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Monday 25 April 2022

18th to 24th April – A classic spring week with plenty of new arrivals

The start of the week was sunny with a moderate westerly winds. The wind picked up towards the end of the week and was blowing from the east. On some days the wind died down in the afternoon

A Collared Dove was seen in the Village and Millcombe on 18th and another on 23rd and 24th. A Stock Dove was seen over South West Field on the 22nd. The highest count of Woodpigeon this week was nine on the 22nd.

The first real movement of waders was logged this week with two Whimbrel on Rat Island on the 20th. Five species of wader were then recorded on the 23rd. Along with the usual Oystercatchers around the island, a Ringed Plover was seen on the track by South West Field and was heard calling around the area for most of the morning. A total of four Whimbrel were seen with two in off Benjamin’s Chair, one in the Landing Bay and one landing in front of Stoneycroft. A Snipe flew over Barton Field and a Common Sandpiper was seen down on the Landing Beach. Another Snipe was seen on the 24th up by John O’Groats house.

Common Sandpiper, Landing Beach © Stuart Cossey

Ringed Plover, South West Field © Stuart Cossey

Counts of seabirds have been increasing throughout the week approximately 10,000 Guillemots, 3000 Razorbill, 124 Puffin, 45 Fulmar, 68 Shag and 90 Kittiwake recorded during a full count on the 24th. With the dark evenings, large numbers of Manx Shearwater have been coming to land. Nine new birds were ringed during a short session on the 22nd and another ten were retrapped. The oldest bird caught was ringed in 2012 so quite young compared to the oldest ever found which was 50.

Razorbill, Jenny's Cove © Stuart Cossey

Puffin, Jenny's Cove © Stuart Cossey

A number of birds of prey have been sticking around this week. A pair of Kestrel have been seen along the East Coast and Castle Hill and may well be breeding on the island. A Sparrowhawk has been seen on the 19th, 22nd and 24th and a female Merlin has been recorded on 19th, 21st and 24th. A Hen Harrier was reported on the 18th over Quarter Wall.

A Rook was seen flying in over Castle Hill on the 19th and a high count of 20 Carrion Crows were seen on the 23rd.

The number of hirundines moving through has been gradually increasingly with many seen heading south rather than north during the easterly winds towards the end of the week. High counts of Sand Martins were nine on 19th and 24th and there were 18 House Martin counted on the 24th. Steady passage of Swallows was seen with 75 on the 18th, 46 on 20th and 91 on 24th.

The number of Willow Warblers and Blackcaps has reduced from last week’s high counts of 60 and 150. This week the most Willow Warblers seen was 10 and only 15 Blackcaps. A very grey tristis type Chiffchaff was seen on the Terrace on the 20th. Although there were lower numbers, new birds have started to arrive with Sedge Warblers seen on the 23rd and 24th, Lesser Whitethroat on the 20th and one singing on the 24th, two Common Whitethroats were seen on the 22nd and 24th and a Reed Warbler was by Pondsbury on the 24th. A Grasshopper Warbler was ringed in Millcombe on the 23rd.

Common Whitethroat, Pondsbury © Stuart Cossey

Lesser Whitethroat, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

A female Ring Ouzel was seen by the Pig Sties on the 21st and the male Song Thrush continues to sing in Millcombe. A male Common Redstart was on the wall by South West Field on the 18th and a female was above Benjamin’s Chair on the 23rd. The first Whinchat of the year was seen on the 14th foraging along Quarter Wall. Stonechats appear to be doing well with this year with at least eight pairs on the island. A female with food was seen on the East Side meaning it won’t be long before the first chicks fledge. It has been increasingly busy with Wheatear all across the island in the last few days. At least 93 were seen on the 24th with 14 just on Pointless Wall. Many of these were of the larger and brighter Greenland race which will continue north to breed in Greenland and Canada before heading back to Sub-Saharan Africa in autumn.  

Female Ring Ouzel, Pig Sty © Stuart Cossey

Whinchat, Quarter Wall © Stuart Cossey

Wheatears, Pointless Wall © Stuart Cossey

Meadow Pipits are mostly now on territory and singing across the island with only a few small flocks likely to be continuing north to breed. A Tree Pipit was seen in Millcombe on 19th and a stunning male Blue-headed Yellow Wagtail was foraging around the Lundy Ponies on Barton Field on the afternoon of the 24th. A White Wagtail was also seen on the 24th.

