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Monday 20 September 2021

1st to 17th September – A rich variety of autumn migrants

Lundy Warden Dean Jones reports that:
"The island is now radiating a glorious early autumn vibe. Following on from the last post, the emerald glow from the island's lush vegetation is now transitioning into a rustic brown as plants like bracken start to die back for another season. The clouds of flying ants from the last post have now been replaced with throngs of craneflies, more and more seal pups are turning up along the shore with each passing day (37 white coat pups have been recorded so far), and a steady procession of visiting bird ringers and general wildlife enthusiasts have graced the island, along with the first of four autumn work parties."
1st September
A mostly overcast day with a few sunny spells in the late afternoon – strong easterly/south easterly winds throughout. Max temperature 16°C.
Highlights included the first Wood Warbler of the autumn, seen periodically in the sheltered spots in Millcombe, particularly in pines trees at the top of the Valley.
Other sightings of note on what was a rather tricky day's birding owing to the strong wind were three Golden Plover, two Woodpigeon, a lone Kestrel, two Skylark, just four each of Swallow and Willow Warbler, two Blackcap, a single Whitethroat, three Spotted Flycatcher, two Pied Flycatcher (both in lower Milcombe), at least four fly-over Tree Pipit, 18 Goldfinch, 61 Linnet and small double-digit numbers of Wheatear and Meadow Pipit.
Pied Flycatcher, Millcombe, 1 Sep © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note were 10 Harbour Porpoise together off South West Point and a Herald moth in the General Stores.
2nd September
A mostly overcast day again, with strong easterly/south-easterly winds throughout. Max temperature 16°C.
Unfortunately the conditions made for tricky birding again, with most birds hiding away in thick scrub and sward, or well hidden in the canopies by rapidly flapping foliage.
Birds logged included four Woodpigeon, two Kestrel, a single Skylark, 12 Swallow, six House Martin, the Wood Warbler again in Millcombe, six Willow Warbler, a Reed Warbler in the sycamores above the Casbah, two Blackcap, a single Goldcrest, three each of Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, two Yellow Wagtails (one each at the Battery and in Barton Field), two Tree Pipit over St John’s Valley, a single Chaffinch, 16 Goldfinch and 20 Linnet.
Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe 2 Sep © Dean Jones

The Yellow-crowned Bishop is still going strong! The handsome chap was seen periodically outside Quarters and foraging in the long grass sward next to the Stonecrusher.
3rd September
Overcast start to the day but brightening up by mid-afternoon – light to moderate easterly winds throughout. Max temperature 18°C.
A fantastic and exciting day of Lundy birding with a diverse array of migrants which included a juvenile Knot (the second so far this autumn) roosting on Rat Island in the evening, and a Green Sandpiper over the Village in the early morning. The first two Common Redstarts of the autumn were also logged (singles at the Lambing Shed and 'Pointless Wall') along with 10 Whinchat (a count which included four birds together at the Stonecrusher), 10 Pied Flycatcher scattered around Millcombe and along the East Side, and at least eight Tree Pipit – a count which included a gang of four birds in Millcombe throughout the day.
One of ten Whinchats present on 3 Sep – this individual on Brick Field fenceline © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note were four Woodpigeon, a single fly-over Golden Plover, two Curlew on the Airstrip, a single Dunlin overhead, a flock of 27 Oystercatcher roosting in Jenny’s Cove, two Kestrel, a Merlin, two Skylark, 11 Sand Martin, 16 Swallow, 17 Willow Warbler (including one acredula type bird), two Chiffchaff, five Sedge Warbler, a Grasshopper Warbler, seven Blackcap (the first obvious arrival of autumn migrants), a single Goldcrest, 12 Spotted Flycatcher, three Stonechat, 40 Wheatear, five Yellow Wagtails together in Brick Field, seven Pied Wagtails, two White Wagtails, 30 Meadow Pipit, 22 Goldfinch and 92 Linnet.
A 'washed out', acredula-type Willow Warbler, Millcombe, 3 Sep © Dean Jones

Male Northern Wheatear, Brick Field, 3 Sep © Dean Jones

More of the Wheatears hoaking out a meal along Brick Field wall, 3 Sep © Dean Jones

