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Thursday 28 October 2021

28th Oct – Bullfinch, Bonxie, Great Northern Diver – and an elusive pipit...

Rob Duncan writes:
"Today was quite difficult again in a strong southerly wind and rain late morning setting in.
Still some good birds to be had (see below). Finches were still passing in small numbers but only a handful of Redwing present. Ringing comprised 51 new birds, with 42 Siskin, 8 Chaffinch and a Goldfinch."
Justin Zantboer adds: "Seawatching / Millcombe Valley 08:00-10:00hrs: possible Olive-backed Pipit lower Millcombe, seen/heard flying up from the Secret Gardens at 08:30hrs before being lost to view heading towards St John’s. Sadly not relocated and not enough on it to confirm. Bonxie 09:20hrs south then landed on the sea, 16 Gannet, 41 Kittiwake, 11 Razorbill and 52 auk sp. south. Also 14 Gannet & 22 Kittiwake offshore. This evening, two Great Northern Diver and an adult Common Gull were in the Landing Bay. Day counts in and around Millcombe included a vocal Bullfinch, which dropped into lower Millcombe (not sexed as only seen briefly in flight), 1 Firecrest, 5 Goldcrest, 10 Redwing, 50+ Chaffinch, 12 Brambling, 150+ Siskin, 1 Swallow, 1 ringed female Blackcap and 2 ringed Chiffchaff."

Records from Records from Rob Duncan and Justin, Ellie & Dan Zantboer.
Record shot of Great Northern Diver,
Landing Bay, 28 Oct © Justin Zantboer

Wednesday 27 October 2021

27th Oct — A late Spotted Flycatcher, a stunning male Brambling; still plenty of Siskins on the move

Rob Duncan reports:
"Yet another breezy and fairly quiet day on Lundy, mostly cloudy and mild in a stiff south-westerly.
We opened our one 40ft mist-net for just over an hour and ringed 41 birds, which included an adult male Brambling and a very late Spotted Flycatcher. Also on the ringing roster were a further 36 Siskins, two Goldfinches and a Chaffinch. Swallows are now down to three, along with a ringed Chiffchaff and five Goldcrest in Millcombe, while just three Redwings were seen all day. Overall, another very enjoyable Lundy day."
Justin Zantboer adds: "Dan and I walked up to Pondsbury and back down the East Side in the afternoon, also checking St John’s, the Airfield and grilling the House Sparrows and Starlings in the town but it was quiet. Highlight was a female Merlin just after Halfway Wall and again by Quarter Wall Copse where there was a single Goldcrest. Pondsbury was as ever for us, devoid of life. We were however entertained on the way by a skulking LBJ which after 20 minutes of poor views eventually gave itself up and turned into a Linnet! Other birds of note seen during the day included a Lesser Redpoll, 5-6 Goldcrests (all unringed) and an unringed Feral Pigeon. Hard work in the strong wind. Finally, there were at least 230 Siskin present today, mostly in Millcombe but with birds moving along the East Side seemingly all day (we even had one over Pondsbury) and with only a few retraps, the numbers involved were probably higher."

Dan & Ellie Zantboer and Rob Duncan enjoying the comforts of Millcombe
as they ring the day’s catch © Justin Zantboer

Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe © Justin Zantboer

A spectacular male Brambling, Millcombe, 27 Oct © Justin Zanboer

Records from Rob Duncan and Justin, Ellie & Dan Zantboer.

Tuesday 26 October 2021

26th Oct — A Snow Bunting & two Bramblings, plus 52 birds ringed, on an otherwise quiet day

A somewhat bumpy crossing for Justin, Ellie and Dan Zantboer was also quiet on the bird front but brightened by a drake Common Scoter westbound some 30 minutes from Lundy, small numbers of both Razorbills and Guillemots, 3 adult Gannets, 5 Kittiwakes (three of which were 1st-winter birds) and, in the Landing Bay, 12 Shags, an adult Cormorant and 2 Rock Pipits.

MS Oldenburg docking at Lundy, bringing with her
a cargo of Zantboers, 26 Oct  © Richard Dann
Meanwhile for the birders/ringers on the island it was another frustratingly blustery day with very little visible migration. A couple of small flocks of Redwing first thing raised hope, but apart from that there was very little on the move. Four Swallows were feeding in Millcombe most of the day and a few small flocks of Siskin and Chaffinch passed south. There was some evidence of warbler passage with a handful of Blackcap and Chiffchaff in Millcombe. 

Another 52 birds ringed comprised: 27 Siskin, 11 Chaffinch, 7 Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldfinch and 1 Wren.

