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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.

Monday, 12 April 2021

2nd to 10th Apr – First Ring Ouzel, Sedge Warbler & Pied Flycatcher and a close encounter with a whale!

Amidst busy preparations for the island's much-anticipated reopening to visitors from 13th April, Warden Dean Jones updates us on the avian and other natural history highlights from a distinctly chilly month so far:

2nd April

A chilly and breezy start to the day (max gusts of 37mph from the north-east) which warmed later on as the wind dropped – lovely clear skies throughout. Max temperature 10°C.
 
Birding highlights included the first Ring Ouzel of the year – a stonking male by the Lambing Shed, and two Jackdaws were seen foraging in Brick Field later in the afternoon – the long-staying bird from the last post has found a friend!
 
Additional sightings of note included a single Snipe, five Woodpigeon, 21 Skylark, one Sand Martin, 20 Swallow, four House Martin, two Willow Warbler, five Chiffchaff, six Blackcap, two Goldcrest, a Fieldfare just north of the Battery, 19 Wheatear, a White Wagtail in Tillage Field, 66 Meadow Pipit, three Chaffinch, 10 Goldfinch and 62 Linnet.
 
This male Wheatear came to check I was counting the passing Linnets properly, 2 Apr © Dean Jones

Chiffchaff hiding from the burly easterlies along the West Side cliffs, 2 Apr © Dean Jones

3rd April
 
Clear and sunny for the most – light/moderate easterly winds throughout. Max temperature 8°C.

Highlights included a female Bullfinch feeding on the newly emerged Blackthorn blossom (the first of the year) in Millcombe, and two male Ring Ouzels along the west coast (one at Quarter Wall and the other at Jenny’s Cove).
 
Other birds logged included a Cormorant over the Village in the evening, the two Jackdaw – this time circling high over the Village before leaving the island eastward, a young Peregrine hunting over Middle Park, a Woodcock flushed from a small patch of heather in Middle Park, five Woodpigeon, 120 Kittiwake rafting offshore from Jenny’s Cove, 23 Skylark, one House Martin, 24 Swallow, a single Willow Warbler, five Chiffchaff, six Blackcap, two Goldcrest, a Redwing at the site of the Forgotten Heinkel, a single Stonechat, 32 Wheatear, 98 Meadow Pipit, four Chaffinch, seven Goldfinch, three Siskin and 33 Linnet.
 
The Highland Cattle have also been keeping out of the chilly easterlies, 3 Apr © Dean Jones
  
4th April
 
Overcast and light easterly winds first thing, brightening later – the wind picked up as the day went on – chilly again, particularly first thing. Max temperature 10°C.
 
Today’s undoubted highlight was a very unexpected Minke Whale close into Quarry Beach shortly after noon (it was so close in fact that it was first picked up by Zoë Barton from the sound of it exhaling!). From here it then cruised south down the east coast and into the Landing Bay – again very close in – where it was then seen by a number of other lucky Lundy staff before heading around Rat Island and out of sight. This is the fourth Minke to have been seen from the island in the last four years – hopefully the first of many this year!
 
Minke Whale surfacing off Quarry Beach, 4 Apr © Dean Jones
 
Additional avian highlights included a fly-over (presumed Lesser) redpoll in the late morning – the first of the year – and two Red-throated Divers doing what they do best – diving for a meal offshore from Quarry Beach. Other birds logged included two Snipe overhead before dawn, five Woodpigeon, 17 Skylark, eight Sand Martin, four Swallow, one House Martin, 14 Chiffchaff, seven Blackcap, four Goldcrest, two Song Thrush, three Stonechat, 16 Wheatear, 40 Meadow Pipit along the South End, four Chaffinch, two Siskin and 15 Linnet.

Finally, five Barrel Jellyfish were counted close into the east coast between the Landing Bay and Halfway Wall Bay.

April 5th
 
A day of overcast and a stiff northerly wind which frequently swung around, blowing from both the NE and NW – very cold with wind-chill temperatures dropping to -1°C. Max temperature 5°C.
 
The drop in temperature and burly winds saw very little in the way of new arrivals to the island. Birds of note included small numbers of Manx Shearwater (40) and Kittiwakes (50) foraging offshore from the Landing Bay, a Merlin having a rest along the main track after chasing Meadow Pipits in Brick Field, a Sparrowhawk in Millcombe, just 10 Skylark, three Chiffchaff, one Blackcap, 23 Meadow Pipit along the South End, one Stonechat, 10 Wheatear, a Song Thrush singing in Millcombe for most of the day, 20 Goldfinch, two Siskin and four Linnet.
 
