Mostly dry week with mild temperatures, especially in the sun. Moderate winds from the north-west to start the week, rapidly dropping off to light westerlies and swinging round to easterlies and south-easterlies by the 4th.
Teal numbers peaked this week at 13 on the 1st. The Greylag Goose remained throughout the week, still shunned by its domestic counterparts. A single Woodpigeon was in Millcombe on the 4th; it was singing and was joined by a second bird on the 5th. The shrieks of Water Rail continue to pierce the early mornings, from both Smelly Gully and up near Government House.
The high count of Oystercatchers for the week was 22 on the 1st. A single Woodcock was startled from St Helen’s Copse on the 31st. One Jack Snipe and two Snipe were flushed from Pondsbury on the 1st, with a further 3 Snipe sighted on the 5th.
In terms of sea-watching, Kittiwakes were less frequent than the previous week, with a high of 100 on the 30th. The larger gulls are starting to return to their breeding colonies, with peaks of 13 Great Black-backs and 370 Herring Gulls counted on the 1st. Seven Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also sighted amongst the gull flocks on the 1st.
Auks too are returning in greater numbers to their ledges. At Jenny’s Cove, 206 Guillemots and 63 Razorbills were present on the 31st, along with 100 Fulmar. Mixed-species rafts have started to congregate off Benjamin’s Chair, with 297 ‘auk spp.’ counted on the 4th. Shag numbers rose considerably on the 5th, reaching a total of 25.
Raptors were a regular sighting throughout the week, with the more frequent Sparrowhawk, Merlin and Peregrines being joined by a single Kestrel on the 30th. The long-staying Jackdaw extended its visit, joining a feeding flock of 33 Carrion Crows in Barton Field on the 1st.
More Skylarks made an appearance: one on the 1st and four on the 5th, the latter date including the first singing bird of the year. The small flock of Goldcrests at Quarter Wall Copse were joined by the first Firecrest of the year on the 31st, flitting rapidly through the trees as if in a feeding frenzy. A Black Redstart was seen briefly at Benjamin’s Chair on the 1st – perhaps it has been hiding down there all winter. A single Redwing was present on the 5th, along with a single Pied Wagtail. A ‘fly-over’ Siskin was recorded on the 1st, whilst at least 6 Linnets were heard (and seen!) flying over on the 5th. These small movements inspire hope of the faint beginnings of the upcoming spring passage. It will be exciting to see what the next week brings!
Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Rosie Ellis & Eleanor Grover.
Finally, as many regular readers of the blog will already have seen on social media, we are delighted to confirm that Lundy was officially accredited as a Bird Observatory at the AGM of the Bird Observatories Council, held at BTO headquarters in Thetford on 4th February.
Technically, it's a re-accreditation, as Lundy was part of the network of British & Irish Bird Observatories from the formation of the Lundy Field Society in 1946 until 1973, when financial pressures meant that LFS was no longer able to fund its critical support for the bird observatory warden, and membership ceased.
During his time as Lundy Warden, Dean Jones enthusiastically started the process of regaining observatory accreditation, crucially restarting a regular daily bird census over a fixed route on the south of the island – this, together with a regular programme of bird ringing, being at the core of observatory functioning. On Dean's departure, the initiative was taken up by Rosie Ellis and Stuart Cossey, with support from the Lundy Company management and advice from Tim Davis, Chris Dee & Tim Jones on behalf of LFS.
The new Lundy Bird Observatory will be run by the Lundy Company, through the island's Conservation Team, with LFS represented on the observatory organising committee. Accreditation is provisional, with full accreditation being granted after successful completion of a three-year probationary period, giving all parties the opportunity to make adjustments as the new arrangements bed in.
More details about the UK Bird Observatories Network can be found here. Regular updates from Lundy Bird Observatory are posted on Twitter; simply search for @LundyBirds. This blog will also be rebranded to become part of the Observatory's regular communications and engagement activities.
Congratulations to all involved and here's to an exciting new chapter in Lundy ornithology and birding!