Also logged today were 2 Oystercatchers, a Grey Heron, a Woodcock, 3 House Martins, 10 Swallows, two Bramblings in Millcombe, and
a Snow Bunting,

Records from Jo Conway, Richard Dann, Sarah Davies, Rob Duncan and Justin, Ellie & Dan Zantboer.

Monday 25 October 2021

25th Oct – Another 68 birds ringed on an otherwise quiet and blustery day

Rob Duncan and team report:
"Another quiet blustery day on Lundy, though certainly a lighter SW breeze than the past two days with plenty of cloud again and noticeably milder.
Another 68 birds ringed in the Secret Garden today: 30 Siskin, 23 Chaffinch, 6 Blackcap, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Dunnock, 1 House Sparrow and an abietinus-type Chiffchaff
A little more variety today but hardly any visible migration again. Just a handful of Siskin and Chaffinch trickling south, though there was a party of 40 Starling heading south and a Brambling was calling first thing in the gardens. No thrushes moving again, with just two Redwing seen all day. A Merlin was seen by the Old Light and a large group of Gannet were fishing off the East Side."
The total number of Siskin ringed since Rob arrived on the island just over two weeks ago currently stands at 333!
Records from Jo Conway, Richard Dann, Sarah Davies & Rob Duncan.

Sunday 24 October 2021

24th Oct – A much quieter day

Quite windy from the south, with cloud and showers, some again heavy.
Rob Duncan reports:
"A much quieter day today, with very little visible migration (no thrushes) and hardly any evidence of migrants on the island. A small trickle of Chaffinches south, with only a handful of Siskin on the move. Even the Swallows have all but gone, with just a couple of birds frantically trying to feed up to go.
Ringing was restricted to a couple of sheltered nets in the Secret Garden during the afternoon. A total of 50 new birds was made up of 38 Siskin (much lighter in weight than yesterday), 9 Chaffinch, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest and a Blackbird. A couple of male Bramblings paused outside Brambles but other than that it was hard work. Later on, there were a few Chiffchaff and Goldcrest feeding on the ivy in lower Millcombe, with a couple of Blackcap, giving us hope for tomorrow!"
Records from Jo Conway, Richard Dann, Sarah Davies & Rob Duncan.

Saturday 23 October 2021

23rd Oct – Little Bunting, Choughs and a Siskin invasion

A fairly mild but grey day weather-wise, with an increasing southerly wind and some heavy showers. 
A Little Bunting photographed feeding outside Little St John's was about the 20th for Lundy and the fourth in five years, following other October birds in 2017, 2019 & 2020.

Little Bunting, St John's Valley, 23 Oct © Trevor Dobie

A classic late-autumn scarcity and the third October on the trot for Lundy © Trevor Dobie

Much rarer in Lundy terms were two Choughs seen over the Landing Bay by Rich Dann from the jetty. Hailing from the Welsh coast, Rich sees Choughs on a daily basis over his garden, but was amazingly lucky to run into two on Lundy at the start of his very first visit to the island! This is the first record since 2013.

Rich arrived with fellow Gower Ringing Group members Jo Conway and Sarah Davies to spend a few days ringing alongside the indefatigable Rob Duncan. And what a day it was to arrive, with a deluge of Siskins. A message from Rob in the early afternoon read: "Just opened one net in the Secret Garden for a few minutes, now closed again to ring the MASSES of Siskins caught!" There were flocks passing south all day, in addition to those that stopped to feed. Altogether, 89 Siskins were ringed, with only three retraps, showing the high volume of new arrivals. Some 500 were logged for the day, but this seems likely to be a very conservative estimate given that the focus was on ringing in Millcombe and so covering just a small part of the island.
Reinforcements from Gower Ringing Group help to deal with the
mega Siskin catch in Millcombe, 23 Oct © Rob Duncan

There was a small passage of Chaffinches (about 100), with other notable observations including a Stock Dove in Millcombe, two Merlins hunting finches around the South End, about a dozen Swallows hanging around Millcombe, and 11 Fieldfares. Masses of seabirds were off the East Side but there was no opportunity for counts, unfortunately. Also recorded in the LFS logbook were a Red-throated Diver, a Grey Heron, 10 Brambling and a Lapland Bunting.

The boat crossing from Ilfracombe was enlivened by a Merlin trying to catch a Meadow Pipit, which landed and hid on the Oldenburg to evade capture. The falcon didn't give up, however, and was nearly hitting people as it tried to flush the pipit. The latter held firm and lived to do battle another day.

Martin Thorne comments on his day-trip, during which he managed to take a few photos despite poor light levels throughout the day.

