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You're now viewing the old Lundy Bird Observatory blogspot. Explore the new website for all your favourite island news and wildlife updates. If you have sightings to report, please consider sharing your observations or photographs with the Bird Obs team here.

Sunday 28 May 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 28 May 2023

Both Pondsbury Teal families were seen today with the adult females keeping a close eye on the broods of 3 and 4 young. A Lapwing pressed north over Airfield, with 5 Swift following suit behind. A Reed Warbler was singing in Millcombe lower garden early morning, accompanied by 3 singing Blackcap and 2 singing Goldcrest. Common Whitethroat remain well represented across the south east, totalling 14 birds today - marking the highest count of the spring to date. Willow Warbler were absent for only the second day this month, while six Spotted Flycatcher continue to frequent the wooded valleys and fence lines and a Common Rosefinch was heard again the the bottom of Millcombe at 8am, singing 5 phrases but remained elusive.

Strong easterlies look like there here to stay for the foreseeable... an inspiring forecast to see the month month out. Lundy has already enjoyed a cracking spring, but there's another goodie to be found yet!

Saturday 27 May 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 27 May 2023

Limited coverage today with little logged north of halfway wall. Two singing Common Rosefinch in Millcombe and St John's Valley made the headline. Pondsbury features two Teal broods but only an adult male and single young were glimpsed today. Peregrine were evident across the island, chasing down the odd Feral Pigeon and Collared Dove taking their chances on Lundy. Further variety came in the form of 10 Spotted Flycatcher plus singles of Dunlin, Willow and Garden Warbler. Female Whinchat were sighted at  Quarter Wall and St Helen's Field, 3 White Wagtail around the village and Old Light and 2 Swift pushed north.

Friday 26 May 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 26 May 2023

A magical spring day to explore the island with stunning conditions and good birds to be found! Pick of the bunch was a Red-throated Pipit around Punchbowl Valley and Pondsbury. First located by call and seen in flight at 1435 and again at 1525. Later, a stonking male Grey-headed Wagtail (Yellow Wagtail thunbergi race) graced St Helen's Field, following the hoofs of ponies between periods of retreating to the juncus.  Elsewhere, 2 Greenland Wheatear again in Lighthouse Field, Cuckoo Quarter Wall and a thin movement  of waders totalled 3 Ringed Plover and 8 Dunlin. Although hirundine numbers were down considerably, Swallow outnumbered House Martin for the first time in 6 days (with 104 and 51 respectively). Millcombe and the south east copses feature twos of Collared DoveWillow and Sedge Warbler. 12 Spotted Flycatcher  remained for another day and three White Wagtail and a female flavissima Yellow Wagtail rounds of the common migrant tally.

Grey-headed Wagtail (ssp. thunbergi) © Richard Campey

Another busy bird log in the Tavern © Ella Berry

Contributors: Joe Parker, Luke Marriner, Chris & Carol Baillie, Tim Davis, Richard Campey, Tim Jones, Tony & Ann Taylor, Rich & Rebecca Taylor, Steve Wing, Paul Bullock, Darrin Dowding

Thursday 25 May 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 25 May 2023

Waders received decent representation today with a Dotterel seen moving north by observers stationed at SW Field and Airfield. A lone Whimbrel and two singles of Ringed Plover on the move, one of which accompanied by 2 Dunlin. A Sandwich Tern was heard in the Landing Bay and excellent coverage  saw more monthly totals smashed, this time Shag with 82 individuals recorded across the island. The immature Cormorant was seen wing-drying by Quarter Wall Pond and a adult moved along the west coast. The Kestrel pair remain very active with the male frequently bringing back Pygmy Shrews to the nest! Gentle hirundine passage totalled 10 Swift, 2 Sand Martin, 254 Swallow and 307 House Martin. Spotted Flycatcher numbers matched yesterday (16) and there was a small arrival of  5 Willow and 7 Sedge Warblers along the southeast. Two Yellow Wagtail provided a splash of colour and 3 White Wagtail were logged across Millcombe, Stoneycroft and the village.

