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Wednesday 27 September 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 24th - 27th September

Strong winds have prohibited any ringing this week. Despite the large westerly weather systems of late, Luke managed to uncover a Yellow-breasted Bunting between the pigsty and airfield associating with Meadow Pipits. This is a bird breeding in the far east, Siberia, and is the third record for Lundy after two in the 1980s. The large gap in records followed the species' catastrophic collapse in range and population due to massive over-harvesting (for food) in the wintering grounds, particularly in China. As a particularly exciting record, a small twitch assembled on the 26th, but unfortunately it hasn't reappeared for anyone other than Luke, the original finder.

Mega record of a first winter Yellow-breasted Bunting with a Meadow Pipit. © Luke Marriner

At least one Red-eyed Vireo has remained in Millcombe, along with one ringed Wryneck, both seen on the 26th. The Rose-coloured Starling appears to have left us now, with no sightings in the week since the 20th.

Ringed Red-eyed Vireo in Smelly Gully. © Angus Croudace 

At least two Water Rail are still heard calling daily in Millcombe, with an individual heard up near Quarters as well on the 26th. A single Ringed Plover which appears to have been around most of the month was again picked up calling over the east/Millcombe. A Turnstone was seen from the Landing Bay on the 26th. Two Grey Heron are still present.

A seawatch from the castle in the very windy Storm Agnes on the 27th produced around 80 each of Great Black-backed Gull and Gannet heading south down the east coast and then turning into the wind at the castle, as well as two Cormorant, a single Manx Shearwater and most excitingly a single Balearic Shearwater which is the first of the year for Lundy. Lesser Black-backed Gull have started to be picked up a little more this week, with four on the 24th, and 17 on the 26th. 

A female Sparrowhawk is still seen regularly between Old Light and the village, as well as along the east coast. At least two Kestrel and three Peregrine are also still seen regularly.

Skylark started moving through in nice numbers at the end of last week with a peak of 56 on the 22nd. We are still recording about 20 birds south of Quarter Wall each day this week, although these are mostly birds that are sticking around the airfield and SW field - they haven't moved on yet, possibly remaining local until favourable weather presents itself again for them to move on. Meadow Pipit counts have been a couple of hundred each day with large flocks around the airfield.

The small hirundine trickle continues, and we are still surprised not to have had a big day of passage yet, especially seeing as not too far away on the mainland there have been some large movements recorded. The 26th saw our highest totals since the 22nd, with 120 Swallow, 7 Sand Martin and 11 House Martin.

Millcombe has been much quieter since the Blackcap fall last week, with 15 Blackcaps left on the 24th and just two on the 27th. One Chiffchaff has remained in the lower garden, and counts of Goldcrest south of Quarter wall have been around a dozen each day. One Ring Ouzel was picked up on the 24th and 25th. A Spotted Flycatcher has been present since the 25th, with another on the terrace on the 26th. About twelve Crossbills were reported flying low over Millcombe on the 26th. Above Millcombe a Whinchat and Yellow Wagtail remain in Barton's Field, and one Grey Wagtail also flew overhead on the 26th.

Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe © Angus Croudace

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