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Monday 22 November 2021

13th to 20th Nov – Autumn migration not done yet!

Eleanor Grover summarises eight days of avian activity on Lundy.

13th November

A bright and calm day – decidedly warmer than the past few days.

The heat and sunshine did not feel like November! The insects were testimony to this: three Red Admirals, an unidentified white butterfly and several Buff-tailed Bumblebees were on the wing.

The day started off with three very confiding Bramblings feeding around Brambles Villa. Other finches seen included 13 Chaffinches, three Goldfinches and seven Siskins. Five thrush species were recorded: seven Blackbirds, 22 Fieldfares, 55 Redwings, two Song Thrushes and a Mistle Thrush. A tiny Goldcrest and, not much larger, three Chiffchaffs were logged. On the slightly larger ‘little brown job’ front, four Skylarks, six Meadow Pipits and five Rock Pipits were counted.

A Blackcap and four Stonechats were along the Upper East Side Path, along with a potential sighting of a Short-eared Owl. Unfortunately, the bird was only glimpsed before it dropped out of sight and so its identity couldn't be confirmed.

Two Woodpigeons exploded out of the treetops and below them a Woodcock performed a similarly sudden take-off. Other waders of the day included a Snipe and three Oystercatchers. Out at sea, four Shags, two Great Black-backed Gulls and 10 Herring Gulls were counted. Another seabird was seen closer to shore: an exhausted-looking Guillemot taking shelter in the Landing Bay.

14th November

Very light rain in the morning, eventually lifting to a bright, if grey, day. Temperatures remained mild.

Despite the gloomy weather, it was a good day for birds. A Stock Dove hunkered down at the top of Barton Field, perhaps seeking to hide from the noisy flock of well over 1,500 Starlings that dominated the lower half of the field. This rabble could be heard from the far end of the Village! Admixed into the squabbling mass were 14 Fieldfares and 45 Redwings.

Blackbirds were also very prominent, with 15 counted in Millcombe Valley alone. Also in Millcombe were five Chiffchaffs, four Blackcaps, a Goldcrest, four Song Thrushes, a Mistle Thrush, 23 Chaffinches, three Bramblings, a Goldfinch and a Siskin. Two Woodpigeons clapped their way across the valley and two Woodcocks chose the same bush to explode out of, one after the other.

Pausing to search the Walled Gardens once again paid dividends, revealing a surprise Barred Warbler! Whist not much to look at, this subtle bird had a very charming personality – often feeding out in the open and becoming more confiding as the day went on. Only disappearing a handful of times, the warbler always returned to the Walled Gardens and remained there for most of the day. This constitutes the latest ever record of Barred Warbler for Lundy.
Lundy's latest ever Barred Warbler feeding in Millcombe's Walled Gardens © Eleanor Grover

Elsewhere around the island, two Oystercatchers, a Great Black-backed Gull, two Herring Gulls, nine Skylarks, two Stonechats, a Meadow Pipit and a Linnet were logged. Another pleasant surprise was a single Whinchat.

15th November

Once again unseasonably warm – grey with occasional blue skies interspersed – mist out at sea fortunately did not shroud the island.

A quiet day, in part because the noisy Starling flock had dispersed and moved on. Yet, over 200 individuals were still scattered around the island in smaller flocks. On the other hand, Blackbirds appeared to be everywhere, 38 counted, alongside 19 Fieldfares and 107 Redwings. Some highest counts for the week included seven Mallards, six Ravens and nine Dunnocks.

Millcombe Valley revealed mostly finches (six Chaffinches, three Bramblings, four Goldfinches and 18 Siskins) and a Goldcrest. Around the southern end of the island, counts included three Great Black-backed Gulls, 16 Herring Gulls, a Skylark, a Stonechat, three Meadow Pipits and a Rock Pipit.

16th November

Intermittent showers of very fine drizzle.

Unfazed by the wet day, wet-loving species seen included an Oystercatcher, a Woodcock, a Snipe, two Great Black-backed Gulls, 15 Herring Gulls and a Shag. A total of 43 House Sparrows huddled together around the Farmyard and two rather soggy-looking Stonechats were seen together on Ackland’s Moor.