Finally, after a report of four interesting dragonfly at Pondsbury yesterday, two male Vagrant Emperor were confirmed hawking over the water, along with a Four-spotted Chaser. This is just the 4th occurrence of Vagrant Emperor for Lundy (the 3 previous records were in Sep 2015, Feb 2019 and Oct 2020). This follows on from an unprecedented influx to Devon and Cornwall in recent weeks!

Peregrine predating Starling © Richard Campey

Contributors: Joe Parker, Dennis Weir, Kerri Gorentz, Tony Taylor, Eamonn O'Donnell, Ann Taylor, Dez Higgins, Dick Coombes, Gerry Lyons, Steve Wing, Luke Marriner, Geoff Oliver, Richard Campey, Tim Jones, Tim Davis, Rich Taylor, Rebecca Taylor, Chris Baillie, Carol Baillie.

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 24 May 2023

The prolonged settled weather welcomed another stunning push of late migrants. The clear highlight was  the strident song of a first-summer male Common Rosefinch singing in Millcombe. First picked up at 0655 by Steve Wing, the bird was backed the by vocalisations from Willow Warbler and Cuckoo. A monthly high count of 13 Common Whitethroat was recorded around Millcombe and Lower East with decent numbers still pushing through. The Goldcrest pair continue to nest build in Millcombe conifers and the Hooded Crow continues to favour Tillage Field and Water Tanks.

Another late Sand Martin trickled through, accompanied by 106 Swallow and 211 House Martin. Fours of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff across the southern valleys and copses, plus singles of female Whinchat, Tree Pipit, Sedge and Garden Warbler. 52 Starling nests were located, predominantly around the village and Spotted Flycatcher remain abundan with 16 birds still knocking around! 

A lone Ringed Plover pressed north and 2 Dunlin frequented SW Field Flash. An adult female Sparrowhawk put in a brief appearance over East Side near Quarry Cottages, 14 Gannet were logged offshore and a second-calendar year Cormorant reappeared on Pondsbury. TwoYellow Wagtail called overhead and a third was on the deck in St Helen's Field, while a single White Wagtail patrolled Lighthouse Field along with 2 female Greenland Wheatear.

First-summer Rosefinch, Millcombe © Richard Campey

Dunlin, SW Field Flash © Richard Campey

Fantastic crowd joined bird log this week. From left to right: Joe Parker, Dennis Weir, Kerri Gorentz, Tony Taylor, Eamonn O'Donnell, Ann Taylor, Dez Higgins, Dick Coombes, Gerry Lyons, Steve Wing, Luke Marriner, Geoff Oliver, Richard Campey, Tim Jones, Tim Davis, Rich Taylor, Rebecca Taylor, Chris Baillie, Carol Baillie.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 23 May 2023

 Gentle northerlies produced the goods on the island with strong migration being visible all day. A good passage of hirundines and Swift kept everyone out all day counting, as the wardens were able to open some nets this afternoon. Todays totals are as follows: 13 adult and 11 young Mallard, 2 adult and 7 young Teal on pondsbury. A Male Cuckoo was first seen on Quarter Wall but then made its way into Millcombe in the afternoon then into the slope net. Only the second bird to be ringed since 2009 but also the second this year! A god day for waders with a fly over Whimbrel on census, a Summer plumage Dunlin by North light were also joined by the long staying Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone, a Common Sandpiper in Aztec Bay seen was only the 3rd of the year. The male Kestrel was seen bringing food into the nest site again, and 9 Peregrine was the highest count for may. Excellent Hirundine passage today with a trickle early on but a big push come the afternoon with the Tims sitting at North light counting as the left the island, a single Sand Martin, 748 Swallow and 955 House Martin logged in 3 hours, also 138 Swift, 7 each of Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Sedge Warbler. More exciting news is that we have a pair of Goldcrest in breeding condition. A staple for the last few days were the Spotted Flycatchers and today didn't disappoint with 64 being seen including 8 being ringed. What a spectacle. A female Whinchat on Quarter wall and our first Grey Wagtail of the year flew over. The Hooded Crow was still in tillage field and a Ringtail Harrier was seen briefly below quarter wall cops, probably a Hen Harrier but views were not conclusive.  

