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Monday 28 November 2022

21st to 27th November – Strong winds bring an American Pipit

 A very blustery week with rain and strong northwesterly winds on the 21st and 22nd. Even stronger winds came from the west for the next two days before calming slightly and remaining dry for the end of the week.

A max count of 14 Mallard on the 23rd includes the nine birds frequently seen at Rocket Pole Pond as well as five at Pondsbury. Five Teal were on Pondsbury on the 23rd and four on the 25th. Two Woodpigeon were recorded in Millcombe on the 22nd to the 25th but went down to one on the 26th. A single Snipe was seen on the 23rd and a single Oystercatcher remains in the Landing Bay.

With the strong winds the number of large gulls recorded increased as flocks formed in the Village fields. Twenty Great Black-backed Gulls were counted on the 24th and 14 on the 26th. The highest count of Herring Gulls was 32 on the 27th and nine Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen on the 24th and 26th. A Kittiwake was seen flying over Quarter Wall on the 26th. Three Great Northern Diver were seen together in the Landing Bay on the 24th and 25th with only one seen on the 26th and two on the 27th.

Great Northern Diver, Landing Bay © Stuart Cossey

Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Tillage Field © Stuart Cossey

A Sparrowhawk and Kestrel remain around the south of the island. The Merlin was seen again this week and on the 27th hunted a Skylark over Millcombe Valley. The Jackdaw is still present, now into its sixth week on the island.

Two Chiffchaff were recorded on the 25th, one on the 26th and three on the 17th. These birds may be new arrivals or could have been on the island for some time but difficult to locate in the strong winds. Two Goldcrest were heard on the 23rd with a single bird the rest of the week. Notable Starling passage was recorded on the 26th with a count of 600. Only a single Fieldfare was recorded on the 23rd and 25th. A single Redwing was recorded on the 21st, 22nd,23rd and 25th.

Two Black Redstart were reported on the 24th and one on the 23rd. A single White Wagtail arrived overnight on the 26th. The number of Meadow Pipit remained in single figures most of the week, and peaked at 17 on the 22nd. There was a surprise record of an American Buff-bellied Pipit flushed up from Pointless Wall on the 25th. If accepted by the British Birds Rarities Committee this would be the first record for the island after the likely contender in November 2021 was declared not proven.

Chaffinch numbers only peaked at 35 on the 27th. A small flock of four Goldfinches was seen by the Paradise Row bird feeders on the 27th after a pair and a single bird were seen on the 22nd.

In non-avian news, a Harbour Porpoise was seen off Rat Island during a seawatch.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Trevor Dobie

Tuesday 22 November 2022

14th to 20th November – A Long-eared Owl ringed

Moderate westerly and northwesterly winds at the start of the week calmed briefly on the 19th before becoming strong again. It was mostly dry with rain on the 16th.

At least four Teal remained on Pondsbury all week with no other wildfowl of note. A single Woodpigeon was seen in Millcombe on four occasions. A number of Oystercatchers remain around the coast with a maximum of five on the 17th. Rain overnight on the 14th and 15th brought in a few Woodcock. One was in Millcombe Valley on the morning of the 15th and three were recorded on the morning of the 15th along with five Snipe. Two Great Northern Diver were seen on the 15th. One was feeding in the Landing Bay and the other flew low over Rocket Pole heading south.

A Merlin arrived on the 18th and was seen feeding around South West Field again on the 20th. The Hen Harrier was seen up until the 18th with no sign since.  At least one Sparrowhawk and Kestrel continue to hunt around the south of the island, often targeting tired migrant Chaffinch. On the morning of the 18th an alarm calling Blackbird alerted to the presence of something in the Blackthorn at the top of Millcombe. On inspection a Long-eared Owl flew out of cover and tried to land in the Pines before being chased by Crows over towards St John’s Valley. That evening , mist nets were put up in St John’s Valley and a juvenile female Long-eared Owl was ringed. This is only the fifth to be ringed on the island, the last in 2008.

Long-eared Owl, St  John's Valley © Stuart Cossey

Hen Harrier, Quarter Wall © Stuart Cossey

Possibly the last Blackcap of the year were seen on the 17th, with three in Millcombe. Five Chiffchaff were counted on the 15th with four on the 19th and 20th. Two Goldcrest are still being seen regularly in Millcombe.

Calm weather on the 19th encouraged some passerine migration. Thirteen was the highest count of Skylark all week. Starling were also on the move with totals of 485 on the 17th and 450 on the 19th. There was a big arrival of Blackbird on the 19th with at least 59 seen around the southern end of the island. The highest counts of Fieldfare and Redwing were on the 17th with 34 and 229 respectively. A single Mistle Thrush was by Pointless Wall on the 14th and 15th.

