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Monday 25 July 2022

18th to 24th July – Heatwave followed by high winds and rain

It was really hot to start the week with 32.1° recorded on the 18th, one of the highest ever recorded temperatures on the island. The temperature dropped to around 20° for the rest of the week. The wind picked up on the 24th with 32mph gusts recorded. The island finally had some rain, although this was still not consistent or heavy enough to sort some of our water shortage issues.

The BioBlitz finished on Tuesday and we wanted to thank again all the amazing experts that come over from The Porcupine Marine Natural History Society, The Marine Biological Association, The Blue Marine Foundation, MARINElife, Sea Watch Foundation and The Natural History Museum. An approximate 250 species were recorded within the Marine Protected Area some of which were new for the island.

The avian interest on the island is starting to change with the beginning of autumn migration. A Cuckoo was seen on the 21st and Swifts are still occasionally recorded flying through. A few waders were seen this week. After a brief downpour during the morning census on the 22nd a summer plumage Golden Plover landed and was feeding on the Airstrip. A Common Sandpiper was seen around Rat Island on the 21st and 22nd.

Golden Plover, Airstrip © Zach Wait

Strong westerly winds on the 24th brought seabirds closer to the island. A short seawatch from the Castle in the early evening produced 300+ Manx Shearwaters, 60 Gannets, a Cormorant and a Balearic Shearwater.

A Grey Heron was recorded flying over the Castle on the evening of the 20th. A Little Egret was also seen around the Castles area on the 22nd. 

Little Egret, Castle © Chris Blackmore

A few Sand Martin have started to head south with two over Quarter Wall Pond on the 18th and seven around the north end of the island on the 22nd. Also on the 22nd a total of 23 Swallows were counted.

The low cloud and northerly winds overnight and on the morning of the 20th were the perfect conditions for a large arrival of migrating warblers. Young Willow Warblers were seen all across the island including on walls and in Bracken and Gorse. A total of 22 were counted during the morning census with new birds arriving throughout the day. Also on the 20th there were seven Chiffchaffs, a Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler and a Blackcap. Some migration continued the next day with at least six Willow Warblers seen as well as a Whitethroat and another young Blackcap. A Whitethroat was also seen on the 24th.

The mist nets were set-up in Millcombe this week and two sessions were run by Assistant Warden Stuart Cossey. Few migrants were caught but it was good to ring a few of the new island fledglings including Wrens, Robins and Blackbirds. A Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler were ringed both on their way back to Africa for the winter.

Sedge Warbler © Stuart Cossey

Post-breeding flocks of Meadow Pipit and Linnet are starting to form on the island with a high count of 50 Linnet in one flock.

The highlight of the moth trap this week was a Striped Hawk-moth on the22nd which is the first time this species has been trapped on the island. Other interesting moths included the first island record of Dotted Clay and the first Oak Eggars of the year.

Striped Hawk-moth © Stuart Cossey

Oak Eggar © Tara McEvoy-Wilding

Contributors: S Cossey, R Ellis, Z Wait, D Laing, T McEvoy-Wilding, C Blackmore, S Blackmore, D Naish

Monday 18 July 2022

11th to 17th July – The Lundy Marine Festival 2022

Marine Festival Volunteers Daisy Laing and Tara McEvoy-Wilding bring us a marine sighting special to coincide with the start of the Lundy Marine Festival.

It was really hot this week with a red-warning heatwave. Temperatures reached 27.8° on the 17th. There was very little wind making it seem even hotter.  

This week saw the start of Lundy’s much anticipated marine festival, celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Marine Protected area. The long weekend kicked off on Thursday with the arrival of some of our fantastic supporters: The Porcupine Marine Natural History Society, The Marine Biological Association, The Blue Marine Foundation, MARINElife, Sea Watch Foundation and The Natural History Museum.

Activities began immediately with the arrival of the marine experts who jumped straight into a BioBlitz of Lundy’s extensive rocky shore, focusing on a location known as Devils Kitchen. Members of the Marine Biological Association and the Natural History Museum collected samples for the Darwin Tree of Life Project, aiming to sequence the genome of the specimens obtained. The Porcupine Society compiled a list of organisms, many of which required microscopic study in the St Helens pop up marine biology lab. Alongside this visitors were able to join in with cetacean watches directed by the Sea Watch Foundation, occurring on the southwest coast of Lundy. Harbour Porpoises were seen frequently.

