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.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

28 July to 15 August – Seawatching and early autumn migration highlights

Warden Dean Jones has managed to fit in some early morning and evening seawatching during the recent run of unsettled weather, recording some impressive numbers and the odd scarcity. Migration of raptors, waders, gulls and landbirds is also underway, with several 'Lundy rarities' putting in recent appearances.

Seawatching:

3rd August 06.30–08.30 hrs, from SW Point

Manx Shearwater 538
Storm Petrel 1
Gannet 145
Shag 5
Kittiwake 19

5th August 18.30 hrs onwards, from North End

Manx Shearwater 10,000+ (all moving N, apart from a rafting flock of c.1,100 birds)
Gannet 100+
Shag 30
Great Skua 1 (in pursuit of Gannets, trying to to force them to regurgitate fish...)

Also at least 5 Storm Petrels coming into their burrows at around half-past midnight, in spite of a full moon.

6th August 06.30–10.00 hrs, from North End

Fulmar 13
Sooty Shearwater 1
Manx Shearwater 1,121
Gannet 136
Great Skua 1 or 2, harrying Kittiwakes
Puffin 1 (likely to be the last record for the year from the island) 
Kittiwake 127

Dean picked out the Sooty Shearwater sitting on the water as he watched "a spectacular mixed species feeding frenzy that started around 7.30am, with numerous Gannets and Manx Shearwaters diving for prey." After 10 minutes or so, the Sooty Shearwater flew off to the east with Manxies.

9th August 07.00–10.00 hrs, from North End

Fulmar 13 
Manx Shearwater 639
Gannet 124
Shag 74
Razorbill 4
Guillemot 1
Kittiwake 86

Also Harbour Porpoise 6

Other notable records from 28 July to 15 August (mainly migrants and post-breeding dispersal):

Little Egret – one in the Devil's Kitchen and Landing Bay area on 13 & 14 Aug (Dean Jones & Zoë Barton)
Marsh Harrier – juvenile on 7 Aug and daily from 9th to 13th (Dean Jones & Zoë Barton et al.)
Ringed Plover – one on 3 & 4 Aug
Whimbrel – singles on 2 & 15 Aug
Turnstone – one in Landing Bay on 29 Jul (Dean Jones)
Common Sandpiper – one on Rat Island on 13 Aug (Dean Jones, Rob & Sue Waterfield)
Guillemot – two on 12 Aug
Black-headed Gull – three juveniles on Rat Island on 13 Aug (Dean Jones)
Woodpigeon – seven on 12 Aug 
Collared Dove – three on 7 & 8 Aug
Swift – one on 31 Jul
Kestrel – singles on 29 Jul and 3 & 4 Aug
Sand Martin – up to three on six dates, 29 Jul to 15 Aug
Willow Warbler – higher counts were six on 4 & 8 Aug and 13 on 12 Aug
Blackcap – singles on 8 & 13 Aug
Whitethroat one on 6 Aug,  two on 7th and one on 13th
Reed Warbler – one on 7 Aug (Dean Jones)
Spotted Flycatcher – two juvs along the Terrace on 4 Aug, two in Millcombe on 12 Aug
Linnet – 100+ on 6 Aug
Crossbill – a juvenile in Millcombe on 10 Aug (R.M.R. James)

In addition, three Sunfish were seen from the island on 6 Aug (Emily Trapnell & Mike Jones), while Tony Taylor and Richard & Rebecca Taylor saw 5 Storm Petrels and good numbers of Guillemot adult-and-chick twosomes from MS Oldenburg on the crossing from Ilfracombe on 15th.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

27th & 28th July sea-watches

Lundy Warden Dean Jones reports a good sea-watch on the morning of 27th July: “No scarce tubenoses or skuas but around 300+ Manx Shearwaters, 23 Gannets and a handful of Shags and Kittiwakes. Watching the Manxies pass through the stormy sea was breathtaking.”

Dean got out again twice on 28th. The morning’s attempt was thwarted by heavy bouts of rain and mist. As Dean says: “There really isn’t much shelter on the SW point in a Force 7 oncoming wind!” However, a combination of a brief morning watch and an afternoon watch produced some 300 Manx Shearwaters, most of which were moving west, 80 Gannets, a single Fulmar and Guillemot and eight Kittiwakes. In addition, Dean had some amazing views of a Storm Petrel very close in off the South End in the afternoon. “I was able to follow the bird for a few minutes as it navigated the towering swell – definitely the highlight of all the birding I’ve done so far on Lundy; a spectacular show it was!”

Dean also had “some smashing views of five Harbour Porpoises feeding in the SW races in the afternoon, and in the morning a pod of 15 Common Dolphins which included two small calves. One of them was way in front of the rest of the pod, launching itself from the swell, seemingly loving life”.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

17th to 25th July – including successful breeding by Spotted Flycatchers

Dean Jones has scoured the Lundy Field Society logbook for the latest July records from the island. As Dean says, "there have been some really nice birds about of late". Along with a Marsh Harrier, perhaps the best news is of successful breeding by a pair of Spotted Flycatchers for the first time since 1997.

Storm Petrel – two on 3rd July seen offshore from the Oldenburg near Bull Point (Martin Thorne) and one on  25th again from the Oldenburg but much closer to Lundy, about 20 minutes out from the island (Dean Jones).
Cormorant – three on 23rd.
Little Egret – one on 23rd (Mike Thurner).
Whimbrel – one on 18th.
Curlew – one over Rat Island on the evening of 25th.
Black-headed Gull – a single 2nd-year bird in the Landing Bay on 25th (Dean Jones).
Cuckoo – singles on (Martin Thorne) and 24th (Philip & Helen Lymbery).
Swift – four on 17th, one on 18th and three on 24th.
Marsh Harrier – seen on a few occasions from North End to the South Light on 23rd & 24th (Philip and Helen Lymbery) and possibly also on 22nd, though noted in the logbook as a female Hen Harrier but with no supporting text or observer name.
Kestrel – one on 23rd & 24th.
Merlin – one on 23rd, normally a very rare summer visitor on Lundy (Martin Thorne).
Rook – the long-staying bird was near the Quarters pig pen on 23rd (Philip & Helen Lambery).
Swallows & Sand Martins – small numbers on most days.
Willow Warbler – five on 17th, seven on 23rd, three on 24th and one on 25th.
Sedge Warbler – one on 17th and one on 23rd.
Spotted Flycatcher – three fledged young being fed by parents in Quarter Wall Copse on 17th (Dean Jones).
Goldfinch – 12 on 25th, ten of which were juveniles.