Merlin, High Street, 5 Apr © Dean Jones
  
6th April
 
Beautiful blue skies first thing though still very cold and blustery, with the strong northerly winds creating wind-chill temperatures of -2°C – a few heavy but brief periods of hail around 10:30 hrs and again at 15:30 hrs but otherwise sunny and bright. Max temperature 7°C.
 
A beautiful but chilly day, looking out over the Landing Bay, 6 Apr © Dean Jones

After the hail storm! 6 Apr © Ash Garfoot

It was very quiet again, with few migrants showing face. Migrants logged included singles of Blackcap and Swallow, a handful of Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Siskin in Millcombe, and small numbers of Wheatear in sheltered spots along the south-west.
 
Male Siskin, Paradise Row, 6 Apr © Dean Jones
 
It was however protected enough in upper Millcombe for the first Chaffinch and Goldfinch to start building nests in the Valley and the first Mallard ducklings to appear at Quarters Pond (12 little fluff balls in total!).
 
7th April 
 
A noticeably warmer day, though temperatures were still low – overcast first thing, becoming mostly clear and sunny other than a period of light rain in the mid-morning – light to moderate northerly winds throughout. Max temperature 7°C.
 
Another very quiet day of birds with the only real sighting of note – from a busy day handballing cargo off the Oldenburg and flagging Rhododendron seedlings along the east – being a strikingly pale Common Buzzard, the first of the year, low over Brick Field in the afternoon! (See entry below for 9th April for a photo of the Buzzard.)
 
Song Thrush, Millcombe, 7 Apr © Dean Jones
 
8th April
 
Damp underfoot first thing due to a spell of heavy rain during the early hours – overcast throughout the morning becoming progressively brighter – light south-westerlies initially, which then veered round to the north again by mid-morning. Max temperature 9°C.
 
The light winds and noticeably warmer temperatures saw a small arrival of Willow Warbler (eight), Chiffchaff (eight), Blackcap (five) and Goldcrest (four) in Millcombe first thing. Swallows were pushing through in good numbers throughout the day too, with a total of 232 birds logged by the evening. The star bird however was another Ring Ouzel, this time in VC Quarry in the afternoon.
 
Ring Ouzel, VC Quarry, 8 Apr © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note included the Buzzard from yesterday in Barton Field (John Lambert), 190 Kittiwake on the water offshore from Jenny’s Cove and St Mark's Stone, 167 Puffins (of which 121 were ashore), four Woodpigeon, 17 Wheatear, three House Martin, four fly-over alba-type wagtails, nine Blackbird (including one female collecting nest material in Millcombe), a Fieldfare in Barton Field, the male Song Thrush, 45 Linnet, 12 Goldfinch, five Chaffinch and two Siskin.
 
There were some very crowded ledges in Jenny's Cove on 8 Apr © Dean Jones

There were also lots of Puffins prospecting and loitering around burrows! 8 Apr © Dean Jones

9th April
 
Light to moderate northerly winds in the morning which gradually dropped away as the day went on – cloudy with sunny spells throughout other than a small period of light drizzle in the late morning. Max temperature 10°C.
 
A superb day of Lundy birding with a great range of species and good numbers of some common migrants. Highlights included the first Pied Flycatcher and Sedge Warbler of the year at 'Ruppell’s Quarry' (the quarry south of VC Quarry, named by Lundy birders for the occurrence there in 1979 of a Rüppell's Warbler, one of the island's most iconic rarities) and Millcombe respectively, a Grasshopper Warbler caught and ringed first thing, and a female Ring Ouzel that dropped into the Paradise Row allotments in the late morning and another found at Jenny’s Cove later in the day.
 
The Grasshopper Warbler ringed in Millcombe, 9 Apr © Dean Jones

The male Pied Flycatcher at 'Rüppell's Quarry', 9 Apr © Dean Jones

Willow Warblers had also arrived in good numbers (56 birds logged) and hirundines were again trickling through steadily throughout the course of the day, with 122 Swallow, 15 House Martin and two Sand Martin logged.
 
Other sightings included a small arrival of 10 Woodpigeon, the Buzzard again over Millcombe and St John’s, a Merlin above White Beach, 113 Puffin, 38 Blackcap, 15 Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, 11 Blackbird, three Song Thrush, a White Wagtail in Barton Field with five Pied Wagtails, 42 Meadow Pipit, two Stonechat, 22 Wheatear, 36 Linnet, 16 Goldfinch, four Chaffinch, a single Siskin, two Lesser Redpoll on Sue Waterfield’s feeders and a Reed Bunting briefly in the treetops in Millcombe.
 
The pale Common Buzzard in St John's Valley, 8 Apr © Dean Jones

Male and female Wheatear at the Terrace, 9 Apr © Dean Jones

10th April
 
A chilly start with wind-chill temperatures of -2°C – the stiff north-easterly wind in the morning dropped gradually as the day went on – beautiful blue skies and sunshine throughout. Max temperature 8°C.
 