“The Merlin, my third over the years seen from the Oldenburg‎, was bombing along in among a flock of ‘shocked’ Manx Shearwaters. The last half-hour on board, heading up to North End, was like driving through a snowstorm of seabirds, mostly Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Gannets, along with a few Common, Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls. I didn't attempt to count them (I was too busy looking for skuas and shearwaters!) but the numbers were just massive – well into the twenties of thousands. On the island I saw Black Redstarts at The Battery, Old Hospital, Quarry Cottages, near the Church and along the Beach Road – quite how many there were, your guess is as good as mine! There was a constant movement of flocks of finches over the plateau all day as well. The one big disappointment was missing the two Choughs, but hey ho! Fingers crossed for my week on the island from 5th Nov.”

Stock Dove, Millcombe, 23 Oct © Martin Thorne

The Merlin seen from the Oldenburg, 23 Oct © Martin Thorne

One of the many Black Redstarts seen throughout the day, 23 Oct © Martin Thorne

Records from Jo Conway, Richard Dann, Sarah Davies, Trevor Dobie, Rob Duncan and Martin Thorne.

Friday 22 October 2021

22nd Oct – Further Redwing influx, including an Icelandic bird; another Yellow-browed Warbler

A relatively quiet day as a transient ridge of high pressure built across South West Britain bringing lighter, though still quite chilly NW winds with plenty of cloud. Remaining dry.
All information below provided by our special correspondent, Rob Duncan, reporting live from Brambles and Millcombe, and currently the only visiting ringer/birder. Bravo Rob!

Approximately 500 Redwings passed over Millcombe and St John's Valley and were still on the move late in the day. Meanwhile, finch passage was very limited – though there was a Brambling in Millcombe first thing. A few tardy Swallows were hanging on, a lone Woodpigeon shot up Millcombe mid-morning and a single Fieldfare flew over St John's calling late on. Rob reports that there was also a record of a Collared Dove entered in the LFS logbook, though not a bird seen by him.

Ringing total an impressive 93 comprising: 2 Swallow, 1 Yellow-browed Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff (of which 2 tristis), 8 Blackcap, 18 Goldcrest, 1 Wren, 1 Blackbird, 37 Redwing (including a bird assessed as belonging to the Icelandic race T. i. coburni), 1 Robin, 4 Chaffinch, 1 Goldfinch and 15 Siskin.

The Icelandic Redwing had a wing length of 124mm but weighed a whopping 72.7g, with a fat score of 0! Most of today's Redwings were less than 60g. It was a much darker bird as well.

Siskin weights were back to normal and the sample processed suggested a crop of new arrivals.

Thursday 21 October 2021

21st Oct – First Fieldfare of autumn and a female Bullfinch

A much colder day, with a still blustery north-westerly wind first thing, after yet more overnight rain in the form of a cold front. Later in the morning the wind eased down but it remained dry – if cloudy and cool.
The first Fieldfare of the autumn was logged, along with a Ring Ouzel and further new arrivals of Redwings and Chaffinches. There was a Spotted Flycatcher in St Helen's Copse (possibly the same long-staying individual seen before the recent bad weather set in), whilst a House Martin was among some 25 or so Swallows that passed through as Chris Baillie enjoyed a reviving coffee after earlier seawatching. The latter yielded 360 Kittiwake, 360 auk sp., 102 Gannet, 5 Shag and 3 Manx Shearwater.
Two Common Gulls, three Mediterranean Gulls and three Great Black-backed Gulls passed MS Oldenburg en route from Lundy to Bideford during the late afternoon.
Ringing total 81 comprising: 1 Swallow, 2 Chiffchaff, 8 Blackcap, 11 Goldcrest, 1 Blackbird, 2 Song Thrush, 1 Robin, 9 Chaffinch, the female Bullfinch, 6 Goldfinch and 39 Siskin (with an average weight of 12.5g today, compared with 10.8g on 15 Oct, doubtless filled to capacity with niger seed!). Rob Duncan assessed the Robin and Song Thrushes as showing characteristics typical of continental rather than British breeding birds.

Records provided by Chris & Carol Baillie and Rob Duncan.

20th Oct – Red-breasted Flycatcher a surprise arrival after a stormy night

A wild night, with thunder and lightning a couple of hours before dawn, gave way to a morning with much better visibility, albeit still with a westerly gale and torrential showers. The wind abated for a time in the afternoon and the showers eased off, but only ahead of more persistent rain later.
Seawatching during the first part of the morning revealed over 300 Gannets passing WSW, along with good numbers of Kittiwakes and auks, plus a first-winter Common Gull and a dark-morph Arctic Skua.
Given the overnight weather conditions, it came as something of a surprise to bump into a gorgeous first-winter Red-breasted Flycatcher feeding along the more sheltered edge of Millcombe Wood between the Casbah and Brambles, at times perching confidingly in the open, but more often moving rather elusively among the branches and bunches of Turkey Oak and Sycamore leaves. It spent much of the day in Millcombe, but turned up in St Helen's Copse later in the afternoon.

