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Monday 27 December 2021

20th to 26th Dec – Merry Christmas from Lundy!

Assistant Warden Stuart Cossey provides a festive update.

20th December

Overcast with strong easterly winds.

Four Woodpigeon and five Chaffinches were in Millcombe. Past Quarter Wall there were three Skylarks and a Kestrel, whilst two Common Gulls flew past North Light. A Golden Plover was recorded and a Purple Sandpiper was flushed off pools by Quarter Wall. A Merlin zoomed past Benjamin’s Chair on the lookout for Rock Pipits. An unseasonal male Blackcap was briefly feeding on the feeders by Paradise Row.

The bird of the day, however, was a female Pintail which was flushed off Rocket Pole scrape. The close views allowed the distinctive features to be seen – the long narrow neck and white trailing edge to the primaries.

21st December

Some sunshine but cold with strong easterly winds.

Interesting wildfowl continue to pass through this week with a visitor recording a Pink-footed Goose on the main track north of Quarter Wall in the morning. It then flew east before then heading off west. It was not seen again in the afternoon, although there was a very obliging male Snow Bunting on the track above Pondsbury. In addition there were six Wigeon on Pondsbury.

Four Water Rails were heard squealing in Millcombe today, the highest count so far this December. A Kestrel was seen again and three Fieldfares were recorded across the island. There was a small increase in finch numbers, with 11 Chaffinch and 9 Goldfinch recorded. A very pale Chiffchaff was seen by Paradise Row pond, possibly a candidate for the Siberian subspecies tristis.

Out at sea there was a large feeding flock off the East Side consisting of 15 Kittiwakes, two Common Gulls, 26 Great Black-backed Gulls, 180 Herring Gulls, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 30 Guillemots and 13 Gannets.

22nd December

Overcast early morning and heavy rain for the rest of the day.

There was a small flock of eight Chaffinches in St John’s Valley in the morning and more interestingly a Hawfinch was calling from above Brambles Villa. It was seen briefly as it flew off calling. The male Blackcap was still around Quarters and the three individual Fieldfares continue to be seen across the island. The usual Merlin was harassing the Starlings in the morning. Finally, two Common Gulls were on the sea below Benjamin’s Chair.

23rd December

Visibility down to 150m in the morning but clearing up in the afternoon. Strong winds from the south.

After heavy rain and fog overnight and in the morning it was no wonder there were a few new arrivals today. The best birds were a Pink-footed Goose and White-fronted Goose which were first seen together in Tent Field in the murky conditions. Fortunately, they were relocated in Brick Field in the afternoon after the fog had cleared and better photos could be taken. Other wildfowl seen included two Wigeon and seven Teal on Pondsbury.
The White-fronted Goose (left) and Pink-footed Goose in Tent Field © Stuart Cossey

Four Fieldfare were seen together at Stoneycroft, with another in Tillage Field. Whilst beyond Halfway Wall to fix a drystone wall, Assistant Warden Stuart and Ranger Matt saw a Snow Bunting and Merlin. After the fog lifted, two lone Golden Plovers flew over calling.

24th December

A calm day with periodic rain.

A Siberian ‘tristisChiffchaff was heard calling by Millcombe Pond in the morning and was then seen briefly before heading up the valley. There was a large influx of Chaffinches with 26 counted in Millcombe. The Pink-footed Goose and White-fronted Goose were still around in the east coast fields along with two Fieldfare
The two vsiting geese still present in the East Side fields © Rosie Ellis
An incredible interaction was witnessed by the pig-sty in the afternoon. A Merlin was constantly diving and harassing a Goldfinch before finally managing to catch it, flying off with its meal towards the Upper East Side Path.

25th December

A wet Christmas Day with persistent rain.

A quick survey was completed in the morning. A Cormorant was recorded flying low over Benjamin’s Chair, most likely having roosted on Rocket Pole Pond overnight. The Pink-footed Goose and White-fronted Goose remained in the east coast fields throughout the day. Also of note were four Golden Plover on the Airfield.

26th December

Mild and calm with beautiful sunshine for most of the day.

It was great to have some sunshine after a few overcast and wet days. The Pink-footed Goose and White-fronted Goose were in the east coast fields for their fifth day. Eight Teal were at Pondsbury as were a Water Rail and two Reed Buntings. The Reed Buntings may be the pair that were first seen on 25th Nov. A Chiffchaff was in Millcombe along with a further three Water Rails. Four Goldcrest were recorded, two in Quarter Wall Copse, one in Millcombe and one on the Terrace. 
The Pinkfoot and Whitefront photographed in sunnier conditions…
... and the Whitefront (still relaxing on one leg!) on its own © Rosie Ellis
At sea there was a large feeding flock of 2,000 seabirds. The majority seemed to be Herring Gulls and Kittiwakes. There has been a further increase in Fulmars on the West Coast, with 87 counted.
Jenny's Cove in bright West Side sunshine © Rosie Ellis
Additional observer: Kevin Waterfall.

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