About this page...

This page is run by volunteer contributors as a source of news for everyone interested in the birds of Lundy, in the Bristol Channel, UK.
If you have news to report, please consider signing up as a contributor or send in your sightings here.
See also the companion website The Birds of Lundy for comprehensive updates to the 2007 book of the same name.
Bird recording and ringing on Lundy are coordinated by the Lundy Field Society and general information about visiting the island can be found here.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

20th May – Iceland Gull, Turtle Dove, Dotterel & Hawfinch

The annual Devon Birds day-trip charter of MS Oldenburg took place today and among the birds on offer were an Iceland Gull (off the West Side) and a Turtle Dove, in addition to the Dotterel and Hawfinch, both of which were still present. Tony Taylor, back for Wheatear and Manx Shearwater ringing studies, reports that the supporting cast included Whimbrel, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and a male Redstart. There were some hirundines and Swifts moving but numbers were lower than on 18th & 19th. Tony notes that the Wheatear breeding season is significantly later this year than in 2017 and that there are still Greenland Wheatears passing through.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

15th to 19th May – Dotterel, Firecrest, Hawfinch & major hirundine passage

Below are highlights for Tuesday 15th to Saturday 19th May, excluding James Diamond's sightings covered in the previous post. Dean Jones writes:

"The star of the show was undoubtedly the stunning lady Dotterel who dropped onto the SW point of the island this afternoon (19th). Initially found by Barbara Harrington & Kim Brett, the bird stuck around for quite a while and was enjoyed by numerous island twitchers."

Greenshank: One flying over the South End heading SE was seen and heard calling repeatedly (probably flushed from Kistvaen Pond) whilst I was on a Bumblebee identification course with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust!
Ringed Plover: 4 on 17th.
Dunlin: 1 by Rocket Pole Pond today (19th).
Collared Dove: 1 on 15th, 18th and 19th and 2 on 17th.
Swift: 28 on the 18th & 17 today (19th).
Kestrel: One male and female again on 18th.
All three Raven nests have now fledged young adding another 9 chicks (at least) to the island population.
Firecrest: A lone male was seen and heard singing his heart out in Millcombe wood on 18th and again early this morning (19th).
Skylark: A few more territories were found up beyond Threequarter Wall on 18th, bringing us to 46 territories so far for 2018.
Sand Martin: Single digit numbers on most days. 26+ traversed the island on 18th.
Swallow: Double digits up until 18th when a very conservative estimate of 3,000+ birds was noted. Birds were travelling over the island for the majority of the day averaging around 298 birds every 30 minutes (from sample counts at the North End). Today (19th) was a bit slower but still very impressive: sample count of 2 hours produced 310 birds.
House Martin: Similar to the Swallows, a very conservative estimate of around 124 birds were counted on 18th.
Chiffchaff: 4 recorded on each day within this period. There have been at least 2 birds singing in Millcombe every day during this period. Fingers crossed they will stay and breed.
Willow Warbler: 2 on 18th
Blackcap: 1 male and female on the 16th, 1 female on 17th & 18th.
Whitethroat: 4 on 16th and 2 on 18th.
Reed Warbler: 1 in Millcombe Gardens in the late afternoon of 18th and 2 today, 19th (one in Smelly Gully and 1 in the Secret Garden).
Spotted Flycatcher: 1 on 15th, 5 on 16th, 2 on 17th and 9 on 18th.
Redstart: A lone female was seen catching flies at the top of Millcombe on 18th.
Stonechat: The SW pair are still present and were seen collecting food from within the short heather on the morning of 18th – 7 were recorded in total for this date, six of which were recorded from Gannets Bay.
Wheatear: 36+ on 18th, most of which were singing males.
Grey Wagtail: A very late individual was noted in the logbook on 16th (no additional information).
Pied Wagtail: 4 on 16th.
Chaffinch: 3 on 16th & 17th.
Linnet: 40 on 17th and 41 on 18th. 
Lesser Redpoll: 2 feeding within a patch of dandelions in tent field on 18th.
Hawfinch: Present again in Millcombe on 18th near the Secret Garden in late afternoon, seemingly feeding on lichen (or fallen seeds caught in lichen) – see photo.

Female Dotterel, South West Point, 19th May © Dean Jones
Female Dotterel, South West Point, 19th May © Dean Jones
Hawfinch, Millcombe, 18th May © Dean Jones

Thursday, 17 May 2018

17th May – A gorgeous day

James Diamond took the 07.30 "pleasure cruise" aboard MS Oldenburg out of Bideford in beautiful sunshine, hoping for something tantalising on the island, perhaps a Bee-eater, a shrike or a Bluethroat. No joy on that front, but an entertaining day nonetheless with the following sightings:

Nine Blackbirds (including three on the plateau at Quarter Wall and one feeding young in Millcombe), Goldcrest (1 in Millcombe), Blackcap (1), Whitethroat (1), Chiffchaff (4), Collared Dove (2), Woodpigeon (2), Dunlin (1), Ringed Plover (1), Golden Plover (1), a Hawfinch around Millcombe House, House Martin (21), Sand Martin (3), Swift (10), Kestrel (2), White Wagtail (1), a Water Rail singing from juncus in Lighthouse Field and 50 Puffins in Jenny's Cove.

