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Saturday 31 December 2022

26th to 31st December – Happy New Year!

Stuart Cossey reports on the last week of 2022 and looks back over an exciting year.

Winds mostly moderate to light from the north. Clear skies with one small scattering of snow. Mild from the 17th with strong winds from the south bring low cloud and constant light rain.

A very quiet week. The Greylag Goose was seen again in Barton Field on 26th, 29th and 31st. Eight Teal were on Pondsbury on the 28th. Ten Oystercatcher were counted on the 26th and five on the 30th. A Golden Plover flew over calling in the low cloud on the 30th. Two Woodcock were flushed in Millcombe on the 28th.

Flocks of large gulls have been seen in the farm fields with approximately 100 Herring Gulls from the 28th.  Five Lesser Black-backed Gulls were with them on the 28th. The Great Northern Diver was still off the Jetty this week with a second recorded on the 28th.

A Sparrowhawk was seen along the East Coast on the 28th and 31st. The Jackdaw is still present around the Village on the 29th and 31st.  Most of the resident birds have been keeping a low profile with less than five Blackbirds, Wrens and Robins recorded in Millcombe. A single Goldcrest was heard calling in the Secret Garden on the 30th. A notable arrival of Chaffinches on the 28th took the total up to 28.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Rosie Ellis, Paul Dean

2022 highlights

The year started off well with the Pink-footed and White-fronted Goose staying on the 1st January.  A ‘tristis’ Chiffchaff and Lapland Bunting were also seen in January. Highlights of February were the Little Gulls seen with up to 3500 Kittiwakes off the East Coast. An Iceland Gull arrived on the island after the week of storms.

March saw the arrival of the spring migrants including Wheatear, Puffin, Manx Shearwater, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin. There was also a big movement of Brambling with a record 40 seen across the island. A female Great Spotted Woodpecker was present along the Terrace from the 29th March to 18th April. The rest of our common spring arrivals were seen in April including Redstart, Yellow Wagtail, Reed Warbler, Wood Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, Swift, Whinchat and Osprey. April was also an excellent month for rarities including two Canada Geese, a Barnacle Goose, Grey Phalarope, Hawfinch, Bonelli’s Warbler and a male Eastern Subalpine Warbler.

The first of the breeding birds started in May with 36 species successfully fledging young and an additional two species with confirmed breeding attempts. The island’s first record of Mandarin Duck, a female photographed in the Landing Bay, was seen in May. There was also a Golden Oriole in Millcombe and a female Bluethroat in Gannet’s Combe.  

June and July are usually the quieter months on the island. A handsome male Rosy Starling stayed for a few days in June and a Quail was flushed in stormy weather towards the end of the month. A putative Thrush Nightingale was flushed from along the West Coast on the 3rd June. Migration started to pick towards the end of July with the first returning Swifts and waders including Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Turnstone and Green Sandpiper. A Garganey on Pondsbury on the 3rd August was the first since 2007. Wader migration picked up in August with Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit amongst the more usual species.  

September and October were by far the best months with large movements and ‘falls’ of common migrants including 400 Willow Warbler, 200 Blackcaps, 4000 Fieldfare and 12,000 Swallows. There were also five Wryneck, two Common Rosefinch, another Rosy Starling, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Richard’s Pipit, Ortolan Bunting, Little Bunting and a Sabine’s Gull. The bird of theyear turned up on the 8th, an amazing adult male Baltimore Oriole. A ringtail Hen Harrier that turned up in October stuck around well into November.

The island’s 7th Cetti’s Warbler was ringed in Millcombe in October and 7th Pallas’s Warbler was ringed in November. A female Long-eared Owl was also ringed in November.  The year ended with some cold weather and high numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover arrived on the island as well as the 11th record of Greylag Goose, the 5th goose species seen this year.

All records of British and Devon rarities are subject to acceptance by the British Birds Rarities Committee or the Devon Birds Records Committee.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year from all of the Lundy Conservation Team. We look forward to seeing everyone in 2023 (along with some interesting birds!).

Tuesday 27 December 2022

19th to 25th December – Merry Christmas!

Moderate to strong winds from the west and southwest. Mostly overcast with rain but occasional blue skies. Temperatures remain mild.

Five Teal were on Pondsbury on the 21st and a high count of 14 Mallard was taken across the island. The Greylag Goose was still present on the 19th, 20th, 23rd and 25th. A Great Northern Diver was in the Landing Bay on the 20th and two on the 22nd. One showed within 10m during the annual Christmas Day swim off the Jetty!

A few waders were still around after the cold weather Lapwing disappeared completely after 18 on the 19th and 28 on the 20th. 49 Golden Plover were seen on the 19th and 32 on the 20th before they too also left for the 21st. A small flock of five Golden Plover were seen calling and flying around the airstrip on the 22nd. Two Oystercatcher were in the Landing Bay on the 20th and a pair of Purple Sandpipers showed well at Brazen Ward. A small number of Snipe were seen including two heard in the evening of the 21st over the Village.

