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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.
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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.

Saturday, 5 June 2021

18th May to 2nd Jun – Late-spring riches, including a Rustic Bunting and two terrestrial invertebrates new to Lundy

Lundy Warden Dean Jones pens a mega-blog covering the busiest period of the island's year.
 
18th May

Heavy rain throughout the morning and again in the evening, bright and sunny throughout the afternoon with a few odd showers. Light to moderate west/south-west winds throughout. Max temperature 13°C.  

Highlights on this day actually came in the form of some late news of two exciting invertebrates both found on 16th May. The first of these was the fantastic wasp-mimicking beetle Clytus arietis (aptly named the Wasp Beetle) which was found, astonishingly, on a tea-towel in the Barn by LFS Chairman Alan Rowland. Although relatively common in England and Wales, this is the first record of this species for Lundy and the first longhorn beetle (family Cerambycidae) to be found on Lundy as a whole.  
 
The Wasp Beetle Clytus arietis found in the Barn on 16 May © Alan Rowland
 
The next exciting invertebrate was a Great Prominent moth (Peridea anceps) which was trapped by light at the Old Light by Stephen O’Donnell. Like the Wasp Beetle, this was also the first record for the island! Bravo Stephen.
 
Great Prominent moth (Peridea anceps), Old Light, 16 May © Stephen ODonnell

Birds of note from a day spent visiting seabird productivity plots were three Swift, four Woodpigeon, two Whimbrel, a Dunlin, singles of Kestrel and Merlin, 40 Swallow, one Sand Martin, five House Martin, three Willow Warbler, two Chiffchaff, a Blackcap, five Whitethroat, the Song Thrush (still singing away since 11th Apr), a Tree Pipit in the Village, and singles of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll
 
Finally, the first Small Heath butterfly of the year was on the wing near Pondsbury.   

19th May

A very pleasant day with lots of sunshine, no rain and a light north-west/westerly wind for most – the calm before the storm! Max temperature 13°C.

Things were starting to feel very summer-like due to the beautiful weather and lack of spring migrants. As always though, the island’s breeding birds provided lots of excitement throughout the day with thousands of incubating seabirds along the west cliffs, and Starlings busily building nests in the Village in preparation for second broods. Additionally, the first noisy Blackbird and Goldfinch fledglings of the year were seen haphazardly navigating their new surroundings in Millcombe, and four recently fledged Stonechat young were flittering through the bracken on the eastern edge of Pondsbury in the afternoon.  
 
A Goldfinch fledgling having a snooze in the Secret Garden, 19 May © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note included 15 Swift, two Woodpigeon, a single Kestrel, seven Sand Martin, 50 Swallow, 13 House Martin, one Willow Warbler, four Chiffchaff, three Blackcap, one Whitethroat, a Lesser Whitethroat singing in Millcombe first thing, the Millcombe Song Thrush, two Spotted Flycatcher and one Lesser Redpoll

20th May

A very wet and windy day throughout with lots of drizzle, bouts of heavy rain and wind exceeding 65mph in the afternoon. Max temperature 12°C.  

Unsurprisingly due to the tough weather conditions, it was a quiet day on the birding front. Naturally, with weather like this, it was the sea that got most of the attention, but despite the blustery conditions – which can often bring some scarcer seabirds to Lundy’s shores – there wasn’t an awful lot of note other than a handful of Gannet, auks and Manx Shearwater.  

Birds onshore, particularly hirundines, were having a hard time in driving winds and pelting rain, with a number of Swallow and House Martin grounded along the beach road and Millcombe track.  
 
Among the birds struggling in the strong winds and rain on 20 May were a Swallow and a House Martin
grounded on the Beach Road © Paul Dean
 
Birds logged included the first Turnstone of the year, photographed by Paul Dean in the Landing Bay, two Golden Plover along the east coast, 10 Swallow, seven House Martin, two Chiffchaff, a single male Blackcap, two Spotted Flycatcher and the Millcombe Song Thrush – still singing his heart out despite the driving wind and rain!  
 
A Turnstone with an Oystercatcher in the Landing Bay, 20 May © Paul Dean

21st May

Another grey, noticeably cooler, wet and very windy day – winds peaking at 60mph from the west in the early afternoon. Max temperature 10°C.

Another quiet day for birds due to the strong winds and rain. The island too is starting to show the effects of the past two days, with the winds and salt spray causing the newly emerging leaves on trees in Millcombe to wilt and die. The bracken and Lundy Cabbage along the east coast too received a bit of a battering despite the westerly origins of the wind.  

