About this page...

This page is run by volunteer contributors as a source of news for everyone interested in the birds of Lundy, in the Bristol Channel, UK.
If you have news to report, please consider signing up as a contributor or send in your sightings here.
See also the companion website The Birds of Lundy for comprehensive updates to the 2007 book of the same name.
Bird recording and ringing on Lundy are coordinated by the Lundy Field Society and general information about visiting the island can be found here.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment