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Sunday 25 April 2021

16th to 23rd Apr – Over 900 birds ringed in five days (!) plus first Whinchat & Garden Warbler

Friday 16th April

A glorious, sun-kissed day with clear skies and a light easterly breeze throughout. Max temperature 10°C.

A very nice variety of migrants on the island, highlights including the first two Whitethroats of the year (both caught and ringed in Millcombe), two Ring Ouzels, both males, one at the Earthquake and the other at Threequarter Wall, a female Common Redstart bobbing around Gannets’ Combe, and a Mistle Thrush (the first of the year) together with a rather late Fieldfare in Barton Field in the late morning.   

The star bird however was a ‘control’ Blackcap (i.e. a bird which was already sporting a ring from elsewhere) which had originally been caught as a first-year bird on route to its North African wintering grounds on 29th Sep 2020 at Middle Hill, Gibraltar – a distance of 1,038 miles as the Blackcap flies!  

Other sightings of note included six Woodpigeon, a Collared Dove in Millcombe, a lone Whimbrel at Quarter Wall, 85 Puffins in Jenny’s Cove, four fly-by Cormorants, a Herring Gull sitting tight on eggs below the Earthquake, three Sand Martin, 33 Swallow, one House Martin, a reeling Grasshopper Warbler in Millcombe, 18 Blackcap, two Whitethroat, 28 Willow Warbler, seven Chiffchaff, three Goldcrest, three Song Thrush, eight Stonechat, 61 Wheatear (including a number of burly Greenland-type birds), five Pied and one White Wagtail, two Tree Pipits, eight Goldfinch, three Siskin and 52 Linnet.
There were plenty of Wheatears posing well along High Street on 16 Apr © Dean Jones
Not a bird normally seen under the bird feeders: a female Mallard with ducklings, Paradise Row, 16 Apr © Dean Jones
Additionally, we received some late news from Peter Newman via email that a Bar-tailed Godwit had been resting on the tide line in Hell’s Gates on 15th Apr – the first record of this beautiful wader on Lundy since May 2017! Well spotted, Peter.
Bar-tailed Godwit, Hell's Gates, 15 Apr © Peter Newman

Finally, the first Emperor Moth of the year was photographed by Ben Arkless near Tibbetts, and the second Holly Blue of the year was on the wing behind Quarter Wall Copse. The moth trap was also deployed overnight, though the number and variety of moths were very low. Inside the Millcombe Heath trap were singles of Dark Sword Grass and Red Chestnut, as well as two each of Early Thorn and Early Grey.  

Saturday 17th April

Another beautiful day with more clear skies, sunshine and a very light south-easterly breeze throughout. Max temperature 10°C.

Yet another perfect day for a sailing, MS Oldenburg gliding into the Landing Bay on a glass-like sea via Ilfracombe come the afternoon. Amongst the few on board were Rob Duncan and David Kightley, ready for three full weeks of bird ringing in Millcombe Valley (hopefully the fair weather will continue for them). Keen-eyed birders and friends Andy Jayne and Chris & Mandy Dee also joined the motley crew of bird brains already on the island.  

Highlights from another exciting day of Lundy birding included three Common Redstarts (two males and a female) scattered across the island, a stonking male Black Redstart briefly in the Camping Field, the first Kestrel of the year and two Ring Ouzels – one at Benjamin’s Chair and the other at Quarter Wall. 
Peering through the cattle run, a male Common Redstart at Quarter Wall...

...which allowed for some superb prolonged views throughout the day, 17 Apr © Dean Jones

I spy something wriggling in the undergrowth – a male Black Redstart foraging in the Camping Field, 17 Apr © Dean Jones
Other migrants logged were a Whimbrel at Quarter Wall, a male Collared Dove singing in Millcombe, singles of Merlin and Jackdaw, 175 Swallow, 25 Sand Martin, 12 House Martin, a single Sedge Warbler (caught and ringed), two Grasshopper Warblers (both in Millcombe), 73 Willow Warbler, 14 Chiffchaff, 50 Blackcap, the Fieldfare, two Song Thrush (including one continental bird in VC Quarry), 19 Wheatear, including at least three Greenland-type birds at Quarter Wall, a male Pied Flycatcher, four Pied Wagtails, two Tree Pipits, 16 Goldfinch, 38 Linnet and five Siskin.  