There were again plenty of Chaffinches and Siskins around Millcombe (where supplementary sunflower and niger seed is being provided) and Rob Duncan was able to open a couple of mist-nets in the most sheltered corners for a time in the afternoon. However, he only managed to ring one Siskin and a Blackcap before the weather closed in again. The Siskin showed a very healthy weight of 13.4g, indicating that at least some birds have been managing to feed successfully in spite of the blustery and wet conditions.
Male Siskin, Millcombe, 20 Oct © Richard Campey

A few Meadow Pipits flew south in the lee of the East Side in the morning and small numbers of Swallows passed through later in the day. In addition to the flycatcher, there appeared to have been a small overnight arrival of Blackcaps and Goldcrests in Millcombe.
Ringing total just 2 – see above.
Observations by Chris & Carol Baillie, Richard Campey, Tim Davis, James Diamond, Andy Jayne, Dionne Jenkins, Tim Jones and Miguel Lourgi.

Wednesday 20 October 2021

19th Oct – Gales, rain and clag

A day of lashing SW gales, spells of rain and drizzle, and often very poor visibility, as clag shrouded the island for much of the time, led to the cancellation of all transportation on or off the island.

A write-off as far as ringing was concerned, but visibility improved enough for a time in the middle of the day for some birding in the few relatively sheltered spots, including the Terrace and parts of lower Millcombe and along the Beach Road. Observations included a Cormorant, two Merlin, seven Blackcap, three Chiffchaff, three Goldcrest, a Wheatear near Old Light, two Black Redstart (plus a few Stonechats, Robins and Rock Pipits) around the Landing Bay, one Grey Wagtail, five alba wagtail, 42 Chaffinch, 90 Siskin.

Seawatching from the Castle and the Ugly, when visibility allowed, proved fairly fruitless, with small numbers of Gannets, auks, Shags and a handful of large gulls, with no Kittiwakes, other smaller gulls, shearwaters or skuas, in spite of the rough conditions.

Ringing total zero again...

Observations contributed by: Chris & Carol Baillie, Richard Campey, Tim Davis, James Diamond, Rob Duncan, Andy Jayne and Tim Jones.

Monday 18 October 2021

18th Oct – Seawatching to the fore

After a run of dry and often very sunny and warm days, Monday 18th started off breezy and damp, with a fresh southerly wind and spots of drizzle from first light. The morning saw patchy rain and periods of poor visibility clearing for a time around noon, but closing in again by 14:00 hrs with the island enveloped in mist and drizzle for the rest of the afternoon.

With conditions never conducive to visible migration, the bulk of birding time was spent seawatching, with various observers at various times doing stints from the Ugly, the Castle, Old Light and the Battery. Combined totals for the day were:
107 Kittiwake
1 Black-headed Gull
13 Mediterranean Gull
5 Common Gull
21 Great Black-backed Gull
70 Herring Gull
27 Lesser Black-backed Gull
1 Pomarine Skua
4 Arctic Skua
1 unidentified skua sp. (probably Pomarine)
16 Guillemot
33 Razorbill
1,440 auk sp. (more Razorbills than Guillemots)
1 Manx Shearwater 
1 unidentified shearwater sp. (probably Balearic)
282 Gannet
11 Shag
Also logged were an Oystercatcher, 3 Swallow, five Chiffchaff, five Blackcap, two Goldcrest, 30 Redwing, a Mistle Thrush (Millcombe), a Ring Ouzel (near Quarry Pond), two Black Redstart (including a male at the Battery), four Stonechat, a Spotted Flycatcher (Millcombe), 70 Chaffinch, 250 Siskin and a handful of Skylarks, alba wagtails and Meadow Pipits.
Ringing total zero!
Observations contributed by: Chris & Carol Baillie, Richard Campey, Tim Davis, James Diamond, Rob Duncan, Andy Jayne and Tim Jones.

