Angus reports on a week busy with birders but not necessarily the birds. A team of ringers have been operating in Millcombe and St Johns Valley all week and a whole host of frequent Lundy birders have been on the island.
Mixed spells of weather this week with calm days on Tuesday 11th and Thursday 13th and a strong sustained south-westerly on Saturday 15th.
A high count of 16 Mallard were seen on the 13th, with some popping up near Rocket Pole on several mornings. A female Teal has been at Pondsbury for most of the week. Five Water Rail were recorded on the 13th, mostly in Millcombe with another at Quarter Wall.
26 Oystercatcher were recorded around the island on the 15th and 16th. A couple of Golden Plover left us early this week but one has remained in the fields near to the village. Dunlin singles were picked up on the 13th and 16th, and a Woodcock burst out of cover near to Rocket Pole in the afternoon of the 11th. Snipe were recorded most days, usually picked up individually flying over with totals of four on the 12th and the 13th.
Strong winds meant several pairs of eyes were fixed on the sea on the 15th, resulting in: 380 Kittiwake, 1 Black-headed Gull (with another seen on the 16th), four Common Gull, nine Great Black-backed Gull (max count 18 on the 14th), three Herring Gull (max counts of 17 on both 11th and 16th), two Lesser Black-backed Gull (three also recorded on the 11th, and two on the 12th), two Fulmar, 12 Manx Shearwater, 11 Shag and five ‘commic’ terns. A high count of 125 Gannets was recorded on the 15th, and another 82 were recorded on the 12th. Nine Guillemot were recorded on the 12th, with 6 on the 15th. Razorbill numbered 16 on the 12th and 15 on the 15th. There were 101 unidentified Auks on the 12th, 41 on the 14th, 335 on the 15th and 11 on the 16th.
An Arctic Skua was recorded on the 14th off of Rat Island and a Great Northern Diver flew past north light heading southeast on the 16th, close enough to be identified with binoculars. One Cormorant was recorded on the 11th, and two Grey Herons slowly flew over Millcombe and the south of the island on the 12th.
Two Sparrowhawks are seen most days, with three each day at the weekend (three females on Saturday 15th and two plus a male on Sunday 16th). We still have two Kestrels and one was seen brawling with a Merlin together with a Peregrine early in the week. Two Merlins were recorded 13th-15th, and four Peregrines on 16th, with three interacting over the church mid-morning. 21 Carrion Crows and 22 Ravens were recorded on the 16th with slightly increased numbers and flightier behaviour perhaps representing some new arrivals.
The calm days this week saw large hirundine and finch passage, with 600 Swallows on both 11th and 13th, and 160 on the 14th. There were 200 House Martins on the 11th and 300 on the 13th, and five Sand Martins on the 11th. Skylarks numbered 50 on the 11th and a huge 170 on the 13th, with numbers in the teens on the other windier days. 300 Meadow Pipits on the 11th and 600 on the 13th. Good island coverage has resulted in up 40 Rock Pipits this week, with a flock of 18 in the north-west and 12 near to Quarter Wall in the west recorded on the 16th.
A Cetti’s Warbler started the week off well, as only the 7th record for the island. Seven Chiffchaffs have been recorded almost every day, with the exception of 15 on the 11th and six on the 16th. Blackcap number 20-30 most days, with a high count of 40 on the 14th. Three Firecrests have been present since the 11th, although only one has been recorded over the weekend. About 25 Goldcrests are noted each day, with a max of 34 on the 16th. A high count of 52 Wrens were recorded on the 14th, perhaps due to birds moving south down the island as the weather turns colder. A Treecreeper has been in Millcombe since the 10th. A Wryneck hung around in the gorse by Rocket Pole on the 10th and 11th, and was even more elusive than our previous records this autumn, with no photographs captured of this individual.
|Treecreeper, St Helens Copse © Stuart Cossey|
One Spotted Flycatcher was present by the gas shed until the 12th, with a Pied Flycatcher also on the 11th. 30 Robins were recorded on the 14th. Black Redstart was recorded once on the 11th and once on the beach road on the 15th. Two Common Redstarts were in Millcombe on the 10th (one male and one female), and another female was seen on the 13th. A very late Whinchat was seen by Quarter Wall on the 16th (last recorded was Sept 22nd). Top of the week for Stonechat was on the 13th with 30, the highest count thus far this season. Another lone Wheatear popped up on the 12th, and three were seen on the 14th (two in South-west Field and one by Benjamin’s Chair).
|Black Redstart, South West Field © Tim Williams|
Most days had Yellow Wagtail flying over, with three on the 12th. Five Grey Wagtails on the 10th and six on the 13th. One White Wagtail each day 10th-13th. Unidentified Pied/White Wagtails flying over peaked at 35 on the 13th with good numbers most other days too.
|Yellow Wagtail, South West Field © Tim Williams|
Buntings have started passing through, with one Lapland Bunting over the Airfield on the 13th, 3 Snow Buntings over the weekend and two or three Reed Buntings often around St John’s Valley between 11th and 14th, with a count of 12 on the 16th! A single Yellowhammer calling flew over the church on the 16th.
|Snow Buntings, Main Track © Stuart Cossey|
|Angus and Tom catching up with the Snow Buntings © Tim Jones|
|The resulting shots! Snow Bunting © Tom Wright|
Highlights of birds ringed this week include: three Firecrests, three Yellow-browed Warblers, Cetti’s Warbler, male Common Redstart, one Treecreeper, one Redwing and a few Siskin.
|Clockwise from top left: Male Redstart, Cetti's Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Firecrest © Tom Wright|
Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Rosie Ellis, Tom Wright, Angus Croudace, Tim Davis, Tim Jones, Tim Worfolk, Nik Ward, Greg Conway, Andy Jayne, Paul Holt, Andrew Cleave, Tim Williams.