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Saturday 31 December 2022

26th to 31st December – Happy New Year!

Stuart Cossey reports on the last week of 2022 and looks back over an exciting year.

Winds mostly moderate to light from the north. Clear skies with one small scattering of snow. Mild from the 17th with strong winds from the south bring low cloud and constant light rain.

A very quiet week. The Greylag Goose was seen again in Barton Field on 26th, 29th and 31st. Eight Teal were on Pondsbury on the 28th. Ten Oystercatcher were counted on the 26th and five on the 30th. A Golden Plover flew over calling in the low cloud on the 30th. Two Woodcock were flushed in Millcombe on the 28th.

Flocks of large gulls have been seen in the farm fields with approximately 100 Herring Gulls from the 28th.  Five Lesser Black-backed Gulls were with them on the 28th. The Great Northern Diver was still off the Jetty this week with a second recorded on the 28th.

A Sparrowhawk was seen along the East Coast on the 28th and 31st. The Jackdaw is still present around the Village on the 29th and 31st.  Most of the resident birds have been keeping a low profile with less than five Blackbirds, Wrens and Robins recorded in Millcombe. A single Goldcrest was heard calling in the Secret Garden on the 30th. A notable arrival of Chaffinches on the 28th took the total up to 28.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Rosie Ellis, Paul Dean

2022 highlights

The year started off well with the Pink-footed and White-fronted Goose staying on the 1st January.  A ‘tristis’ Chiffchaff and Lapland Bunting were also seen in January. Highlights of February were the Little Gulls seen with up to 3500 Kittiwakes off the East Coast. An Iceland Gull arrived on the island after the week of storms.

March saw the arrival of the spring migrants including Wheatear, Puffin, Manx Shearwater, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin. There was also a big movement of Brambling with a record 40 seen across the island. A female Great Spotted Woodpecker was present along the Terrace from the 29th March to 18th April. The rest of our common spring arrivals were seen in April including Redstart, Yellow Wagtail, Reed Warbler, Wood Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, Swift, Whinchat and Osprey. April was also an excellent month for rarities including two Canada Geese, a Barnacle Goose, Grey Phalarope, Hawfinch, Bonelli’s Warbler and a male Eastern Subalpine Warbler.

The first of the breeding birds started in May with 36 species successfully fledging young and an additional two species with confirmed breeding attempts. The island’s first record of Mandarin Duck, a female photographed in the Landing Bay, was seen in May. There was also a Golden Oriole in Millcombe and a female Bluethroat in Gannet’s Combe.  

June and July are usually the quieter months on the island. A handsome male Rosy Starling stayed for a few days in June and a Quail was flushed in stormy weather towards the end of the month. A putative Thrush Nightingale was flushed from along the West Coast on the 3rd June. Migration started to pick towards the end of July with the first returning Swifts and waders including Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Turnstone and Green Sandpiper. A Garganey on Pondsbury on the 3rd August was the first since 2007. Wader migration picked up in August with Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit amongst the more usual species.  

September and October were by far the best months with large movements and ‘falls’ of common migrants including 400 Willow Warbler, 200 Blackcaps, 4000 Fieldfare and 12,000 Swallows. There were also five Wryneck, two Common Rosefinch, another Rosy Starling, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Richard’s Pipit, Ortolan Bunting, Little Bunting and a Sabine’s Gull. The bird of theyear turned up on the 8th, an amazing adult male Baltimore Oriole. A ringtail Hen Harrier that turned up in October stuck around well into November.

The island’s 7th Cetti’s Warbler was ringed in Millcombe in October and 7th Pallas’s Warbler was ringed in November. A female Long-eared Owl was also ringed in November.  The year ended with some cold weather and high numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover arrived on the island as well as the 11th record of Greylag Goose, the 5th goose species seen this year.

All records of British and Devon rarities are subject to acceptance by the British Birds Rarities Committee or the Devon Birds Records Committee.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year from all of the Lundy Conservation Team. We look forward to seeing everyone in 2023 (along with some interesting birds!).

Tuesday 27 December 2022

19th to 25th December – Merry Christmas!

Moderate to strong winds from the west and southwest. Mostly overcast with rain but occasional blue skies. Temperatures remain mild.

Five Teal were on Pondsbury on the 21st and a high count of 14 Mallard was taken across the island. The Greylag Goose was still present on the 19th, 20th, 23rd and 25th. A Great Northern Diver was in the Landing Bay on the 20th and two on the 22nd. One showed within 10m during the annual Christmas Day swim off the Jetty!

A few waders were still around after the cold weather Lapwing disappeared completely after 18 on the 19th and 28 on the 20th. 49 Golden Plover were seen on the 19th and 32 on the 20th before they too also left for the 21st. A small flock of five Golden Plover were seen calling and flying around the airstrip on the 22nd. Two Oystercatcher were in the Landing Bay on the 20th and a pair of Purple Sandpipers showed well at Brazen Ward. A small number of Snipe were seen including two heard in the evening of the 21st over the Village.

Purple Sandpipers, Brazen Ward © Paul Dean

152 Herring Gulls were in the farm fields on the 19th, the highest count since breeding birds left in August. Numbers remained around 60 on the 20th, 21st and 24th. A second calendar-year Yellow-legged Gull was with the Herring Gulls on the 21st.  48 Great Black-backed Gulls were counted on the 19th -the only double figure count of the week. There were also small numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls with 9 on the 19th being the highest count. A Black-headed Gull flew over Ackland’s Moor on the 19th.

Herring Gulls, Tillage Field © Paul Dean

A Sparrowhawk and Merlin were being seen around the South End of the island still. At one point they were seen fighting over South West Field. The Buzzard was seen up to the 22nd. The Jackdaw is still being seen around the Village.