Sunday 17 October 2021

17th Oct – Lundy's 2nd record of Great White Egret and 12th Dartford Warbler

Another remarkable day of visible migration combined with Lundy rarities, including the island's second record of Great White Egret, a Dartford Warbler, 12 Crossbills, and a Lapland Bunting.
The egret was flying south off the East Side mid-morning and headed SSE over Rat Island and Surf Point before veering more south-westerly past South Light and the Castle.
Distant record shot of the Great White Egret © Tim Jones
The Dartford Warbler (the 12th for Lundy) was in gorse clumps along the western end of Quarter Wall, about 75m W of the Airfield, whilst the Lapland Bunting was calling over the Airfield and Pondsbury, and the Crossbills flew south over Millcombe at lunchtime.
Visible migration was negligible post dawn, but got going during the day, with Chaffinch and Siskin flocks particularly prominent during the late morning and early afternoon. Totals logged were 400 and 500 respectively – the highest of the autumn so far. Also notable were: two Teal, three Golden Plover, 6 Common Snipe, a Merlin, two Kestrels, 15 Ravens, 25 Swallow, a Garden Warbler, the long-staying Common Whitethroat, two Firecrest, a Common Redstart, two Black Redstart, 30 Redwing, a Mistle Thrush, a Ring Ouzel, a Spotted Flycatcher, three Bramblings, and a Reed Bunting. Offshore, there was much more seabird action than in recent days, with feeeding flocks of 500 Kittiwake and 300 Herring Gull, amongst which were 12 Mediterranean Gull, two Common Gull and a Black-headed Gull. Also noted were 350 auk sp. and two pale-morph Arctic Skuas, both of which seemed intent on south-westward migration, not bothering to stop and harass the Kittiwakes.
Redwing, Millcombe Pond, 17 Oct © Richard Campey

Ringing total 54 comprising: 6 Blackcap, 1 Redwing, 1 Blackbird, 1 House Sparrow, 1 Chaffinch and 44 Siskin.
Observations contributed by: Chris & Carol Baillie, Richard Campey, Tim Davis, James Diamond, Rob Duncan, Andy Jayne and Tim Jones.

Saturday 16 October 2021

16th Oct – Lundy's 10th Red-eyed Vireo

A day of light to moderate south or south-south-east winds and variable cloud, with some warm sunny spells alternating with cooler overcast periods. Dry throughout.
The undoubted star bird of the day was the island's 10th Red-eyed Vireo, found by Jac Turner-Moss at about 08:30 hrs in the walled gardens of Millcombe, where Jac was ringing alongside Rob Duncan. Unfortunately the bird dropped out of sight before other birders arrived but after a few slightly anxious minutes' wait it was relocated in 'Smelly Gully' (lower Millcombe) by Tim Davis. It was then seen well by most observers, often prominently perched in full sun, before again disappearing for a short time. It reappeared near Millcombe House before taking several long flights around the valley at around 10:15 hrs, stopping at times in the tree nursery adjoining the Secret Garden, atop the Turkey Oaks west of Brambles, and in the Battlements sycamores.
Red-eyed Vireo, 'Smelly Gully', lower Millcombe, 16 Oct; note that the tail appears to be re-growing,
having presumably been lost at some point during the bird's long journey © Richard Campey

This is the third record during the past four years, following others in October 2018 and October 2019, and is Lundy's 10th overall.

Notable sightings elsewhere included: two Teal, three Grey Heron, five Water Rail, three Golden Plover, 46 Gannet, 61 auk sp., two Merlin, a Kestrel, 87 Swallow, a House Martin, at least one Yellow-browed Warbler (Millcombe and St Helen's Copse), two tristis-type Chiffchaff (both ringed, with shed body feathers retained for DNA analysis), 40 Blackcap, two Garden Warbler, a Firecrest, 10 Goldcrest, 200 Redwing, a Mistle Thrush, a male Common Redstart, three Black Redstart, three Wheatear, 22 Stonechat, two Spotted Flycatcher, 500 Starling, seven Grey Wagtail, 30 flyover alba wagtails, five Brambling, two Greenfinch and 100 Siskin.
Male Common Redstart, Stoneycroft, 16 Oct © Richard Campey

Spotted Flycatcher in Sycamores next to Government House, 16 Oct © Richard Campey

Ringing total 82 comprising: 12 Chiffchaff (of which two tristis – see image below), 18 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Redwing, 7 Song Thrush, 4 Robin, 1 Grey Wagtail, 3 Goldfinch and 33 Siskin.
Non-bird sightings included three Silver Y and two Rush Veneer moths.
Records contributed by Chris & Carol Baillie, Richard Campey, Stuart Cossey, Tim Davis, James Diamond, Rob Duncan, Paul Holt, Andy Jayne, Tim Jones and Jac Turner-Moss.

One of the two tristis Chiffchaffs ringed on 16 Oct © Richard Campey
Shed body feathers from both birds were retained for DNA analysis

Friday 15 October 2021

15th Oct – Marsh Harrier the star of a balmy October day

A magically calm, almost windless day, with long sunny spells and atypical warmth for mid-October.

A basking Painted Lady attests to the positively summery conditions on 15 Oct © Richard Campey

Bird of the day was a first-year Marsh Harrier, seen arriving off the sea from the SE at 08.50, quartering Pondsbury at 11.05, and then at various locations across the island, before thermaling and heading off for the Welsh coast mid-afternoon.

