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Friday 8 September 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 5th-8th September

The settled weather has continued this week, winds remaining as light easterlies apart from a much gustier morning on the 5th. The 5th was very quiet, but the week got much more exciting on the 6th-8th, with four Wryneck on the island for two days as well as a first-year Woodchat Shrike on the 6th.

First year Woodchat Shrike Barton's Field © Angus Croudace

First year Woodchat Shrike on Sycamore above Millcombe Pines © Angus Croudace

Now that we're into the swing of autumn numbers of Sylvia warblers are starting to rise, with about a dozen Blackcap and Whitethroat typically pushing up Millcombe. Counts of 41, 65 and 40 Willow Warblers on the 6-8th, with a noticeable switch to juvenile birds rather than the adults that dominated the earlier counts in the season. A couple of Reed Warblers, Chiffchaff and Common Redstart seen each day, and one Sedge Warbler on the 6th (Pondsbury) and 8th (Millcombe pines). There was a small push of Firecrest, with five on the 6th. Last year the highest Firecrest count was three on the 9th September, with other counts of three later in October. The push this week is likely to represent local mainland breeders, with Scandinavian birds forming the bulk of our passage in October. 

Firecrest, Millcombe © Angus Croudace

Flycatchers have been a jov to watch, with the east side positively buzzing with them. Max counts of 22 and 45 Spotted Flycatcher on the 6th and 7th and 18 and 24 Pied Flycatcher on the same dates. For comparison, last year peak counts of Pied Flycatcher were 6 in early September, and max count of Spotted Flycatcher was 20. This is a great comparison which shows the impact of the sustained easterly winds that we have been experiencing. Seven Whinchat on the 7th and 11 on the 8th are great signs of more autumn migrants moving through, as are Tree Pipit (two over Millcombe on the 7th, and at least four over the island on the 8th). One or two Siskin have also been heard flying over Millcombe two since the 6th.

Spotted Flycatcher above Millcombe © Angus Croudace

One Swift and one Sand Martin over on the 6th along with a small push of 250 Swallows. Five House Martin on the 7th were accompanied by a trickle of 60 Swallow. A Collared Dove was seen over Millcombe and on the roof of the barn on the 6th. The autumn has been slow on the raptor front, with only one female Sparrowhawk seen on the 5th, 6th and 8th.

Two Golden Plover over Millcombe on the 7th, with five Ringed Plover also recorded north of Quarter Wall. One Common Snipe at Pondsbury on the 5th and 6th and three on the 8th. An east coast seal survey also turned up a Common Sandpiper at Brazen Ward and two Turnstone at North Light, as well as a count of 26 Oystercatcher. Wader passage is vastly under-recorded on the island and opportunities such as accompanying the marine team on seal surveys is a great excuse to pick up some of these birds. Another Common Sandpiper was heard from Millcombe in the evening on the 8th. A Grey Heron has still been observed most days.

The first-year Rose-coloured Starling continued to 7th, seen with the other starlings as often as it is alone around the village and Millcombe. The Pintail has been present until the 7th, spending more time around Pondsbury than Millcombe.

In terms of ringing effort, the light winds since the 6th have meant that the mist nets in Millcombe have been open each day with highlights of three Wryneck ringed (one was caught in the Heligoland trap on the Terrace). A couple of pleasant evening sessions on the 7th and 8th picked up a dozen flycatchers. Our visiting ringers continue to ring about 20 Manx Shearwater over on the west coast, with a couple of Storm Petrels picked up too.

Wryneck, Millcombe © Angus Croudace

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