On the thrush front, counts included 24 Blackbirds, three Fieldfares, 57 Redwings and four Song Thrushes. The rattling call of a Mistle Thrush was once again heard in Millcombe Valley, along with two Blackcaps, a Firecrest, five Goldcrests, 11 Chaffinches, four Bramblings, four Goldfinches and 17 Siskins. Three Chiffchaffs were noted, including a very pale individual. Unfortunately, this bird refused to call and hastily dropped out of sight, avoiding further scrutiny.

Flyovers included two Skylarks, a Pied Wagtail, two Meadow Pipits and a Rock Pipit. A Sparrowhawk laboured its way along the East Side and two Snow Buntings were seen on the main track near Threequarter Wall.

17th November

A fine day with blue skies and warmer temperatures.

Better weather for people but not for birds! Eight Blackbirds, one Fieldfare and 22 Redwings were the only thrushes recorded throughout the day. Finches were even scarcer, with just two Chaffinches and two Goldfinches. However, things were picking up again out at sea, with three Herring Gulls being joined by 10 Gannets and 20 Fulmars.

The screeching calls of two Peregrines were heard mixing in with the deep ‘cronks’ of six Ravens. A single Snow Bunting delighted many visitors as it stuck to the track between Halfway and Threequarter Walls. Other species recorded included: three Woodpigeons, three Snipe, a Skylark, two Chiffchaffs, two Stonechats (a male and a female), four Meadow Pipits and two Rock Pipits.
Blending in with the gravel – this Snow Bunting seemed oblivious to the rain © Eleanor Grover

18th November

Once again, back to rain showers and mizzle.

A little bit of seawatching once again provided records of a few extra species: five Great Black-backed Gulls, seven Herring Gulls, a Lesser Back-backed Gull, 15 Gannets, four Shags and one Cormorant were all recorded from the East Side. The shrill calls of two Oystercatchers were heard from further down the coast, and two Woodcocks were flushed from the undergrowth.

Two Song Thrushes mixed with 71 Redwings and 11 Blackbirds. Counts of small birds included a Skylark, three Chiffchaffs, four Meadow Pipits, five Bramblings, five Goldfinches and two Siskins. Two Goldcrests were joined by a single Firecrest. Ten Chaffinches were kept on their toes throughout the day by the presence of a female Merlin, espied hunting in Millcombe Valley, Barton Field and St John’s Valley, though not having a very successful day. In chasing prey, she would relentlessly streak after it, twisting and turning as she attempted to snatch it in mid-air. The two Woodpigeons were large enough to just laugh at her presence and 11 Carrion Crows took it upon themselves to mob her. Not a good day to be a Merlin!

19th November

Continuing with this week’s theme: intermittent mizzle showers.

Even the birds seemed to be getting fed up with the weather, with relatively few species logged. Counts included: three Woodpigeons, a Great Black-backed Gull, two Herring Gulls and two Gannets. Also recorded were three Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest, 26 Redwings, a Song Thrush, a Pied Wagtail, one Meadow Pipit, 10 Chaffinches and a Siskin. Blackbird numbers have decreased, just three noted. Highlights included 21 Bramblings and four Water Rails that were heard calling from their respective territories. What with their squeals, shrieks and various screams, perhaps they should be called ‘Water Wails’ instead!
One of the 21 Bramblings recorded on Lundy on 19th Nov © Eleanor Grover
Also seen flying in was not a bird but a birder! Our new Assistant Warden, Stuart Cossey, and his partner Megan arrived on the helicopter. We look forward to working with Stuart and, as an all-round excellent birder, we are sure that he will find many great bird sightings for this blog. Welcome to the team, Stuart!

20th November

Grey and drizzly, with occasional dry breaks.

A Ringed Plover was heard calling first thing and remained vocal, if invisible, throughout the morning. A Stock Dove was in Barton Field, and later joined four Woodpigeons in Millcombe Valley. Five Water Rails were heard calling, one of them sighted for once. Normally shy and skulking birds, it was a pleasure to see one trot across the path in Millcombe in the early morning.

Counts of ‘common’ species included two Oystercatchers, 16 Wrens, 11 Robins, 19 Blackbirds, 14 Meadow Pipits, three Rock Pipits, 12 Chaffinches, two Goldfinches, a Pied Wagtail and approximately 90 Starlings. Migratory species included 19 Bramblings, 137 Redwings, 26 Fieldfares, a Skylark and eight Siskins. Some migrants may have already made themselves at home on Lundy for the winter, such as the six Chiffchaffs, three Goldcrests and three Blackcaps that were recorded.

