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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.

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

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