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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.)
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|
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 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|
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.
|The paths in Millcombe are now laden with Blackthorn and Gorse blossom, 10 Apr © Dean Jones|