A total of 110 birds were caught and ringed: one Pied Flycatcher, 46 Blackcap, 47 Willow Warbler, nine Chiffchaff, one Sedge Warbler, one Grasshopper Warbler and three Goldfinch.  

We also got some exciting news regarding a colour-ringed Lesser-Black backed Gull (NA5M) which was photographed in High Street Field on 26th Mar 2021. It turns out that this bird was found in very poor condition on Malaga Beach on 28th Nov 2019 and subsequently taken into care. The bird made a rather speedy recovery and was released at Pantano del Limonero, Malaga on 17th Feb 2020 – a distance of 1,002 miles from Lundy! We hope NA5M continues to thrive and perhaps drops into Lundy once again in the near future. Special thanks to José Sánchez Cordero for providing all the information on this bird.
Lesser Black-backed Gull NA5M, ringed in Malaga, in High Street Field, 26 Apr © Dean Jones
Sunday 18th April

Weather much the same as the last two days with clear skies and a light easterly wind for the most part. Max temperature 11°C.

Warblers were the theme of the day with a smashing fall of at least 200 Blackcaps and 150 Willow Warblers across the island. Additionally, at least four ‘reeling’ male Grasshopper Warblers were logged, two in Millcombe Valley and singles on the Terrace and at Quarter Wall Pond.

Other highlights included a Dunlin at Rocket Pole Pond – the first of the year – a decent passage of hirundines throughout the afternoon, two Common Redstarts and a handsome male Yellow Wagtail on Quarters Pond.  

Also logged were a decent movement of Manx Shearwater past Rat Island first thing (c.30 per minute), two fly-by Cormorant, six Woodpigeon, a lone Golden Plover, two Whimbrel in Barton Field, a Snipe at Rocket Pole Pond, three calling Water Rail, singles of Merlin and Kestrel, 400 Swallow, 100 Sand Martin, 40 House Martin, 10 Chiffchaff, two Sedge Warbler, the Barton Field Fieldfare, a male Blackbird with a beakful of wriggly worms in Millcombe, eight Pied Wagtail, one Grey Wagtail, six Stonechat, 36 Wheatear (with at least four Greenland-type birds), 57 Linnet and 11 Goldfinch

Chiffchaff, High Street, 18 Apr © Dean Jones
A whopping 239 birds were ringed throughout the course of the day, featuring 129 Blackcap, 83 Willow Warbler, eight Chiffchaff, two Sedge Warbler, eight Goldfinch, four Linnet, two Wren, one Meadow Pipit and one Stonechat.  

Non-avian sightings included the first Large and Green-veined White butterflies of the year – both singles in Millcombe.  

Monday 19th April

The wonderful and calm weather continued for another day. Max temperature 11°C.

Highlights included a lone Sanderling on the Main Track (the 16th spring record for Lundy) and the first Reed Warbler of the year in the bottom shelf of a mist-net in the Secret Garden. Incredibly the Reed Warbler, like the Gibraltar Blackcap mentioned above, was already wearing a ring when discovered. Results now show that this bird was caught as a young, recently fledged bird (age code 3J) on St Mary’s, Isle of Scilly on 6th Jul 2019 – meaning that this stunning little bird has crossed the Sahara Desert at least four times in its life so far!

The Sanderling lingered on the Main Track for most of 19th Apr, providing superb views for passers-by © Dean Jones
The St Mary's Reed Warbler, 19 Apr © Dean Jones

Further highlights included a female Black Redstart in the Village and a Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay.  

Other birds logged were two Cormorant, a fly-over Golden Plover, two Whimbrel in Barton Field, a single Merlin, 80 Swallow, 90 Sand Martin, two House Martin, 75 Blackcap, 45 Willow Warbler, nine Chiffchaff, a single Sedge Warbler, three Grasshopper Warblers, singles of Whitethroat and Ring Ouzel, three Tree Pipit, a single Yellow Wagtail, 10 Pied Wagtails, two White Wagtails in Tillage Field, two Song Thrush, two Stonechat, 30 Wheatear along the south up to the Battery, a male Common Redstart (caught and ringed), 18 Linnet, nine Goldfinch, a Lesser Redpoll and three Siskin
The year's Puffin productivity studies are now well underway, – here Volunteer Wardens Ben and Eleanor
mapping burrows in Jenny's Cove, 19 Apr © Dean Jones
110 birds were caught and ringed: one Common Redstart, 63 Blackcaps, 32 Willow Warblers, nine Chiffchaff, one Sedge Warbler, two Goldfinch, one Linnet and one Wren.

Tuesday 20th April

Overcast in the morning, next to no wind and temperatures of up to 12°C.

These conditions brought with them yet another spectacular arrival of migrants to the island, the bulk involving Blackcap (230) and Willow Warbler (150) once again. The settled conditions also brought the first Cuckoo of the year – a cracking male – which had been seen and heard singing in various parts of the island from St John’s Valley to Quarter Wall Copse throughout most of the day. 
One of the many Blackcaps among the day's spectacular arrival, 20 Apr © Andy Jayne

Spot the grumpy-looking Cuckoo, St Helen's Combe, 20 Apr © Dean Jones
Other notable sightings included seven Whimbrel, a male Kestrel, 200 Sand Martin, 170 Swallow, two House Martin, 19 Chiffchaff, three Grasshopper Warbler, two Sedge Warbler, four Whitethroat, one Goldcrest, the Barton Field Fieldfare, two Ring Ouzel (one of which was singing briefly near Stoneycroft), the Mistle Thrush, two Song Thrush, two Pied Flycatcher, a male Common Redstart at the top of Millcombe, a single fly-over Tree Pipit, a male Yellow Wagtail in upper Lighthouse Field, two White Wagtail, 35 Wheatear, 18 Linnet, 10 Goldfinch and three Siskin.

A spectacular total of 307 birds were caught and ringed throughout the day: 163 Blackcap, 104 Willow Warblers, 15 Chiffchaff, three Whitethroat, two Grasshopper Warbler, two Sedge Warbler, one each of Goldcrest, Stonechat and Tree Pipit, three Meadow Pipit, one Pied Flycatcher, two Wren, 5 Linnet and a Goldfinch. Excellent work, team!  
Male Pied Flycatcher, caught and ringed in Millcombe, 20 Apr
© Rob Duncan
Wednesday 21st April

Clear skies and a light easterly breeze first thing which picked up quite significantly from mid-morning onwards. Max temperature 12°C.   

Highlights from a busy day of Fire and Rescue training included a possible Siberian Chiffchaff, caught and ringed in Millcombe first thing, and yet another day of decent Blackcap passage with a least 165 birds logged through the day.
Lundy's Fire and Rescue Team posing in front of Old Light after a busy day of
training and equipment checks, 21 Apr © Kobe Garfoot
Possible tristis Chiffchaff (left) with nominate collybita Chiffchaff, 21 Apr Dean Jones

Other sightings of note were three Mallard with 12 small ducklings at Pondsbury, six Teal, two Whimbrel, a single Snipe, the male Kestrel, 30 Swallow, 17 Sand Martin, 12 House Martin, 45 Willow Warbler, eight Chiffchaff, a single Sedge Warbler on the Terrace, four Whitethroat, three Grasshopper Warbler, two Song Thrush, a male Ring Ouzel at Quarter Wall, a Mistle Thrush in St Helen's Field, two Stonechat, a fly-over Grey Wagtail, three White Wagtail, five Pied Wagtail, 32 Linnet and a single Siskin.

164 birds were caught and ringed before the wind picked up: 109 Blackcap, 39 Willow Warbler, seven Chiffchaff, three Whitethroats, two Meadow Pipit, two Goldfinches, one Wren and the possible Siberian Chiffchaff.

Thursday 22nd April

Blue skies and a stiff easterly wind for most of the day up until the early evening when it dropped to a gentle breeze. Max temperature 12°C.   

The strong winds made for tricky birding, most birds hunkering down for the majority of the day and out of sight. However, despite the difficult conditions, the team did manage to find the first Garden Warbler of the year in the reasonably sheltered Secret Garden come the afternoon.  

Other birds logged included three Whimbrel in Helicopter Field, a Sparrowhawk over the Laundry Garden, 50 Swallow, nine Sand Martin, six House Martin, 50 Blackcap, 16 Willow Warbler, two Chiffchaff, the lingering Mistle Thrush, the male Ring Ouzel at Quarter Wall for another day, two Song Thrush in Millcombe, a Tree Pipit, 32 Wheatear (including at least five Greenland birds at Quarter Wall), 23 Linnet, 15 Goldfinch and four Siskin.   