In addition, the Yellow-crowned Bishop was outside Quarters again early in the day.
4th September
A hazy start to the morning quickly gave way to beautiful clear blue skies – light easterly winds in the morning then picked up and switched to the north later in the day. Max temperature 18°C.
Other than 12 Whinchat scattered between St Helen’s Field fence and Quarter Wall, all in all it was a rather quiet day for migrants.
Wren enjoying the beautiful morning weather on 4 Sep © Dean Jones

Also logged were six Woodpigeon, a single Cormorant, three Kestrel, a lone Sand Martin, just 10 Swallow, 18 Willow Warbler, two Blackcap, a single Spotted Flycatcher, two Stonechat, two Pied Flycatcher, five Yellow Wagtail, four Tree Pipit, 17 Goldfinch and 29 Linnet.
The Yellow-crowned Bishop was still present outside Quarters in the morning.
5th September
A stunning day of blue skies and light winds from the east. Max temperature 19°C.
Highlights included a first-year Common Rosefinch which was caught and ringed in Millcombe Valley. A very showy Wryneck also turned up on the old Terrace Trap in the afternoon – the second of the autumn so far! A Little Stint was seen and heard over the Village in the evening – the first since 2014 – a Storm Petrel was caught and ringed along the west coast in the wee hours, and a nice arrival of 83 Willow Warbler were logged across the island.
Record shot of the Wryneck on the Terrace Trap, 5 Sep © Dean Jones
First-year Common Rosefinch, Millcombe, 5 Sep © Richard Taylor

Also logged were a single Swift, eight Woodpigeon, singles of Curlew, Ringed Plover, Snipe, Common Sandpiper and Cormorant, five Kestrel hovering together above the Upper East Side Path, two each of Skylark and Sand Martin, 12 Swallow, seven House Martin, five Chiffchaff, a Sedge Warbler, 12 Blackcap, singles of Whitethroat and Firecrest, four Spotted Flycatcher, seven Whinchat, 15 Stonechat (the first proper arrival of the autumn), seven Pied Flycatcher, five Yellow Wagtail (all foraging in Brick Field), three Grey Wagtail (the first of the autumn), 25 Meadow Pipit, four Tree Pipit, 23 Goldfinch and 170 Linnet.
"Which way's south again?" Pied Flycatcher, Millcombe, 5 Sep © Dean Jones

The non-avian highlight was a Migrant Hawker dragonfly quartering upper Millcombe in the morning.
6th September
The day started with Lundy enveloped in a thick mist which thankfully cleared by late morning to mainly clear and bright conditions, with a few short-lived spells of low cloud throughout the afternoon – winds light and from the east again. Max temperature 20°C.
A much quieter bird day, especially compared to the previous day, with two Woodpigeon, two Kestrel, two Sand Martin, just 10 Swallow, 20 Willow Warbler, singles of Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler and Blackcap, two Whitethroat, one Spotted Flycatcher, four Stonechat, two Pied Flycatcher, a fly-over Yellow Wagtail, four Tree Pipit, 30 Meadow Pipit, 17 Goldfinch and 150 Linnet (single flock near the Old Hospital).
Spotted Flycatcher on High Street wall, 6 Sep © Dean Jones
The Yellow-crowned Bishop was in Tent Field in the afternoon.
A total of 49 moth species were caught overnight (5th & 6th) in the Millcombe Heath trap. Among them were the first Frosted Orange and Autumnal Rustic of the year, a handful of Silver Y, a single Devonshire Wainscot (a nationally scarce species) and the second record of Pinion-streaked Snout for the island!
7th September
A very warm midsummer-like day of clear blue skies throughout and light winds from the east, picking up to a moderate wind by the evening. Max temperature 24°C.
The island was graced by a fantastic fall of migrants. Spotted Flycatchers were present in very good numbers (60 birds logged), most unsurprisingly found in Millcombe and along the east coast, but with some really nice gangs of birds on top of the island too, e.g. seven together flycatching from the water tank fence. Wheatears too were well represented with at least 110 birds across the island.
Other highlights included a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker in the 'Rüppell’s Quarry' willows (the 35th record for Lundy) in the afternoon, a Wood Warbler in the Terrace willows, and a Garden Warbler in Millcombe which was caught and ringed.
A more typical lemon-yellow autumn Willow Warbler ruffled by the easterlies, 7 Sep © Dean Jones