Purple Sandpipers, Brazen Ward © Paul Dean

152 Herring Gulls were in the farm fields on the 19th, the highest count since breeding birds left in August. Numbers remained around 60 on the 20th, 21st and 24th. A second calendar-year Yellow-legged Gull was with the Herring Gulls on the 21st.  48 Great Black-backed Gulls were counted on the 19th -the only double figure count of the week. There were also small numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls with 9 on the 19th being the highest count. A Black-headed Gull flew over Ackland’s Moor on the 19th.

Herring Gulls, Tillage Field © Paul Dean

A Sparrowhawk and Merlin were being seen around the South End of the island still. At one point they were seen fighting over South West Field. The Buzzard was seen up to the 22nd. The Jackdaw is still being seen around the Village.

Buzzard © Paul Dean

One Goldcrest was heard in Millcombe on the 20th and 22nd and two were heard on the 21st. A Fieldfare were seen on the 19th and 21st. The number of Redwing and Song Thrush has dropped from last week. The highest counts were 11 Redwing and eight Song Thrush on the 22nd.  No Redwing have been seen on the since the 23rd. A single Skylark was seen in the 22nd.  A Pied Wagtail was in Barton Field on the 20th to the 24th. Three Meadow Pipit were recorded on the 24th.

There was a small arrival of finches on the 20th with 40 Chaffinch and a Siskin in Millcombe. This dropped again the next day with the next highest count of 19 on the 23rd.

In non-avian news, Pygmy Shrews have become increasingly active in the properties during the cold weather; the logbook is full of sightings including Hanmers, Old Light Lower and Stoneycroft.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Rosie Ellis, Paul Dean

Monday 19 December 2022

Stuart Cossey reports on two weeks of cold weather on the island.

Winds mostly moderate to light from the north. Clear skies with one small scattering of snow. Mild from the 17th with strong winds from the south bring low cloud and constant light rain.

Nine Teal were seen at Pondsbury on the 16th. Of note was a Greylag Goose, only the 11th island record, seen in Brick Field on the 15th. It is very mobile but seen most days since. A small number of Woodpigeon have been seen with two on the 11th and then only singles on the 7th, 15th and 18th.

Teal, Pondsbury © Stuart Cossey

Greylag Goose, Lighthouse Field © Stuart Cossey

The cold weather brought flocks of wading birds over to the island. Four Lapwing and a Golden Plover were recorded on the 9th. This built up to 101 Lapwing and 49 Golden Plover on the 17th. The Lapwing had then dropped to only 19 on the 18th but all 49 Golden Plover were still present. These two species would have come to the island to escape the cold on the mainland and feed in the thawed out fields. A flock of Oystercatchers has been seen at the North End – 19 were counted on the 17th. A Jack Snipe was flushed by Pondsbury on the 8th and another was in Millcombe Pond on the 17th and 18th. A few Snipe were also present with a high count of 6 on the 8th.

Lapwing, Barton Field © Stuart Cossey

Golden Plover, Airstrip © Stuart Cossey

The number of gulls on the island built up during the strong winds towards the end of the two weeks. 110 Herring Gulls, 20 Great Black-backed Gulls, eight Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a 1st winter Common Gull were seen together in Lower Light House Field.  

A Buzzard was first seen in Millcombe on the 15th and has stuck around on the island. It is being constantly mobbed by Crows, Ravens and gulls as soon as it flies too close to the Village. Single Kestrel and Merlin have been recorded occasionally.  The Jackdaw is still present around the Village, it’s 8th week in the island.

Raven, Lighthouse Field © Rosie Ellis

A Chiffchaff was recorded on the 6th and 7th. The number of thrushes has varied over the weeks. There was a high count of 64 Fieldfare on the 15th and 57 Redwing on the 17th. This increase in numbers is also likely due to the frozen ground on the mainland forcing birds to move around.

The cold weather has also caused Rock Pipits to move up into the fields. 13 were counted on the 17th. Seven Meadow Pipits were seen on the 7th but as soon as the temperature dropped only one or two were seen. A Pied Wagtail was recorded on the 17th. Chaffinch numbers fluctuated with a high count of 21 on the 7th and only one on the 14th. Seven Goldfinch on the 7th were the last to be seen.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Rosie Ellis, Matt Stritch, Paul Dean

Monday 5 December 2022

28th November to 4th December – The last ringing sessions of the year

Moderate winds from the east all week with mostly clear skies. Fairly mild with colder tmperatures towards the end of the week.

A total of seven Teal were seen on Pondsbury on the 3rd. A few waders were recorded with a single Golden Plover on the 28th and five on the 1st. Single Woodcock were recorded on the 28th, 30th and 4th. Three were recorded on the 1st including two well hidden in Smelly Gully. Attempts were made at ringing Snipe in the fields overnight. Although up to a few were seen, the full moon restricted our efforts. Two Snipe were successfully ringed whilst mist netting on the evening of the 4th.

