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This page is run by Lundy Bird Observatory (LBO) as a source of news for everyone interested in the birds and wildlife of Lundy, situated 12 miles out in the Bristol Channel, UK. If you have sightings to report, please consider sharing your observations or photographs with the Bird Obs team here. While you're here, check out the companion website The Birds of Lundy for comprehensive updates to the book of the same name (Davis & Jones, 2007). All bird recording and ringing activities on Lundy are coordinated by LBO and general information about visiting the island can be found here.

Tuesday 10 October 2023

Lundy Bird Observatory Update - 3rd - 10th October

 The weather has been fairly consistent for 3-6th October, with moderate winds from the south-west limiting any passage on a large scale over Lundy. The tail end of this week featured much lighter winds and glorious sun on the 8th, with some extended periods of heavy fog on the 9th-10th.

Golden Plover records have been almost daily in this period, with an autumn high count thus far of nine over Millcombe on the 9th, with the flock interestingly led by a single Bar-tailed Godwit, and tailed by a single Snipe! A flock of 24 Oystercatchers was seen at Quarry Beach on the 4th. 

A single Great Northern Diver was in the Landing Bay on the morning of the 7th. On an island-wide seal survey on the 4th two Arctic Skuas were picked up, a pale morph from North Light and a dark morph causing havoc in a Gannet feeding flock east of the Landing Bay. A Mediterranean Gull was picked up in the Landing Bay on the 5th and another off of the east with 115 Kittiwake on the 7th. A first-winter Yellow-Legged Gull was present in the Landing Bay on the 10th. After the fog cleared on the 9th and 10th the seabirds started feeding in earnest, with a lot of Gannet activity - 120 recorded off of the east feeding on the 9th. Our second autumn flock of presumably dispersed, roving Grey Heron was picked up on the 10th, with 17 east of the Landing Bay shortly after dawn making quite the spectacle, albeit at a distance!

Golden Plover, Airfield © Angus Croudace

Whilst it was too windy to ring in Millcombe early in the week we were out dazzling every night, with great success. Seven Common Snipe have been ringed. Using the thermal has been invaluable in helping us record how many snipe we actually have, with daytime records typically of single birds. Now that quite a few are ringed, with further effort across the autumn and winter, we'll be able to get a better handle on how many birds stick around for a while, or whether there is much turnover of individuals. We're also looking forward to mid-October, when we should begin to pick up Jack Snipe, which are two thirds the size of Common Snipe and flush much much later, and are thus very tricky to find! Another 6 Wheatear as well as over 20 Skylarks have also been ringed in these sessions, which have focused on SW Field, Brick Field and the Airfield, with one foray north to Middle Park. Notably a Common Redstart was also caught near to the Stonecrusher on the evening on 4th, two days after it was first found on a morning census.

In the light winds at the end of the week we could open the nets in Millcombe. The most productive session was on the 9th, when we caught 51 Siskin and a dozen other common migrants, as well as another Red-eyed Vireo which had been picked up in the field by Luke in the morning. This bird weighed 20.3g, a lot more than the previously ringed bird at 15.6g. It's clearly been feeding well since arriving (presumably) among the large UK influx two weeks ago, before arriving in Millcombe.

Red-eyed Vireo caught and ringed in Millcombe © Angus Croudace

Male Siskin caught and ringed in Millcombe © Luke Marriner

Unsurprisingly, the Pied Flycatcher caught in Millcombe on the 2nd with very low fat and muscle scores stuck around until the 6th, selecting to feed up around the Oak below the Beach Road. Spotted Flycatchers can also still be seen feeding from the tops of the Sycamores in Millcombe daily, with a max count of five on the 9th. At least one Firecrest has picked up in Quarter Wall Copse and or Millcombe daily, with a high count of 7 on the 7th. The first Black Redstart of the season appeared in the Lodge garden on the 8th. 

A late Tree Pipit was heard calling from the Terrace as it moved south on the 6th, and two Siskin were picked up on the 4th and the 6th. As the winds changed later in the week Siskin numbers increased dramatically with at least 60 each day 8th-10th. As the east coast of the UK witnessed a huge autumn fall after favourable strong easterly winds, we also received our first thrushes, although in somewhat more modest quantities with five Fieldfare, three Redwing and a Song Thrush arrived on the 9th. A single Greenfinch arrived into Millcombe on the 9th too, and has remained present on the 10th.

Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe © Angus Croudace

Firecrest in lower Millcombe © Angus Croudace

Our first Merlin of the autumn also finally arrived on the 4th October, a month later than last year's first on the 5th September. The third first year Osprey of the autumn headed south on the 7th, seen along the east coast, and fortuitously flying directly over the M.S. Oldenberg as it was boarding, allowing all of our visitors excellent views too.

Merlin, Three-quarter Wall © Luke Marriner

A second Ortolan Bunting of the autumn was picked up in Millcombe on the 7th behaving as if it had just arrived, moving about the valley a lot and associating with various other finches. It was found again feeding with Meadow Pipits around Acklands Moor on the 8th in the morning. It showed very well on both occasions, and was calling frequently. A Snow Bunting was found around the west end of Three-quarter Wall on the 4th, and offered only two very brief flight views. Reed Bunting singles were in Millcombe on the 5th and above Benjamin's Chair on the 10th. A ringed Wryneck was seen in Millcombe on the 8th as well, the first sighting since the 29th.

Ortolan Bunting, © Angus Croudace

Ringed Wryneck below Millcombe House © Luke Marriner

In terms of other common migrants, Water Rail continue to call in Millcombe daily, with three recorded on the 10th. We're still picking up good numbers of Skylark with a high count of 54 on the 8th. A couple of Chiffchaff were picked up each day until the winds changed when they numbered around 15 each day from the 8th. Goldcrest numbers have declined in two stages - the week started with an influx of 41 after which we tended to record about 20, and finishing with just four on the 10th. A few late Reed Warblers arrived at the end of the week, with a high count of three on both the 8th and 9th, two of which were caught and ringed. Swallow counts are typically about 60 each day all week, with a few bunches of House Martin, including 44 on the 8th. No Sand Martin since two on the 4th. Wheatear numbers are much reduced, with just four on the 10th. 

There have been small numbers of wagtails recorded, with a single Grey Wagtail on the 8th and 10th. A couple of Pied Wagtail most days and a couple of small groups of Alba (Pied/White) Wagtails in flight, totalling 13 birds moving on the 8th. Chaffinch numbers remain below ten. Two Grey Heron and female Sparrowhawk are still present, and one Teal has been seen on Pondsbury on the 4th and 9th.

A misty west coast on the 9th as the island appeared above the fog © Angus Croudace

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