With wet and windy weather on 26th July and more of the same forecast for the morning of 27th, Dean is contemplating a sea-watch from the south-west. Watch this space!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Storm Petrel fly past

Steve McAusland, working for MARINElife on board MS Oldenburg on 12th July, reports "a Storm Petrel passing by about an hour out from the island". He wasn't sure if this counted as a Lundy bird tick, but he did say that "it was heading in the direction of Lundy!" Who knows, perhaps it was one of the two birds found at North End on 9th July by Warden Dean Jones using a tape call-back!

9th to 13th July – A confusing Starling!

Thanks to House Sparrow researchers Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar and Antje Girndt for sharing their observations and photos from their recent stay on Lundy.
“On 9th July we observed a male Stonechat sitting on a fence-post along the path from the shop down to Millcombe. On 12th we enjoyed close views of a juvenile Teal by Quarter Wall Pond (photo below) and two others, possibly also juveniles, on Pondsbury. On the same we watched what looked like a juvenile Sand Martin sitting on the fence close to the main track at Quarter Wall (photo below), and also 60+ Linnets (mostly juveniles) on the track from the Black Shed to Old Light.
On our last day, 13th, the whole sparrow team were at the campsite from where we were very lucky to hear a Water Rail (our first on Lundy) calling around Pigs Paradise. We tried, unsuccessfully, to locate it using the ‘scope. 
One or two Chiffchaffs were singing every day in Millcombe. Down by the Heligoland Trap on the Terrace a ringed Dunnock was seen and heard singing on 8th and a singing Whitethroat was there on 12th. We saw a Rook (photo below) on several days, always by the pig-sty on the way to Quarter wall.
Lastly an interesting observation. On 10th we were highly confused by a juvenile Starling. At first we really thought we had found a ‘mega’ as we could not identify a starling-like bird with an orange forehead. After a few minutes we realized that it was feeding from flowers, and the orange forehead was the result of accumulated pollen (photo below). Definitely a very interesting and unexpected behaviour!”
With his House Sparrow fieldwork on Lundy now behind him, Alfredo is currently writing up his PhD thesis. Lundy birders wish you every success, Alfredo!

Juvenile Teal. © Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar
Sand Martin. © Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar
Male Linnet. © Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar
Rook. © Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar
'Orange-headed' Starling. © Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

2017 summer fieldwork update


Peregrines
Dean Jones reported the finding of two rings from Peregrine kills on 12th July, whilst out with researchers Luke Sutton and Seb Loram. One was from a freshly predated Manx Shearwater ringed as an adult in 29th August 2011. The other ring, an AA ring inscribed HRC365 and found in a pellet on the West Side, came from a very unexpected prey item for a Peregrine: a Long-tailed Tit ringed by Rob Duncan on 3rd April 2016. It was one of a small flock that was on the island that spring, and was perhaps most likely predated when flying along the East Side or even heading off towards the mainland.

Luke Sutton remarks: “Over the seven years I have been studying Peregrine diet in Devon these are the first remains/pellets I've found with rings. So to get two in the space of five minutes was unusual. I've recorded Long-tailed Tit once before at a South Devon coastal site – not much of a meal at just 8 grams! Elsewhere, the remains of a Razorbill pullus found in a Peregrine territory on the West Side suggests that this prey item was taken off a breeding ledge. We have now finished our fieldwork on Peregrine diet. Over the past four seasons we've collected more than 500 prey samples, the largest sample size for any study on coastal Peregrine diet in the UK. Data analysis will start over the winter with the aim of having a paper written by this time next year for publication. My thanks to Seb (Loram) and Ryan (Burrell) for putting in the time and effort to help collect such a substantial sample size.”

Wheatears
Tony Taylor reports an excellent season for breeding Wheatears, in spite of the grim weather during Richard & Rebecca Taylor’s second week on the island in early June. A total of 99 colour-ringed birds were located in the study area (extending from Castle Hill to Halfway Wall), with 51 birds newly colour-ringed (two of them ringed as chicks in 2016) and 48 from previous years. 61% of last year’s birds were re-sighted – a good survival rate for the species – and this may rise if the study team catch up with other birds next year. The estimate for the whole island in 2017 is 121 breeding pairs, the highest so far.

Manx Shearwaters
Tony Taylor arrives on Lundy on 15th August to start the annual autumn ringing programme, which runs from mid-August through to mid-September.

1st to 15th July – Highlights


Lundy Warden Dean Jones provides an update on bird sightings during the first half of July.

Teal – two juveniles on Quarter Wall Pond on 8th.
Fulmar – 64 on 2nd.
Manx Shearwater – 110 past The Battery in a ten-minute count on 12th.
Storm Petrel – two found by tape call-back at North End on 9th.
Gannet – lots throughout the month with a high of 23 off Mouse Island on 14th.
Cormorant – one below Puffin Slope on 9th & 12th.
Grey Heron – singles on 2nd & 6th (Alan & Sandra Rowland) and two juveniles on 7th flying south from St Mark’s Stone.
Water Rail – one calling from Quarters Pond on 13th.
Puffin – 253 on 1st.
Kittiwake – 236 during a ‘round-the-island’ count on 12th and 202 off St Mark’s Stone on 2nd.
Herring Gull – 295 during a ‘round-the-island’ count on 12th.
Lesser Black-backed Gull – 123 during a ‘round-the-island’ count on 12th.
Black-headed Gull – a single juvenile in Gannets’ Bay on 9th.
Common Gull – an adult perched on Mouse Island on 12th.
Great Black-backed Gull – 44 during a ‘round-the-island’ count on 12th.
Woodpigeon – five from 4th–6th.
Collared Dove – one on 4th.
Swift – four on 5th, ten on 6th & six on 9th.
Rook – still present, seen by a number of people on 2nd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 10th & 12th.
Swallow – small numbers on most days, with 11 on 5th.
House Martin – a single bird on 4th.
Sand Martin – one on 12th and three on 13th.
Chiffchaff – an adult and three juveniles on 3rd.
Whitethroat – a single male singing below the Terrace on 2nd, 9th & 12th.
Stonechat – a male on 9th.
Pied Wagtail – a pair with three chicks in the Landing Bay on 15th.
White Wagtail – one female on 9th.
Linnet – 60 on 12th, the highest count of the month to date.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

15th to 17th June – News of breeding birds

Highlights for Thursday 15th to Saturday 17th June sent in by Chris & Carol Baillie.

Teal – two well-grown ducklings, so an increasingly good chance for successful fledging.
Water Rail – bird calling from Quarters/Pig's Paradise Pond.
Puffin – 253, most of which were ashore, between Jenny's Cove and North End on 16th, with 14 ahore to the south of Jenny's Cove on 17th.
Oystercatcher – two well-grown young on Rat Island.
Kittiwake – the colour-ringed bird wearing a green ring, inscribed in white 'AV', is again nesting in the colony below the western end of Threequarter Wall and had two downy chicks.
Swift – eight heading south over the island in three groups on 17th.
Chiffchaff – three singing males.
Whitethroat – one singing male (recorded by Dean Jones).