Other sightings of note were a Teal on Barton Pond, one Swift, a single fly-over Golden Plover and Snipe, three Kestrel, two Skylark, just four Swallow (a poor autumn so far for hirundines on the island), 38 Willow Warbler, three Chiffchaff, 16 Whitethroat (the highest count so far this autumn), a lone Goldcrest, six Whinchat (including five together at Quarter Wall), one Redstart, five Stonechat, three Pied Flycatcher, two Yellow Wagtails, a White Wagtail in Barton Field, three Tree Pipit, two Chaffinch, 17 Goldfinch and 200 Linnet (most of which were part of one large flock near the Old Hospital).
Our old friend the Yellow-crowned Bishop was seen again at the corner of the camp site.
8th September
A bit more autumn-like today! Grey and overcast for most with short-lived periods of mist and heavy rain, winds strong from the east/south-east for the most part, dropping away and swinging north-west by the evening. Max temperature 20°C.
Yet another magical day of Lundy birding! Highlights included a Hobby which flew south past Millcombe in the late morning, the juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker for its second day in either St Helen’s Copse or Millcombe, and a rather noisy Wood Warbler seen and heard in Quarter Wall Copse – perhaps the same bird seen on the Terrace the previous day. Spotted Flycatchers were still present in good numbers (22), along with four Common Redstart and nine Tree Pipit.
Whinchat, Upper East Side Path, 8 Sep © Dean Jones
A beautifully calm evening up at the North End with the mist-nets produced a small but pleasing catch of six Storm Petrels.
Other sightings of note were singles of Swift, Ringed Plover and Dunlin, 13 Cormorant, one Grey Heron, a handsome male Sparrowhawk, three Kestrel, a single Woodpigeon, five Skylark, 12 Sand Martin, 30 Swallow, 40 House Martin, 17 Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff, four Blackcap, 10 Whitethroat, three Goldcrest, seven Stonechat, two Whinchat, just five Wheatear, three Pied Flycatcher, five Yellow Wagtail, seven Pied Wagtails and singles of Grey and White Wagtail, six Chaffinch, 25 Goldfinch and 173 Linnet.
9th September
A grey start to the day with bouts of light drizzle and rain throughout the morning until 10:00hrs, after which the clouds dissipated, giving way to some beautiful summery weather – light south-east winds first thing picked up and shifted to the north by the afternoon. Max temperature 18°C.
A much quieter day for migrants with the Wood Warbler again in Quarter Wall Copse taking the title of star bird.
Other birds logged were a Swift, two Woodpigeon, a fly-over Dunlin, a single Kestrel, seven Sand Martin, six Swallow, four Willow Warbler, singles of Chiffchaff, Sedge and Reed Warbler, two Blackcap, two Whitethroat, singles of Firecrest (Quarter Wall Copse) and Goldcrest, just one Spotted Flycatcher, eight Wheatear in the in-fields, singles of Stonechat, Grey and White Wagtail, two Tree Pipit, 13 Goldfinch and 250 Linnet.
10th September
A wet and windy day with heavy rain first thing, followed by mostly grey overcast conditions and a moderate northerly throughout. Max temperature 17°C.
A day of avian surprises, the first of which came in the form of a Pale-bellied Brent Goose floating in the Landing Bay in the late morning – the 20th record of Brent Goose for the island. Even better though is that only four of these previous records have involved the pale-bellied race Branta bernicla hrota (a race which breeds in the Canadian Arctic) – all other records have been of the dark-bellied form B. b. bernicla (which breed in Russia).
Another exciting discovery came later in the day when a Great Tit turned up in Millcombe Valley – a very common and familiar bird on the mainland but here on Lundy it is the scarcest of the tits species (Great, Blue and Coal) with records in only 38 years since 1947, the last of which was in September 2011!
Other birds logged were the Great Spotted Woodpecker for its third day, two Teal, a Swift, four Golden Plover, a single Ringed Plover overhead, one Kestrel, two Skylark, two Sand Martin, 53 Swallow, 17 Willow Warbler, five Chiffchaff, eight Blackcap, six Whitethroat, one Firecrest, two Goldcrest, five Spotted Flycatcher, a single Common Redstart, three Whinchat, three Stonechat, 30 Wheatear, one Pied Flycatcher, two each of Yellow and Grey Wagtail, 11 Pied Wagtail, two White Wags, a single Tree Pipit, 42 Meadow Pipit, 19 Goldfinch and 140 Linnet.
Juvenile Blackbird making the most of fruiting brambles around the Ugly, 10 Sep © Dean Jones