Sightings of note were three Storm Petrels together passing Rat Island in the late afternoon, an adult Black-headed Gull offshore from Landing Bay earlier in the day, and small numbers of Gannet which were putting on a spectacular show in the Landing Bay as they plunged from height very close to shore.
 
Plunging Gannet in the Landing Bay, 21 May © Paul Dean

Fly-by Fulmar, 21 May © Paul Dean

Other sightings included more Stonechat fledglings, this time above White Beach, singles of Garden Warbler (Millcombe), Blackcap, Whitethroat and Lesser Redpoll.

22nd May

A light westerly wind and more rain first thing, brightening by mid-morning – conditions which provoked the emergence of numerous Cocksfoot (Glyphipterix simpliciella) and Cydia ulicetana moths within the wildflowers and gorse at the top of Millcombe – the winds then picked up as the evening approached. Max temperature 11°C.  

Avian highlights included a conservative estimate of 50 Swift overhead through the course of the day. Additionally, two Turnstone were observed in the Landing Bay and the first of the Raven fledglings were on the wing below Benjamin’s Chair.
 
Another highlight was welcoming Tony and Ann Taylor to the island, both of whom will be spending the next couple of weeks colour-ringing Wheatears along the south and west cliffs as part of the island's long-running Retrapping Adults for Survival (RAS) project.  
 
Other sightings of note included four Woodpigeon, one Collared Dove, a single Dunlin, a fly-by Cormorant, 20 Swallow, one House Martin, two each of Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler (all in Millcombe), our beloved persistent Song Thrush, three Stonechats, 16 Goldfinch and a Lesser Redpoll.  

23rd May

Wet and windy was the theme today with heavy rain and gale-force south-westerlies for the majority of the afternoon. Max temperature 11°C.

A very quiet day for birds with very little of note, the principal sightings a Collared Dove, two Chiffchaff, a Blackcap singing in Quarter Wall Copse, a single Whitethroat in St Helen’s Copse, the Millcombe Song Thrush (still singing despite the conditions!) and two Lesser Redpoll.  

24th May

Sunshine and showers in the morning, turning overcast by the afternoon with a few bouts of rain – wind strong from the west/south-west. Max temperature 11°C. 
 
A calm and blue East Side after the rain, 24th May © Dean Jones
 
Birds logged included two Teal, a Collared Dove leaving the island on a north-easterly course, six Woodpigeon, 15 Swallow, five House Martin, singles of Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler, two Chiffchaff, a single Willow Warbler, three Spotted Flycatcher, one Stonechat, the first Wheatear fledglings of the year along the west, the Millcombe Song Thrush, two Lesser Redpoll and a single Siskin
 
A male Siskin in Millcombe, 24 May © Dean Jones
 
The first Painted Lady of the year was also on the wing at the Terrace.
 
Cocksfoot Moths on Mayweed, Beach Road 24 May © Dean Jones

25th May

Strong westerly winds and grey skies in the morning – some bright and sunny spells in the afternoon but mostly grey with intermittent light showers. Max temperature 11°C.

Birds logged today included the second Common Sandpiper of the year calling from the shore near Shutter Rock, four Woodpigeon, just 10 Swallow, a Blackcap, two Chiffchaff, a Sedge Warbler, two Reed Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat in Millcombe, two Spotted Flycatcher, and three each of Stonechat and Lesser Redpoll.

In other news, three more Pacific Oysters (Magallana gigas) were found around the Jetty in the afternoon. These invasive molluscs – which naturally occur on the Pacific coast of Asia – were first reported on Lundy in the summer of 2020. They were introduced into Britain in the 1960s for aquaculture and it was assumed that the waters around the UK were too cold for this species to reproduce. Unfortunately, they got this very wrong and now these oysters are causing quite a problem in a number of areas in southern England, particularly in sheltered estuarine habitats, with some completely taking over parts of the shore, reducing native biodiversity and displacing native oyster and mussel beds. 
 
Pacific Oyster © Dean Jones
  
As Lundy is so exposed, we don’t think the Pacific Oyster population will get to this point, but we ask any visitors who are down on the shore and happen to come upon one, to report it to the Conservation Team so it can be removed before reproducing.  
 
Full moon over the North Devon coast – the wereboggits will be out tonight! 25 May © Dean Jones

26th May

Light westerlies first thing gradually picked up to a moderate wind by mid-afternoon – dry and sunny throughout. Max temperature 12°C.