Finally, there is a tantalising recent entry in the LFS logbook for a Woodchat Shrike, but unfortunately there are no supporting details. If you were the lucky observer (or know the person that was), please do get in touch so that this important record for Lundy and Devon doesn't slip through the net.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

2nd June – Red-rumped Swallow resighted

In the evening, a Red-rumped Swallow, possibly the same bird as first seen on Saturday 27th, was observed by Tony Taylor, near the South Light.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

1st June – Rose-coloured Starling

Dean Jones reports the finding, by Tony Taylor, of a summer-plumage Rose-coloured Starling in St Helen's field, right next to Barton Cottages. Dean, who managed to capture the photo below, said the "poor wee thing looked wrecked (he/she kept falling asleep on the wall) but all and all in OK looking health".
Rose-coloured Starling, Barton Cottages/St Helen's Field, 1st June. © Dean Jones

28th to 30th May – Long days and nights

Tony Taylor, on Lundy colour-ringing Wheatears by day and ringing Manx Shearwaters by night (and presumably managing to catch some sleep in-between) reports a Reed Warbler and Rook on 28th and 29th, and a Little Egret on 30th (possibly the bird first seen in Landing Bay on 23rd May). The team currently on the island carrying out the count of Manx Shearwater burrows saw a Hobby and seven House Martins at North End on 30th.

On the slopes of the Old Light Manx Shearwater colony, Tony and Richard & Rebecca Taylor have so far caught seven birds ringed as chicks, including one dating back to 2009, and 57 adults. Tony also reports lots of mist!


Saturday, 27 May 2017

27th May – Red-rumped Swallow

A Tweet this evening from Chris Townend, who has just arrived on Lundy to take part in the latest periodic census of Manx Shearwater burrows, brought news of a Red-rumped Swallow:


The bird was also seen above Quarry Beach by Charles Crundwell, who managed to take several long-distance photos of the bird, two of which are included here.


 Red-rumped Swallow, Quarry Beach, 27th May. © Charles Crundwell

In addition, Richard & Rebecca Taylor report lots of Manx Shearwaters and a Storm Petrel on the crossing from Ilfracombe, with a Swift and a singing Collared Dove on the island this afternoon.

20th to 26th May – Two rarities, continued northward migration & news of breeding birds

 Highlights of the past week have included:
  • A Woodchat Shrike along the Lower East Side Path below Tibbetts on Thursday 25th.
  • A Little Egret (Lundy rarity – see record shot below) in the Landing Bay on Tuesday 23rd as MS Oldenburg was leaving.
  • Confirmation of successful breeding by Teal for the third year running.
  • An extremely good night for Manx Shearwaters on 22nd/23rd, with numerous calling birds over Millcombe and St John's Valley and more than 50 handled in the study colony north of Old Light, including three individuals ringed as chicks on Lundy in 2009 and 2013. One of the Manx Shearwater nestboxes checked on 26th contained an incubating bird.
  • Three immature Cormorants thermalling off North East Point before heading for the Welsh coast on 21st.
  • One or two Whimbrels on several dates and a breeding-plumaged Golden Plover on 21st & 22nd.
  • Continuing northward passage of hirundines (especially on 21st), Swifts, Spotted Flycatchers (peaking at 7 on 22nd) and a handful of warblers, among them two Sedge Warblers and several Chiffchaffs, the latter including two mist-netted birds with prominent pollen 'horns' suggesting that they were recently arrived from habitats well to the south of the UK.
  • A Hobby over South West Field and along the West Side on 21st.
  • An influx of seven Collared Doves on 22nd.
  • Further sightings of colour-ringed Wheatears, bringing to 30 the total number of birds ringed in previous years and re-sighted during 2017.
  • Evidence of at least one territorial Water Rail, with persistent calling at night.
  • House Martins visiting crevices on the eastern side of Old House; landing but no sign of nest building as yet.
  • A pair of nest-building Chiffchaffs and potentially territorial Blackcap, Whitethroat and Willow Warbler (though no females of these species were recorded).
  • 40+ singing Wrens holding territory around the island, including at the North Light and along the West Side.
  • Evidence of a particularly good breeding season for the island's Blackbirds (at least 12 pairs) and Robins (up to 8 pairs).
  • Dunnocks feeding young in Millcombe.
  • Two to three breeding pairs of Pied Wagtail, perhaps four or more pairs of Goldfinch, three Chaffinch territories and Linnets gathering nest material.
Compiled from observations by Ryan Burrell, André & Marie Jo Coutanche, Tim Davis, Chris Dee, Paul & Sue James, Dean Jones, Mike Jones, Tim Jones, Seb Loram, Alan & Sandra Rowland, Ann & Tony Taylor.

 Little Egret, Landing Bay, 23rd May. © Alan Rowland

Friday, 19 May 2017

Photos from the first week of May

Below are some great photos from Joanne Wilby, taken during the week of 29 April to 6 May, when Joanne and husband Andrew were part of a working party that stripped fixtures, fittings and untold years worth of accumulated miscellaneous 'items-that-somebody-must-have-thought-might-come-in-useful-one-day' from the Church, prior to the commencement of restoration and renovation works. The birds must have provided light relief! [Click on images for a closer view.]

Dunlins on main track near Halfway Wall, 6th May © Joanne Wilby
Male Whinchat on Tent Field wall below Old Light, 5th May © Joanne Wilby
Female Yellow & Blue-headed Wagtails, Barton Field, 5th May © Joanne Wilby
Male colour-ringed Wheatear near Jenny's Cove, 5th May © Joanne Wilby
Male Pied Wagtail, Barton Field, 5th May © Joanne Wilby
And finally...

A portrait from another working party stalwart, Alan Rowland, of roosting Dunlins at Kistvaen Pond/Rocket Pole Marsh:

Dunlins at Kistvaen Pond, 6th May © Alan Rowland

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

16th & 17th May – Golden Oriole reported in Millcombe

Yesterday (16th) two different visitors reported seeing a male Golden Oriole in Millcombe during the afternoon, but Dean, the Lundy Warden, didn't get wind of these sightings until passengers were boarding the ship back to Bideford at 6pm. He hunted for the bird shortly after that but had no joy.

This morning (Wednesday 17th), the Golden Oriole was seen flying up St John's Valley from Millcombe at approximately 9.30 am. Dean just missed out, by about 10 minutes, and didn't have any luck catching up with it when he looked in the afternoon. Other birds (all in Millcombe) included a few more Spotted Flycatchers and a Garden Warbler, along with a very late Fieldfare.