A lonesome female Teal was on Quarter Wall Pond and a Snow Bunting hopped along the track between Quarter Wall and Halfway Wall. An exciting find was three small ‘bait balls’ off the East Coast. Flocks of birds swirled around and minimum counts of 88 Herring Gulls, 16 Great Black-backed Gulls, eight Shags, three Gannets and 70 Kittiwakes gorged themselves on the underwater feast.
A solitary female Teal on Quarter Wall Pond © Eleanor Grover

Records from Eleanor Grover, Roger James, Alan & Sandra Rowland and Matt Stritch.

Sunday 14 November 2021

6th to 12th Nov – A wide array of autumn birds, and more fungi

6th November

Just enough clouds to make for a glorious sunrise, leading to a sunny morning with rain showers in the afternoon and strong winds throughout.
The East Coast looks aflame during a glorious sunrise © Eleanor Grover

With the prevailing strong winds, it is hardly surprising that a spot of seawatching yielded results, with some 250 Kittiwakes, seven Great Black-backed Gulls, 30 Herring Gulls and 30 Gannets being seen. Closer to the coastline, an Oystercatcher and a Grey Heron were sighted.
A Grey Heron searches fruitlessly for lunch in the Landing Bay © Eleanor Grover

In Millcombe Valley, the highlights were a Stock Dove, a Chiffchaff, three Blackcaps, two Firecrests, three Goldcrests and two Greenfinches. Other records throughout the day included one Merlin, seven Blackbirds, 15 Fieldfares, 98 Redwings, a Black Redstart, a Stonechat, five Dunnocks, two Pied Wagtails, a Meadow Pipit, six Rock Pipits, 10 Chaffinches, four Goldfinches and eight Siskins.

7th November

Cloudy skies with the occasional blue spell – remaining dry throughout, the winds dropping to become a very calm day.

The calm of the morning was disturbed by a Woodcock exploding out from beside the path in Millcombe Valley. Four Snipe were also flushed later in the day. Also in Millcombe, the absence of howling wind allowed a single Mistle Thrush to be heard. Other thrush counts included six Blackbirds, 32 Fieldfares and 53 Redwings.

Once again the day's totals included a single Merlin, as well as a Woodpigeon, four Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap, two Goldcrests, seven Robins, a Stonechat, over 20 House Sparrows, a Pied Wagtail, four Meadow Pipits, 17 Chaffinches, five Goldfinches and two Siskins.

Seawatching was a bit quieter, with one Great Black-backed Gull, 20 Herring Gulls and six Gannets, alongside a highlight of five Common Scoters.

8th November

A brief clearer spell at first light but fog soon rolled in, eventually lifting into an overcast afternoon.

The Stock Dove was seen again, this time in Barton Field, as well as two Woodpigeons. Also in Barton Field, first light revealed a flock of 96 Herring Gulls. Amidst the murk it was often easier to pick up birds on calls, with a Woodcock, two Water Rails, two Skylarks, a Snipe, a Chiffchaff, two Stonechats, a Pied Wagtail, five Meadow Pipits, three Rock Pipits, 12 Chaffinches, a Brambling, two Greenfinches, three Goldfinches and five Siskins. Other birds spotted before they dived back into the fog included a Merlin, two Blackcaps, a Firecrest, a Goldcrest, 13 Blackbirds, three Song Thrushes and a Mistle Thrush.

Once the fog cleared, it was time for some seawatching from the Ugly, with totals of 30 Common Scoters, 20 Kittiwakes, six Great Black-backed Gulls, 300 unidentified auks, two Great Northern Divers, six Gannets and 17 Dark-bellied Brent Geese (flocks of five and 12). All in all, not a bad day!
The Ugly's cheeky young Robin surveys his kingdom © Eleanor Grover

During a dusk stroll a second Woodcock was discovered and five Siskins were seen coming to land near Tibbetts. Once it grew darker, Fieldfares and Redwings were heard calling overhead, adding to the day’s totals of 97 and 188, respectively. Slightly more unexpected, two Manx Shearwaters were heard calling and coming down to land on the West Side just north of Quarter Wall.

9th November

A stiff breeze in the morning carried with it a veil of very fine rain.