Blue-headed Wagtail, Barton Field © Stuart Cossey

Blue-headed Wagtail, Barton Field © Stuart Cossey

The highlight of the week in terms of finches was a female Hawfinch ringed in Millcombe on the 18th and seen again on the 21st. Goldfinches were still passing through the island with 34 counted on the 18th. Linnets are showing signs of breeding with singing males in a few locations and females collecting nesting material. Others are still migrating though with counts of 49 on the 19th, 62 on 22nd and 79 on 24th. A male Siskin was seen on the 19th and 21st. At least two breeding pairs of Chaffinch are in Millcombe.

Female Hawfinch, Millcombe © Chris Dee

Contributors: S Cossey, C Dee, R Ellis, Z Wait, L Pirateque, R Duncan, K Annison, D Dowding, P Bullock, J Cox and M and J Webber.

Monday 18 April 2022

11th to 17th April – Uncommon spring migrants and excellent ringing days

11 April

Overcast with strong easterly winds.

Strong winds in the morning meant that the morning census was quiet but migration picked up in the afternoon with the first Whitethroat of the year seen in Millcombe Valley. Other warblers seen included four Willow Warblers, one Chiffchaff and 13 male and six female Blackcaps.

Other birds seen include a Dunlin at Pondsbury, a female Merlin, five Swallows and 122 Meadow Pipit including a flocks of 46 and 60.

12 April

Overcast and wet in the morning with moderate westerly winds. Warm and bright in the afternoon.

An excellent day for birds on Lundy. The combination of morning rain and sunny afternoon produced some interesting migrants.

Millcombe was fairly quiet first thing with nine Willow Warblers, six Chiffchaff and 11 male and two female Blackcaps seen. A female Ring Ouzel was seen below Government. Further up the island, a Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit flew over Quarter Wall and four Sand Martin, two Swallows and two House Martin were recorded.

Whilst walking up from the Landing Bay with some students a Sandwich Tern was seen close to the shore. The walk then went to Jenny’s Cove where Warden Rosie pointed out a small grey bird rafting with the Kittiwakes. It was distant but scope and flight views confirmed it as a Grey Phalarope. Only the 15th Lundy record and the first April record.

At Pondsbury were a male and two female Teal, two calling Water Rail, a Snipe  and most unusually a Sanderling. A female Merlin was also seen.

Female Merlin, West Coast © Stuart Cossey

To finish of the day a pair of Canada Geese circled over MS Oldenburg as she was departing and a Redwing went in to roost in Gorse above Quarter Wall Copse.

Other migrants seen included 91 Meadow Pipit, 20 Goldfinch and 41 Linnet.

13 April

Poor visibility all day with light southwesterly winds

Very poor visibility reduced the number of migrant birds seen to nine Willow Warbler, three Chiffchaff and eight Blackcaps. A total of 39 Linnet were seen with many of these now likely to be resident birds with a number of male singing amongst the Gorse.

Ringing totals: 6 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 21 Blackcap

14 April

Overcast with light winds from the south

A busier day after yesterday’s fog. Three Grasshopper Warblers were hear ‘reeling’. One was by Rocket Pole, another by Pointless Wall and the third was in Millcombe. Other warblers recorded include 30 Willow Warbler, 20 Chiffchaff and 45 Blackcaps. A male Redstart was new in today and was seen foraging along the wall in South West Field.

Male Redstart, South West Field © Stuart Cossey

Whilst showing guests Puffins at Jenny’s Cove, a Collared Dove landed on one of the Cheeses before heading north tailed by a Peregrine. At the end of the day a Tree Pipit was seen in Millcombe.

Collared Dove, Jenny's Cove © Stuart Cossey

Other birds of note include a Kestrel, 57 Sand Martin, 19 Swallows, 38 Goldfinch and 28 Linnet.

Ringing totals: 15 Willow Warbler, 13 Chiffchaff, 35 Blackcap including one with a Danish ring, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Robin, 1 Linnet

15 April

Warm with continued light winds from the south.

A busy day for warbler migration with totals of 40 Willow Warbler, 15 Chiffchaff, two Grasshopper Warbler and 60 Blackcaps. Other migrating birds included six Sand Martin, five Swallows, seven House Martin and a Yellow Wagtail in Barton Field. Finches were also on the move with 38 Goldfinch, two Siskin and 53 Linnet recorded.