Late in the day the wind dropped away, making for a pleasant return crossing and fish and chips in Bideford before the drive home to Exminster. Thanks James.

12th to 14th May – Short-toed Lark and Purple Sandpipers

The latest news from Lundy Warden Dean Jones:

"The obvious highlight for this period has to be the super Short-toed Lark which was found by Sam Bosanquet on the afternoon of the 13th, feeding along the Old Light track. Sam was fortunate enough to see this bird at least three times throughout the day from 15:20 – 19:25 as he passed to and from his accommodation at Old Light." See Sam's Twitter post and photo here.

Notes from the LFS logbook 12th – 14th:

Whimbrel: 2 on 12th (South Light and west coast).
Dunlin: 1 was seen flying north on the 12th.
Purple Sandpiper: 4 at Brazen Ward on 14th, one of which was in full breeding plumage and allowed for superb prolonged close up views. (NB This is a notable record for what has never been a commonly reported species on Lundy, but sightings have been particularly few and far between in recent years.)
Collared Dove: 2 on 12th and 1 on 14th.
Swift: 1 on 12th & 14th and 2 on 13th.
Kestrel: A beautiful lone female was seen quartering the south end on 12th – the highlight of the island's second World Migratory Bird Day guided walk.
Swallow: 76 on the 12th, 200+ on 13th and 142 on 14th.
Sand Martin: 14 on 13th and 8 on 14th.
House Martin: 1 on 12th, 30+ on 13th and 11 on 14th.
Chiffchaff: 3 on 12th, 8 on 13th and 6 on 14th.
Willow Warbler: 1 bird on each day throughout this period.
Blackcap: Numbers have dropped dramatically compared to the start of the month. 1 on 12th, 2 on  13th and 3 on 14th.
Whitethroat: 1 on 12th & 13th and 4 on 14th.
Grasshopper Warbler: 1 flushed from the bracken alongside the track beyond Threequarter Wall on  13th.
Sedge Warbler: 4 on 12th, 1 on 13th and 2 on 14th.
Spotted Flycatcher: 2 late arriving birds on 12th were seen catching flies from the fence posts next to the Tavern.
White Wagtail: 1 male was seen feeding on the grass near Old Light in the evening of 12th (S Bosanquet).
Linnet: 5 on 12th, 21 on 13th and 22 on 14th.
Lesser Redpoll: One on 14th calling loudly whilst in flight above Millcombe.
Goldfinch: 14 on 12th, 11 on 13th and 14 on 14th.
Siskin: 2 beautiful birds (1 male & 1 female) were present in Millcombe on 14th.

"The weather is looking very exciting for the upcoming week! All the fingers and toes are crossed for something special."

Sunday, 13 May 2018

7th to 11th May – A promising start but then migration stopped

Dean Jones, the warden, reports that the period started off very promising with a lovely diversity of long distant migrants arriving on the island throughout the morning of the 7th. Unfortunately this buzz of passage did not continue over the next few days and the birds that were already here quickly moved off before the wind picked up and the rains arrived. There was however a few super birds to continue the excitement of spring.

Highlights from the period include:

May 7th

  • Whimbrel: 4
  • Kestrel: 1 hovering over SW field in the afternoon.  
  • Hirundines: 26 Sand Martin, 120+ Swallow and 7 House Martin.
  • Swift: 5 over the south end of the island in the afternoon.
  • Chiffchaff: 10 including a number of singing individuals in Millcombe and St Helen’s Copse.
  • Willow Warbler: 7
  • Blackcap: 7
  • Garden Warbler: 1
  • Whitethroat: 4 in the Millcombe/St John’s area.
  • Sedge Warbler: 9 in the Millcombe/St John’s area.
  • Whinchat: 1 female perched on a fence post at the top of Millcombe.
  • Finches: 20 Linnet, 8 Goldfinch, 1 female Chaffinch and a lone male Lesser Redpoll singing his heart out on Government House roof.

May 8th

  • Whimbrel: 2
  • Dunlin: 2
  • Collared Dove: 1
  • Swift: 3
  • Hirundines: 8 Sand Martin, 66 Swallow and 2 House Martin.
  • Phylloscs: 8 Chiffchaff and 3 Willow Warbler.
  • Blackcap: 7
  • Sedge Warbler: 1
  • Yellow Wagtail: A beautiful female was found feeding with the ponies in Barton’s Field, the first of the year.
  • White Wagtail: 1 female in Barton’s Field.
  • Finches: 37 Linnet, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Chaffinch, 20 Goldfinch, the female Bullfinch again and a stunning male Hawfinch was seen on the Laundry Garden wall in the afternoon (Z Barton).