The morning flock of 21 Herring Gulls in Barton Field were this time joined by a Great Black-backed Gull and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. Two Cormorants were in the Landing Bay and a Great Northern Diver was seen further out off the East Side.

Unfortunately, rain stopped play and poor visibility meant that fewer birds were logged. They included a Stock Dove, a Merlin, a Chiffchaff, two Firecrests, a Goldcrest, three Blackbirds, 15 Fieldfares, 31 Redwings, six Meadow Pipits, a Rock Pipit, 24 Chaffinches, seven Bramblings, a Greenfinch, a Goldfinch and two Siskins.

A lost Redwing mixes in with some House Sparrows © Eleanor Grover

10th November

Barely a breath of wind disturbed an otherwise overcast day.

A good day for birds with a nice variety of species logged. Seawatching was conducted near Montagu Steps instead of the regular haunt of The Ugly. Thirty Common Scoters, three Great Black-backed Gulls, 14 Herring Gulls, a Great Northern Diver, three Fulmars, a Gannet, four Shags and two Cormorants were recorded. The star bird, however, was a Sooty Shearwater that flew south towards Hartland Point. Another individual was seen later but it is unknown if it was a different bird or the same individual that had looped back around.

Two wader species were seen, two Oystercatchers and a Curlew heard calling in the late afternoon over Tillage Field. A Sparrowhawk and a Merlin added some raptor variety to the usual Peregrines. Warblers and crests stood at a Chiffchaff, two female Blackcaps, a Firecrest and two Goldcrests, while thrush totals for the day were nine Blackbirds, 63 Fieldfares, 78 Redwings and three Song Thrushes. Finch counts included 43 Chaffinches, two Goldfinches, 20 Siskins, and it was a delight to see a flock of 41 Bramblings flying low over Government House.

Other species logged included seven Mallards, a Stock Dove, two Water Rails, 11 Carrion Crows, four Skylarks, 12 Wrens, c.200 Starlings, seven Robins, four Stonechats, five Dunnocks, a Pied Wagtail, 18 Meadow Pipits and one Rock Pipit.

11th November

Grey overhead but remaining dry and warm, with the winds determinedly picking up throughout the day.

For the first time this autumn, Fieldfares outnumbered Redwings, with counts of 67 and 49 logged respectively. On the finch front, 72 Chaffinches, nine Bramblings, one Goldfinch and three Siskins were noted. Uncounted numbers of finches and thrushes were streaming south above Benjamin’s Chair, being hunted by five Peregrines. A high count of 23 Ravens were an exciting addition to the day.
A dapper Fieldfare grubs around in Barton Field © Eleanor Grover
The day’s Stock Dove was joined by a Woodpigeon, and another Woodcock yet again erupted from the undergrowth at the last possible moment. A Black Redstart was sighted, along with the more regular species: a Merlin, two Skylarks, a Firecrest, a Goldcrest, nine Blackbirds, a Pied Wagtail and two Meadow Pipits.

Seabird sightings included two Shags, a Great Black-backed Gull, 20 Herring Gulls, eight Gannets and a Great Northern Diver.

Another very successful Fungi Foray was led by John Hedger, this time with 45 species being found. The species composition was much the same as last week, missing a few but gaining new ones, namely Giant Puffball, Shaggy Parasol, Pink Waxcap, Pleated Inkcap, Rootlet Brittlestem, Brownedge Bonnet, Gallerina vittiformis and Agaricus macrosporus. On top of this, one Mycena species and three pinkgills are yet to be identified.

12th November

Strong gusts of wind throughout the day – first light was overcast, quickly developing into rain showers.

Records were rather sparse, many birds no doubt hiding away from the rain. Counts included seven Mallards, three Stonechats, a Pied Wagtail, one Great Black-backed Gull, eight Gannets and four Shags. Millcombe Valley once again saw most of the action, with a Woodcock, one Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest, nine Blackbirds, six Fieldfares, 13 Redwings, a Song Thrush, a Meadow Pipit, 23 Chaffinches, two Bramblings and a Goldfinch logged.
This ringed Chaffinch refused to allow his ring to be read... © Eleanor Grover

Records from Eleanor Grover, John Hedger and Martin Thorne.

Monday 8 November 2021

2nd to 5th Nov – Red-breasted Flycatcher and a whopping Fungi Foray!

Eleanor Grover relates the latest happenings on Lundy.