Ringing totals:

Sedge Warbler 3, Chiffchaff 3, Spotted Flycatcher 10, Whitethroat 1, Willow Warbler 3, Linnet 2, Goldcrest 2, Goldfinch 2, Swallow 1, Cuckoo 1

Whinchat vs Spotted Flycatcher Luke Marriner

Meadow pipit vs Cuckoo Luke Marriner

Spotted Flycatcher Luke Marriner 

Monday 22 May 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory update– Monday 22 May 2023

A sunny day with a strong northerly breeze produced a good fall of migrants on the island today, enjoyed by all birders and guests. Today's totals are as follows: 7 adult Mallard still looking after 4 young (this number is getting smaller by the day!), 18 Swift, a single Racing Pigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 10 Woodpigeon, 18 Oystercatcher, another fly-over Ringed Plover (possibly the same as yesterday), 56 Kittiwake, 22 Great Black-backed Gull, 298 Herring Gull (with a bit of a marked movement up the East Side) and 83 Lesser Black-backed Gull (no counts of auks on this windy day). There were 4 Storm Petrels heard at the Battery last night. The male Kestrel was very active today – but not the female, which hopefully means she is sat on the nest – and 4 Peregrine were noted. The Hooded Crow was still present in Tillage Field. Two late Sand Martin were seen early on, and 142 Swallow and 351 House Martin were logged throughout the day, as were 5 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, a singing Lesser Whitethroat and 12 Common Whitethroat. But by far the highlight for all islanders was the marked increase in Spotted Flycatchers; though not quite Portland numbers (200+) by Lundy standards a count of 42 was very welcome, 9 of which were feeding together on the Barton Field fence. However, rarity wise the birds of the day go to the Tims when they had two male Crossbill in Millcombe early on feeding in the pines before moving off north. No Sign of the Purple Heron today!
Pair of Crossbill © Tim Jones

Peregrine and Lesser Black-backed Gull © Richard Campey

Spotted Flycatcher © Richard Campey 

Sunday 21 May 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 21 May 2023

The island received excellent coverage today with 15 birders joining today’s 8PM bird log in the Tavern. Hirundine passage began around midday and gradually built momentum through the afternoon. Counts saw birds moving north along a broad front totalling 17 Swift, 271 Swallow, 344 House Martin. The increased coverage also ensured numerous highest monthly counts were broken, including 61 Shag across the coast, 22 Raven (fledged young at Benjamin’s Chair, Middle Park and Long Roost), 75 Starling busily feeding young, five Spotted Flycatcher and 4 Willow Warbler across Millcombe and Quarter Wall Copse, 91 Wheatear and 13 Rock Pipit. A Ringed Plover was heard over Quarter Wall and two Collared Dove braved the island, including a bold individual settling at the North End, dangerously close to numerous Peregrine territories. A single male Teal remained on Pondsbury, along with the Purple Heron and second calendar-year Cormorant. The second Song Thrush continued for a second day, but no sign of a mate for the long-staying Millcombe male and the Hooded Crow was logged in Tillage Field early morning.

Hooded Crow, Tillage Field © Richard Campey

Contributors: Joe Parker, Luke Marriner, Chris & Carol Baillie, Richard Campey, Tim Jones, Tim Davis, Tony & Ann Taylor, Rich & Rebecca Taylor, Mary Cadogon, Geoff Oliver, Dennis Weir, Eamon O'Donnell.

Saturday 20 May 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 20 May 2023

The Purple Heron was observed successfully hunting, reducing the Pondsbury stock by a small fish, accompanied by a second calendar-year Cormorant also successfully feeding. The immature Cormorant was later seen at the North End with a second adult individual. A single Purple Sandpiper and two Turnstone were feeding on the North End and corvids were well represented with 14 Raven (including three recently fledged young at Benjamin’s Chair) and the Hooded Crow still commuting between Water Tanks and Tillage Field. Reasonable Swallow passage with 547 departing the North End for Wales along with 12 Swift and 183 House Martin. Millcombe featured four Spotted Flycatcher, seven Chiffchaff and singles of Willow and Sedge Warbler. An additional Spotted Flycatcher graced Quarter Wall Copse, two Yellow Wagtail were moving south mid morning and 39 Puffin were logged off North End. The upcoming forecast for the week ahead looks ideal! Surely a subalpine is on the cards…

Puffin, North End © Richard Campey

Contributors: Joe Parker, Luke Marriner, Chris & Carol Baillie, Tim Jones, Tim Davis, Tony & Ann Taylor, Steve Wing, Geoff Oliver, Dennis Weir, Eamon O'Donnell, Kerri Lornez.