With such wonderful weather, the day was spent down the west cliffs checking on all the productivity plots to see how they have fared after all the wind and rain. It was a truly stunning day on the slopes, with Rose Chafers galore on the wing, sheets of Thrift and other coastal wild flowers, and the raucous calls and fishy scents of thousands of breeding seabirds.  

At the St Mark’s Guillemot plot, things were looking very damp with the formation of numerous pools and puddles in some of the sections of the islet. Unfortunately, as in previous years, this has led to the abandonment of half-a-dozen eggs, particularly in the centre of the colony. Luckily though, as a whole the colony seems to be doing very well, with over 230 other incubating birds still present – some of which are in new, previously unused areas and thus indicative that the population here is still growing.

Kittiwakes emerged relatively unscathed, unlike in some years when nests sited lower down in the colonies get washed away at times of strong south-westerly winds.  

Small numbers of Herring Gull chicks were also present but mostly hidden away under mum and dad as the wind picked up through the afternoon. The undoubted highlight from this seabird-filled day was the first of the island's Puffins delivering fish to young at both Jenny’s Cove and St Peter's. The pufflings have arrived!  

Other birds of note included a Kestrel at the Terrace, 126 Kittiwakes near St Mark’s, five Sand Martin, 100 Swallow, 90 House Martin, four Chiffchaff (including one collecting nest lining in Millcombe), two Whitethroat, singles of Blackcap and Sedge Warbler, three Spotted Flycatcher, a female Yellow Wagtail in Barton Field, a fly-over Tree Pipit, the Millcombe Song Thrush and two Lesser Redpoll.  
 
The day ended with a superb blood supermoon, 26 May © Dean Jones

27th May

Clear skies and a light south/south-easterly wind first thing – short-lived bouts of sea-mist then rolled in shortly after 07:30 hrs before becoming beautifully clear and warm – the wind had shifted to the west by the evening, though still very light. Max temperature 15°C.

Today saw a small arrival of migrants, notably six Swift, a raft of 500 Manx Shearwater off the west coast in the evening, two Kestrels together over the west coast, a single Collared Dove, a conservative estimate of 140 Swallow and 75 House Martin (lots of them riding high on the thermals), six Whitethroat, a Lesser Whitethroat below Government House, three Chiffchaff, two Willow Warbler (including one acredula-type bird in Millcombe), seven Spotted Flycatcher, singles of Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit overhead and two Lesser Redpoll.

Additionally, the first Dunnock fledglings of the year were pestering their parents in Smelly Gully throughout the day, and very excitingly our long-staying, constantly singing Song Thrush was seen with another bird in a sycamore at the top of Millcombe! The two birds seemed very happy to share the tree together – so hopefully this newcomer is a female looking for a mate. Only time will tell!  
 
One of the first Dunnock fledglings of the year, Smelly Gully, 27 May © Dean Jones

Today was also a day of intertidal exploration and a very special one at that, as visiting us on a day-trip was Lundy legend and marine biologist extraordinaire, Dr Keith Hiscock! Accompanied by Education Officer Rosie Ellis, they set off post-arrival of the Oldenburg to explore the rockpools, caves, gullies and overhangs of the Devil’s Kitchen on what was a day of good tides. Highlights from Keith’s trip included the iridescent algae, Cystoseira tamariscifolia (commonly known as Rainbow Weed), berried (meaning carrying eggs) Montagu’s Crabs, the sea slug Archidoris pseudoargus, Five-bearded Rocklings and a smorgasbord of other sponges, sea-squirts, algae, molluscs and crustaceans.
 
Rosie Ellis exploring the arch under Rat Island, 27 May © Keith Hiscock

The sea slug Archidoris pseudoargus, Rat Island, 27 May © Keith Hiscock
 
Red Ripple Bryozoan (Watersipora subatra), Rat Island, 27 May © Keith Hiscock
 
Whilst exploring one of the sea caves in Rat Island, Keith sadly discovered another invasive species new to the island, the encrusting bryozoan Watersipora subatra, also known as Red Ripple Bryozoan. Unlike the Pacific Oyster (see above), the origins of this invasive invertebrate are still unknown, though the Gulf of Mexico has been suggested as a potential native range. Luckily this species is not an aggressive coloniser like Pacific Oyster and shouldn’t affect the native diversity of the area in any substantial way. A massive thank you to Keith for anothert great day down on the shore!  

Other marine highlights included at least 30 Common Dolphin in small groups, and five Harbour Porpoise offshore along the west coast.  

28th May

Overcast and a few light showers first thing, giving way to beautiful blue skies for the rest of the morning – overcast again in the afternoon, with a few light showers shortly after 15:00 hrs – next to no wind throughout other than a slight easterly/north-easterly breeze. Max temperature 13°C.