Monday, 15 May 2017

13th & 14th May – Two 'possibles' and belated news of a 'definite'...

James McCarthy got in touch via Twitter to say that he'd seen between 25 and 30 Spotted Flycatchers on the island on Saturday 13th (one of the higher springtime counts of recent years), along with a Garden Warbler, three Whitethroats and a Blackcap.

The Devon Birds day-trip on Sunday 14th was blessed with fine weather and a short write-up with some photos are to be found on the Devon Birds sightings page here. The account mentions glimpses of a possible Bonelli's Warbler species (which also got a mention on the UK Rare Bird Alert map) and a possible Red-rumped Swallow; it would be great if anyone with further information about these sightings could get in touch – especially as the Lundy Warden, Dean Jones, is off the island for a couple of days.

Today, we opened an email from Dean, sent on Saturday, which contained news of his sighting earlier that morning of an Eastern Subalpine Warbler in Millcombe (just along from the gate at the top of the 'Steps of Doom' to the side of the Ugly). Unfortunately we were not able to report this in time for the Devon Birds trip. Although Dean enjoyed several seconds of very good, close views before the bird flew off, he was unable to relocate it, despite thorough searching for the next 30 minutes before work duties beckoned.

17 May update: Photographs of the "possible Bonelli's warbler species" mentioned above show that it was actually a Garden Warbler feeding high in the sycamores, where it was reportedly flitting around in a Phylloscopus-like manner, showing off its strikingly white underparts. This is a good example of how staging migrants often show unusual behaviour in exploiting the limited habitat and feeding opportunties available on small islands and coastal headlands, meaning extra care is needed with ID, especially if a rarity is suspected. Many thanks to Devon Birds for helping to clear this one up.

Friday, 12 May 2017

News on April ringing controls

Updated 17 May: Details are given below of three movements shown by ringing carried out on Lundy by Chris Dee in the third week of April. The first two show rapid movement to and from the island of newly arrived spring migrants, while the third emphasizes the importance of the coastal wetlands of north-west France as autumn feeding-up areas for Sedge Warblers that migrate through Lundy in spring, presumably heading for breeding grounds elsewhere in Britain or Ireland.

Ring no. S327850 Reed Warbler ringed as an adult at Porth Hellick, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, 18 April 2017; controlled on Lundy, 20 April 2017 and 22 April 2017 (2 and 4 days after ringing; distance 180 km; bearing 40 degrees).

Ring no. Z981823 Sedge Warbler ringed as an adult on Lundy, 20 April 2017; controlled at Hasfield Ham, Gloucestershire, 22 April 2017 (2 days after ringing; distance 188 km; bearing 63 degrees).

Ring no. 7502526 Sedge Warbler ringed as a first-year bird at Tour aux Moutons, Donges (Loire Atlantique), France, 18 August 2015; controlled on Lundy 20 April 2017 (611 days after ringing; distance 468 km from original ringing site; bearing 337 degrees from original ringing site). Very similar movements, involving exactly the same French ringing site, saw Sedge Warblers ringed at Tour aux Moutons in August 2006 and August 2008 controlled on Lundy in April 2009 and May 2007 respectively, while information posted here by the Teifi Ringing Group mentions 12 exchanges of Sedge Warblers between the Teifi Marshes (on the west coast of Wales) and Donges, or vice versa, as of June 2016. Thousands of Sedge Warblers are ringed annually in Donges during the late summer, as part of a long-running ringing and migration programme; over 9,300 were ringed in 2011 alone! These have generated numerous controls in other countries, the great majority in Britain. See the ACROLA website for further information (mainly in French, though some reports have English abstracts).

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

7th to 10th May – Sunday migrant rush followed by midweek lull

The clear skies, much lighter winds and higher temperatures of Sunday 7th gave a window of opportunity for delayed migrants to flood north. In line with observations along the mainland coast of North Devon, Swallows were particularly abundant, with a "highly conservative" estimate of 1,000 entered in the Lundy logbook, alongside 400+ House Martins and 100+ Sand Martins. Grounded night migrants included 11 Whitethroats, a Lesser Whitethroat, 5 each of Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler and Blackcap, 9 Willow Warblers, 5 Chiffchaffs, 3 Whinchats and a Spotted Flycatcher. The Bar-tailed Godwit was still in the Pondsbury area, whilst other waders were represented by 4 Dunlins at the Rocket Pole (see photo of breeding-plumaged bird below) and 3 Whimbrels. A Buzzard (presumably the same bird as during the first week of May) was also seen. The fine weather brought out good numbers of butterflies, among them Small, Green-veined and Large Whites, Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells.

Breeding-plumaged Dunlin © Dean Jones
Monday 8th was much quieter, with the more notable sightings comprising: 1 Cormorant, 3 Dunlins, 4 Whitethroats, 5 Sedge Warblers, 1 Wood Warbler (see photo below), 2 White Wagtails and 2 Spotted Flycatchers.

Wood Warbler, 8 May © Dean Jones
The quieter theme continued into Tuesday 9th, which featured a Merlin, 3 Swifts, 4 Sedge Warblers, 3 Whitethroats, a handful of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers and a Spotted Flycatcher. Dean Jones noted the first fledglings from among the 37 active Starling nests located by Tim Jones last week. Zoë Barton's discovery of a stunning female Emperor Moth sitting on the doorstep of the shop (see photo below, after relocation to a safer spot!) was undoubtedly the sighting of the day though.

Female Emperor Moth, 9 May © Dean Jones
Writing on Wednesday 10th, Dean reported a further quiet day birdwise, with the exception of an arrival of 8 Spotted Flycatchers – the first real influx of the spring – and 2 White Wagtails.

Thanks to Dean for forwarding counts from the log to enable this update.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

6th May – Hard going in strong easterlies

Cold and blustery easterlies once again prevented any ringing and made birding a challenge, except well down over the western sidelands or a few other strategic sheltered spots. There were distinctly fewer migrants than on Friday, especially on the Swift, hirundine and warbler fronts, but still some good birds to be seen, among them: a Kestrel, 10+ Dunlins (including a flock of six seen by Alan Rowland at North End), a Ringed Plover, two Whimbrels (South West Field), a Snipe (at Widow's Tenement Pond), 5 Swifts, 51 Swallows, 16 House Martins, a female White Wagtail (sidelands below South West Field), two flava Wagtails, including a female Blue-headed (M. f. flava) and a female Yellow (M. f. flavissima) in St Helen's/Barton Fields, 2 Whinchats (Tent Field/South West Field wall and Rocket Pole area), a male Whitethroat (Millcombe), a male Blackcap (Smelly Gully), 3 Sedge Warblers (Stoneycroft, Tent Field wall and Smelly Gully), a handful of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, and a female Pied Flycatcher (Millcombe)

A look at the weather map showed why there had been so few overnight arrivals and such little visible migration by day, with rain in the English Channel effectively blocking most migration from the continent.