Friday 19 May 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 19 May 2023

Little materialised despite promising conditions first thing. Ringing in Millcombe mustered a one of the three singing Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff and singles of Swallow, Whitethroat and re-trap Dunnock. Two Spotted Flycatcher occupied the top of the Valley and the Kestrel pair are frequently recorded around Quarter Wall Copse. Surprise record of the day goes to a late Ring Ouzel along the East Sidelands south of Brazen Ward, reported by a guest. Two Cormorant were logged, involving an immature on Pondsbury and a bird tracking south along Benjamin's Chair. The long-staying Purple Heron was recorded at both Pondsbury and Punchbowl Valley and the Hooded Crow continues to do the rounds, seen initially in Lighthouse Field early morning before moving to Tillage Field and later dropping down the east coast at Quarter Wall.

Purple Heron © Richard Campey

Contributors: Joe Parker, Luke Marriner, Chris and Carol Baillie, Tony Taylor, Steve Wing, Richard Campey, Liz Riddel.

Thursday 18 May 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 18 May 2023

The uncontested highlight of the day goes to a stunning male Serin early afternoon. The call, a bouncing trill, was initially heard over the church at 12.40 and after a rapid search the bird was quickly located feeding (briefly) at Benjamin's Chair before heading back in the direction of the church. Although it largely remained elusive for the rest of the day, the bird re-appeared again briefly at Benjamin's Chair at 13:40 but with no further sign since.

Elsewhere, Pondsbury continues to hold on to the Purple Heron as well as a pair of Teal. Two Spotted Flycatcher graced Millcombe, along with a GreenfinchCollared Dove at the top of St John's Valley and a single Swift over. The Hooded Crow continues to associate with the Carrion Crow flock, frequenting the Water Tanks and Tillage Field and a late Sand Martin zipped north during the search for the Serin.

Male Serin © Richard Campey

Contributors: Joe Parker, Luke Marriner, Chris & Carol Baillie, Steve Wing, Richard Campey.

Wednesday 17 May 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 17 May 2023

 Beautifully clear conditions and light NE winds early doors felt good for a fresh arrival of migrants, but in reality saw very little movement. The first fledged Stonechat brood (three young) appeared in St John's Valley this morning. Seven late Sand Martin pushed through along with 170 Swallow, 92 House Martin and 38 Swift. The long staying Hooded Crow and Purple Heron continued their island residence for another day and a second Purple Sandpiper appeared on the island, ignoring the favoured Brazen Ward site and instead feeding at North West Point. A quiet morning ringing session at Millcombe featured singles of new Sedge WarblerChiffchaffWhitethroatBlackcap and two Linnet, plus the ringed Lesser Redpoll still loitering around the ringing site.

Purple Heron © Luke Marriner

Hooded Crow © Luke Marriner
New in Purple Sandpiper at North Light in more advanced summer plumage than the long-staying
Brazen Ward individual © Paul Dean

Contributors: Joe Parker, Luke Marriner, Chris & Carol Baillie, Tony & Ann Taylor, Steve Wing, Paul Dean

Tuesday 16 May 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 16 May 2023

Big news, the first House Sparrow egg was laid today! This is significantly later than usual, for context the first egg was laid on the 25th April last year and the first fledglings were recorded on 1st May 2021! There's clearly a few factors at play here and the delay appears to be mirrored on the mainland, but a few factors could be the cold and wet spring, overwintering Sparrowhawk and Merlin, and removal of the Lundy chicken coop (in line with HPAI guidelines) which provided an excellent food source for the resident sparrows.

Elsewhere across the island, a single Hooded Crow continued to associate with the 25 Carrion Crow, favouring Tillage Field. Hirundine passage was modest, but estimates saw 200 Swallow over Lundy airspace. The Pondsbury Purple Heron was present for another day while two Sedge Warbler continued to kick around Millcombe, accompanied by the Lesser RedpollSpotted Flycatcher, 4 Whitethroat and a new-in Garden Warbler.