Golden Plover, South West Field © Stuart Cossey

Well camouflaged Woodcock, Smelly Gully © Jamie Dunning

Ringing Snipe © Jamie Dunning

A feeding flock of at least 50 Gannets was seen off the East Side on the 30th. Three Cormorant flew south past Millcombe on the 29th and a Little Egret was seen flying out of the Landing Bay on the 2nd.

Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Kestrel and Peregrine were common sights all week. The Jackdaw was still around the Village. A high count of 26 Carrion Crows was recorded on the 28th. Up to five Skylark were still being seen in the fields north of the Village.

Sparrowhawk, Ackland's Moor © Stuart Cossey

At least one Siberian Chiffchaff was seen and heard on the 29th and 30th. Siberian Chiffchaff are a subspecies of Common Chiffchaff from, as the name suggests, breeds in coniferous forests east of the Ural Mountains. They are a lot duller in colour and the call is different. During the light easterly winds the mist nets were opened in Millcombe on most mornings. Three Blackcap were ringed on the 30th. There was an increase in migrating thrushes, mostly Blackbird and Redwing, with a small number ringed.

Siberian Chiffchaff, Village © Jamie Dunning

Starlings were seen moving in big numbers on the 29th with 1140 counted including a single flock of more than 400 birds.  Finch numbers were low with the highest count of Chaffinch at 38 on the 28th. A Siskin and two Linnet were seen on the 29th and another Linnet was seen on the 4th. Goldfinch were also noted in small numbers.  A Lapland Bunting flew over South West Field calling on the 30th and a Reed Bunting was heard on the 1st.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Jamie Dunning, Trevor Dobie, Max Khoo

Monday 28 November 2022

21st to 27th November – Strong winds bring an American Pipit

 A very blustery week with rain and strong northwesterly winds on the 21st and 22nd. Even stronger winds came from the west for the next two days before calming slightly and remaining dry for the end of the week.

A max count of 14 Mallard on the 23rd includes the nine birds frequently seen at Rocket Pole Pond as well as five at Pondsbury. Five Teal were on Pondsbury on the 23rd and four on the 25th. Two Woodpigeon were recorded in Millcombe on the 22nd to the 25th but went down to one on the 26th. A single Snipe was seen on the 23rd and a single Oystercatcher remains in the Landing Bay.

With the strong winds the number of large gulls recorded increased as flocks formed in the Village fields. Twenty Great Black-backed Gulls were counted on the 24th and 14 on the 26th. The highest count of Herring Gulls was 32 on the 27th and nine Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen on the 24th and 26th. A Kittiwake was seen flying over Quarter Wall on the 26th. Three Great Northern Diver were seen together in the Landing Bay on the 24th and 25th with only one seen on the 26th and two on the 27th.

Great Northern Diver, Landing Bay © Stuart Cossey

Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Tillage Field © Stuart Cossey

A Sparrowhawk and Kestrel remain around the south of the island. The Merlin was seen again this week and on the 27th hunted a Skylark over Millcombe Valley. The Jackdaw is still present, now into its sixth week on the island.

Two Chiffchaff were recorded on the 25th, one on the 26th and three on the 17th. These birds may be new arrivals or could have been on the island for some time but difficult to locate in the strong winds. Two Goldcrest were heard on the 23rd with a single bird the rest of the week. Notable Starling passage was recorded on the 26th with a count of 600. Only a single Fieldfare was recorded on the 23rd and 25th. A single Redwing was recorded on the 21st, 22nd,23rd and 25th.

Two Black Redstart were reported on the 24th and one on the 23rd. A single White Wagtail arrived overnight on the 26th. The number of Meadow Pipit remained in single figures most of the week, and peaked at 17 on the 22nd. There was a surprise record of an American Buff-bellied Pipit flushed up from Pointless Wall on the 25th. If accepted by the British Birds Rarities Committee this would be the first record for the island after the likely contender in November 2021 was declared not proven.

Chaffinch numbers only peaked at 35 on the 27th. A small flock of four Goldfinches was seen by the Paradise Row bird feeders on the 27th after a pair and a single bird were seen on the 22nd.

In non-avian news, a Harbour Porpoise was seen off Rat Island during a seawatch.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Trevor Dobie

Tuesday 22 November 2022

14th to 20th November – A Long-eared Owl ringed

Moderate westerly and northwesterly winds at the start of the week calmed briefly on the 19th before becoming strong again. It was mostly dry with rain on the 16th.