2nd November

Showery at dawn, becoming bright and sunny with mild temperatures – hard to believe it’s November!

Not only a good day for the weather but also a good day for birds, with a nice variety of species being seen. Totals included: four Skylarks, five Swallows, 12 Chiffchaffs, six Blackcaps, 13 Goldcrests, 23 Wrens, nine Robins, five Stonechats, five Dunnocks, 30 Meadow Pipits, nine Rock Pipits, 74 Chaffinches, a male Brambling, 19 Goldfinches, 117 Siskins and nine Linnets. Two Pied Wagtails flew over the Village and a flock of eight Greenfinches were heard calling all the way around Millcombe Valley, then again (possibly the same flock) flying south over South West Field. Two Fieldfares added to the variety of thrushes, which included 10 Blackbirds, 20 Redwings and 11 Song Thrushes.

Checking through a group of feeding Chiffchaffs in the Walled Garden in Millcombe revealed a surprising find: not a warbler at all but a Red-breasted Flycatcher. Flitting about in the trees, it paused only to seemingly smirk at the camera being pointed at it, before dropping down into thicker branches and being lost from view. A delightful little bird, it appeared and then disappeared all in the space of the time it took to check the mist-nets and, unfortunately, was not resighted again.

Along the Lower East Side Path, a Snipe was flushed near the Terrace Trap. Singles of Snow Bunting and Ring Ouzel flew overhead calling and a Sparrowhawk was seen hunting at Quarter Wall Copse. Two Oystercatchers and a Grey Heron hugged the coastline, while out at sea a total of eight Shags, nine Great Black-backed Gulls and 114 Herring Gulls were logged during the day. Three Water Rails were scattered around the island, along with three Peregrines and seven Ravens.
Eighteen birds were ringed: Song Thrush (2), Blackbird (1), Blackcap (3), Chiffchaff (2), Goldcrest (5), Siskin (4) and Brambling (1).

3rd November

Another sunny day, with the winds picking up a little.

Another Snipe was sighted, and nine Mallards were present at Rocket Pole Pond. Out at sea, a single Kittiwake, 26 Great Black-backed Gulls, 12 Herring Gulls, 10 Gannets and 20 Shags flew past. Blackbirds were prominent with 27 being logged, including eight together that were feeding up on the late blackberries in VC Quarry. Eight Song Thrushes were recorded, as well as 180 Redwings. A flock of 50-60 Redwings were grubbing around in Barton Field, though not all birds were able to pass through so happily: a mass of Redwing feathers in Millcombe suggested that at least one of these migratory thrushes provided a nice meal for one of the island’s Peregrines.

At dusk, a flock of 29 Carrion Crows were congregating in Tillage Field. The smaller birds, however, were recorded in smaller numbers, with counts of four Skylarks, one Swallow, three Chiffchaffs, five Blackcaps, two Goldcrests, two Stonechats, five Meadow Pipits, four Rock Pipits, 19 Chaffinches, two Greenfinches, one Goldfinch and eight Siskins recorded throughout the day.

Thirty-four birds were ringed: Redwing (17), Song Thrush (1), Blackbird (8), Blackcap (1), Goldcrest (2), Siskin (4) and Chaffinch (1).

On the non-avian front, two Red Admirals were a testimony to the warmth of the day.

4th November

Cloudy with sunny spells and a stiff breeze – there was a definite chill in the air that gave the day almost a wintry feel.

Two Fieldfares joined the 60 Redwing that passed overhead. Seven Gannets soared past out at sea, four Skylarks called as they flew over the Airfield, and a flock of 150 Starlings made a mini-murmuration over the Village. In Millcombe Valley there was one Swallow, one Goldcrest, seven Blackbirds, two Song Thrushes, 32 Chaffinches, six Greenfinches, six Goldfinches and 12 Siskins.