The first of the island’s Starling chicks are not far off fledging now, with at least 51 nests in the Village and Old Lighthouse now containing noisy young birds!

Friday 23rd April

A day of clear skies and a strong east/south-easterly wind throughout. Max temperature 11°C.   

Highlights included the first Whinchat of the year at Quarter Wall and the first three Ringed Plovers – two of which were foraging within a small flock of five Dunlin in South West Field in the afternoon.

Whimbrel enjoying the morning sunshine in Barton Field, 22 Apr © Dean Jones

The first Whinchat of the year, hopefully the first of many! Quarter Wall, 23 Apr © Dean Jones
Other birds logged were two Whimbrel at Quarter Wall, six Golden Plover, a female Kestrel, five Woodpigeon, 20 Swallow, seven Sand Martin, 36 Blackcap, the Garden Warbler from yesterday, five Whitethroat, just three Willow Warbler, two Chiffchaff, the Quarter Wall Ring Ouzel, one Song Thrush in Millcombe, a fly-over Tree Pipit, a Grey Wagtail at Millcombe Pond, four Pied Wagtail, 21 Wheatear (including at least four big Greenland birds), 12 Linnet, 12 Goldfinch and a Lesser Redpoll.   

Report composed of sightings by Ben Arkless, Chris & Mandy Dee, Rob Duncan, Jamie Dunning, Rosie Ellis, Eleanor Grover, Andy Jayne, Dean Jones, David Kightley, Peter Newman, Tony & Ann Taylor and Mark & Julia Webber.

Saturday 17 April 2021

11th to 15th Apr – First Redstart, Whimbrel & Yellow Wagtail of the year

Sunday 11th April
A beautiful but chilly morning with clear skies and a light north-easterly breeze – sunshine and clear skies for the majority, with the wind picking up slightly and shifting to the north-west come the afternoon. Max temperature 7°C.
A relatively quiet day for migrants. Highlights included a handsome male Ring Ouzel at Benjamin’s Chair, a decent movement of 96 Linnet through the morning, and the lingering Common Buzzard which arrived on the island on 7th (see last blog post).
Other birds of note included four Teal on Pondsbury, four Woodpigeon, 26 Skylark, four Swallow, 11 House Martin, 16 Willow Warbler, two Chiffchaff, seven Blackcap, four Goldcrest, two Song Thrush, 27 Wheatear (all south of Halfway Wall), a single Stonechat, four Pied Wagtail, 52 Meadow Pipit, five Chaffinch, 25 Goldfinch and four Siskin.
Migrant Willow Warbler resting on gorse, Quarter Wall, 11 Apr © Dean Jones

Non-avian sightings included a pod of at least eight Common Dolphins offshore from Tibbets/Threequarter Wall Bay in the evening (Sue Waterfield).
Monday 12th April
Another chilly start to the day (the weather station showed wind-chill temperatures around 0°C) with moderate northerlies, partial cloud and sunshine – the winds then dropped off to a gentle breeze come mid-morning though it still felt cold due to their northerly orientation. Max temperature 9°C.
Coverage was rather limited due to a cargo-laden MS Oldenburg (including a tower of Domino’s pizzas for all the island staff – thanks Matt and Rob!) and a day of finishing up various bits and bobs for the island's grand reopening the next day!
One of the many newborn Lundy lambs enjoying the sunshine, 12 Apr © Dean Jones

Birds of note included a Grasshopper Warbler in Millcombe, the male Ring Ouzel at Benjamin’s Chair again for his second day, a singing Sedge Warbler behind the Walled Gardens, small numbers of Willlow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Wheatear, three Goldcrest, the Song Thrush again singing his heart out in Millcombe, seven Swallow, 20 Goldfinch and three Linnet.
Tuesday 13th April
A glorious spring day with a light south-westerly breeze throughout, clear blue skies and noticeably warmer temperatures (Max 10°).
A day of big smiles, socially distanced greetings and catch-ups, and oodles of excitement as the island welcomed back its first staying guests and day-trippers since the end of 2020. Stowed onboard the MS Oldenburg on this magical day were a number of special visitors too, including Tony & Ann Taylor from the Lundy Field Society who will spend the best part of the next week looking for colour-ringed Wheatears as part of the island's Re-trapping Adults for Survival (RAS) studies. Our first long-term volunteers also made landfall, among them drystone waller extraordinaire Adam Waters as our new Assistant Ranger, as well as keen-eyed birders and all-round seabird nuts Ben Hanson and Eleanor Grover as our new Assistant Wardens. PhD student Jamie Dunning from Imperial College London also arrived with a ladder at the ready in preparation for a busy season of checking House Sparrow nestboxes (with a bit of noc-migging on the side), and last but by no means least, Angus, Siss and Colin from the Ropeworks team who will be bravely abseiling down the East Side cliffs over the next five days in search of, and removing, any sneaky Rhododendron seedlings which have rooted there.
And there she goes! MS Oldenburg departing the jetty, bound for Ilfracombe,
with a small band of happy day-trippers on board, 13 Apr © Dean Jones