With another good low tide, the second intertidal survey of the year was carried out in the Devil’s Kitchen. It was a fascinating afternoon learning how the rockpools have changed in the eight weeks since the last survey (see blog entry for 30th Mar to 1st Apr), with changes in the abundance and composition of algae and invertebrates, particularly in the pools lowest on the shore. Highlights from the survey included the striking Blue-rayed Limpet, a handsome Palio nothus sea slug, Light-bulb Sea Squirts, and singles of Rock Goby and Long-spined Scorpion Fish in Rockpool G.  
 
The sea slug Palio nothus, Devil's Kitchen, 28 May © Dean Jones
 
The superbly camouflaged Rock Goby, Devil's Kitchen, 28 May © Dean Jones
 
On top of the very enjoyable afternoon on the shore, it was another day with a nice spread of avian migrants. Birds of note included two Teal in Barton Field, a fly-over Cormorant, two Golden Plover, the Kestrel pair, nine Woodpigeon, three Collared Dove, 38 Swallow, 23 House Martin, a single Willow Warbler, four Chiffchaff, one Blackcap, a Garden Warbler in Millcombe, seven Whitethroat, two Sedge Warbler, four Reed Warbler scattered around Millcombe and the lower East Side, our beloved Millcombe Song Thrush (sadly with no sign of the second bird recorded the day previous), nine Spotted Flycatcher, three Stonechat and two Lesser Redpoll.
 
A male Wheatear on the Terrace, 28 May © Dean Jones
 
The first Robin fledglings of the year were bobbing around Millcombe Pond in the early morning.
 
29th May

A calm and sunny start to the day, becoming cloudy and a tad damp by the late morning and afternoon – light east/north-easterly winds in the morning, becoming progressively windier by the afternoon. Max temperature 17°C.

This was another spectacular day to be on Lundy, primarily due to another arrival of more special guests! On the ship today were Richard and Rebecca Taylor who, along with Tony and Ann Taylor, have come to catch and colour-ring the island's breeding Wheatears. Also on board were Seb, Dan and Fletch, also known as 'Team Peregrine', who were over for the day to retrieve camera-traps left on breeding ledges in 2019 and, hopefully, colour-ring some chicks. Rich and Rebecca hit the ground running, catching four birds along the west cliffs in the afternoon (with plenty more still to be caught in the next few days).  
 
The West Side slopes are now awash with sea pinks, here looking north to the Devil's Slide, 29 May © Dean Jones
 
Team Peregrine managed to visit two sites but unfortunately found that the breeding season was rather late this year for this iconic Lundy raptor, one nest containing two chicks around 12 days old, and the other with just one chick about a week old. Although the birds were too young to colour-ring, it was still a fantastic day along the cliffs. We are super-excited to see those camera-trap images too!  

Birding highlights other than the Peregrines and Wheatears included a Hobby, seen passing the island by Richard and Rebecca Taylor in South West Field, and a Cuckoo calling below Quarry Beach.

Other sightings of note were six Swift, five each of Woodpigeon and Collared Dove, 30 Swallow, 15 House Martin, four Whitethroat, three Blackcap, four Chiffchaff (including a male singing in Gannets' Bay), a Goldcrest in Millcombe (the first since 28th Apr), two Spotted Flycatcher and two Lesser Redpoll.

30th May

A stunning day of sunshine, blue skies and a light east/south-east breeze throughout. Max temperature 17°C.

The undoubted highlight came in the form of a first-summer Common Rosefinch which was first heard singing from the sycamores behind the Gas Store in Millcombe at around 08:00 hrs. From here, after providing brief views through the canopy, the bird then shot off up the Valley after a run-in with a territorial pair of Goldfinch, and went into stealth mode. It wasn’t until the evening that the bird was seen again – turning up miraculously in a whoosh-net fired by Jamie Dunning (our resident House Sparrow researcher from Imperial College London), whilst targeting what he thought were just a half-dozen unringed sparrows. What a surprise he had when he started to extract the birds!
 
The first-year Common Rosefinch caught in the Lodge garden, 30 May © Dean Jones
 
Other highlights from this spectacular late-spring day included a Crossbill flying around the Millcombe area, a female Black Redstart above the Battery and a vocal male Cuckoo singing in Millcombe/St Helen’s Copse periodically throughout the day.  