I'm sure you will all join us in wishing the very best to Stuart and Megan who left the island today. We'd like show our appreciation and say a huge thank you to Stuart for driving forward Lundy's re-accreditation as a Bird Observatory.

Yellow Wagtail, Castle Hill © Tony Taylor
Colour-ringed Wheatear (unfortunately missing a ring to allow for individual identification)
© Paul Dean 

The Lundy Team wishing Stuart and Megan goodbye for their exciting new chapter

Contributors: Joe Parker, Luke Marriner, Stuart Cossey, Chris & Carol Baillie, Tony Taylor, Steve Wing, Paul Dean, Yuheng Sun.

Monday 15 May 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 15 May 2023

Firstly, before we get stuck in to today's sightings, a quick hello! I am delighted to introduce myself as the new Lundy Bird Observatory Warden. After instantly falling in love with the island a couple of years ago during autumn ringing visits, I am over the moon to now call this lump of Atlantic granite my new home. I moved over with my partner Ella last week and can’t wait to get stuck in studying and raising the profile of Lundy’s stunning birdlife and rich natural history.

I have enjoyed a wonderfully warm welcome to the island by the great team and of course some great birds! If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Lundy please do come say hello – you’ll find us out across the island surveying, ringing and running the daily 8pm bird log in the Tavern. Or if you’re on the mainland and looking for your Lundy fix, you’ll be able to keep up-to-date with all the latest Bird Observatory news on this daily blog and twitter page.

Happy birding, Joe (Lundy Bird Obs Warden)

 Luke - Bird Obs Assistant (left), Rosie - Warden (centre) & Joe - Bird Obs Warden (right)

Now, turning today's highlights... Wind speeds swung around to a stiff northerly which put a dampener on any late spring movements across the island. Today's artificial Manx Shearwater nest boxes checks revealed recently laid eggs! Two new Wheatear were ringed as part as the ongoing RAS (retrapping adults for survival) study along with five colour-marked birds, mostly from the previous season. Three Spotted Flycatcher were logged with individuals in Millcombe, Quarter Wall Copse and Quarries. The Purple Heron continued for another day, skulking around Pondsbury through the day. A single Hooded Crow was still feeding around the water tanks and a lone Purple Sandpiper continues to occupy Brazen Ward! This is an incredible late spring record considering this wader should be gearing up for a breeding season in Iceland! A drake Teal carcass was found south of Pondsbury, a classic Peregrine kill which is supporting one of the six territories on the island this year!

Purple Sandpiper © Paul Dean

Last night visitors enjoyed a magical night time Manx Shearwater walk which saw six new birds ringed, plus a Lundy re-trap from mid-April earlier in the year and most excitingly a control (awaiting further details e.g. original ringing location and age). Control Manx Shearwater records are very uncommon in recent years and are perhaps a product of saturated colonies at key breeding sites such as the Pembrokeshire islands, Skomer and Skokholm. Finally, in breaking non-avian news, two Toad were heard calling this afternoon. Intermittent calls were heard from Quarry Pond and a new individual was heard croaking below the Terrace on the track down to Quarry Beach.

Contributors: Joe Parker, Luke Marriner, Stuart Cossey, Rosie Ellis, Tony & Ann Taylor, Chris & Carol Baillie, Chris & Mandy Dee, Paul Dean

8th to 14th May – Migration slows as most birds are busy breeding

 Bird Observatory Warden Stuart Cossey writes about his last full week on the island

Moderate westerly winds to start the week brought low cloud and rain. Westerly winds continued on 10th and 11th with light rain showers. The wind changed to the east on 12th and 13th before low visibility returned on the morning of 14th with wind from northwest. Temperatures have started to increase with clear blue skies finally bringing a summer feel to the island.

Mallard are having young all on ponds across the island. Four broods have been seen on Pondsbury, one on Quarter Wall Pond, one on Barton Pond and another at Quarters Pond. Unfortunately, as is common, the numbers deplete quickly due to predation by Ravens and gulls. Two pairs of Teal are still being seen around Pondsbury and hopefully breeding is confirmed soon. A Shelduck was on Rat Island on 14th. A Water Rail was heard singing on Pondsbury on the evening of 10th.

