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Monday 2 October 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 28th - 2nd October

The 28th was a fine, sunny day, but strong winds have continued this week. They have mostly been southerly meaning that even Millcombe Valley, typically sheltered from the prevailing winds, was blustery with limited activity much of the time. The island was cloaked in a clingy mist for the entirety of 1st October. Come the 2nd, the mist lifted, revealing an eerily still morning where finally ringing in Millcombe could resume before the mist returned late afternoon. 

60 Blackcaps, 20 Goldcrests and a rather late Pied Flycatcher were all ringed on the 2nd. The flycatcher was scored low on fat and muscle, which is perhaps telling of it's late arrival. Conditions here are still very mild with a lot of insects still very active so there should be plenty of food to allow this bird to feed up and improve it's condition for the onwards journey.

Throughout this week two Water Rail continue to call in Millcombe and a Grey Heron is seen daily moving between waterbodies. A Golden Plover was heard around the airfield on the 29th-30th. On the 29th a single Ringed Plover was on the ground at the north end, along with a Dunlin. Another Ringed Plover was heard flying over Millcombe on both the 29th and 30th. 

Three Cormorants were seen out to sea on the 28th, and another three flew south over the airfield on the 29th - could these be the same individuals? Interestingly earlier in the month 12 Cormorants were seen flying south off of Rat Island, whilst four days later another 12 were picked up. It's difficult to know if these are again repeat sightings of this fairly scarce Lundy visitor, or just coincidences! A seawatch on the still morning of the 2nd produced quality if not quantity, with two Arctic Skua heading north as well as Great Northern Diver.

Three Cormorant heading south, seen from the Airfield. © Angus Croudace

A high count of 40 Rock Pipit was recorded on the 28th, with a few around the village but most picked up on the west coast on the plateau above Brazen Ward. This could be a mixture of migrant birds dropping onto the plateau, or perhaps a more local movement of our local breeders seeking more shelter for the winter. We had high counts of 566 Meadow Pipit and 39 Skylark on the 29th in this period. An evening dazzling on the 29th caught 11 Skylark, along with one of the 21 Wheatear recorded on the same date.

Four buntings have been added to the Lundy year list in just over a week, with an Ortolan Bunting picked up on census near the Stonecrusher on 30th. Much alike the Little and Yellow-breasted Buntings from earlier in the week, despite concerted efforts it was not refound later in the day. Reed Bunting singles were recorded both in Millcombe and at Pondsbury on the 2nd.

Reed Bunting, Pondsbury © Angus Croudace

The 29th saw another push of hirundines including 594 Swallow and 132 House Martin. Among them Chris Baillie picked up a juvenile American Cliff Swallow, a vagrant visitor that, if accepted, will be the first record of this species for Lundy. This record is part of a major influx to the Western Palaearctic this autumn after they were initially displaced by strong winds on the North American continent in late August.

We've had another two waves of Blackcaps this week after just seven being left on the 28th; 78 on the 30th and 100 on the 2nd. A second young Barred Warbler of the autumn was seen around the top of Millcombe on the 29th. Luke also managed to catch and ring our long-staying Whinchat, which never strays far from Barton's Fields. On the 2nd two Common Crossbills were observed coming into Millcombe and feeding in the pines for ten minutes before departing as quickly as they arrived.

Common Crossbill, Millcombe Pines © Angus Croudace

First winter female Whinchat © Nicola Dunkin

The first Lesser Whitethroat of Autumn was picked up in the willows on the Terrace on the 28th and refound at Quarter Wall on the 29th. A Sedge Warbler was present at Pondsbury on the 28th and a Reed Warbler on the 2nd. A couple of Spotted Flycatchers have been hanging on in Millcombe, with a high count of three on the 29th. Two Tree Pipit were seen on the 29th, one on the ground in SW field, and the other calling around Millcombe. On the 30th six Siskin were bombing around Millcombe first thing, with another two singles picked up later in the day. Another single Song Thrush was seen in Millcombe on the 29th and a Firecrest was in Smelly Gully on the 1st, the first since the 22nd.

Lesser Whitethroat, Quarter Wall © Joe Parker

Wheatear, Stonecrusher © Joe Parker

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