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|
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