Swift have been seen every day this week with a max count of seven on 11th. A male Cuckoo was singing at Quarter Wall on 14th. Single Collared Dove were seen on 10th and 12th with two birds on 14th. A Stock Dove flew over the Village and into Millcombe on 13th. The Purple Heron is still being seen around Pondsbury with sightings on 9th, 10th and 13th.

Purple Heron © Derek Tippetts

Waders are still moving through the island. Whimbrel were seen on five dates including a flock of four on 10th. A breeding plumage Golden Plover was photographed by Tibbets on 10th. Two Curlew were by South Light and a Ringed Plover was recorded on 14th. Incredibly, two Purple Sandpiper were still at Brazen Ward on 10th.

Seabird breeding season is in full swing with Razorbills and Guillemots now on eggs and Kittiwakes seen nest building. A late Great Northern Diver was seen feeding off the Terrace on 11th. Twelve Storm Petrels were counted during a trip to a known colony on 10th. A Cormorant was seen on 13th and two on 14th.

Both Kestrels have been seen hunting over Ackland’s Moor and by Quarter Wall. Two Hooded Crows were seen on 12th and 13th in Lighthouse Field and by the Water Tanks. A single Hooded Crow was then in Brick Field on 14th. A Jackdaw was heard calling over Millcombe on 13th.

The last Sand Martin was one on 9th, though Swallows and House Martins continue to pass north over the island. The highest Swallow estimate this week was 1000 on 11th and 150 House Martin were recorded on 14th.

The number of warblers being seen is also slowing down. The highest count of Willow Warblers this week was four on 11th. At least two Chiffchaffs have been singing in Millcombe, suggesting breeding attempts this year. Whitethroats are also trying to breed in Millcombe with around five territorial males. A Reed Warbler was seen on 8th and three were ringed on 14th. Single Sedge Warbler were seen on five dates this week with five seen on 11th. Twelve Blackcap seen on 8th dropped to just on seen on 14th.

Single Spotted Flycatchers were noted on 8th, 9th and 11th with two on 10th. Two Yellow Wagtail were seen on 11th another on 13th and one heard flying over on 14th. A Siskin was heard flying over Millcombe on 12th and a Greenfinch was seen in Millcombe on 13th. A single Lesser Redpoll is still hanging around Barton Field and was ringed in Millcombe on 14th. Most of our common breeding birds have now got chicks with Dunnocks, Blackbirds, Starlings and Meadow Pipits seen taking food to chicks.

In non-avian news, the Common Toad is still calling at Quarry Pond on 11th and 13th. A Common Dolphin was found washed up in the Landing Bay on 13th and two Harbour Porpoise were seen from the Battery.

Finally, it is time for me to say farewell. I have had an amazing 18 months on Lundy, meeting some lovely people and seeing some incredible birds. On 16th I will be leaving the island with my partner Megan to move to Northern Ireland.

It is a pleasure to welcome Joe Parker and his partner Ella to the island. Joe will be the new Bird Observatory Warden and will take my place as the resident bird nerd.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Luke Marriner, Joe Parker, Rosie Ellis, Rob Duncan, David Kightley, Tony & Ann Taylor, Chris & Carol Baillie, Chris & Mandy Dee, Paul Dean

Monday 8 May 2023

1st to 7th May – Some rare early May arrivals

Bird Observatory Assistant Warden Luke Marriner summarises a varied start to May.

Moderate to light winds from the northto start the week increasing on the 3rd and 4th from the southeast. Winds from the south west on 5th and 6th brought low cloud and rain but cleared into blue skies with light winds on 7th.

It seems that there are still two pairs of Teal on the island although the Barton’s pond pair has moved onto Pondsbury. A male Shoveler was on Pondsbury on the 7th. Two Shelduck were seen flying along the east on the 7th. We have had Swift sightings every day this week with a highest count of 36 coming on the 7th. Two sightings of Cuckoo totalling to 3 birds with one calling in Millcombe on the 3rd and then a Male seen along Upper East Side and a female caught in the terrace trap on the 5th. This being the first to be ringed since 2009. Collard dove numbers peaked at five on the 5th when a the group were seen first thing coming in off over Milcombe by Rob Duncan. On the Same day a Turtle Dove was seen at Quarter Wall. A Water Rail was heard at Pondsbury on the evening of the 5th. 