Other notable sightings included six Golden Plover, two Jack Snipe, single Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, two Merlin, 87 Swallow, two House Martin, two Yellow-browed Warbler, two tristis-type Chiffchaff (of which one ringed), a very fat Garden Warbler (also trapped and ringed), a Firecrest, only 30 Redwing, 30 Song Thrush, a Common Redstart, nine Black Redstart (including four together at North Light), 30 Stonechat, four Wheatear, 25 alba wagtails, 26 Rock Pipit, 40 Chaffinch and 3 Brambling.

Black Redstart in typical habitat! Old Light, 15 Oct © Richard Campey

Black Redstart, Old Light, 15 Oct © Richard Campey

Ringing total 74 comprising: 1 Common Snipe (caught by dazzling at night), 1 Skylark, 1 Yellow-browed Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff (of which one tristis), 4 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 6 Goldcrest, 1 Wren, 1 Dunnock, 1 Redwing, 1 Robin, 1 Goldfinch and 47 Siskin.
Records contributed by Chris & Carol Baillie, Richard Campey, Stuart Cossey, Tim Davis, James Diamond, Rob Duncan, Paul Holt, Andy Jayne, Tim Jones and Jac Turner-Moss.
Raven, South End, 15 Oct © Richard Campey

Thursday 14 October 2021

14th Oct – Another migrant-filled day

Another dry day, with light to moderate SW winds and variable cloud cover – unseasonably warm, sunny spells alternating with quite heavily overcast, dull and cool interludes.
Visible/audible migration from upper Millcombe, from first light to 08.30 comprised 250 Redwing, small flocks of Siskin, and 3 Brambling.
Also logged were two Teal, two Sparrowhawks and a Kestrel, 3 Merlin, a Golden Plover, 10 Common Snipe, 60 Swallows, 50 Blackcaps, 80 Song Thrush, and 8 Grey Wagtails, 350 Meadow Pipit, 350 Siskin, and 60 Chaffinch.

Scarcities included a Lapwing at Three-quarter Wall, five Jack Snipe (four at Pondsbury and one at Middle Park Pond), a first-year Black-headed Gull, a Whinchat near Pondsbury, two Yellow-browed Warblers in the vicinity of St Helen's Copse. a Reed Warbler near the bottom of the Steps of Doom, a Pied Flycatcher in Rüppell's Quarry, a Spotted Flycatcher in St Helen's Copse, and Lapland Buntings in SW Field and at North End (near John O'Groats).
Ringing total 54 comprising: 1 Water Rail (an adult male mist-netted in the Secret Garden – see image below), 6 Chiffchaff, 13 Blackcap, 2 Goldcrest, 6 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 2 Blackbird, 3 Robin, 3 Chaffinch and 15 Siskin.
Records contributed by Chris & Carol Baillie, Richard Campey, Tim Davis, James Diamond, Rob Duncan, Paul Holt, Andy Jayne, Tim Jones and Jac Turner-Moss.
The adult male Water Rail trapped in the 'Secret Garden', lower Millcombe, 14 Oct © Richard Campey

A first-year Peregrine (with streaked, not barred underparts) over South End, 14 Oct © Richard Campey

Wednesday 13 October 2021

13th Oct – A superb day of visible migration

A superb day for visible migration, with Millcombe filled with the sound of Redwings from before first light. A conservative total of 1,000 was logged, the great majority of which were in and around Millcombe before 09.00 hrs. It was such a still morning that we were able to hear the sound of air rushing through the wings of Redwings and Song Thrushes as they plummeted into the valley from great height. Both species went from zero on 12th to 1,000 and 65, respectively today! Other species passing through in numbers included Meadow Pipit (400), Skylark (70), Linnet (200), Siskin (250) and Goldfinch (80). Among them were a late Tree Pipit, a Brambling, a Greenfinch, a Mistle Thrush, a Ring Ouzel, two Black Redstarts, three Wheatears, two Lapland Buntings, and a Snow Bunting.