At least four Teal remained on Pondsbury all week with no other wildfowl of note. A single Woodpigeon was seen in Millcombe on four occasions. A number of Oystercatchers remain around the coast with a maximum of five on the 17th. Rain overnight on the 14th and 15th brought in a few Woodcock. One was in Millcombe Valley on the morning of the 15th and three were recorded on the morning of the 15th along with five Snipe. Two Great Northern Diver were seen on the 15th. One was feeding in the Landing Bay and the other flew low over Rocket Pole heading south.

A Merlin arrived on the 18th and was seen feeding around South West Field again on the 20th. The Hen Harrier was seen up until the 18th with no sign since.  At least one Sparrowhawk and Kestrel continue to hunt around the south of the island, often targeting tired migrant Chaffinch. On the morning of the 18th an alarm calling Blackbird alerted to the presence of something in the Blackthorn at the top of Millcombe. On inspection a Long-eared Owl flew out of cover and tried to land in the Pines before being chased by Crows over towards St John’s Valley. That evening , mist nets were put up in St John’s Valley and a juvenile female Long-eared Owl was ringed. This is only the fifth to be ringed on the island, the last in 2008.

Long-eared Owl, St  John's Valley © Stuart Cossey

Hen Harrier, Quarter Wall © Stuart Cossey

Possibly the last Blackcap of the year were seen on the 17th, with three in Millcombe. Five Chiffchaff were counted on the 15th with four on the 19th and 20th. Two Goldcrest are still being seen regularly in Millcombe.

Calm weather on the 19th encouraged some passerine migration. Thirteen was the highest count of Skylark all week. Starling were also on the move with totals of 485 on the 17th and 450 on the 19th. There was a big arrival of Blackbird on the 19th with at least 59 seen around the southern end of the island. The highest counts of Fieldfare and Redwing were on the 17th with 34 and 229 respectively. A single Mistle Thrush was by Pointless Wall on the 14th and 15th.

There continue to be occasional sightings of Black Redstart . Three were recorded on the 14th, two on the 15th and a single on the 19th. Three Pied Wagtail were seen in Barton Field on the 14th with only single flyovers on the 14th, 15th, 17th and 19th. Rock Pipits are starting to be more common in the fields on top of the island as the rough weather forces them away from their usual coastal feeding grounds. On calmer days small numbers of Meadow Pipits are seen flying south with 25 on the 15th and 22 on the 19th. An Olive-backed Pipit was heard flying over the Stonecrusher on the 18th, if accepted by the British Birds Rarity Committee, this would be the fifth record for Lundy.

Chaffinch are still passing through the island with over 150 counted on the 14th and 16th and a high count of 308 on the 19th. Brambling were occasionally heard with passing Chaffinch flocks including three on the 19th, two on the 14th and singles on the 15th, 16th and 17th. Other finches are less common with two Linnet on the 14th and a Lesser Redpoll on the 29th. Ten Siskin on the 14th was the highest count all week with three days without any records. Five and six Goldfinch were seen on the 14th and 15th.  A female Reed Bunting was by Pointless wall on the 15th and 16th.

Reed Bunting, Pointless Wall © Stuart Cossey

In non-avian news, a Hummingbird Hawk-moth was shooed out of the Shop on the 18th. Without a frequent boat and fewer visitors the Grey Seals in the Landing Bay are hauling out and sleeping all over the place, including the Jetty!

Grey Seal, Jetty © Stuart Cossey

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Richard Ware, Sue Waterfield

Tuesday 15 November 2022

7th to 13th November – First Barn Owl record since 1981

Strong winds continued from the southwest all week with calmer winds from the southeast on the 12th.

The Wigeon remained on Pondsbury until the 8th with three Teal seen on the 8th and 12th. At least 16 Mallard are present on the island with flocks at Rocket Pole Pond and Pondsbury. A single Woodpigeon was seen in Millcombe on the 8th, 9th and 12th. A flock of 10 Oystercatcher were at the North End on the 12th and a Lapwing was seen over the Village and in Tillage Field on the same date. Snipe were recorded on the 10th, 12th and 13th. The Little Egret was seen again in Millcombe Pond on the 8th. A Purple Sandpiper was seen on Rat Island on the 8th. It is likely that Purple Sandpiper are quite common on Lundy in winter but are difficult to see as the spend most of their time around the back of Rat and Mouse Island.

Flocks of feeding gulls were seen off the East Side on the 9th, 10th and 12th. These mostly comprised of Kittiwakes with 600 counted on the 9th. A single flock of 54 Herring Gulls were on Miller’s Cake on the 13th. Three Manx Shearwaters and a Balearic Shearwater flew past Rat Island on the 10th along with 70 unidentified Auks.

Two Sparrowhawk remain on the island, occasionally being seen together over Millcombe hunting exhausted migrant Redwing and Chaffinch. Two Kestrel have also been seen. The juvenile Hen Harrier has been seen hunting over the Quarter Wall area all week, occasionally flushing up Snipe and thrushes. The Jackdaw has also been seen all this week. Most surprising this week was a Barn Owl, which was heard screeching over the Village at 17:30 on the 13th. This comprises the 10th island record and first since 1981. Most records have been in November and most likely involve young birds dispersing to find new territories.

