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Monday 18 September 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 13th-17th September

A period of northerly winds overnight saw a fairly substantial fall of Blackcaps on the 13th with over 60 ringed and 76 recorded. However, clear skies and low winds quickly beckoned them onwards and a mass exodus left us with very few birds at the end of the week. Strong easterlies over the weekend brought a few new birds in, but most sensibly hunkered down. In the only short lull on Sunday evening feeding activity resumed, and a stunning first-year Barred Warbler dropped into the slope net in Millcombe.

First-year Barred Warbler ringed in Millcombe on 17th © Anna Sutcliffe

A pair of Teal were present on Pondsbury on the 13th, although just the male has been picked up subsequently at Quarter Wall pond. A Water Rail was heard calling in Smelly Gully on the 13th and 15th. One Cormorant was seen on the 13th. The first-year Grey Heron has still been present each day, with a raiding party of six further first-years riding the thermals along the east coast on the 15th.

Six first-year Grey Heron along the east coast on the 15th © Angus Croudace

In terms of waders, a single Ringed Plover was heard on the 13th. Three Snipe on the 13th including two by Rocket Pole and one at Pondsbury on 15th. A Snipe was also ringed in the night of the 17th. Greenshank single picked up calling as it flew over Millcombe by Tony Taylor on 14th. A Dunlin was feeding on Barton's Pond on the 15th. Two Golden Plover over the Airfield on the 14th and a single calling on 16th and 17th. On the 15th also Joe successfully dazzled and rung a first-year Dotterel at the north end, just the seventh bird ringed on Lundy!

First-year Dotterel ringed at the north end of the island on 15th September © Joe Parker

The northerly winds on the 13th that brought the arrival of Blackcaps also carried hirundines over our shores, with a push of 120 Sand Martin, 136 Swallow, and 67 House Martin. Passage was minimal at the end of the week, but one Swift was picked up over Barton's on the 15th. We're still awaiting a big Swallow push this season, perhaps to come at the end of this week when winds turn more favourable for large scale passage.

Willow Warbler also moved out, with 12 on the 13th, but just 3 of both Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff the rest of the week. A Sedge Warbler was present on the 13th along with three Reed Warbler and five WhitethroatGoldcrest are one of the few migrants that remained when seemingly everything else deserted us, with 18 on the 13th and 14th, and 10 on the 15th. One Garden Warbler was present on the 15th and a Firecrest was feeding in an Oak in Millcombe on the 17th.

We had four Spotted Flycatchers and just one Pied Flycatcher on the 13th before none were recorded on Thursday or Friday. A single of each species was detected over the weekend in Millcombe. Single Whinchat on the 13th, 15th and 17th at Barton's Field. A total of 18 Wheatear were present on the 13th but this had reduced to just a couple at the end of the week. Two Wheatear were ringed on the 17th, including one of the Greenland race leucorhoa.

Whinchat and Meadow Pipit at Barton's. © Angus Croudace

There have been one, sometimes two Yellow Wagtail around the village all week and a Grey-Headed Wagtail (Yellow Wagtail subspecies m.f.thunbergi) in St Helen's Field on the 15th. Two Tree Pipit flew over on the 13th. 

Grey-headed Wagtail m.f.thunbergi in St Helen's Field on 15th. © Shaun Robson

A couple of Wryneck continued their tenure on Lundy on the east and around Millcombe, with one unringed individual also new-in on census at Rocket Pole on the 14th. Two birds at Terrace and Millcombe still on the 17th. The first-year Rose-coloured Starling is also still present around the village.

Numbers are dwindling in the last remaining seabird colonies and a late season Manx Shearwater ringing attempt at North Light only gained three new birds, whilst another fledged bird was located by the Tavern the same night. Another two fledged young turned up in the village on the 17th (see previous blog for an explanation).  Two teams setup at The Battery and North Light mist netting Storm Petrels on the 15th caught 4 birds between them, and although numbers were low, excitingly they included a control. Finally for this week, about 30mins away from Lundy Anna and Steve Sutcliffe observed a dark-morph Arctic Skua from the MS Oldenburg on the 16th. 

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