There were two Jack Snipe and six Common Snipe at Pondsbury, and a high count of 19 Mallard (16 at Barton Pond, three at Pondsbury). Other waterbirds included single Golden Plover, Ringed Plover and Dunlin, 19 Oystercatchers, two Teal and a Cormorant. Warblers comprised 20 Blackcaps, the presumed eastern-race Lesser Whitethroat, a Common Whitethroat (wearing a ring, so a local retrap), 15 Chiffchaff (including at least one presumed tristis, Millcombe walled gardens), and single Willow Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler (both ringed). Goldcrests were less numerous than on 12th at 35, but there was a small influx of three Firecrests. A probable Red-throated Pipit was heard calling amongst a flock of Meadow Pipits in Tent Field and South West Field during the late morning, but the flock was dispersed by the attentions of both Peregrine and Merlin. What was likely the same bird was heard over Millcombe a short time later but neither instance was definitive.
Firecrest, Millcombe Wood, 13 Oct © Richard Campey

Presumed 'Siberian' Chiffchaff P. c. tristis, Millcombe 13 Oct © Tim Jones

Ringing total 60, comprising: 1 Yellow-browed Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 13 Blackcap, 2 Firecrest, 15 Goldcrest, 3 Redwing, 1 Blackbird, 6 Robin, 1 Chaffinch, 4 Goldfinch and 6 Siskin.

Records contributed by Chris & Carol Baillie, Richard Campey, Tim Davis, James Diamond, Rob Duncan, Paul Holt, Andy Jayne, Tim Jones and Jac Turner-Moss.

Tuesday 12 October 2021

12th Oct – A new Yellow-browed Warbler, a late Willow Warbler; presumed eastern Lesser Whitethroat still present

A day of gentle, but chilly northerly breezes, with variable cloud amounts giving some heavily overcast conditions interspersed with bright or sunny intervals.
There were further influxes of 75 Goldcrest and 20 Blackcap, plus a steady diurnal passage of 150 Swallow and a few House Martin (11 logged). Other migrant passerines included 10 Chiffchaff, a new Yellow-browed Warbler in Millcombe, 62 Siskin, 80 Goldfinch and 14 Linnet. Shed body feathers of the eastern-race blythi-type Lesser Whitethroat ringed on 11th were posted off for DNA analysis and the bird itself was still in upper Millcombe during the afternoon, but had lost its tail in a presumed altercation with a predator (having been seen in the same general area with an intact tail during the late afternoon of 11th). A single Willow Warbler was seen and later trapped and ringed in Millcombe. Notable non-passerines comprised two Teal, a Stock Dove, a Sparrowhawk, two Merlin and two Golden Plover.

The ringing total for the day of 71 comprised 40 Goldcrest, 14 Blackcap, 5 Siskin, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldfinch, and singles of Swallow, Willow Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Wren, Stonechat and Dunnock.
The boat crossing from Ilfracombe to Lundy was enlivened by a Red-throated Diver flying right over MS Oldenburg, 12 Common Scoter, and a Purple Sandpiper circling the boat at sea level at 11:10 hrs, just over halfway across.
Sightings contributed by: Chris Baillie, Richard Campey, Tim Davis, James Diamond, Rob Duncan, Paul Holt, Tim Jones and Jac Turner-Moss.
Red-throated Diver flying over the Oldenburg, 12 Oct © Richard Campey

Monday 11 October 2021

11th Oct – Migration ramps up; Yellow-browed Warbler & eastern-race Lesser Whitethroat

Chris Baillie writes: 

"A light northerly breezes and a stunning sunny day saw the action increase. Highlights included an eastern race Lesser Whitethroat (see photos below) and single Yellow-browed Warbler, Reed Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Lapland Bunting, Snow Bunting and Black Redstart. 350 Starlings included 200 heading out south, a steady flow of Siskins and a hint of winter with the first Brambling and Redwing. 65 House Martin and 123 Swallows. A Mediterranean Gull offshore, 50 Blackcaps and 30 Goldcrests. Robins were on the move (30) as were Meadow Pipits. Ringing totals 71 birds ringed: 36 Blackcaps, 10 Goldcrests, 6 Chiffchaffs, 5 Robin, 3 Wren, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Stonechat, 1 Dunnock, 1 Blackbird, 1 eastern Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Swallow and 1 Yellow-browed Warbler."

The Yellow-browed Warbler is the first of the autumn for Lundy.

Sightings contributed by Chris & Carol Baillie, Rob Duncan, Paul Holt and Jac Turner-Moss.

The first-winter, presumed eastern-race Lesser Whitethroat ringed on 11 Oct.
Shed body feathers were retained and sent for DNA analysis © Jac Turner-Moss

Blunt wingtip with short 2nd primary; also extensive brown on nape onto crown © Jac Turner-Moss

Abraded juvenile tail showing extensive white in the outermost feathers © Jac Turner-Moss

The tip of the 2nd primary falls approximately equal to the tip of the 7th primary © Jac Turner-Moss

10th Oct – Exceptional autumn warmth...