MS Oldenburg did a 'Splash & Dash', taking advantage of a drop in the wind to do a quick turnaround late in the day, for staying passengers only.

Yellow Wagtails & Lundy Pony, Barton Field, 5 May © Tim Jones

Male Yellow Wagtail, Barton Field, 5 May © Tim Jones

Female Blue-headed Wagtail, Barton Field, 6 May © Tim Jones

5th May – Big movement of Swifts and hirundines

It was too windy (from the East) on Friday for any ringing to take place, which was frustrating for Rob Duncan & David Kightley on their last full day as there were plenty of migrants around... The highlight was a big passage of Swifts and hirundines, including minima of 145 Swifts, 565 Swallows, 123 House Martins and 30 Sand Martins, with flocks of Swifts arriving into the West Side and crossing the middle of the island towards the north-east, whilst the hirundines tended to stay lower into the lee of the West Side all the way north. Also recorded were: 1 Kestrel, 1 Merlin, 7 Dunlins, 2 Ringed Plovers, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit (Pondsbury), 1 Common Sandpiper (bottom of Montagu Steps), 2 or 3 Cuckoos, 40 Willow Warblers,  5 Chiffchaffs, zero Blackcaps (!), 1 Garden Warbler, 5 Whitethroats, 1 Sedge Warbler, 3 Whinchats (Airfield wall and wall between Old Light and Lighthouse Field), 2 Redstarts, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 7 Yellow Wagtails (including up to 4 together in St Helen's/Barton Fields), and 2 Tree Pipits (calling in flight over Ackland's Moor and at Quarter Wall).

Thursday, 4 May 2017

4th May – Yellow Wagtail and flycatchers brighten a quieter day

Tim Jones reports a quieter day for birds. Only one Teal was observed (on Pondsbury), but there was a single Cormorant, and one Buzzard and one Kestrel were still present. Wader numbers increased, with 3 Dunlin and 4 Whimbrel. The Collared Dove count reached 4. At least 14 Swift passed through and a female Yellow Wagtail was located in St Helen's Field. Also present was a female Redstart, 2 female Pied Flycatchers (at the Stonecrusher and the Ugly) and the first Spotted Flycatcher of the year (in Millcombe). Warbler numbers were further depleted as birds presumably moved on: 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler, 6 Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaff and 3 Willow Warbler.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

3rd May – Hoopoe in Gannets' Combe

News for Wednesday 3rd May from Tim Jones on behalf of everyone birding on the island follows.

Tim Davis found a Hoopoe in Gannets' Combe during an all-island perimeter count of large gulls which revealed 535 Herring Gull, 299 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 114 Great Black-backed Gulls, including 34 apparently occupied Great Black-back nests. The ENE wind made it difficult to get mist-nets open safely in Millcombe, so there was little ringing, but there were few grounded migrants in evidence anyway. Reported were 3 Teal, 4 Cormorant, a Buzzard, a female Merlin, 2 Kestrels. Migrant waders were represented by 1 Dunlin, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Whimbrel. Warbler numbers were lower: 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Sedge Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 8 Whitethroat, 10 Chiffchaff and 5 Willow Warbler. There was a male Stonechat on the Terraces, raising the possibility of breeding again this year. Hirundine passage comprised 350 Swallow, 20 Sand Martin and 15 House Martin.

The non-ornithological highlight was a count of 5 male Emperor Moths

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

2nd May – Good hirundine passage and possible Iberian Chiffchaff

Tim Jones and Tim Davis report an overnight clear-out of migrants with few new arrivals, but a good day for hirundine passage.
A tristis-type Chiffchaff was ringed and a potential Iberian Chiffchaff was also caught and ringed in Millcombe by Rob Duncan. Elsewhere there were 3 Teal, the Red-necked Grebe, 5 Cormorant, a Buzzard, 3 Kestrel, and a Merlin. The Bar-tailed Godwit was located on Pondsbury and there were also 3 Whimbrel and a Dunlin. Seabird counts included 340 Kittiwake and 2200 Guillemot. Presumed long-staying, but unusual Lundy birds included a Collared Dove and a Fieldfare. In a better day for hirundine migration, counts of 350 Swallow, 40 Sand Martin and 20 House Martin were recorded. There were also 3 Swift and 5 White Wagtails. Other migrants included 2 Redstart, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 8 Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 6 Blackcap and 3 Sedge Warbler. A brood of newly-fledged Blackbirds was in Smelly Gully.

Monday, 1 May 2017

1st May – Stock Dove, Short-eared Owl and singing Rosefinch

Tim Jones and Tim Davis report (on behalf of many staying observers) fewer migrants with poor early weather improving through the day. Jon Turner was on the Bank Holiday Monday day-trip and his observations are also included.

Four Teal were present, as was the long-staying Red-necked Grebe. Raptors comprised a Buzzard, a Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit in South West Field, and a Dunlin. In Jenny's Cove there was an impressive count of 92 Puffin on land. Diurnal passage included 5 Swift, 50 Swallow, 6 House Martin and 10 Sand Martin. A single Stock Dove was observed and the Collared Dove count rose to 2. A Short-eared Owl was located near Pondsbury, 2 Jackdaws were in the Lighthouse Field and a late Redwing was seen to fly out of Millcombe.

In the morning only, a Common Rosefinch was heard singing in Millcombe and a Lesser Redpoll was present there too. Counts of other migrants included 6 Redstart, a Grassshopper Warbler, 5 Sedge Warbler, a Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Whitethroat and small numbers of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

30th April – Plenty of migrants and a Dunlin

Tim Jones and Tim Davis report a good day's birding, with plenty of migrants, especially in Millcombe.

The Red-necked Grebe was still present and there was a single Sparrowhawk and 2 Kestrel. A Dunlin was on Quarterwall Pond, four first-summer Black-headed Gulls were in the Landing Bay and a Cuckoo was on the Terraces. Hirundine passage comprised 40 Swallow, a House Martin and 9 Sand Martin. Elsewhere there was a Black Redstart, 4 Redstart, a Fieldfare, 3 Sedge Warbler, 20 Blackcap, 6 Garden Warbler (including a singing male in Millcombe), 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Whitethroat, a Wood Warbler, 10 Chiffchaff, 25 Willow Warbler, a Goldcrest and a Jackdaw. With weather retricting mist-netting to a couple of hours, Rob Duncan ringed a further 39 birds, including 4 Redstart and 5 Garden Warblers.

29th April – Brent Goose and Yellowhammer feature

With a lot of birders on the island this week coverage was good. Tim Jones reports the following on behalf of himself, Tim Davis, Chris and Carol Baillie, Rob Duncan, Neil Trout, Martin Thorne, the warden Dean Jones and others.