The BioBlitz continued into Friday, which saw two snorkel safaris led by the Islands warden Rosie Ellis. The snorkelers spotted some fantastic species including Spiny Starfish, Star Ascidians, Dead-man’s Fingers and Plumose Anemones, not to mention the large school of sand eels, or as Rosie calls them “puffin food”. On Friday evening our Marine expert talk was hosted by Dr Keith Hiscock about why Lundy’s marine life is so special, as well as the development of conservation and changes to marine life over the past 50 years.

Data collection on the rocky shore continued into Saturday with the discovery of the non-native marine algae species Green Sea Fingers (Codium fragilis), commonly mistaken with native Velvet Horn Seaweed (Codium tomentosum). Further microscopic examination revealed the specimen to be C. fragilis, identified by a small triangular point at the end of each frond. The St Helens centre pop up lab also had virtual reality headsets used to experience diving with Lundy’s curious seals, as well as interesting exhibitions which were praised by the public.

The marine experts continued identifying specimens throughout Sunday. During the afternoon, a rockpool ramble was held by wardens at Devils kitchen, for the public to explore Lundy’s marine life up close. Some interesting species were spotted Including a Worm Pipefish, Velvet Swimmer Crabs and a whopping 56 Celtic Sea Slugs.

On to the birds and Swifts are continuing to be seen every day. A high count of 12 were seen on the 11th. A few more Curlew were seen with singles flying over on the 13th and 14th. A Cormorant flew past the Terrace on the 13th and Grey Heron flew past Jenny’s Cove being mobbed by all the gulls on the 16th.

The cliffs are getting quiet with most seabirds now headed out to sea. A max count of 485 Puffins were on the sea at Jenny’s Cove. The Kittiwake chicks at our study plot are growing well with most near to fledging.

Most surprisingly this week was a Merlin which flew over Quarter Wall during the morning census. This is only the 3rd July record on the island with the last being in 2002.

The Swallows have fledged from the church porch and a new pair have made a new nest above the entrance. Meanwhile individuals from further north have started to pass through with a high count of 16 on the 17th. 

The male Song Thrush that has been singing in Millcombe since April has finally stopped after unsuccessfully finding a mate. A Grey Wagtail flew over Millcombe on the 11th and a Tree Pipit flew over on the 13th.

The first Clouded Yellow of the year was seen on the cliffs below Old Light on the 11th. Two Hummingbird Hawk-moths and a Painted Lady were seen on the 13th.

The moth trap has been busy in Millcombe with species including Devonshire Wainscot, Antler and Common Wave, which is new for the island.

Contributors: S Cossey, R Ellis, Z Wait, D Laing, T McEvoy-Wilding, C Blackmore, S Blackmore, S Bosanquet

Monday 11 July 2022

4th to 10th July – Feeling hot

It has been clear, calm and dry all week with temperatures regularly over 20° and little wind. The highest temperature was 23.4° on the 10th.

A total of 21 Mallard were counted on the 8th, the highest count of the year not including young ducklings. Swift have been a regular occurrence all week with a the highest count on the 9th with nine seen in two groups. A Collared Dove was recorded on the 8th and the number of Woodpigeon on the island has increased to six on the 9th

A few waders were seen passing through this week. A Curlew flew over the village on the 8th. Also on the 8th was the islands 130th species for the year, a Redshank on Pondsbury.

Four Black-headed Gulls off Benjamin’s Chair on the 9th were the best of any seawatching. Cormorants were logged on the 5th with two over South West Field and another on the 8th. Five Grey Heron were seen over the East Coast on the 5th.

The Kestrels have now left the Old Light slopes and are exploring the island with sightings from the North End, Quarries, West Coast and Castle Hill. Young Peregrines continue to be noisy all along the coast. A Rook was seen flying south over the Landing Bay on the 10th.

The Swallows in the Church have five big chicks whilst the pairs by Old House North and the Gas Store are still on eggs.