A Great Northern Diver was off the East Coast, a Sparrowhawk flew along the Terrace and a female Merlin and Kestrel were over Ackland’s Moor.

Ringing totals: 24 Willow Warbler, 10 Chiffchaff, 57 Blackcap, 1 Robin, 4 Goldfinch, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Stonechat

Sedge Warbler, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

16 April

Calm with slight southerly winds. The hottest day of the year so far with temperatures hitting 16°C.

It was a busy day in Millcombe with warblers everywhere. The final counts across the island were 60 Willow Warblers, 30 Chiffchaff and 150 Blackcap. A Whitethroat was also heard calling at Pondsbury.

At Jenny’s Cove the seabird counts are still low with 140 Kittiwake, 700 Guillemot, 200 Razorbill, 51 Puffin and 42 Fulmar. Other birds of note include a Kestrel over Ackland’s Moor, two Sand Martin, three Swallows, a House Martin and 38 Linnet.

Non avian news a Hummingbird Hawkmoth was unfortunately found dead in the Tavern. This typically day-flying species often migrates to the UK from Southern Europe. Usually fast fliers, this gave a good opportunity to see the species up close.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth © Stuart Cossey

Ringing totals: 47 Willow Warbler, 20 Chiffchaff, 104 Blackcap, 3 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Goldfinch, 1 Song Thrush

17 April

Overcast with moderate winds from the southwest.

On the morning census a female Marsh Harrier was seen flying north towards Pondsbury. It was then seen heading east over Brick Field mobbed by 12 Herring Gulls. A Collared Dove was sitting on Quarter Wall.

Female Marsh Harrier, Quarter Wall  © Stuart Cossey

It was a slow start to the day with the majority warbler arrival picking up in the afternoon. Totals of 50 Willow Warbler, 15 Chiffchaff and 50 Blackcap were recorded. Though the Terrace seemed to be the place to be with Sparrowhawk, Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and Goldcrest recorded in the Willows. Other migrants include four Sand Martin, 12 Swallows and 41 Linnets.

Numbers of Wheatear have also picked up today with 20 seen away from breeding areas. There also a few individuals showing traits of the Greenland race. These birds were larger and had brighter chests. Greenland Wheatears have one of the longest migratory routes of any land bird, each year traveling from Sub-Saharan Africa to Greenland or Northern Canada to breed.

Ringing totals: 2 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 17 Blackcap, 2 Goldfinch

Contributors: S Cossey, C Dee, T Taylor, A Taylor, R Ellis, Z Wait, L Pirateque, S Prettyman, P Murrell, D Dowding, J Cox, P Bullock

Monday 11 April 2022

4th to 10th April – An odd arrival of geese and Swallows arrive in strength

 4 April

Westerly winds with low cloud and rain all day.

There was very poor visibility today but there was still some visible migration with what is likely to be the last Redwing and Fieldfare of the spring. A total of 66 Redwing were counted across the island with a flock of 40 seen in Millcombe. Four Fieldfare and two Mistle Thrush were also recorded. A Jack Snipe was recorded and only four Willow Warblers and two Chiffchaff were seen. 

5 April

Overcast with moderate westerly winds. 

A varied day with migrating birds including eight Swallow a Willow Warbler and a Chiffchaff. A few finches were on the move with15 Chaffinches and a Brambling recorded. A Snow Bunting was heard flying over Rocket Pole and a Great Northern Diver was in the Landing Bay.

There were a few small birds of prey around including a Sparrowhawk and a female Merlin. A total of seven Common Scoter were seen from the MS Oldenburg during the crossing to Lundy along with numerous Manx Shearwater.

6 April

Strong winds from west with occasional rain and hail.

A quiet day with a four Swallow and a Chiffchaff the only notable migrating birds. There were fewer finches moving too with only two Chaffinch and a Brambling. The Great Northern Diver was still in the Landing Bay and a Merlin was seen. 

7 April

Clear with continued strong winds from the west. 

It was a still day out of the wind on the East Coast with a Bullfinch calling in Millcombe and the female Great Spotted Woodpecker still in Quarter Wall Copse. A single Tree Pipit was on the ground by Quarter Wall Gate. The Great Northern Diver was still regularly feeding in the Landing Bay. It was otherwise quiet with only one Swallow, a Chiffchaff, a male Blackcap and a Goldcrest.