Other sightings of note were a drake Teal on Pondsbury, a Kestrel near Dead Cow Point, one Golden Plover, 17 Woodpigeon, two Collared Dove, 17 Swallow, nine House Martin, two Willow Warbler, eight Chiffchaff, three Blackcap, eight Whitethroat, two Garden Warbler, three Sedge Warbler, five Reed Warbler, a Goldcrest next to Government House, five Spotted Flycatcher, the Song Thrush and three Lesser Redpoll.
 
One of five Spotted Flycatchers logged on 30 May © Dean Jones
 
31st May

Another day of blue skies and plenty of sunshine – light east/south-easterly winds for most until the evening when it picked up a bit – a warm day throughout with temperatures reaching 20°C by the afternoon.  

The title of star bird was a Turtle Dove found by Richard and Rebecca Taylor next to the Lambing Shed in the late afternoon. Sadly this beautiful bird, which was once a regular spring migrant to the island, has become a very noteworthy bird in recent times as they have become increasingly scarce owing to their rapid decline (93% since the 1970s) in Britain.   

Another highlight was the presence of the first Guillemot chicks of the year at St Mark’s Stone! 
 
The first Guillemot chicks of the year, St Mark's Stone, 31 May © Dean Jones
 
Other sightings of note were a single Swift, seven Woodpigeon, four Collared Dove, 30 Gannet along the west (with lots of feeding activity close inshore), 159 Kittiwake, 210 Puffin in Jenny’s Cove and St Peter’s, 16 Swallow, 15 House Martin, seven Chiffchaff, five Whitethroat, two Blackcap, singles of Sedge and Reed Warbler in Millcombe, and three Lesser Redpoll.

1st June

Partial cloud and sunshine and light east/south-easterly winds throughout. Max temperature 22°C – a scorcher of a day.

Another exciting day of birds, with a stonking adult female/first-year male Rustic Bunting taking the crown of star bird of the day. Initially found by Tony Taylor in Barton Field just before 14:00 hrs, the bird continued to feed there for the best part of 40 minutes, allowing most of the visiting birders on the island to see it. The bunting then flew off down the field and, despite some searching, was not relocated. Bravo Tony!
 
Record shot of the Rustic Bunting in Barton Field, 1 Jun © Dean Jones
 
Other sightings of note included half-a-dozen incubating Manx Shearwaters in their cosy nestboxes along the west, three Woodpigeon, nine Collared Dove (the highest count so far this year), just 10 Swallow, three each of Chiffchaff and Whitethroat, two Blackcap, singles of Sedge and Reed Warbler singing in Millcombe, the Millcombe Song Thrush and a lone Lesser Redpoll.
 
Sedge Warbler singing in Millcombe, 1 Jun © Dean Jones

2nd June

Overcast and light easterly winds in the morning, becoming sunny and warm in the afternoon – the wind changed to the south-west come the evening, bringing with it cooler temperatures and bouts of sea mist. Max temperature 20°C.

The day's highlight, though somewhat frustrating, was the occurrence of a Hippolais warbler in Millcombe mid-morning. Unfortunately, views were too brief to determine the species 100% (though some features, along with its shy, secretive behaviour, pointed to it being an Icterine Warbler) as the bird rapidly flicked through the thick canopy in one of the Millcombe pines before shooting off up the Valley and out of sight.

Additional highlights were a male Cuckoo and Tree Pipit in St Helen’s Copse, the first Oystercatcher chicks of the year (on Rat Island), a late Pied Flycatcher and the first Carrion Crow fledglings of the year in Millcombe.

A male Cuckoo takes some time off, St Helen's Copse, 2 Jun © Dean Jones
 
Put me back in the nest! A grumpy Carrion Crow fledgling, Millcombe, 2 Jun © Dean Jones
 
Other sightings included three Collared Dove, a handful of Swallow, one House Martin, four Chiffchaff, two each of Sedge Warbler and Blackcap, six Whitethroat, the Millcombe Song Thrush, a Spotted Flycatcher and three Siskin.

Non-avian sightings included the first Diamond-backed Moths of the year along the Upper East Side Path and a number of Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Common Blue, Large White and Green-veined White butterflies on the wing. 
 
There were plenty of Red Admirals on the wing on the evening of 2 Jun ...
 
... and a few Painted Ladies too © Dean Jones
 
A huge thank you to everyone who submitted sightings throughout this period! Report composed of sightings from Ben Arkless, Belinda Cox, Paul Dean, Jamie Dunning, Jennifer Earl, Rosie Ellis, Eleanor Grover, Keith Hiscock, Dean Jones, Peter McCopper, Stephen O’Donnell, David Price, Alan & Sandra Rowland, Peter Slader, Richard & Rebecca Taylor and Tony & Ann Taylor.

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