May 9th (Someone has turned off the migrant tap)

  • Whimbrel: 1
  • Dunlin: 1
  • Collared Dove: 1
  • Hirundines: 1 Sand Martin, 15 Swallow and 3 House Martin.
  • Phylloscs: 3 Chiffchaff and 1 Willow Warbler.
  • Blackcap: 1
  • Finches: 30 Linnet, 14 Goldfinch and the male Hawfinch again, this time from the top of Millcombe in the early morning and subsequently on Sue Waterfield’s feeders on a number of occasions up until the late afternoon.

May 10th (Another very quiet day)

  • Whimbrel: 3
  • Manx Shearwater: 23 past Rat Island in 5 minutes.
  • Collared Dove: 1
  • Hirundines: 3 Sand Martin, 44 Swallow and 3 House Martin.
  • Chiffchaff: 2
  • Willow Warbler: 1
  • Blackcap: 2
  • Sedge Warbler: 1
  • Yellow Wagtail: 1 male & 1 female, both in Barton’s Field.
  • Linnet: 35
  • Goldfinch: 20

May 11th. Don’t the birds know that it is World Migratory Bird Day this weekend?

  • Collared Dove: 1
  • Chiffchaff: 2
  • Willow Warbler: 1
  • Blackcap: 1 female
  • Spotted Flycatcher: 2 in the Sycamores near Bramble Villas. 

Hawfinch © Dean Jones

Yellow Wagtail © Dean Jones

Yellow Wagtail © Dean Jones

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

World Migratory Bird Day – Lundy events

This weekend Lundy will be helping celebrate World Migratory Bird Day – an event aimed at raising awareness into the plight of migratory birds around the globe.

To celebrate this important day the conservation team will be hosting two special bird related guided walks on Friday 11th May (10:30am from the Tavern) and Saturday 12th May (12:00pm from the Jetty). Additionally we will be hosting a special illustrated talk on Saturday evening in the wheelhouse (5:00pm) about bird migration and the fantastic work of the Committee Against Bird Slaughter, who save thousands of birds each year from illegal hunting and trapping in Europe!

For more information on Migratory bird day and for information on other events around the country why not have a look at the event's official website

We hope to see you on the weekend!

Monday, 7 May 2018

4th to 6th May

The warden, Dean Jones reports "It’s been very warm and muggy on the island as of late, which has been great for insects who are now starting to emerge in good numbers, but not very good for migrants, as the warm air on the island coupled with a cool oceanic breeze has cloaked the island in a near continuous blanket of fog for the majority of this period. We were still luckily enough to get some beautiful sunny spells with next to no winds at parts, which allowed for a superb passage of Hirundines on the afternoon of the 4th. Here a very conservative estimate of 1200+ swallows, 200+ sand martins and 38 house martins passed over Lundy on route to their breeding grounds in the north."

Other avian highlights from the period include (excluding birds from Rob Duncan’s previous post):
  • Whimbrel: 8 on the 5th & 1 on the 6th.
  • Snipe: One flushed from a small patch of rush in SW field on the 6th.
  • Swift: One over Millcombe on the 4th and 3 on the 6th.
  • Goldcrest: One on the 4th & 5th.
  • Swallow: 200+ on the 5th, & 80 on the 6th.
  • Sand Martin: 10 on the 5th & 51 on the 6th.
  • House Martin: 10 on the 5th & 7 on the 6th,
  • Stonechat: One male near the Rocket Pole on the 4th and the 6th.
  • Pied Wagtail: 2 on the 4th & 5th. One of which (a young male) was caught and ringed in Millcombe on the 5th. 5 on the 6th.
  • Chiffchaff: 21 caught and ringed from the Millcombe area which included a highly probable Siberian bird (see photo).
  • Willow Warbler: 14 birds caught and ringed on the 5th.
  • Blackcap: 30 (21 females & 9 males) on the 5th.  
  • Whitethroat: 1 caught in St John’s on the 5th.
  • Sedge Warbler: 8 on the 5th - all caught and ringed from the Millcombe/St John’s area.
  • Reed Warbler: 1 caught and ringed from St John’s Valley on the 5th.
  • Chaffinch: 2 females on the 5th.
  • Linnet: 33 on the 6th which included 4 females with nest material. 
  • Bullfinch: One female in Millcombe on the 5th.
I was also lucky enough to join the guys from Obsession 2 charters for a round the island trip on the afternoon of the 6th. The beautiful calm sea state allowed for perfect conditions for counting some of the islands seabirds.

Totals include:
  • Shag: 38
  • Oystercatcher: 22
  • Kittiwake: 192
  • Great Black-backed Gull: 63
  • Herring Gull: 479
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull: 237
Possible Siberian Chiffchaff © Dean Jones
Swallow having a quick preen before departure © Dean Jones

Lesser Redpoll along the Beach Road © Dean Jones

Stonechat in Southwest Field © Dean Jones