Buzzard © Paul Dean

One Goldcrest was heard in Millcombe on the 20th and 22nd and two were heard on the 21st. A Fieldfare were seen on the 19th and 21st. The number of Redwing and Song Thrush has dropped from last week. The highest counts were 11 Redwing and eight Song Thrush on the 22nd.  No Redwing have been seen on the since the 23rd. A single Skylark was seen in the 22nd.  A Pied Wagtail was in Barton Field on the 20th to the 24th. Three Meadow Pipit were recorded on the 24th.

There was a small arrival of finches on the 20th with 40 Chaffinch and a Siskin in Millcombe. This dropped again the next day with the next highest count of 19 on the 23rd.

In non-avian news, Pygmy Shrews have become increasingly active in the properties during the cold weather; the logbook is full of sightings including Hanmers, Old Light Lower and Stoneycroft.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Rosie Ellis, Paul Dean

Monday 19 December 2022

Stuart Cossey reports on two weeks of cold weather on the island.

Winds mostly moderate to light from the north. Clear skies with one small scattering of snow. Mild from the 17th with strong winds from the south bring low cloud and constant light rain.

Nine Teal were seen at Pondsbury on the 16th. Of note was a Greylag Goose, only the 11th island record, seen in Brick Field on the 15th. It is very mobile but seen most days since. A small number of Woodpigeon have been seen with two on the 11th and then only singles on the 7th, 15th and 18th.

Teal, Pondsbury © Stuart Cossey

Greylag Goose, Lighthouse Field © Stuart Cossey

The cold weather brought flocks of wading birds over to the island. Four Lapwing and a Golden Plover were recorded on the 9th. This built up to 101 Lapwing and 49 Golden Plover on the 17th. The Lapwing had then dropped to only 19 on the 18th but all 49 Golden Plover were still present. These two species would have come to the island to escape the cold on the mainland and feed in the thawed out fields. A flock of Oystercatchers has been seen at the North End – 19 were counted on the 17th. A Jack Snipe was flushed by Pondsbury on the 8th and another was in Millcombe Pond on the 17th and 18th. A few Snipe were also present with a high count of 6 on the 8th.

Lapwing, Barton Field © Stuart Cossey

Golden Plover, Airstrip © Stuart Cossey

The number of gulls on the island built up during the strong winds towards the end of the two weeks. 110 Herring Gulls, 20 Great Black-backed Gulls, eight Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a 1st winter Common Gull were seen together in Lower Light House Field.  

A Buzzard was first seen in Millcombe on the 15th and has stuck around on the island. It is being constantly mobbed by Crows, Ravens and gulls as soon as it flies too close to the Village. Single Kestrel and Merlin have been recorded occasionally.  The Jackdaw is still present around the Village, it’s 8th week in the island.

Raven, Lighthouse Field © Rosie Ellis

A Chiffchaff was recorded on the 6th and 7th. The number of thrushes has varied over the weeks. There was a high count of 64 Fieldfare on the 15th and 57 Redwing on the 17th. This increase in numbers is also likely due to the frozen ground on the mainland forcing birds to move around.

The cold weather has also caused Rock Pipits to move up into the fields. 13 were counted on the 17th. Seven Meadow Pipits were seen on the 7th but as soon as the temperature dropped only one or two were seen. A Pied Wagtail was recorded on the 17th. Chaffinch numbers fluctuated with a high count of 21 on the 7th and only one on the 14th. Seven Goldfinch on the 7th were the last to be seen.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Rosie Ellis, Matt Stritch, Paul Dean

Monday 5 December 2022

28th November to 4th December – The last ringing sessions of the year

Moderate winds from the east all week with mostly clear skies. Fairly mild with colder tmperatures towards the end of the week.

A total of seven Teal were seen on Pondsbury on the 3rd. A few waders were recorded with a single Golden Plover on the 28th and five on the 1st. Single Woodcock were recorded on the 28th, 30th and 4th. Three were recorded on the 1st including two well hidden in Smelly Gully. Attempts were made at ringing Snipe in the fields overnight. Although up to a few were seen, the full moon restricted our efforts. Two Snipe were successfully ringed whilst mist netting on the evening of the 4th.

Golden Plover, South West Field © Stuart Cossey

Well camouflaged Woodcock, Smelly Gully © Jamie Dunning

Ringing Snipe © Jamie Dunning

A feeding flock of at least 50 Gannets was seen off the East Side on the 30th. Three Cormorant flew south past Millcombe on the 29th and a Little Egret was seen flying out of the Landing Bay on the 2nd.

Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Kestrel and Peregrine were common sights all week. The Jackdaw was still around the Village. A high count of 26 Carrion Crows was recorded on the 28th. Up to five Skylark were still being seen in the fields north of the Village.

Sparrowhawk, Ackland's Moor © Stuart Cossey

At least one Siberian Chiffchaff was seen and heard on the 29th and 30th. Siberian Chiffchaff are a subspecies of Common Chiffchaff from, as the name suggests, breeds in coniferous forests east of the Ural Mountains. They are a lot duller in colour and the call is different. During the light easterly winds the mist nets were opened in Millcombe on most mornings. Three Blackcap were ringed on the 30th. There was an increase in migrating thrushes, mostly Blackbird and Redwing, with a small number ringed.

Siberian Chiffchaff, Village © Jamie Dunning

Starlings were seen moving in big numbers on the 29th with 1140 counted including a single flock of more than 400 birds.  Finch numbers were low with the highest count of Chaffinch at 38 on the 28th. A Siskin and two Linnet were seen on the 29th and another Linnet was seen on the 4th. Goldfinch were also noted in small numbers.  A Lapland Bunting flew over South West Field calling on the 30th and a Reed Bunting was heard on the 1st.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Jamie Dunning, Trevor Dobie, Max Khoo