Hen Harrier, Tillage Field © Stuart Cossey

Single figure counts of Skylark were seen most days with a high count of 20 on the 12th. A Swallow was recorded around Jenny’s Cove and the Earthquake on the 12th and 13th. Blackcap are still being recorded with 10 counted on the 12th. Two were recorded on the 7th, singles on the 8th and 9th and four on the 13th. Single Chiffchaff were recorded on the 7th, 8th and 9th, then four and five were counted on the 12th and 13th respectively. Low numbers of Goldcrest continue to be recorded in Millcombe and Quarter Wall Copse. A Yellow-browed Warbler was seen near the Terrace on the 12th.

There has been a noticeable increase in migrant thrushes, though still not the large numbers expected at this time of year. The highest counts were on the 12th and 13th. 23 Blackbird and 65 Redwing were recorded on the 12th. 160 Redwing were recorded on the 13th along with two Mistle Thrush and 11 Fieldfare. The highest count of Song Thrush was three on the 8th.

Single Black Redstart were recorded on the 8th and 13th. A total of four were seen around North Light on the 12th. A Grey Wagtail was seen at Millcombe Pond on the 12th. A White Wagtail was in Barton Field from the 7th to the 9th. On the 13th, three Pied Wagtails were seen in Barton Field.

Black Redstart, Landing Bay © Stuart Cossey

Finch migration has been steady all week with a big movement on the 12th including 1036 Chaffinch, four Brambling, 178 Siskin and 24 Linnet. Around 100 Chaffinch were counted the rest of the week. A small flock of three Lesser Redpoll were seen on the 9th. A Reed Bunting was by Pondsbury on the 8th.

Siskin, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

In non-avian news, a Small White butterfly was seen in Millcombe on the 12th and a Hummingbird Hawk-moth was in the same area on the 13th. Grey Seals continue to haul out on Landing Bay Beach, allowing good views from the road, if you remain quiet.

Grey Seal, Landing Bay © Stuart Cossey

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Matt Stritch, Ruth Turner, Paul Godwin

Monday 7 November 2022

31st October to 6th November – A brief window of calm amidst strong winds

Strong winds from the southwest all week until lessening on the 4th and turning northerly on the 5th. Quickly back to strong southwesterlies on the 6th. Rain, sometimes heavy, on most days but usually passing through quickly.

The Wigeon remained at Pondsbury again this week, being seen on the 31st and the 4th. A single Teal was also present on the 4th. Despite the many thousands of Woodpigeon migrating across the country only one was recorded from the 2nd to the 4th. A Stock Dove was seen flying over Ackland’s Moor on the 4th. Also on the 4th, a Lapwing flew over the Village and a Golden Plover was calling over High Street Field. At least two Water Rail continue to be heard in Millcombe Valley. The Jackdaw was still being seen up to the 6th.

216 Kittiwakes were counted during a seawatch on the 2nd along with one Manx Shearwater and 59 Gannet. A Great Northern Diver arrived in the Landing Bay on the 2nd and has been seen up to the 6th, often right under the Jetty. A Little Egret, only the second of the year, was seen roosting in Millcombe on the evening of the 5th and then again in multiple locations on the 6th.

Three Sparrowhawk were noted on the 3rd with two or one the rest of the week. At least two Kestrel were present all week. The juvenile Hen Harrier was seen on the 31st and then again over Pondsbury on the 3rd.

Sparrowhawk, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

Kestrel, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

A single Swallow was seen on the 31st and again on the 1st around Quarter Wall. Sadly it seemed to be struggling in the strong winds and was feeding on the ground with a flock of Starlings. Two Chiffchaff were present on the 3rd with singles on the 31st, 1st and 4th. Blackcap are still trickling through, the highest count being nine on the 3rd. Fewer Goldcrest are being seen with high counts of eight on the 31st and the 3rd. The bird of the week has to be the somewhat surprising Pallas’s Warbler which turned up in the mist nets in Millcombe on the 3rd. This 6.2g bird would have come all the way from Siberia and is only the 7th record for Lundy.

Pallas's Warbler, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

With the winds turning northerly on the 4th, thrushes started pushing south. 166 Redwing, 39 Fieldfare, seven Song Thrush, 30 Blackbird, two Mistle Thrush and a Ring Ouzel were counted. Lower counts were had the rest of the week. A Ring Ouzel was also recorded on the 31st. Black Redstart were a common theme of the week with three on the 1st, two on the 3rd and 6th and one on the 2nd.