11th September
A mostly cloudy day with the odd shower and sunny spell dotted throughout – winds were moderate and from the north/west up until the evening when they dropped to a breeze. Max temperature 18°C.
Highlights were the Pale-bellied Brent Goose, present for a second day, the reappearance of the Common Rosefinch from the 5th, and the first fall of Blackcap of the autumn, albeit a small one (30 birds).
Martin Thorne, one of the few regular birders to the island, also had a pleasant day-trip with some productive seawatching at the North End, the highlights of which were six Common Scoter flying east, four each of Great Skua (harassing small numbers of Kittiwakes) and Balearic Shearwater, two Harbour Porpoise and four Common Dolphin.
Other migrants logged were a Swift, four Woodpigeon, a single Golden Plover, 20 Kittiwake, eight Cormorant, a Grey Heron, one Kestrel, three Sand Martin, seven Swallow, 15 Willow Warbler, 10 Chiffchaff, singles of Sedge and Reed Warbler, seven Whitethroat, five Goldcrest, seven Spotted Flycatcher, a Common Redstart, six Stonechat, 70 Wheatear, three Pied Flycatcher, two Yellow Wagtail, three Grey Wagtail, 14 alba wags, 30 Meadow Pipit, 14 Goldfinch and 200 Linnet.
Ringing: A team of bird ringers under the leadership of Chris Dee arrived for a two-week stay, based in Brambles, ringing as often as conditions permit in Millcombe and St John's Valley. Totals for 11th: 1 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Wren, 2 Robin, 1 Redstart, 1 Spotted Flycatcher and 1 Linnet.
Lastly, Martin also noted seven additional Balearic Shearwaters close into the bow of the Oldenburg about halfway across from Bideford to the island. Mandy Dee found two new species of fungi for the Lundy list within 50m of Brambles!
12th September
A wet, misty and overcast day for the most part, though the sun did shine briefly in the afternoon – a light westerly breeze first thing turning east again by the evening. Max temperature 16°C.
Highlights included the first-year Common Rosefinch (see below) and the Great Spotted Woodpecker in Millcombe again.
Other migrants of note on what was a rather quiet day of birding were a Swift, two Woodpigeon, one Kestrel, 145 Swallow, 10 Willow Warbler, five Chiffchaff, a Reed Warbler, 20 Blackcap, one Whitethroat, two Goldcrest, three Spotted Flycatcher, one Whinchat, six Stonechat, 13 Wheatear, two Grey Wagtail, 60 Meadow Pipit, three Chaffinch, 14 Goldfinch and 30 Linnet.
Ringing totals: 5 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 15 Blackcap, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Robin and a Manx Shearwater that had crash-landed at night by the gents' loo outside the Marisco Tavern. The Common Rosefinch ringed the previous week was retrapped.