8 April

Overcast with winds from northeast

There was a better wind direction for migration with two House Martin, six Swallow, 40 Meadow Pipits, a Brambling, 43 Linnets and a Lesser Redpoll seen. Five Willow Warblers, two Chiffchaff and six male Blackcap were in Millcombe. Along the West Coast nine male and four female Wheatear were counted. Also of note was a Merlin, male Kestrel and a Cormorant flying north. The Great Northern Diver remains in the Landing Bay.

The first Breeding Bird Survey of the year was completed this morning. This involves mapping the singing and resident breeding birds to monitor how many pairs are on the island. Surveys will also be done in May and June. The Manx Shearwater nest boxes were also checked with one box containing the pair that were successful last year. 

9 April

Clear and warm with moderate winds from northwest

It seemed to be a day for uncommon island birds. A pair of Canada Geese was seen in Barton Field before flying north. This is only the 18th record for the island. Other birds that are more common on the mainland include a Collared Dove in the Village and a Greenfinch in Millcombe. There seemed to be a slight passage of hirundines with a Sand Martin, two House Martin and ten Swallows. Three Willow Warblers and eight male and two female Blackcap were seen in Millcombe.

Canada Geese, Barton Field © Stuart Cossey

Linnets are still on the move with 47 counted across the island. Also of note were five Cormorant flying north, a Black Redstart, a male and female Kestrel and a Merlin.

10 April

Clear and bright with moderate southeasterly winds 

The best bird of today was the 12th island record for Barnacle Goose. The bird flew in over Tent Field calling before circling with Herring Gulls. The Collared Dove remained in the Village and the female Great Spotted Woodpecker was on the Terrace.

Barnacle Goose © Stuart Cossey

Birds were arriving throughout the day aided by the southeasterly wind direction. There was a constant stream of Swallows with at least 109 counted along with 17 House Martin and 7 Sand Martin. Warblers were also present in high numbers. There were Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff all across the island including several feeding in the rocks at the North End. Final counts were 19 Willow Warbler, eight Chiffchaff, ten male and five female Blackcap and a Goldcrest. A total of 74 Meadow Pipits were seen with a large flock of 54 in High Street Field. Goldfinch and Linnets were also on the move with counts of 25 and 55 respectively. Along the West Coast 18 male and five female Wheatear were seen along with two female Ring Ouzel above Jenny’s Cove and four White Wagtails.

Female Ring Ouzel, Jenny's Cove © Stuart Cossey

Chiffchaff, North End © Stuart Cossey

Other birds of note include a Golden Plover, Grey Heron, female Kestrel and a male Merlin.

Contributors: S Cossey, C Dee, T Taylor, A Taylor, J Dunning, R Ellis, Z Wait, L Pirateque, S Prettyman

Monday 4 April 2022

28th March to 3rd April – First ringing session

28 March

Continued warm weather with a slight wind from the east.

A total of six Willow Warbler, eight Chiffchaff and two male and a female Blackcap were seen across the island, with most feeding in the flowering Blackthorn in Millcombe. A male Ring Ouzel was by Halfway Wall and four White Wagtails were recorded. A Kestrel and female Merlin were seen and a Stock Dove was in Barton’s Field.  .

Four Fieldfare, four Redwing and a Mistle Thrush were seen in Millcombe and along the Upper East Side. Finches recorded were 12 Chaffinch, five Brambling, 11 Goldfinch and 17 Linnets.

29 March

Clear and bright with a light easterly wind.

It was a lovely calm day for the first trip of the MS Oldenburg with day trippers and for the arrival of a few bird visitors. Two Sand Martin, a Swallow and a House Martin were recorded over the island and there were two female type Black Redstarts, one by the Battery and another on the wall by Quarters. Four Willow Warbler, six Chiffchaff and six Blackcaps were seen.

The Stock Dove was still feeding with Woodpigeon in Barton Field but a Collared Dove singing in Quarter Wall Copse was new in today. Also on the East Side, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard calling and seen along the Terrace. This is the first record for March, other than an overwintering bird in 2006. A male Ring Ouzel was seen flying east down St John’s Valley in the morning and another was above Jenny’s Cove in the afternoon. Other migrant thrushes include a Fieldfare, two Redwing and two Song Thrushes. Ten male and two female Wheatears were along the West Coast and three White Wagtails were recorded. Some Brambling are still hanging around the island with eight seen today, most were around the Lambing Shed. Other finches include eight Chaffinch, ten Goldfinch and 18 Linnets.