On top of all the wonderful, socially distanced catch-ups, it was an exciting day on the birding front too! Highlights included the lingering Buzzard and male Ring Ouzel, a Merlin low over Castle Parade, 47 Swallow, six Sand Martin, two House Martin, two singing Sedge Warbler, a single Grasshopper Warbler (flushed from the brambles near Millcombe House), 51 Willow Warbler, six Chiffchaff, 68 Blackcap, two Goldcrest, four Pied and one White Wagtail, a Robin with nesting material in Millcombe Wood, 13 Goldfinch, 30 Linnet, four Chaffinch and three Siskin.
Common Buzzard over the Upper East Side Path, 13 Apr © Dean Jones

There was a nice flurry of Lepidoptera in the afternoon, with the first Small White (three) and Holly Blue (one) butterflies of the year on the wing in Millcombe.
Wednesday 14th April
A morning of very light but chilly south-easterlies – which picked up slightly and swung round to the north by the evening – and clear blue skies throughout. Max temperature 10°C.
The weather this week has been superb – Earthquake looking north, 14 Apr © Dean Jones

There were lots of migrants about again, Willow Warblers making up the bulk with at least 100 moving through the island over the course of the day. The first two Common Redstarts of the year, both males, also made landfall – one in South West Field (Tony Taylor) and another along the lower east (Colin Charles).
Other birds of note included a Manx Shearwater calling repeatedly from its burrow in South West Field in the afternoon, five Woodpigeon (the four Lundy breeders plus one migrant at Jenny’s Cove), a Stock Dove in Millcombe, a female Merlin, the long-staying Buzzard again over Pondsbury, a Jackdaw over Barton Field, 97 Puffins from Jenny’s Cove to St Mark's Stone, 17 Skylark, 18 Sand Martin, 31 Swallow, four House Martin, singles of Grasshopper Warbler and Sedge Warbler in Millcombe, 22 Blackcap, just eight Chiffchaff, one Goldcrest, 58 Wheatear (which including six Greenland-type birds), one Stonechat, two Ring Ouzel, two Song Thrush (including one very grey, likely continental bird at Quarter Wall Pond), eight Goldfinch, four Chaffinch, 11 Linnet and four Siskin.
Lundy’s breeders were also keeping busy, with a number of House Sparrow nestboxes and Starling nests in the Village already containing hungry young chicks. It looks like it is going to be an early fledging date for some!
Thursday 15th April
Another chilly start to the day – blue skies and a moderate easterly wind throughout. Max temperature 9°C.

A much quieter day for migrants, with an obvious clear-out of birds overnight. Birds of note included the spring's first Whimbrel (next to Old Light) and Yellow Wagtail (two individuals, by the Lambing Shed and in Tillage Field). Also a single Snipe flushed from Lower Lighthouse Field, the Jackdaw again over the Farm, 19 Swallow, 12 Sand Martin, two House Martin, a Sedge Warbler singing next to Quarters, 20 Blackcap, just five Willow Warbler, eight Chiffchaff, a single Goldcrest, 13 Wheatear along the South End (which included at least one Greenland-type bird), one Stonechat, a Fieldfare next to the Black Shed, three Song Thrush, 12 Goldfinch and 45 Linnet.
Skylark, High Street, 14 Apr © Dean Jones

Report composed of sightings from Ben Arkless, Colin Charles, Jamie Dunning, Eleanor Grover, Dean Jones, Tony & Ann Taylor and Sue Waterfield.

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, Halfway 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