The Red-necked Grebe was still present in the Landing Bay, along with a Dark-bellied Brent Goose, and a male Yellowhammer was at Quarter Wall. Also reported were 5 Teal, 1 (or maybe 2) Buzzard, a male Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Garden Warbler, 3 Pied Flycatchers and 1 Lesser Redpoll. There was a steady passage of Swallows, conservatively estimated at 500, plus 4 House Martins and a Sand Martin. Ringing was slower than recent days, with around 30 birds ringed.

Friday, 28 April 2017

28th April – Osprey among a modest movement of migrants

Lighter headwinds seem to have favoured a little more movement today, with Martin Thorne's sighting of an Osprey being mobbed by gulls off South West Point at around 1pm the undoubted highlight. Martin also reports half-a-dozen or so Whimbrels along the East Side and the Red-necked Grebe still in the Landing Bay. Rob Duncan ringed a further 60 birds, including 25 Willow Warblers, 12 Blackcaps, 7 Sedge Warblers, 6 Chiffchaffs, 4 Whitethroats, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Grasshopper Warbler, plus a Goldfinch and a Linnet. With the wind backing SE overnight and into the weekend, after several days of chilly northerlies, will there be a surge of migration?

Thursday, 27 April 2017

27th April – A bit more on the move

With lighter winds, Rob managed to ring a further 57 new birds, including both Lesser Whitethroat and Grasshopper Warbler. A few Swallows were also on the move.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

26th April – Fair variety but low numbers

This evening's bulletin from Rob confirms that it was "hard work today in a fresh north-easterly", but that he managed to find a sheltered mist-net site below Government House, which caught 12 new birds, including two Grasshopper Warblers, a Whitethroat and a Sedge Warbler. Elsewhere, there were three Whimbrels at Benjamin's Chair, a Dunlin at the Rocket Pole, plus 10 Wheatears in the same general area, a Merlin along the East Side, and a Fieldfare in Millcombe, while hirundines comprised a few Swallows and a couple of House Martins.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

25th April – Northerly blast stops play

The wind was still light enough for Rob to open a few nets in Millcombe first thing, which revealed a small overnight arrival of migrants, with Willow Warblers again making up the bulk of the 39 new birds ringed before the wind picked up suddenly, heralding a northerly squall, so that the nets were closed again at 08.30. Among the other species ringed were a few Blackcaps and Sedge Warblers (but no Chiffchaffs) and a female Pied Flycatcher. A retrap Reed Warbler had gained weight since it was last handled. The only hirundines seen on 25th, as of early afternoon, were 2 House Martins – not entirely surprising given the blast of Arctic air across the country, though it did stay largely dry, the island escaping most of the blustery showers streaming south. This evening the inshore waters forecast is "north veering northeast, 5 to 7, backing north 4 or 5; showers" so another quiet day for migration is on the cards for Wednesday.

Additional news for Monday (24th) concerns a late continental Robin among the birds ringed, while a very grey Song Thrush was singing in Millcombe first thing.

Monday, 24 April 2017

24th April – Getting on for 200 birds ringed; first Spotted Flycatchers & Lesser Whitethroat

During a further excellent day for ringing, Rob Duncan ringed 178 new birds (bringing the total to just over 700 since 19 April!), including: 88 Willow Warblers, 24 Blackcaps, 16 Chiffchaffs, 14 Sedge Warblers, 8 Whitethroats, 2 Grasshopper Warblers and one each of Firecrest, Lesser Whitethroat (first of the year), Spotted Flycatcher (also a first for the year) and male Pied Flycatcher. A male Ring Ouzel would also have featured in the ringing totals had it not managed to find its way out of a mist net... Hirundine passage was down in comparison with Sunday, but other migrants included a Reed Warbler, two more Spotted Flycatchers, 10 Wheatears, and a Yellow Wagtail, the latter flying over Millcombe.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

23rd April – Warbler migration continues apace

Rob Duncan reports another excellent day's ringing and birding. A further 118 birds were ringed, including 41 Willow Warblers, 25 Blackcaps, 17 Chiffchaffs, 12 Sedge Warblers, 3 Grasshopper Warblers and 2 Whitethroats. There was a big movement of hirundines in the afternoon, including 400 Swallows, 50 Sand Martins and 40 House Martins. Other migrants included 45 Wheatears and 2 Ring Ouzels.

22nd April - Little Egret in Millcombe

Despite the wind swinging round to the north, new migrants had arrived on the island overnight. Until handing over to Rob Duncan who will be on the island for the next two weeks, Chris Dee managed to ring a further 61 birds, including 30 Willow Warblers, 14 Blackcaps, 9 Chiffchaffs 3 Sedge Warblers, a Redstart, a Whitethroat and a Reed Warbler. The British-ringed Reed Warbler from Thursday was also recaptured. At least one Green Sandpiper was still present and as M S Oldenburg disgorged her passsengers, a Little Egret was flushed from below the Beach Road and flew up into Millcombe. After spending a while in the pond it retreated to the lawn of Millcombe House. Rob reports that by the end of the day the ringing total had reached 85.

Friday, 21 April 2017

21st April – Another great day's ringing; Night Heron still present

Chris & Mandy Dee report another excellent day's ringing. It was calm and overcast, with plenty of new arrivals, meaning that Chris ringed a further 113 new birds, including: 48 Willow Warblers, 41 Blackcaps, 12 Chiffchaffs, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 1 Sedge Warbler and 1 Reed Warbler. Also ringed was a female Bullfinch, perhaps the bird first seen at the end of March. Out and about around the island, other sightings included: 2 Teal, 2 Snipe and a Green Sandpiper at Pondsbury, and a Ring Ouzel in the Brick Field. Mike, of the island staff, saw the Night Heron again in the Landing Bay.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

20th April – Substantial warbler fall

Chris and Mandy Dee confirm that – in common with both Skokholm and Bardsey – Lundy witnessed a substantial fall of warblers and other migrants today, when thick cloud and patchy light drizzle moving south-east across Wales and the Bristol Channel grounded large numbers of birds after days of fine, dry weather. Chris ringed 149 new birds, including 85 Willow Warblers, 29 Blackcaps, 16 Chiffchaffs, 16 Sedge Warblers and two Grasshopper Warblers. A British-ringed Reed Warbler was controlled (Lundy's first Reed Warbler of the year) along with a Sedge Warbler bearing a French ring. Elsewhere there were two Ring Ouzels at the quarries, a female Redstart in Millcombe, a male Pied Flycatcher at Brambles, and of two Green Sandpipers that circled Lower Millcombe, one was later seen at the pond outside Barton Cottages. The single Fieldfare was still in Southwest Field, and a total of 107 Puffins were on land at Jenny's Cove and St Philip's Stone. In addition, Dean Jones photographed a Little Egret (a Lundy rarity) around rock pools off Lametor and a Collared Dove (a regular passage migrant, mainly in spring), which has been present since Tuesday 18th. Dean also flushed the two Green Sandpipers at the Rocket Pole Marsh (alternatively known as Kistvaen Pond) whilst leading a guided walk.