At least 20 Manx Shearwaters were counted coming to land whilst sitting at the top of the cliffs near Old Light during the evening.

Manx Shearwater © Stuart Cossey

30 March

Calm with fog in the morning. Sunshine and a light easterly in the afternoon.

Better views of the Great Spotted Woodpecker in Quarter Wall Copse allowed it to be identified as a female as it lacked any red feathers on the back of the head. A Sand Martin and a House Martin over Pondsbury and six Swallows in over the Southwest Point. A Cormorant was also seen heading north. The Stock Dove is still feeding in Barton Field with two White Wagtails also seen there.

One Willow Warbler and six Chiffchaff and two male and a female Blackcap were in Millcombe. Also seen today were a Fieldfare, seven Redwing and a Mistle Thrush. A single Brambling was seen around the Lambing Shed.

31 March

Clear and cold with a strong northeasterly wind.

Due to the strong headwinds and cold weather there were few migrant warblers today. Only one Willow Warbler, two Chiffchaff and a male Blackcap were recorded. It seemed the winds did not deter Linnets with 35 recorded in small flocks across the island. Other finches present include six Chaffinch, four Brambling and ten Goldfinch. Four White Wagtails were seen including three together above Benjamin’s Chair.

Two Redwing and a Mistle Thrush are still present along the Upper East Side and the female Great Spotted Woodpecker was in Quarter Wall Copse. A Stock Dove was in Barton Field and two Collared Dove were recorded. A total of 14 male and six female Wheatear were recorded from Benjamin’s Chair to Halfway Wall.

Female Great Spotted Woodpecker, Quarter Wall Copse © Stuart Cossey

1 April

Continued cold weather with strong winds from the northeast.

The cold and strong winds are still restricting migration with only one Willow Warbler and a House Martin moving north. Linnets were unaffected with a total of 48 recorded across the island. A total of 34 Meadow Pipits and five Song Thrush were seen.  A male Kestrel was above the Terrace and the Stock Dove was seen again in Barton Field. 

2 April

Moderate wind from the northeast.

Another quiet day on the island. A male Kestrel was seen hunting over the Airstrip and Ackland’s Moor and the Stock Dove was still in Barton Field. A few migrants included three Fieldfare, a Mistle Thrush, three Chiffchaff and five Blackcaps. Three Goldfinch, two Linnet and four Chaffinch were the only finches recorded.

Hovering male Kestrel, Ackland's Moor © Stuart Cossey

We also welcomed our first long-term volunteer, Zach Wait, who will be helping out monitoring the seabirds and helping visitors see Puffins.

3 April

Calm and sunny with a slight westerly building in the afternoon..

It was an excellent day of migration on the island with calm weather after northerly winds. The first Millcombe ringing session of the year was a success with 34 birds. Most of the catch was Blackcaps and Willow Warblers but more surprisingly was two female Bullfinch and a female Brambling. The Blackcaps were all heavy with fat, the majority being 10g over their normal breeding weight. During the session a female Sparrowhawk was seen circling over Millcombe before heading north.

Male Blackcap, ringed in Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

Total counts of migrants from today include 30 Willow Warbler, 11 Chiffchaff, 40 Blackcaps, a Firecrest and five Goldcrest. Hirundines were also on the move with 12 Sand Martin, nine Swallow and two House Martin seen heading north over the island. The first Common Redstart of the year was seen, a male feeding in the Gorse by the Ugly. Two female type Black Redstart were also recorded, one on the West Coast and another by the Camping Field. There was a strong finch passage with Six Chaffinch, four Brambling, 36 Goldfinches, one Siskin and 15 Linnet. A single White Wagtail was in Barton Field.

Also of note, the Great Northern Diver was still in the Landing Bay and two Cormorants headed north.

Non-avian news includes the first Emperor moths of the year including two males fighting over a female on below Old Light.

Male and female (right) Emperor Moth © Stuart Cossey

Contributors: S Cossey, N Trout, D Oakes, C Dee, R Ellis, Z Wait