Whilst not birds, the day’s excitement came from a fantastic Fungi Foray led by John Hedger and Mandy Dee. A total of 42 different fungi species were located: Crimson Waxcap, Scarlet Waxcap, Vermillion Waxcap, Spangle Waxcap, Goblet Waxcap, Blackening Waxcap, Meadow Waxcap, Orange Waxcap, Oily Waxcap, Heath Waxcap, Glutinous Waxcap, Honey Waxcap, Butter Waxcap, Golden Waxcap, Persistent Waxcap, Snowy Waxcap, Cedarwood Waxcap, Slimy Waxcap, Yellowfoot Waxcap, Parrot Waxcap, Fool’s Funnel, Drab Bonnet, Ivory Bonnet, Lilac Bonnet, Lilac Pinkgill, Silky Pinkgill, Star Pinkgill, Common Conecap, Field Mushroom, Horse Mushroom, Yellow Club, Apricot Club, White Spindles, Meadow Coral, Meadow Puffball, Smoky Spindles, Dewdrop Mottlegill, Turf Mottlegill, Brown Mottlegill, Magic Mushroom, Dung Roundhead and Peppery Roundhead!

Just 10 birds were ringed: Redwing (8), Blackbird (1) and Siskin (1).

A single Red Admiral was also espied to be braving the cold weather.

5th November

The winds dropped and the temperature rose, leading to a remarkably pleasant day.

Despite the pleasantness of the day, relatively few birds were recorded. Ninety-four Redwings were logged in the morning, whilst an evening stroll through Millcombe Valley revealed two Chiffchaffs, 11 Blackbirds, two Song Thrushes, four Robins, three Wrens, three Ravens, three Carrion Crows, two Dunnocks, one Stonechat, 13 Chaffinches, one Water Rail, a Greenfinch, and a single Siskin.

Flyovers during the day included a Pied Wagtail, three Skylarks, a Meadow Pipit and four Fieldfares. A further dozen Fieldfares were chattering away in Millcombe Valley and it is likely that more birds passed overhead unrecorded during the day. Gliding around the coast were two Peregrines, a Great Black-backed Gull and nine Herring Gulls. A flock of approximately 100 Starlings were around the Lambing Shed and the single Feral Pigeon was once again snuggled up in the Farmyard.

Forty-one birds were ringed: Redwing (40) and Fieldfare (1).

Records from Chris & Mandy Dee, Eleanor Grover, John Hedger and Rachel Sprosen.

Tuesday 2 November 2021

29th Oct to 1st Nov – Sunshine, squalls, a Purple Sandpiper and a Glossy Ibis!

The Lundy Birds blog welcomes Rosie Ellis, the newly appointed Lundy Warden, who, along with volunteer Eleanor Grover, provides the latest update on happenings in the 2021 autumn season.

29th October

Sunshine interspersed with very heavy squalls and strong winds meant that the last boat of the year turned out to be the first helicopter of the winter season.

Finches were still moving through in dribs and drabs, with 125 Chaffinches, three Bramblings and 180 Siskins being logged throughout the day. Thrushes were present in small numbers, with totals of five Blackbirds, 37 Redwings and one Song Thrush recorded. A handful of warblers (one Chiffchaff and three Blackcaps) were present in Millcombe Valley, alongside four Goldcrests. Other migrants moving through included a flyover Grey Wagtail, two Skylarks and eight Swallows.
A lone Swallow heads south for southern African climes.

Seawatching was relatively quiet, with morning counts of four Gannets, eight Shags, four Great Black-backed Gulls, 10 Herring Gulls and five Kittiwakes. However, watchers were treated to an adult Great Northern Diver, although this was eclipsed by the sighting of a Glossy Ibis from Millcombe, which circled around before dropping down out of sight below St Helen’s Copse – only the second ever to be seen on Lundy after one in May 1987!
Walls and squalls on a blustery day.
29th marked Rob Duncan's departure after a three-week stint, during which he and a regularly changing cast of other ringers achieved the superb total of 1,043 birds ringed, including no fewer than 535 Siskin (!), along with 152 Blackcap, 109 Goldcrest, 71 Chaffinch, 65 Chiffchaff, 49 Redwing, 29 Robin, 12 Song Thrush and small numbers of 17 other species and distinct sub-species, among them 5 Yellow-browed Warbler, 5 tristis-type Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Firecrest, and single Water Rail, Spotted Flycatcher, Garden Warbler, eastern Lesser Whitethroat, Grey Wagtail and Bullfinch.
There was also a last sighting of a flying volunteer. Assistant Ranger Adam has been with us since April and has been a massive help, leading volunteer groups walling and helping with all manner of tasks for the island and the Conservation Team. He goes on to a paid position with Natural England in his native Yorkshire. Thank you, Adam!

Adam flies away to his new job with Natural England.