Despite the strong north-easterly wind, Linnet were on the move in good numbers first thing (118 logged). Other highlights included a Grasshopper Warbler flushed from brambles en route to the Ugly early on.
 
Other sightings included 20 Manx Shearwater rafting offshore from South West Point, the Buzzard again for its fourth day, four Woodpigeon, 40 Kittiwake, 25 Puffin (very few auks in Jenny’s this afternoon compared to the last two days), 17 displaying Skylark, 25 Swallow, three House Martin, four Sand Martin, 18 Blackcap, eight Willow Warbler, five Chiffchaff, two Goldcrest, 22 Wheatear, six Siskin, 24 Goldfinch, four Chaffinch and singles of Lesser Redpoll and Reed Bunting.
 
Reed Bunting, Quarter Wall, 10 Apr © Dean Jones

The paths in Millcombe are now laden with Blackthorn and Gorse blossom, 10 Apr © Dean Jones

Friday, 2 April 2021

30th Mar to 1st Apr – Earliest Grasshopper Warbler on record and first Tree Pipit – plus cup corals galore!

30th March
 
Light easterly winds and clear skies first thing – remaining clear and sunny for most other than the odd spell of low cloud and sea-mist – the wind then picked up slightly in the evening and swung round to the west/south west. The warmest day so far this year with temperatures reaching 18°C by the afternoon.
 
The island was treated to yet another spectacular sunrise over North Devon on 30 Mar © Dean Jones

Highlights from the morning census included two Rooks foraging with the Carrion Crow gang in South West Field, the lingering Long-tailed Tit which was caught and ringed in Millcombe in the early morning, and a small fall of 10 Willow Warblers (a number of which were bursting into brief bouts of song) and 35 Blackcap – all in the Millcombe area.
 
One of the two Rooks in South West Field, 30 Mar © Dean Jones

The highlight of the morning's ringing session, a Long-tailed Tit, Millcombe, 30 Mar © Dean Jones

With the tides being exceptionally low (0.25m below chart datum), the Conservation Team took the opportunity to get the wellies on and carry out the first rockpool community surveys of the year, as well the annual cup-coral counts in the Devil’s Kitchen.
 
Matt and Rosie getting a wellie full counting anenomes in Rockpool A © Dean Jones
Two cup-coral species occur in the lower littoral of the Devil’s Kitchen, the vibrant Scarlet and Gold Cup Coral Balanophyllia regia and the Devonshire Cup Coral Caryophyllia smithii. Surveys of these stunning invertebrates over two sites have been carried out on Lundy ad hoc since 1984 (though the first counts from Site 1 occurred in 1970 upon initial discovery), providing us with fascinating insights into the health of these small intertidal colonies and how they alter over the years.
 
Scarlet and Gold Cup Corals Balanophyllia regia, Devil's Kitchen, 30 Mar © Dean Jones
 
Results from this year’s survey showed a substantial increase in the number of Scarlet and Gold Cup Corals – 33 more than in 2020 in fact! Here, a grand total of 232 individuals were counted alongside nine Devonshire Cup Corals over both sites – the former being the highest number of this species to be counted in both sites since those first surveys in 1984. The Devonshire Cup Corals were much the same as in 2020 (9 individuals again) and have remained pretty stable over these sites since those first surveys.

Again, the communities were made up of good numbers of large individuals, but this year there were also numerous small pin-head-sized corals, which weren’t seen in 2020. This could mean that last year was good for recruitment of new, young corals to these sites – though perhaps the extent of algal growth and siltation could also have hidden a number of the smaller corals last year.

Two other sites containing small Scarlet and Gold Cup Corals colonies were also counted and were found to be pretty much the same as last year: Site 3 was only down one coral and Site 4 (found by Rosie last year) was up by a single animal. Additionally, the Conservation Team also found some cup corals in one of the rockpool community sites (rockpool E) which are new to this pool; the first of these surveys was also carried out in 1984. So it looks like Lundy corals are at present thriving in the Devil’s Kitchen!

Results on the community rockpool surveys are still a work in progress (we’ve still a few algal species to examine under the microscope), but at a glance things appear to be very similar to the last surveys done in 2015 – including, thankfully, very low numbers of invasive algae. So all in all a very successful and enjoyable day on the shore!
 
In addition to all the coral excitement, the team was treated to such underwater gems as the slimy Montagu’s Sea Snail Liparis montagui – which is in fact an unusual scaleless fish – numerous cushion stars, including three colourful Asterina phylactica, vivid Jewel and Snakelocks Anemones, shape-shifting Platyhelminthes and, of course, a multitude of beautifully coloured algal compositions, particularly in the mid-shore pools which are dominated by the coral weed Corallina officinalis, as well as an assortment of other encrusting reds in every shade of magenta imaginable.
 