There continue to be occasional sightings of Black Redstart . Three were recorded on the 14th, two on the 15th and a single on the 19th. Three Pied Wagtail were seen in Barton Field on the 14th with only single flyovers on the 14th, 15th, 17th and 19th. Rock Pipits are starting to be more common in the fields on top of the island as the rough weather forces them away from their usual coastal feeding grounds. On calmer days small numbers of Meadow Pipits are seen flying south with 25 on the 15th and 22 on the 19th. An Olive-backed Pipit was heard flying over the Stonecrusher on the 18th, if accepted by the British Birds Rarity Committee, this would be the fifth record for Lundy.

Chaffinch are still passing through the island with over 150 counted on the 14th and 16th and a high count of 308 on the 19th. Brambling were occasionally heard with passing Chaffinch flocks including three on the 19th, two on the 14th and singles on the 15th, 16th and 17th. Other finches are less common with two Linnet on the 14th and a Lesser Redpoll on the 29th. Ten Siskin on the 14th was the highest count all week with three days without any records. Five and six Goldfinch were seen on the 14th and 15th.  A female Reed Bunting was by Pointless wall on the 15th and 16th.

Reed Bunting, Pointless Wall © Stuart Cossey

In non-avian news, a Hummingbird Hawk-moth was shooed out of the Shop on the 18th. Without a frequent boat and fewer visitors the Grey Seals in the Landing Bay are hauling out and sleeping all over the place, including the Jetty!

Grey Seal, Jetty © Stuart Cossey

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Richard Ware, Sue Waterfield

Tuesday 15 November 2022

7th to 13th November – First Barn Owl record since 1981

Strong winds continued from the southwest all week with calmer winds from the southeast on the 12th.

The Wigeon remained on Pondsbury until the 8th with three Teal seen on the 8th and 12th. At least 16 Mallard are present on the island with flocks at Rocket Pole Pond and Pondsbury. A single Woodpigeon was seen in Millcombe on the 8th, 9th and 12th. A flock of 10 Oystercatcher were at the North End on the 12th and a Lapwing was seen over the Village and in Tillage Field on the same date. Snipe were recorded on the 10th, 12th and 13th. The Little Egret was seen again in Millcombe Pond on the 8th. A Purple Sandpiper was seen on Rat Island on the 8th. It is likely that Purple Sandpiper are quite common on Lundy in winter but are difficult to see as the spend most of their time around the back of Rat and Mouse Island.

Flocks of feeding gulls were seen off the East Side on the 9th, 10th and 12th. These mostly comprised of Kittiwakes with 600 counted on the 9th. A single flock of 54 Herring Gulls were on Miller’s Cake on the 13th. Three Manx Shearwaters and a Balearic Shearwater flew past Rat Island on the 10th along with 70 unidentified Auks.

Two Sparrowhawk remain on the island, occasionally being seen together over Millcombe hunting exhausted migrant Redwing and Chaffinch. Two Kestrel have also been seen. The juvenile Hen Harrier has been seen hunting over the Quarter Wall area all week, occasionally flushing up Snipe and thrushes. The Jackdaw has also been seen all this week. Most surprising this week was a Barn Owl, which was heard screeching over the Village at 17:30 on the 13th. This comprises the 10th island record and first since 1981. Most records have been in November and most likely involve young birds dispersing to find new territories.

Hen Harrier, Tillage Field © Stuart Cossey

Single figure counts of Skylark were seen most days with a high count of 20 on the 12th. A Swallow was recorded around Jenny’s Cove and the Earthquake on the 12th and 13th. Blackcap are still being recorded with 10 counted on the 12th. Two were recorded on the 7th, singles on the 8th and 9th and four on the 13th. Single Chiffchaff were recorded on the 7th, 8th and 9th, then four and five were counted on the 12th and 13th respectively. Low numbers of Goldcrest continue to be recorded in Millcombe and Quarter Wall Copse. A Yellow-browed Warbler was seen near the Terrace on the 12th.

There has been a noticeable increase in migrant thrushes, though still not the large numbers expected at this time of year. The highest counts were on the 12th and 13th. 23 Blackbird and 65 Redwing were recorded on the 12th. 160 Redwing were recorded on the 13th along with two Mistle Thrush and 11 Fieldfare. The highest count of Song Thrush was three on the 8th.

Single Black Redstart were recorded on the 8th and 13th. A total of four were seen around North Light on the 12th. A Grey Wagtail was seen at Millcombe Pond on the 12th. A White Wagtail was in Barton Field from the 7th to the 9th. On the 13th, three Pied Wagtails were seen in Barton Field.

