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This page is run by volunteer contributors as a source of news for everyone interested in the birds of Lundy, in the Bristol Channel, UK.
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See also the companion website The Birds of Lundy for comprehensive updates to the 2007 book of the same name.
Bird recording and ringing on Lundy are coordinated by the Lundy Field Society and general information about visiting the island can be found here.

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

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