Record shot of Little Egret, Lametor © Dean Jones













Collared Dove, Village © Dean Jones

















Wednesday, 19 April 2017

19th April – A good morning's ringing

Chris & Mandy Dee send news of stunning weather and great birds. Chris ringed 62 birds in Millcombe during the morning, mainly Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps, but also two Sedge Warblers. Elsewhere, Mandy found two Teal, two Snipe, 17 Sand Martins, a Whitethroat (the first of the year), a Redstart and a Fieldfare (only the third record of 2017, following one on 25 Jan and two on 18 Feb). Two Lesser Redpolls were also recorded and there were 78 Puffins in Jenny's Cove. Among migrant Wheatears was the large and richly coloured, presumed Greenland-race bird in the photo below.

Presumed Greenland Wheatear, 19 April © Dean Jones

















Lesser Redpoll, 19 April © Dean Jones

11th to 18th April – Logbook highlights

Here is the latest summary of sightings during the past week or so, taken from the LFS Logbook. The more unusual or otherwise notable species are highlighted in blue. Thanks as ever to Dean Jones for updating a digital file of the log – not to mention being responsible for many of the records in the first place!

Teal – up to three on several dates.
Great Northern Diver – One on 14th (likely the long-staying individual).
Red-necked Grebe – The overwintering bird was still present in the Landing Bay on 14th & 17th.
Gannet – Max four on 15th.
Night Heron – A breeding-plumaged adult on 13th & 17th was only the fourth for Lundy (see posts below for further details).
Kestrel – Ones and two on four dates.
Merlin – One on 13th.
Water Rail – Two calling from St Helen's Field on 15th.
Snipe – One on 11th.
Sandwich Tern – One in the Landing Bay on 15th.
Woodpigeon – Max five on 15th.
Sand Martin – Max 42 flying north on 17th.
Swallow – Max 119 flying north on 15th and 146 flying north on 17th (steady passage throughout the day on both dates).
House Martin – Max 20+ on 13th.
Pied Wagtail – Max six on 14th.
Tree Pipit – One below the Battlements on 17th.
Common Redstart – One (male) on 13th.
Ring Ouzel – Singles on 11th & 18th (latter a male).
Song Thrush – One on 17th.
Redwing – Singles on 13th & 14th (rather late for Lundy).
Blackcap – Max five on 18th.
Sedge Warbler – Singles on 17th (iris bed in Lower Millcombe) & 18th were the first of the year.
Grasshopper Warbler – Further singles on 14th (reeling from brambles outside Quarters) & 15th (reeling near top of Ugly steps).
Wood Warbler – One below the pines in Milcombe on 13th was the first of the year.
Willow Warbler – Max 50 on 13th.
Chiffchaff – Max five on 13th.
Goldcrest – Ones and twos on three dates.
Pied Flycatcher – A single male in Millcombe on 12th & 13th was the first of the year.
Chaffinch – An influx of passage migrants included 26 on 13th (flock of 20 flying over Millcombe in the early morning), 15 on 14th and 10 on 17th; the first time that counts have reached double digits this year! A partially built nest was found in Millcombe on 13th (Jon Cox).
Linnet – Max 16 on 13th.
Goldfinch – Max 15+ on 14th.
Siskin – Four near the Ugly flagpole on 13th.

Three more 'first of the year' butterfly records were racked up during the week, namely single Orange-tip and Speckled Wood (both of which are scarce on Lundy), on 14th and two Small Whites on 17th. Also of note was the first Emperor Moth, on 12th.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

17th April – Night Heron seen again

Dean Jones reports that the adult Night Heron reappeared shortly after 4pm on Easter Monday (17th), following three days with no sightings, during which it had presumably managed to tuck itself away quietly somewhere along Lundy's extensive shoreline: "The bird was perched briefly below the Needle & Thread area of the Devil's Kitchen allowing stunning views for myself and around 12 visitors before heading off West".

Thursday, 13 April 2017

13th April – Night Heron in the Landing Bay

Lundy Warden Dean Jones reports a brief sighting of an adult Night Heron (Black-crowned Night Heron) in the Landing Bay area earlier this morning. It initially flew north, past the Beach Road and towards the Ugly, mobbed by gulls. Dean managed to jump out of the back of the landrover in which he was travelling just in time to see the heron flying back south. It flew right past him at a distance of about 25m, across the Landing Bay, through the Devil's Kitchen and turned west, disappearing behind Lametor. This is Lundy's first Night Heron since March 1990 and only the fourth ever for the island.

Update, Good Friday (14th April)

Dean managed to relocate the Night Heron at around 7.30pm on Thursday (13 Apr); it was roosting just above the tideline on the south side of Lametor, below the South Light, and remained tucked up in this location until the light faded. In one of Dean's record shots (see below) the bird is roosting in characteristic Night Heron fashion, with its bill tucked forward into its upper breast, giving it a curiously 'headless' appearance, distinctive even at a distance. Although the legs look yellowish in this photo, during his initial close view of the bird in flight, Dean noticed the pink flush acquired by breeding adults. As of mid-morning on Good Friday, there had been no further sightings, so it may well be that the bird moved on overnight.

Roosting Night Heron, Lametor, 13 Apr 2017 © Dean Jones

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

29th March to 10th April – Modest arrivals of spring migrants including several more 'firsts' for the year

Highlights from the LFS logbook for the last two weeks (29 Mar to 10 Apr) are listed below, with records of more notable species highlighted in blue. Many thanks to Dean Jones for providing a digital copy of logbook entries enabling this summary to be compiled.

Unsettled weather, with showers and longer spells of rain at the end of March gave way to predominantly dry and often sunny conditions during the first ten days of April, with high pressure ruling the roost. Clear skies brought frequently sunny days to the island, but chilly nights (alongside a waxing moon, full on 11th), whilst daytime temperatures were pegged back by winds mainly from the north and west, though there was a short-lived incursion of warmer, continental air during the weekend of 8/9 April. There was another Osprey on 2nd, an influx of Swallows on 6th & 7th, a modest arrival of 20 Willow Warblers on 7th, and first records for the year of single Sandwich Tern (1st), Common Redstart (9th) and Grasshopper Warbler (8th). In general though, visible migration was sluggish, as is often the case in fine weather, when birds tend to overfly Lundy having little need to make landfall on a remote island. Having said that, it is still early in the season and many summer migrants are yet to reach Britain in significant numbers. Lingering winter birds included Great Northern Diver, Red-necked Grebe and the odd Redwing.