A pod of 10 Common Dolphin were seen feeding off South West Point.
13th September
A very similar day to the 12th: wet and with a light breeze from the south-east/east. Max temperature 16°C.
Highlights were a Knot on the Airfield (the third of the autumn so far) together with 20 Golden Plover, the Great Spotted Woodpecker and the first Mistle Thrush of the year.
The best of the rest included four Woodpigeon, 31 Gannet, two Kestrel, seven Skylark, just two Swallow, singles of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, five Blackcap, a Garden Warbler, two Whitethroat, six Goldcrest, singles of Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart and Whinchat, six Stonechat, 14 Wheatear, two Yellow Wagtail, 40 Meadow Pipit, seven Chaffinch, seven Goldfinch and 20 Linnet.
Ringing was severely weather-impacted. A small window late morning produced singles of Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Redstart and Wren, plus 4 Stonechat.
The non-avian highlight was at least four Common Dolphin feeding off the west coast.
14th September
A very pleasant autumn day with sunny spells and a light easterly breeze. Max temperature 18°C.
Birds of note were the juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker which was trapped and ringed in St John’s Valley, 20 Mallard (the highest count so far this year), two Teal, four Woodpigeon, 14 Golden Plover, one Ringed Plover, a Grey Heron, two Kestrel, three Skylark, just five Swallow, two House Martin, two Chiffchaff (no Willow Warbler on this date), a Reed Warbler, five Blackcap, one Garden Warbler, one Whitethroat, two Goldcrest, one Spotted Flycatcher, three Stonechat, 18 Wheatear, one Pied Flycatcher, one Tree Pipit, 80 Meadow Pipit, two Chaffinch, 18 Goldfinch and 300 Linnet.
Ringing: the Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Wren, 1 Pied Flycatcher and 13 Meadow Pipit.
A single Harbour Porpoise was noted in the southern races.
15th September
Another lovely autumn day with wall-to-wall sunshine and pleasant temperatures throughout and a light easterly breeze. Max temperature 18°C.
Migrants logged included the Great Spotted Woodpecker in Millcombe, two Woodpigeon, 13 Golden Plover on the Airfield, a Grey Heron, singles of Kestrel and Merlin, seven Skylark, 27 Sand Martin, 253 Swallow, 30 House Martin, one Willow Warbler, a Reed Warbler, three Blackcap, one Whitethroat, one Whinchat, two Stonechat, 10 Wheatear, one Grey Wagtail, nine Pied Wagtails, a Tree Pipit, 40 Meadow Pipit, six Goldfinch and 130 Linnet. (For the first time since 24th August there was no Spotted Flycatcher!)

Ringing totals: 9 Swallow, singles of Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Reed Warbler, 3 Robin, 3 Dunnock and 26 Meadow Pipit.
16th September
A cloudy start to the day which quickly brightened up – winds very light and from the north/north-east. Max temperature 17°C.
Migrants logged were a Whimbrel, four Razorbill offshore, 10 Cormorant, a single Kestrel, three Skylark, six Sand Martin, 1,500 Swallow, two House Martin, four Willow Warbler, five Chiffchaff, six Blackcap, five Whitethroat, three Goldcrest, four Spotted Flycatcher, a Whinchat, six Stonechat, 28 Wheatear, one Pied Flycatcher, two Yellow Wagtail, a Grey Wagtail, six Pied and two White Wagtail, 30 Meadow Pipit, three Chaffinch, 19 Goldfinch and 164 Linnet.
Ringing totals: 13 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 6 Blackcap, 3 Whitethroat (all adults), 1 Goldcrest, 1 Wren, 1 Robin, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 14 Meadow Pipit and 1 Linnet.
17th September
A sunny start with a cool easterly wind – cloud then rolled in come the afternoon, followed by some light rain and thick mist in the evening. Max temperature 17°C.
A very quiet day for birds considering the time of year, those logged being 36 Gannet, a Grey Heron, two Kestrel, three Skylark, six Swallow, three Chiffchaff, four Goldcrest, three Stonechat, six Wheatear, a single Pied Flycatcher, four Yellow Wagtail, two Grey Wagtail, a Tree Pipit, 80 Meadow Pipit, five Chaffinch, seven Goldfinch and 150 Linnet.
It was too breezy for mist-netting, so no birds were ringed on 17th.
Report composed of sightings from Louise Bartlett, Johnny Cayford, Chris & Mandy Dee, Paul Dietrich, Jamie Dunning, Eleanor Grover, Rosie Hall, Dean Jones, Lucy Mortlock, Joe Parke, Sue Sabin, Jan Swan, Richard & Rebecca Taylor, Tony Taylor and Peter Ward.
The pupping season for our Atlantic Grey Seals is now well under way; how many pups can you see?!
10 Sep © Dean Jones

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