Swallow chicks, Church © Stuart Cossey 

A Willow Warbler was seen in Millcombe on the 8th along with a Whitethroat. A Spotted Flycatcher was below Brambles Villa on the 8th. Young Wheatears continue to move south with 17 recorded during the morning transect below Quarter Wall on the 9th. A Grey Wagtail was reported on the 5th. Linnet numbers continue to grow with 104 counted on the 6th and 101 on the 9th.

In other two new micro moths for the island were recorded this week including European Corn-borer Ostrinia nubilalis and Red-barred Tortrix Ditula angustiorana.

Red-barred Tortrix © Stuart Cossey

Contributors: S Cossey, R Ellis, Z Wait, T Thompson.

Monday 4 July 2022

27th June to 3rd July – More signs of breeding success

The weather was mild and overcast all week with rain on most days. Wind was from the west averaging at around 20mph.   

A high count of 10 female, three male and a large juvenile Mallard were on Pondsbury on the 3rd. Low numbers of Swift were seen all week with three on the 30th and 3rd, two on 28th and 1st and singles on 29th and 2nd. A Cuckoo was seen in Millcombe on the 27th and 28th.

The Racing Pigeons are still hanging around the Camping Field. A total of 11 were seen on the 2nd but only 10 on the 3rd after one of the South End juvenile Peregrines was seen over the Village. A Collared Dove was singing in Millcombe on the 2nd.

A Black-headed Gull flew over the Landing Bay whilst waiting for the MS Oldenburg on the 30th. During a boat trip up the East Side on the 1st, 19 adult and four juvenile Oystercatchers were counted. There were also high numbers of juvenile Shags with at least 30 seen. Many of the Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins have now successfully fledged young and it won't be long before they all head back out to sea and the cliffs are quiet.

Two Grey Heron were seen flying in by Quarry Beach on the 29th and another was over the Landing Bay on the 2nd. The Kestrel pair have successfully raised two chicks with the fledglings seen practicing their flying near the Battery, much to the dislike of the Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gull colony. Many of the Peregrine pairs have also got fledged young. Young birds of prey usually stay with their parents for a few weeks learning the hunting techniques they will need to survive.

A Sand Martin was reported on the 3rd and the first returning Willow Warblers were recorded on the 1st and 2nd. Breeding has finally been confirmed for the Millcombe Chiffchaff pairs. A young bird was seen on the 1st by the Gas Store, meanwhile another pair are busy feeding young in Millcombe Wood. Whitethroat are still being seen around Millcombe with four juveniles counted below Millcombe House on the 27th.

Meadow Pipit and juvenile Wheatear appear to be everywhere at the moment, particularly along the West Coast. Linnets are also forming into flocks with 20 regularly seen feeding on the Pineappleweed by the Pig Sty. A Siskin was heard in Millcombe on the 1st.

Juvenile Wheatear, Benjamin's Chair © Stuart Cossey

The Manx Shearwater nest boxes were checked on the 29th. Of the 12 that contained an egg in May, nine have hatched, two are still being incubated and unfortunately one has been abandoned. 

Manx Shearwater chick © Stuart Cossey

Fewer butterflies and moths were seen during the overcast days. Single Hummingbird Hawk-moths were seen on the 30th and the 1st. A Speckled Wood was reported on the 29th and 1st, a scarce butterfly on Lundy. Painted Ladies were seen on the 29th and 30th and  Grayling on 29th and 1st. Meadow Brown are the most common butterfly at the moment with 30+ being recorded each day. The first Common Darter and Blue-tailed Damselflies were seen by Pondsbury on the 3rd. 

Snorkel safaris were led by the conservation team on the 1st and 3rd. Highlights included Ballen Wrasse, Spiny Starfish, Lightbulb Sea Squirt and Spider Crabs.

Due to the increased risk of Avian Influenza in seabirds we have decided to stop all seabird ringing activities. We are taking extra care during any monitoring work and keeping an eye out for any dead birds. Whilst on Lundy please report any dead seabirds to a member of staff. If you see a dead or dying bird anywhere in the UK call DEFRA on 03459 335577. Do not touch any dead or dying birds.

Contributors: S Cossey, R Ellis, Z Wait, A Rowland, P and L Chapman.