Redwing, Quarter Wall © Stuart Cossey

Black Redstart, Benjamin's Chair © Stuart Cossey

Four White Wagtails were recorded in Barton’s Field on the 31st and one remained on the 1st. Grey Wagtails were seen on the 3rd and 4th. Chaffinch are still on the island in big numbers though they are slowly leaving. 772 on the 31st became 378 on the 1st and then dropped to 76 on the 5th. Flocks were moving through in before a rain front on the 6th resulting in a count of 305. Numbers of other finches are still shockingly low. Single Brambling were recorded from the 1st with two on the 5th. The high count of Goldfinch was eight on the 31st and similarly only two Linnet were seen on the 31st and then the 4th. 25 Siskin were recorded on the 31st but numbers in November have so far peaked at seven on the 3rd. One Lesser Redpoll was seen on the 31st and another on the 1st. A Reed Bunting was seen at Pondsbury on the 31st and again on the 3rd and 4th. A Snow Bunting was on the main track towards the North End on the 3th.

In non-avian news, two Painted Lady were seen on the 31st and singles on the 1st and 4th. A Vagrant Emporer Dragonfly was seen at Pondsbury on the 31st. A single Harbour Porpoise was off the South Light on the 1st.

John Hedger and Mandy Dee have been over on the island this week and led a fungus foray on the 3rd with 39 species found including Meadow Puffball, Scarlet Waxcap, Orange Waxcap, Snowy Waxcap and Yellow Club. They have also identified seven new species for the island during their stay.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Chris Baillie, Chris Dee, Mandy Dee, John Sealy, John Hedger

Monday 31 October 2022

24th to 30th October - The final week for our Autumn volunteers.

Angus recalls the sightings on his last week on the island. Unfortunately we said goodbye to both of our autumn volunteers as the last boat of the season left the island on Friday 28th October. Tom and Angus have seen some fantastic birds as well as helped us out by completing the yearly seal pup surveys.

A mild week typically with  moderate to strong south or south-westerly winds.

The Wigeon has remained at Pondsbury all through this week and was sometimes accompanied by up to two Teal. Up to three Water Rail are still heard on a daily basis in Millcombe Valley. Two Grey Herons flew over the south of the island on the 24th and another was harassed by Ravens over Benjamin’s Chair on the 29th.

Compared to last week, this week was far quieter for wader records. The high count for Oystercatchers around the coast was 18. One Golden Plover was recorded calling on the 24th. Single Woodcock have been seen separately on three occasions though, the 25th, 26th and 29th adding a bit more diversity. Six Snipe have been seen in total this week.

Several hundred Kittiwake have been recorded out to sea on most days, with the peak count of 1000+ on 29th. A few Common Gulls featured among the flocks towards the end of the week and a single Mediterranean Gull. A handful of Lesser Black-backed Gulls continue to be recorded most days, but never more than four this week (on the 29th). One Arctic Skua was seen off the east coast on the 26th. The highest count of auk spp. Was 652 on the 28th. Five Manx Shearwater were seen on the 26th. Highest Gannet count was also on the very windy 26th with 150 birds. A Storm Petrel sp. was seen far off the east coast by Chris Baillie on the 30th.

The second ringtail Hen Harrier of last week has stayed with us on the island, favouring the heathland north of Quarter Wall. It is occasionally seen hunting but is generally very elusive. The strong winds sometimes keep it hunkered down in the vegetated gullies near Gannets Coombe. Peak counts of Sparrowhawk and Kestrel remain at three as has been typical this month, and a Merlin has been seen most days. Like the Wigeon and Hen Harrier, the single Jackdaw has outstayed our expectations, also remaining for the week, still sticking to the easterly fields south of Quarter Wall (Tillage, Brick and Barton’s). Another increase in Carrion Crow has been noted, with up to 31 roosting in the top of Millcombe.

Hen Harrier, East Coast © Angus Croudace

Skylark passage has continued despite the wind although numbers have been decreasing as the week progresses. Max of 70 on the 24th. Swallows have followed the same trend with 20 on the 24th. Contrastingly, more and more Starlings are moving through with about 200 at the start of the week and 350 at the end of the week, with a peak count of 600 on the 28th.

The ringed Willow Warbler has been seen a few more times near Quarter Wall up until the 28th, and a second was also seen on the 25th. Chiffchaff counts have numbered between four and six birds all week. Blackcap counts have been in the single figures apart from 20 on the 24th. Two Firecrests were seen on the 24th, with one bird also recorded on the 25th and 27th. There was an influx of Goldcrest on the 24th, with 26 recorded for the first two days this week and then 41 on the 26th. One more late Whinchat was recorded on the 24th on the morning census at Quarter Wall.

Several Ring Ouzels are seen on the east coast most days with a couple of nice males often found around the Terrace. Song Thrush numbers are similar although sightings are distributed between Ackland’s Moor and Millcombe. Blackbird numbers have halved this week, falling from high teens to single figure counts. Fieldfare counts started with about 120 birds at the start at the week and was quickly down to 40 midweek which has remained consistent. Redwing have been more variable with some days just a couple of birds recorded, and others 32 (24th), 90 (27th) and 67 (29th) birds seen. One Mistle Thrush was seen on the 24th. Up to three Black Redstart have been seen, with sightings every day this week.