Black Redstart, Landing Bay © Stuart Cossey

Finch migration has been steady all week with a big movement on the 12th including 1036 Chaffinch, four Brambling, 178 Siskin and 24 Linnet. Around 100 Chaffinch were counted the rest of the week. A small flock of three Lesser Redpoll were seen on the 9th. A Reed Bunting was by Pondsbury on the 8th.

Siskin, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

In non-avian news, a Small White butterfly was seen in Millcombe on the 12th and a Hummingbird Hawk-moth was in the same area on the 13th. Grey Seals continue to haul out on Landing Bay Beach, allowing good views from the road, if you remain quiet.

Grey Seal, Landing Bay © Stuart Cossey

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Matt Stritch, Ruth Turner, Paul Godwin

Monday 7 November 2022

31st October to 6th November – A brief window of calm amidst strong winds

Strong winds from the southwest all week until lessening on the 4th and turning northerly on the 5th. Quickly back to strong southwesterlies on the 6th. Rain, sometimes heavy, on most days but usually passing through quickly.

The Wigeon remained at Pondsbury again this week, being seen on the 31st and the 4th. A single Teal was also present on the 4th. Despite the many thousands of Woodpigeon migrating across the country only one was recorded from the 2nd to the 4th. A Stock Dove was seen flying over Ackland’s Moor on the 4th. Also on the 4th, a Lapwing flew over the Village and a Golden Plover was calling over High Street Field. At least two Water Rail continue to be heard in Millcombe Valley. The Jackdaw was still being seen up to the 6th.

216 Kittiwakes were counted during a seawatch on the 2nd along with one Manx Shearwater and 59 Gannet. A Great Northern Diver arrived in the Landing Bay on the 2nd and has been seen up to the 6th, often right under the Jetty. A Little Egret, only the second of the year, was seen roosting in Millcombe on the evening of the 5th and then again in multiple locations on the 6th.

Three Sparrowhawk were noted on the 3rd with two or one the rest of the week. At least two Kestrel were present all week. The juvenile Hen Harrier was seen on the 31st and then again over Pondsbury on the 3rd.

Sparrowhawk, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

Kestrel, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

A single Swallow was seen on the 31st and again on the 1st around Quarter Wall. Sadly it seemed to be struggling in the strong winds and was feeding on the ground with a flock of Starlings. Two Chiffchaff were present on the 3rd with singles on the 31st, 1st and 4th. Blackcap are still trickling through, the highest count being nine on the 3rd. Fewer Goldcrest are being seen with high counts of eight on the 31st and the 3rd. The bird of the week has to be the somewhat surprising Pallas’s Warbler which turned up in the mist nets in Millcombe on the 3rd. This 6.2g bird would have come all the way from Siberia and is only the 7th record for Lundy.

Pallas's Warbler, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

With the winds turning northerly on the 4th, thrushes started pushing south. 166 Redwing, 39 Fieldfare, seven Song Thrush, 30 Blackbird, two Mistle Thrush and a Ring Ouzel were counted. Lower counts were had the rest of the week. A Ring Ouzel was also recorded on the 31st. Black Redstart were a common theme of the week with three on the 1st, two on the 3rd and 6th and one on the 2nd.

Redwing, Quarter Wall © Stuart Cossey

Black Redstart, Benjamin's Chair © Stuart Cossey

Four White Wagtails were recorded in Barton’s Field on the 31st and one remained on the 1st. Grey Wagtails were seen on the 3rd and 4th. Chaffinch are still on the island in big numbers though they are slowly leaving. 772 on the 31st became 378 on the 1st and then dropped to 76 on the 5th. Flocks were moving through in before a rain front on the 6th resulting in a count of 305. Numbers of other finches are still shockingly low. Single Brambling were recorded from the 1st with two on the 5th. The high count of Goldfinch was eight on the 31st and similarly only two Linnet were seen on the 31st and then the 4th. 25 Siskin were recorded on the 31st but numbers in November have so far peaked at seven on the 3rd. One Lesser Redpoll was seen on the 31st and another on the 1st. A Reed Bunting was seen at Pondsbury on the 31st and again on the 3rd and 4th. A Snow Bunting was on the main track towards the North End on the 3th.

In non-avian news, two Painted Lady were seen on the 31st and singles on the 1st and 4th. A Vagrant Emporer Dragonfly was seen at Pondsbury on the 31st. A single Harbour Porpoise was off the South Light on the 1st.

John Hedger and Mandy Dee have been over on the island this week and led a fungus foray on the 3rd with 39 species found including Meadow Puffball, Scarlet Waxcap, Orange Waxcap, Snowy Waxcap and Yellow Club. They have also identified seven new species for the island during their stay.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Chris Baillie, Chris Dee, Mandy Dee, John Sealy, John Hedger