Chris Baillie reports that Sunday 10th saw mostly clear skies and light northerly winds unhelpful to ringing but a warm and glorious Lundy day. There was an early-morning surge of Blackcaps through Millcombe, and a light passage of Swallows which seemed to feed well in almost summer-like conditions. Singles of Golden Plover, Snipe, Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Kestrel, Wheatear, Garden Warbler, Firecrest and Greenfinch. Plus a Spotted Flycatcher assumed to be the long-stayer, one each of Pied and Grey Wagtail, and a handful of Siskins.

Sightings contributed by Chris & Carol Baillie, Rob Duncan and Paul Holt.

Sunday 10 October 2021

9th Oct – An influx of hirundines but still quite quiet for the time of year

Saturday 9th brought some stirrings of visible migration after a few quiet days on that particular front. There were some Siskins through and a late-afternoon arrival of 186 Swallows and 37 House Martins. A Grey Heron might be the same first-year bird as seen on 6th. There was a Firecrest in St Helen's Copse, the Spotted Flycatcher was joined by a second Spotted and two Pied Flycatchers, whilst there were two 'northern' abietinus-type birds among the Chiffchaffs present. Finally, there was a raft of 30 Common Scoters offshore.

Sightings from Chris & Carol Baillie, Rob Duncan, Paul Holt, and Jaques Turner-Moss.

Saturday 9 October 2021

26th Sep to 8th Oct – First sizeable Goldcrest fall of autumn; first Twite in 18 years! Updated

Shaun Robson reports that: 

"Our time on Lundy (23rd-28th) was marred by low cloud for the first two days then very strong westerly winds and occasional rain for the last three... Ringing was very limited and none at all was possible on the last two days.
Birding-wise, migrants were thin on the ground throughout. The main notes being two Arctic Skuas – a pale adult and a dark bird pursuing Kittiwakes along the east of the island on the 26th. Potentially of more interest were three waders seen flying over Barton Field on the afternoon of the 23rd. Sadly they were lost to view before their identity was confirmed. They may have been Ruff or they might have been even better! Searching of likely locations found nothing. The only other wader was a Golden Plover at the Airfield on the same date.
The 28th produced an increase in Blackcaps, with at least 20 present between the Terrace and Millcombe in the afternoon. A lingering Spotted Flycatcher was still present."

Following Shaun's departure, stormy weather at the start of October brought disruption to transport but nothing of note seabird-wise (e.g. just a handful of Gannets and auks off North End on 5th). The most notable event was a sizeable fall of Goldcrests during a relative lull in the weather on 3rd/4th –  it's always amazing how such tiny birds manage to battle through such conditions. Jamie Dunning also reported 10 Greenfinches – a good count for Lundy these days.

Dean Jones and Zoë Barton saw two Snow Buntings as they walked back from North End on 5th.

A Twite found by Chris Baillie at Old Light in the late afternoon of 6th is the first for Lundy since one near the Castle on 28 October 2003 (subject to acceptance by Devon Birds Rarities Committee). Chris also reports for 6th: a Greenland-type Wheatear, just over 100 Swallows, a late Spotted Flycatcher, 21 Blackcaps (of which 16 eponymous males), and a couple of Greenfinches.

Thursday 7th dawned foggy after a largely clear night. Departures were indicated by a drop in tne Blackcap count to one and Swallows dipped to a trickle of 12. But the Spotted Flycatcher remained settled in.

Friday 8th brought new Herring Gulls (33), a raft of 48 Guillemots, single Sparrowhawk and Merlin, whilst influxes landside included 10 Chiffchaffs and 15 Goldcrests, and a few additional Chaffinches promised more to come soon. A handsome stag Sika Deer chomping away on Rat Island was a novel sight for Chris & Carol Baillie.

Finally, many regular readers will be aware that Lundy Warden Dean Jones and his fiancée Zoë Barton, erstwhile Head of Housekeeping, are leaving Lundy to take up new jobs closer to family and friends in Northern Ireland ahead of their marriage next year. In fact, after a delayed departure due to vagaries of the weather and a temperamental crane on MS Oldenburg, yesterday (8th October) saw Dean & Zoë finally setting sail for their new life – pictured below stepping ashore in Bideford.

We'll be seeing youse... © Tim Davis

Having a resident birder and ringer on Lundy for nearly five years has transformed ornithological recording on the island, with daily coverage from beginning to end of every migration season, seawatching data for the hitherto sparsely covered winter period, more complete information on the island's breeding landbirds than for many years, and a significant boost for monitoring of Lundy's iconic seabird colonies, not to mention a host of 'firsts' and other rarities. Dean's regular and comprehensive updates for the blog, written in delightfully engaging prose and accompanied by spectacular photos have been a treat.

Dean and Zoë, thank you both for everything you have done for Lundy and its wildlife; we'll miss your smiles, your warmth and sheer zest for life, and wish you everything that is good for your future together!