After 12 Pied/White Wagtails on the 24th here has been minimal passage of wagtails with between one and four birds 25-28th and then seven birds including one Grey Wagtail on the 29th.

One Brambling was seen among a flock of Chaffinches in Barton’s Field, and later by the Lambing Shed on the 24th and two more were picked up on the 27th. Chaffinch counts started the week at 139 on the 24th but bigger movements midweek resulted in totals of 594 and 550 on the 27th and 28th respectively, with 222 on the 29th. More than 70 Siskins were recorded on the 25th and 27th, with lower counts on other days not exceeding the teens. Goldfinch counts have remained low at just a couple most days. A small resurgence of Linnets, mainly from a couple of larger flocks moving through numbered 22 on the 24th and 35 on the 25th.  One bird a day fills out the rest of the row this week, with the exception of the 29th, where there was neither a Linnet nor a single Goldfinch recorded! Two Lesser Redpoll singles were recorded on the 24th and 25th. One Snow Bunting was seen on a few occasions in the first half of this week.

The windy week has been scattered with a few highlights, starting with a Little Bunting on the 24th, which was heard and tracked down by Paul Holt shortly after sunrise but never showed for any of the other birders on the island despite thorough searches of Millcombe. The Bullfinch was also heard calling in Millcombe again on the 24th. A Yellow-browed Warbler was picked up by Government on the 25th. On the 27th Chris Baillie discovered a Red-breasted Flycatcher in the Blackthorn at the top of Millcombe. It was not a particularly showy individual and behaved similarly to the rest of this season’s rarities; teasing and then upping and leaving before the day is out. A Richard’s Pipit was flushed near to Tibbetts in the morning on the 27th. An exciting record for Lundy of a Booted/Syke’s Warbler on the Terrace was picked up by Stuart on the 29th but despite many hours of searching unfortunately the bird was never relocated, and no photographs were obtained.

Little Bunting, Millcombe © Paul Holt

Red-breasted Flycatcher, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

After a lull for a week or two in the moth trap, the calm night of the 28th gave us a Convolvulus Hawk-moth and the island’s second record of Olive Tree Pearl Palpita vitrealis.

Convolvulus Hawk-moth © Stuart Cossey

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Rosie Ellis, Angus Croudace, Tom Wright, Paul Holt, Chris Baillie

Monday 24 October 2022

17th to 23rd October - Huge flocks of Fieldfare

Easterlies on the 18th which strengthened into the 19th. A short period of calm on the 20th allowed incredible migrant passage before some strong southerly winds returned on the 21st. The week finished with moderate prevailing winds.

Coverage has remained excellent this week and we have enjoyed a record breaking passage of winter thrushes, as well as a few nice arrivals of birds that are uncommon on Lundy such as Wigeon, Jackdaw, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Hen Harrier, Hobby and several species of small gull.

Dawn over Millcombe © Tim Jones

The first Wigeon of the year was found on Quarter Wall Pond on the 23rd and a female Teal has been present all week at Pondsbury.

Two Stock Doves were seen on the 18th and just one on the 19th. Water Rail can be heard calling quite regularly in Millcombe Valley, and up to three individuals have been recorded this week.

We have had a subtle influx of Lapwing, with two roosting overnight on the 19th and a flock of six spent the day in various fields in the south of the island. Another single bird was present on the 23rd up by the airstrip. We had four Golden Plover on the 17th and three were seen heading out to sea on the morning of the 18th. One more was heard calling on the 20th. Dunlin singles have been heard most days, and on the 20th three Dunlin flew over Stoneycroft before heading out to sea, accompanied by a single Ringed Plover. One Turnstone was with three Oystercatcher in the Landing Bay on the 21st. High count of Snipe for the week was five individuals present or flying over on the 19th. A single Jack Snipe was by Pondsbury on the 19th.

There was a large movement out to sea off of the east coast on the 21st and 1550 Kittiwake were recorded along with three Arctic Skua, six Mediterranean Gulls, 10 Common Gull, 30 Great Black-backed Gull, 70 Gannets and 1500 Auks spp. Another single Mediterranean Gull was seen on the 17th and single Arctic Skuas were seen on the 18th and 19th. 27 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were recorded on the 19th, with small numbers present every day this week. A Great Skua was picked up off of the west coast on the 19th as well as six Manx Shearwaters and 124 Gannets, while three ‘Commic Terns’ were seen on the east coast. Four Cormorants were seen flying together on the 18th.

