Moor, 7 Mar © Dean Jones

Other birds of note included a single Manx Shearwater behind Rat Island first thing, two Red-throated Diver, a Water Rail in Millcombe Pond, four Golden Plover on Ackland's Moor, 1,356 Guillemot, 402 Razorbill ashore at Jenny’s Cove and four Puffins on the water, one Common Gull, the Stock Dove for its second day, 44 Skylark, four Stonechat, one Pied Wagtail and two fly-over unraced alba wagtails, the Firecrest, three Chaffinch, and singles of Song Thrush, Linnet and Goldfinch.
Non-avian sightings included seven Common Dolphin moving north along the east first thing – a pod that included two small calves. Finally, a single Harbour Porpoise was foraging offshore from Rat Island.
Monday 8th March
Another day of blue skies and sunshine with slightly warmer temperatures than the last few days. Wind was non-existent throughout the mid-morning, picking up to a slight easterly by the afternoon before swinging SW by the evening.
A reasonably quiet day for birds, particularly first thing, with next to no birds moving overhead other than a very small number of Meadow Pipit. The only other birds of note included the Pink-footed Goose again on Ackland's Moor, three Red-throated Divers offshore, another Wheatear in South West Field, good numbers of Razorbill along the south-west coast, the Firecrest, Coal Tit and a single Goldcrest in Millcombe, two Chiffchaff, four Stonechat in South West Field, one Song Thrush, two Goldfinch, and a Harbour Porpoise behind Rat Island.
Meadow Pipit, Benjamin's Chair, 7 Mar © Dean Jones
Tuesday 9th March
A beautiful morning complete with red skies and looming storm clouds. Sunshine for most of the morning, becoming overcast by noon. Stiff south-west wind first thing, picking up to near gale-force by the evening.
A very quiet day for migrants, with only a handful of Meadow Pipits (23), alba wagtails (5) and singles of Goldfinch and Linnet overhead first thing. There wasn’t much going on offshore either, with 17 Gannet, seven Kittiwake and a Red-throated Diver the only real birds of note. The Firecrest was once again it his favourite pine tree, sharing it today with a single Goldcrest. Finally, the Pink-footed Goose remained on Ackland's Moor for its fourth day on the island.

The stunning morning light more than made up for the lack of migrants on 9 Mar © Dean Jones

Even the Skylarks in South West Field stopped to watch the sunrise, 9 Mar © Dean Jones

Friday 5 March 2021

25th Feb to 5th Mar – First Sand Martin & Chiffchaff and... what a lark!

Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin Jones charts the progress of early spring migration and the first stirrings of the 2021 breeding season:

After a wet and mizzly start on the 25th, the weather improved stupendously, with the island receiving some beautiful sunshine and blue skies by mid-morning – conditions which sparked further movements of Meadow Pipit (88 birds overhead on this date) as well as the first Chaffinch to break into song in lower Millcombe. From the 27th the winds then shifted from the south-west to the east, albeit only a light breeze, though it did bring with it a stark drop in temperature (wind-chill temps between -1°C and +1°C), and subsequently some thick blankets of sea fog that rolled in periodically. In fact, it was so still on this date that you could hear the eerie wails of a number of Red-throated Divers from the mist-cloaked sea very clearly along the east coast. From here, the weather remained fairly settled (though at times bitterly cold due to the easterlies), sunny and mostly dry, other than on the 3rd when there was drizzle first thing that merged into heavy rain before transforming into thick mist and fog for the rest of the day.

A big swell and sea-mist at Jenny's Cove, 27 Feb © Dean Jones

Birding highlights from this period included a very dapper Woodlark in Barton Field on 27th – only the second February record for this species on Lundy (the previous occasion in 1952!).

Woodlark, Barton Field, 27 Feb © Dean Jones

Additional star birds included the first Sand Martin of the year at Pondsbury on the 26th – the second-earliest record for this species following a single bird on 24th February 2019 during that memorable but unusually mild mid-February. The first Jackdaw of the year flew over the Village on 1st and has lingered on till now, mostly in the High Street/Ackland's Moor area. Close by, the three Lapland Bunting also remained (though dropping from three to two birds since the 3rd) and have once again provided some superb views from High Street Field and track. Finally, the Old Lighthouse Snow Bunting lingered on for another day (25th) after the last blog post but unfortunately hasn’t been seen since.

Lapland Bunting, High Street Field, 28 Feb © Dean Jones

The cold weather made them even more confiding! 1 Mar © Dean Jones

Other than these star birds, migration of more common Lundy species has continued, albeit lightly, on days of suitable weather. In addition to the Meadow Pipits mentioned above, these have included some small flurries of Skylark (max 40 on the 28th) and Stonechat (max 13 on the 25th), as well as a small handful of Pied Wagtail, Linnet, Chaffinch and Goldfinch on a few days. The island has also seen the first two Chiffchaff of the spring, one of which was a single bird feeding within a flock of Meadow Pipits in Tillage Field on the 3rd (the other, more typically, was feeding around Millcombe Pond on the same date). Another Goldcrest dropped into Millcombe on the 27th, as did two Grey Wagtails, one of which then lingered on at Millcombe Pond until the 3rd. Two Reed Buntings were also noted, jumping about the Molinia tussocks just north of Pondsbury on 26th.

Meadow Pipits have been moving in small numbers most days, 1 Mar © Dean Jones

Stonechat in the morning light, South West Field, 26 Feb © Dean Jones

Other birds of note included up to three Water Rails over four days, including a calling bird at Pondsbury on the 26th, suggesting birds are now moving north. Out east, seven Common Gulls and a lone Mediterranean Gull were logged offshore on the 5th within a spectacular feeding flock of mixed gulls. Kittiwakes have been few and far between other than a handful of birds logged near to their breeding sites on days when the visibility has been good enough for seawatching. Guillemots too have been on their ledges in good numbers periodically and were joined by the first decent arrival of Razorbills (400) ashore in Jenny’s Cove on the 27th. A few more of the island's Peregrines have now arrived, with at least four birds flying around in two pairs along the south and west coasts on the 28th. Last, but by no means least, the long-staying Coal Tit has been logged periodically up until the 3rd and the male Firecrest has continued to serenade the Warden each morning from his (i.e. the Firecrest's!) favoured pine at the top of the valley.

More and more Razorbills have been coming ashore, joining the Guillemots in Jenny's Cove, 27 Feb © Dean Jones
Peregrine at the Earthquake, 27 Feb © Dean Jones

Non-avian sightings included a pod of c.50 Common Dolphin offshore from the east coast on the morning of the 25th.

The turn of the month also saw some really big tides – perfect for a rockpool ramble, 1 Mar © Dean Jones