30th October

Glorious sunshine and more settled conditions, with only the occasional light shower threatening. The Landing Bay looked positively tropical, too inviting to resist a dip.

The better weather saw another movement of Redwings, with 154 being logged in Millcombe Valley in the early morning, a constant movement of small flocks flying overhead until around 11:00hrs, and a further 23 individuals counted in the evening. On the other hand, finches were much less abundant, with just two Linnets, 31 Goldfinches, 29 Chaffinches and nine Siskins logged.

A Grey Wagtail flew overhead, while totals of 16 Meadow Pipits and six Rock Pipits were counted. Two Chiffchaffs and a male and female Blackcap were feeding up in Millcombe. In St John’s Valley, two Song Thrushes were heard calling and a Skylark was chased by a Merlin, diving to safety just in time. Mallards were scattered about the island, with small flocks being recorded at Rocket Pole Pond, Barton Pond and Pondsbury.

A flock of 31 Kittiwakes flew along the East Side but otherwise seawatching was quiet.

The title of Bird of the Day goes to a dapper Purple Sandpiper, spotted on the rocks at Rat Island a few metres away from a bottling Grey Seal. The pupping season is now drawing to a close and the Landing Bay was full of adults and recently weaned pups, with four individuals – including a young tagged seal from one of the mainland’s rehabilitation centres – battling it out for the coveted Hell's Gate cave haul-out.

Bird of the Day on 30th Oct was this Purple Sandpiper on Rat Island © Rosie Ellis

The tagged young Grey Seal seeks a spot in the Hell's Gate haul-out.
31st October

The winds picked up once again, gusting Force 9. Despite this, there were mostly blue skies, interspersed by occasional heavy hail or rain showers.

The changing of the clocks brought about a much-anticipated extra hour of birding before work. However – owing to the gusty weather – it was no surprise that the majority of birds were spotted hiding away in Millcombe Valley and along the Lower East Side Path. Totals included one Song Thrush, three Blackbirds, 49 Redwings, eight Robins, two Stonechats, seven Goldcrests and 39 Siskins. A female Brambling briefly showed itself in flight, otherwise hiding amongst the 34 Chaffinches that were logged.

A male and female Stonechat cling to a granite boulder on a wild Lundy day.
Three Skylarks and a Pied Wagtail were hunkered down by Barton Cottages, while the recurring Feral Pigeon made itself at home in the farmyard. A Water Rail managed to make itself heard above the wind, and a Snipe lifted off from the track past Quarter Wall. Eight Swallows were tossed about in the skies, adding an extra challenge when trying to avoid the hungry claws of an immature Peregrine! A Carrion Crow was not so lucky, its fresh remains found in St Helen’s Copse.

Off the east coast, little was seen out at sea except for white horses, with four Shags and two Great Black-backed Gulls hugging the coastline. A Cormorant was seen taking shelter in the Landing Bay and seven Gannets zoomed past along the west coast. 
A Lundy Pony grazes within sight of Tibbetts.

1st November

The winds dropped but it remained relatively gusty in the morning. A short sharp shower at first light gave way to a very pleasant morning.

Down in sheltered Millcombe Valley, it seemed strangely quiet without the near constant calls of Siskins or Redwings flying around, with only 12 Siskins and 21 Chaffinches logged in the morning. However, this just made it easier to pick up the calls of 11 Goldfinches, three Goldcrests and a Greenfinch. Two Bramblings were especially vocal, with one eventually lifting off and flying south whilst the other remained flitting in and out of the treetops. Also noted were four Blackbirds, six Dunnocks, six Robins, three Chiffchaffs, a female Blackcap, seven Wrens and a Song Thrush.

Slightly gustier up top, a walk around the South End nevertheless revealed two Herring Gulls, five Meadow Pipits, a Rock Pipit, six Carrion Crows, six Ravens, a Stonechat and eight Linnets. Eleven Mallards were at Rocket Pole Pond, whilst a single Swallow and Skylark flew over the Village.

A Stonechat finds a perch along a windy South End.
Mist-nets were set up in Millcombe in the late afternoon when the few birds around included two Redwings, three Siskins, three Goldcrests and a Firecrest, the latter the only bird actually ringed.
Records from Chris & Mandy Dee, Rob Duncan, Rosie Ellis, Eleanor Grover and Justin, Ellie & Dan Zantboer.