There were good numbers of the cushion stars Asterina gibbosa (L) and A. phylactica (R)
in rockpool E, 30 Mar © Dean Jones


The title of weirdest invertebrate of the day went to this alien-like flatworm Leptoplana tremellaris,
30 Mar © Dean Jones

 
Back to birds... and other notable sightings from this magical day included a number of Manx Shearwaters heard calling across the island in the evening, seven Woodpigeon, a Snipe calling overhead in the early morning before dawn, five Sand Martin, one Swallow, 13 Chiffchaff, five Goldcrest, 40 Meadow Pipit along the South End, singles of both Pied and White Wagtails and five other fly-over un-raced alba wagtails, two Redwing, three Song Thrush, five Wheatear in South West Field, three Stonechat, a possible migrant Dunnock trapped and ringed (it was carrying quite a bit of fat), 11 Linnet, 15 Goldfinch and two Siskin.
 
Finally, the first Silver Y of the year was on the wing in Millcombe Valley.
 
31st March 
 
Cool and cloudy first thing becoming clear, warm and sunny by the mid-morning – winds slight and from the south-west initially, swinging to the east by noon – by late morning, bouts of thick sea-mist started to roll in and out, mostly staying low down on the cliffs giving the impression that the island was floating in the clouds. Max temperature 15 C.
 
Jenny's Cove was alive with the calls of auks, though they remained unseen due to the
thick sea mist, 31 Mar © Dean Jones

The sea-mist came and went throughout the course of the day and occasionally came off the cliffs to engulf the island,
site of the 'Forgotten Heinkel', West Side © Dean Jones

Not the kind of shell you would normally find on the shore – a discarded ammunition shell from the HMS Montagu wreck
that can only be seen on really low tides, 31 Mar © Dean Jones

Today saw a superb fall of migrant warblers, the main bulk coming in the form of Blackcaps with at least 144 birds scattered across the island, mostly within Millcombe and along the east coast but also the west cliffs, fly-catching from drystone walls and in various nooks and crannies in the Village. Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were well represented too with 36 and 23 birds logged respectively.
 
Twelve Willow Warblers were ringed on the morning of the 31st, along with 45 Blackcaps and a handful of Chiffchaff,
Linnet and Goldfinch © Dean Jones

Down the hatch! Blackcap feeding on Ivy in Millcombe, 31 Mar © Dean Jones

Chiffchaff, Millcombe, 31 Mar © Dean Jones
 
The biggest surprise of the day though was the first Grasshopper Warbler of the year reeling from the thick scrub below the Ugly around 10:30 hrs. This is the earliest ever record of this species for Lundy – nine days earlier than the joint previous record of 9th April 1981 & 1990.

Other star birds included the first Tree Pipit of the year, over Millcombe mid-morning. Also in the Valley was a single Firecrest and the Long-tailed Tit for its tenth day, and two White Wagtails were feeding on the track outside Old Lighthouse in the afternoon.
 
Other birds logged were 15 Oystercatcher, three Golden Plover in High Street Field, the lingering Jackdaw, a male Sparrowhawk, a Merlin at Threequarter Wall, nine Woodpigeon, eight Swallow, 20 Sand Martin, a single House Martin, 21 Skylark, eight Goldcrest, 72 Meadow Pipit, a single Pied Wagtail and two fly-over alba wagtail types, 18 Blackbird, two Song Thrush, 27 Wheatear, four Stonechat, 17 Linnet, nine Goldfinch, two Chaffinch and three Siskin.
 
Golden Plover, High Street Field, 31 Mar © Dean Jones
 
The warm weather also enticed a number of butterflies to take wing, with two Peacocks, four Red Admirals and two Small Tortoiseshells logged throughout the day.
 
1st April

A mostly overcast day with a cool and strong north-easterly/easterly wind throughout (peaking at 35mph by noon). Max temperature 10°C.

It was a day of strong easterly winds, 1 Apr © Dean Jones

A much quieter bird day, unsurprisingly due to the stiff and chilly winds – though there was a small but noticeable movement of hirundines and finches hugging the west coast first thing.
 
Birds of note included a Reed Bunting in the Laundry Garden, the long-staying Jackdaw, three Sand Martin, seven Swallow, 31 Blackcap (including a number of birds down on the west cliffs), seven Willow Warbler, six Chiffchaff, singles of Redwing and Song Thrush, 46 Meadow Pipit along the south, 13 Wheatear – including another colour-ringed female, this time on the South West Point, 22 Linnet, 21 Goldfinch and three Chaffinch.

This male Northern Wheatear had found a nice sheltered spot along the west to do a bit of singing, 1 Apr © Dean Jones