Shoveler, Pondsbury © Stuart Cossey

Cuckoo, Quarry Terrace © Luke Marriner

Turtle Dove, Quarter Wall © Luke Marriner

Wader passage has been a bit better this week with a single Whimbrel being seen daily by Quarter Wall Pond. A single Ringed Plover seen in middle park on the 3rd and 4th. Dunlin were seen on Rocket Pole scrape peaking at three including one being ringed on the 3rd. A scramble around Rat island on the 3rd also produced two Common Sandpipers. Two Purple Sandpiper were still on Brazen Ward on the 3rd.

Another round island count gave us a good indication of where our breeding sea birds are at. 16 Greater Black Backed gull, 94 Herring Gulls, 17 Lesser Black Backed Gulls, 2500 Guillemot, 350 Razorbill, 110 Puffin,32 Fulmar, 15 Gannet, 25 Shag, three Cormorant. A Great Northern Diver was still in the Landing bay on the 2nd.

It has been a very good week for Herons with up to 3 Grey Herons being seen across the week, however the Star Bird of the week has to go to the Purple Heron that was first found on the 5th and has been very mobile and giving visiting birders and both wardens the run around, but when being seen giving good views. Just the 5th record for the island, the last being in 1994.

Purple Heron, South Light © Rick Morris

Raptors have been quiet in the last week with Peregrines now being on nests and the Kestrels are looking to settle down along lower east. The Hooded Crow was seen in Brick Field on the 1st.  Buzzard was seen on three occasions with the pale bird still getting our hopes up for something rarer! A Female Marsh Harrier was enjoyed by all observers on the 3rd and 4th with the bird quartering just past Quarter wall.

Hoopoe was found by Luke on Quarry pond on the 3rd and was watched for c30 mins until it was unfortunately lost to view. We have had a very good week for Hirundine passage with three-figure counts of Swallow happening on 3 occasions peaking at 17,000 on the whole island. On some days birds were landing and roosting in the island in the fog. Sand Martin are still trickling through with single figure counts daily and now House Martins are picking up with the highest count coming again on the 7th of 1000+.

Swallow, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

Warblers are starting to slow now with many birds already returning to their mainland breeding grounds. A Grasshopper Warbler was seen on the 1st, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Chiffchaff were seen daily peaking at 21, 33, and 12 respectively. A silent Wood warbler was seen briefly in Smelly Gully on the 5th. Our first of the year. Reed Warblers were trickling through with a mini fall of five birds in Millcombe on the 7th. Blackcaps were a constant being in low double figures all week peaking at 24 on the 1st. A single Garden Warbler on the 2nd and two Lesser Whitethroat both males on the 6th and 7th. Goldcrest peaked with three on the 5th. Our thinking is that these are failed breeders with no bird been heard singing for at least a week now.

Sedge Warbler, Quarry Pond © Stuart Cossey

The resident male Song Thrush is still singing its heart out in Millcombe. Spotted Flycatchers are starting to come through now being seen daily all week and peaking with 5 on the 7th. A female Redstart was caught and ringed on the 1st. Wheatear are still moving through with some big Greenland type bird around with migrants peaking with 70 on the 1st.

Yellow Wagtail was logged on three days all single birds in Barton’s field. White Wagtail are still around with birds being seen in Barton’s and on the working site for the new water tanks.

Finch passage has slowed now with us now seeing Goldfinch and Linnet setting up territory but a Siskin flew over on the 2nd and up to two Lesser Redpoll have been associating with a group of Linnet in Bartons and also being seen in Millcombe.

We have started seeing butterflies now it has warmed up with Small White, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Small Copper all being recorded.  Silver Y and Hummingbird Hawk-moths are becoming more regular now too. Rabbits have bred well this year and are being seen on a regular basis around the whole island, particularly Millcombe, South West Field and Castle Hill. The most bizarre record of the week was a Common Toad heard in Quarry Pond on 7th. There are no amphibians on the island, the last records being escaped European Tree Frogs back in the 1900s.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Luke Marriner, Rob Duncan, David Kightley, Graham Madge, Rick Morris, W Shipman, Humprey Crick, N Gates, H Taylor

Monday 1 May 2023

24th to 30th April – Low cloud slows but doesn't stop migration

Moderate winds from the southeast and southwest for the majority of the week. Avery light southerly on 29th. Poor visibility thanks to low cloud and sea fog in the mornings from 27th to 29th and all day on 30th.