Great Northern Diver: One on 1st.
Red-necked Grebe: The overwintering bird was still in the Landing Bay on 30th (Dean Jones), but then looked like it might have commenced its spring migration as there were no reports during the first week of Apr. Confounding any such assumptions, the bird was again in the Landing Bay, off the Sugar Loaf, on 9 Apr (Dean Jones & Zoë Barton).
Fulmar: Max 153 on 31st.
Manx Shearwater: Max 300, flying west off North Light on 1st (Martin Thorne).
Gannet: Max 10 on 1st.
Cormorant: Six flying north on 6th.
Sparrowhawk: A male on 31st.
Osprey: One moving rapidly north-east off the Terrace on 2nd; the second of the spring so far (Solomon Gilbert).
Snipe: Three on 31st and one on 7th.
Kittiwake: Max 137 on 31st.
Black-headed Gull: An adult in the Landing Bay on 28th (Kevin Welsh) and four reported on 3rd.
Sandwich Tern: One on 1st was the first of the year.
Puffin: Max 97 on 29th (of which 77 prospecting on land) and 60+ in Jenny's Cove on 1st.
Guillemot: Max 1,212 on 29th.
Woodpigeon: Max five on 7th.
Sand Martin: Records on six dates; max 16 on 1st and 20 on 7th.
Swallow: Records on seven dates; max 78 on 6th and 100 on 7th.
House Martin: Three on 31st was the only record.
Pied Wagtail: Max six on 8th.
White Wagtail: Two on 31st.
Robin: A bird was carrying nesting material in Millcombe on 7th.
Black Redstart: Records on six dates, with a female-type on 31st, 2m + 1f on 1st, 1f 6th-8th and 1m on 9th.

Black Redstart © Dean Jones


















Common Redstart: A single male on gorse near the Rocket Pole on 9th was the first of the spring (Dean Jones & Zoë Barton).
Wheatear: Max 25 on 1st and 21 on 9th; several more colour-rings were read.
Redwing: Singles on 31st and 7th (latter in Millcombe).
Song Thrush: Three on 31st but no Apr records so far.
Blackcap: Ones and twos on six dates, plus the max of five on 3rd.
Grasshopper Warbler: One reeling from cover in St John's Valley on 8th was the first of the spring.
Willow Warbler: Records for six dates, with a max of 20 on 7th.
Chiffchaff: Records for five dates, with a max of seven on 1st & 7th.
Goldcrest: Records on three dates, with a max of three on 7th.
Linnet: Max 11 on 6th.
Goldfinch: Max 10 on 31st and 13 on 6th.

Invertebrate records have included a Black Oil Beetle (3rd), 11 Dor Beetles and 3 Minotaur Beetles (5th); the first Peacock (6th) and Green-veined White (8th) butterflies of the year; and two Diamond-back Moths (9th).

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

28th March – A change in the weather and a lull in migration

After several days of clear blue skies and a stiff easterly, Tuesday saw the wind veering south, then south-west, bringing cloud and showery rain during the afternoon. Although there was a good scattering of Phylloscopus warblers along the East Side combes and on the Terrace (totalling an estimated 30 Chiffchaffs and 15 Willow Warblers), the range and volume of migrants was generally reduced. Among the more notable sightings were about a dozen Pied Wagtails and 4 White Wagtails, 2 Blackcaps, flocks of 6 + 8 Cormorants (all except one were breeding-plumaged adults) flying north, and a handful of Sand Martins and Swallows. Several Song Thrushes may have been lingering from Monday's influx, whilst the female Bullfinch certainly was, having apparently not moved from her favourite blackthorn bush for 24 hours! Record shots below:

Female Bullfinch, head of St Helen's Combe © Tim Jones

Two of the Robins seen during the day had the greyish tones and pallid orange breasts associated with continental birds (see the Skokholm Observatory blog for 28th March). The 1st-summer Great Northern Diver and the Red-necked Grebe (now showing quite extensive signs of breeding plumage) continued their sojourns in the Landing Bay, the grebe taking to the air briefy as MS Oldenburg, on her first scheduled sailing of the year, hove into view.

MS Oldenburg was heavily booked for her first sailing of 2017 © Tim Jones

The Red-necked Grebe flew behind Rat Island as the ship arrived © Tim Jones

Birds seen during the late-afternoon crossing back to Ilfracombe included a single Manx Shearwater, 5 Common Gulls, and a few Fulmars, Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks. A Sandwich Tern was flying around Ilfracombe harbour to greet disembarking passengers, just as the rain began to fall in earnest...

Monday, 27 March 2017

27th March – Osprey through and first Blackcaps of the year

Tim Davis, Tim Jones and Tony Taylor report excellent views of an Osprey arriving low below Castle Hill before climbing as it moved north along the East Side, mobbed by gulls and corvids (record shot below).

Osprey mobbed by crow over East Side 27 March ©Tim Jones

An influx of thrushes included 2 male Ring Ouzels on the Terrace, up to 15 Song Thrushes and a noticeable increase in Blackbirds. Auk numbers totalled 99 Puffins in Jenny's Cove, with 900 Guillemots on the ledges and a further 200 on the water and 400 Razorbills. Puffins were later seen on land for the first time this season, exploring nesting burrows. There was a Golden Plover calling in flight over the Airfield and the Jackdaw count increased to four, all of which were seen apparently leaving the island to the NNE over the Terrace during the morning. A female Bullfinch feeding on blackthorn buds at the head of St Helen's Combe was unusual for the island, though most recent records are for March and April. Hirundine passage comprised 75 Sand Martins and 4 Swallows. There was a count of 20 Willow Warblers and the first Blackcaps of the year were recorded; a female and two males – the female feeding on rocky slopes at North Light! Two Siskins were present on feeders in the Village, there were several White Wagtails alongside migrant Pieds and the Red-necked Grebe was still in the Landing Bay. Finally an extremely dark-mantled adult Lesser Black-backed Gull – as dark as the adult Great Black-back standing next to it and therefore presumed to be of the continental breeding race L. f. intermedius – was at Pondsbury in the afternoon.

Male Ring Ouzel, VC Quarry 27 March © Tim Jones
White Wagtail at Quarter Wall 27 March © Tim Jones

Seven Manx Shearwaters were caught at the Old Light study colony between 9.30pm & 11.00pm, comprising four new birds and three retraps.

The lighter winds and warm sunshine made it a good day for invertebrates:

Common Carder Bee, Terrace willows © Tim Jones
Common Plume moth, Upper East Side Path © Tim Jones
Minotaur Beetle, Upper East Side Path © Tim Jones