This week three Sparrowhawks have been seen every day (one male and two females). Most excitingly we have had two separate ringtail Hen Harriers passing through, one juvenile male briefly seen and then heading out to sea on the 18th. Another bird was seen in the afternoon of the 23rd working its way along the west coast. It was then seen again low over Bartons Field at 6pm before heading north to roost for the night. A late juvenile Hobby also spent the night on the island on the 19th, seen from Government at dusk and picked up at first light from Millcombe on the 20th. Merlins have been noticeably moving through too with some seen arriving in off of the sea or departing south. The highest count for Merlin was three birds on the 17th, with two individuals on the 19th and 21st. The high count for Peregrine Falcon was five on the 23rd, which is the most for a while.

Merlin, Halfway Wall © Tom Wright

A single Jackdaw was seen near Quarter Wall on the 22nd, another for the year list(!). It has moved towards the village on the 23rd, also seen in Barton’s Field and even found in the garden of the lodge in the evening of the 23rd! Furthermore, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen flying east over Lighthouse Field on the 19th, another uncommon bird on Lundy – a description species no less!

Jackdaw, Brick Field © Stuart Cossey

Skylarks have still been moving over on the less windy days, with 70 on the 18th and 40-50 towards the end of the week. Swallows have continued to trickle through with 10-20 most days and 49 on the 23rd. One House Martin was seen on the 18th.

A couple of very late Willow Warblers have popped up with one ringed in Millcombe on the 20th and seen at Quarter Wall just a couple of hours later. Up to seven Chiffchaffs have been present, mostly in Millcombe and along the lower east path. Max Blackcap count has reduced to 20. A Firecrest continued to be present all week, with two birds seen on the 18th. Goldcrest numbers have dropped substantially though with 22 on the 17th reducing to totals between 4 and 9 for the rest of week, with the exception of Saturday when 15 were recorded. The week has seen quite a few sightings of Yellow-browed Warblers, sometime with two in Millcombe as well as one Spotted Flycatcher on the 20th.

Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe © Tim Jones

Yellow-browed Warbler, Smelly Gully © Tim Jones

The weather system in the North Sea this week has opened the floodgates to migrants coming south, and the UK has been flooded with huge numbers of thrushes. Here on Lundy we have seen an unusual balance of substantially more Fieldfare than Redwing, with 4000 Fieldfare passing over on the 20th along with 700 Redwing. This more than doubles the last previous maximum daily total for Fieldfare. The bird movements on this day was an out and out spectacle, and picking through the masses of thrushes also resulted in: 23 Song Thrush, 20 Ring Ouzel, a Mistle Thrush, 1200 Chaffinch, 75 Siskin and 8 Reed Bunting. Starlings have been moving through as well with a peak of 350 on the 19th and 200 most other days. Our resident flock typically numbers about 130.

Ring Ouzel, Millcombe © Tim Jones

Fieldfare © Tim Jones

Fieldfare, Tillage Field © Tom Wright

Increased numbers of Black Redstart have been recorded on the 19th-21st, with four individuals on the 20th. Another very late Whinchat was picked up on the east coast on the 21st and later seen by rocket pole. Stonechats number between 10-20 each day. One perhaps final Wheatear was recorded near Tibbets on the 17th. About 80 Meadow Pipits have been moving through each day after a strong start to the week with 400 on the 18th.

Whinchat, St Helens Copse © Stuart Cossey

A few Yellow Wagtails were moving through towards the end of the week with one or two every day since the 20th. There was a smattering of Grey Wagtails too with a couple most days, one that was tantalisingly close to mist nets in Millcombe but unfortunately wasn’t successfully caught. Highest count of Pied/White Wagtails was 39 on the very busy 20th October!

Goldfinches and Linnets have been in very low numbers this week, with singles or pairs of Goldfinches only amounting to a weekly max of 25 on the 22nd, and a minimum of 3 on the 23rd. There were 22 Linnets on the 18th, but just 6 on each of the following three days. A couple of Lesser Redpoll were picked up towards the end of the week in what seems to be a poor year for this species.  However Chaffinches were consistently moving through in fairly high numbers (several hundred every day and 2000 on the 18th), and there are good numbers of Siskin too, with a high count of 125 on the 22nd. More Brambling have also been recorded with a cumulative total of 21, most of which were early in the week (max daily total of seven on the 19th). One Greenfinch flew over on the 23rd and the weak call of what is proving to be an extremely elusive Bullfinch has been heard on the 19th and 20th, with just one sighting alerting us that it is a male.

Up to eight Snow Buntings were seen this week, delighting visitors on the main track with their apparent fearlessness. There were 19 records of Reed Bunting this week, with a max of eight on the 20th.

Reed Bunting, Millcombe © Tim Jones

A few late Small Copper butterflies have been recorded this week as well as up to four Hummingbird Hawk-moths in Millcombe on the 17th.

Contributors: Stuart Cosset, Rosie Ellis, Angus Croudace, Tom Wright, Tim Jones, Tim Davis, Tim Worfolk, Paul Holt, Chris Baillie, Nik Ward, Greg Conway, David Lindo, Andy Jayne