It appears that Teal may breed again this year with two pairs, one in Barton Field and another on Pondsbury. A Swift was seen on 28th. Male Cuckoo were heard and seen on 25th, 26th and 28th. A female was also heard ‘bubbling’ on the 26th. A Stock Dove was seen on 26th. Collared Dove are still being seen, peaking at three on 26th and then just the one up to 30th. A Turtle Dove was in Barton Field on the evening of 29th before flying down to St Helen’s Copse.

Collared Dove, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

A quieter week for wader passage. Whimbrel were seen on five dates with a max of three by Quarter Wall on 28th. A single Ringed Plover was seen on 24th and a Snipe on 27th. A whole island count of 53 Oystercatchers was taken on 26th. Amazingly, three Purple Sandpiper are still at Brazen Ward.

Purple Sandpiper, Brazen Ward © Stuart Cossey

A round island count on 26th gave a good estimate on our seabirds. 252 Kittiwakes, 41 Great Black-backed Gulls, 608 Herring Gulls and 165 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were counted. 3190 Guillemot, 3250 Razorbill and 161 Puffin were seen, though this number should increase in May as more birds return to the slopes. 124 Fulmar were counted, the majority on Gannet’s Rock. A Great Northern Diver was seen off the East Coast on 24th and 28th.

A female Merlin was seen on 24th and 28th and a pale Buzzard flew south on 25th. A Hooded Crow was seen flying over Quarter Wall and landed south of Pondsbury on 30th. There were no big hirundines days; the highest count of Swallows was 380 on 29th. A max of 40 House Martin were seen on 28th and 50 Sand Martin on 25th.

Hooded Crow, Pondsbury © Stuart Cossey

Nine species of warbler were seen this week. The first Lesser Whitethroat of the year was ringed on 26th and a Garden Warbler on the 29th. Reed Warbler were noted on 27th and 30th. A steady movement of Willow Warblers were moving through the island with between 10 and 50 a day. Blackcaps were more regular with between 10 and 110. There were arrivals of Sedge Warbler on 26th and 29th with seven and 12 seen respectively. The 27th was the biggest day for Whitethroat with 23 counted. The female Firecrest was retrapped on 26th and single Goldcrest were seen on 24th, 27th, 28th and 30th.

Whitethroat, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

Ring Ouzel are still passing through with two seen on 26th and 27th and singles on 24th, 28th and 29th. Spotted Flycatcher are starting to arrive with two on 27th and singles on 28th and 30th. A male Pied Flycatcher was seen on 25th and a female on 27th. A male Redstart was present on 27th. A female Whinchat was seen on 27th and two on 28th. There were a few days of Greenland Wheatear passage. Greenland Wheatear are a bigger race of Northern Wheatear that pass through the UK on their way to breed in Greenland and Canada. 142 Wheatear were counted on 24th, 75 on 25th and 87 on 26th.

Greenland Wheatear, Quarter Wall © Stuart Cossey

A single Yellow Wagtail was heard on 25th. Three White Wagtail were seen on 24th, two on 25th and singles up to 29th. Tree Pipit were heard on 24th and 29th.

There appears to be three pairs of Chaffinch in Millcombe with two females seen nest building. Three Greenfinch were present on 25th and a pair are now frequently being seen around Millcombe. Around 30 Goldfinch are being seen each day with many ringed including 4 with rings from elsewhere. 180 Linnet were counted on26th with a flock of 50 forming in Barton Field most evenings. Other Linnet have been seen nest building in the Gorse around  the island.

It has been too cold for most invertebrates but in other non-avian news, a Common Pipistrelle was seen and recorded on a bat detector outside the Tavern and in Millcombe on 28th. Two Harbour Porpoise were off Jenny’s Cove on 26th and a Bottlenose Dolphin was in the Landing Bay on 30th. Rabbits have bred well this year and are being seen on a regular basis around the whole island, particularly Millcombe, South West Field and Castle Hill.

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Luke Marriner, Rosie Ellis, Rob Duncan, David Kightley, Kevin Waterfall, David Jones, P Maunder.