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.

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.

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

26th March – Grey Heron and three Jackdaws

Tim Jones and Tim Davis report 58 Puffins in Jenny's Cove. In the strong easterly wind, 110 Sand Martins and 25 Swallows were counted moving north in the lee of the West Side. A Grey Heron flew across the South End and there were 3 Jackdaws in Lighthouse Field. The Meadow Pipit count totalled 400 and 20 Linnets and a Siskin were observed. The Red-necked Grebe and Great Northern Diver were still present.

Jackdaws in Lighthouse Field, 26 March © Tim Davis

Male Starling on farmyard song post © Tim Jones

Sunday, 26 March 2017

25th March – Strong Meadow Pipit passage

Tim Davis and Tim Jones report 41 Puffins in Jenny's Cove and a strong passage of Meadow Pipits amounting to 500 birds, including 300 moving north in the lee of the West Side in the early morning. Other sightings included 22 Sand Martin, 2 Swallow, a Lapwing flying in off the sea at Jenny's Cove, 2 Jackdaws over the East Side and a female Siskin in the camping field. The Great Northern Diver and Red-necked Grebe were still present in the Landing Bay.

Meadow Pipits in Middle Park © Tim Jones

A brief visit to the shearwater study colony near Old Light, on a beautiful, moonless but starlit night, revealed the presence of calling Manx Shearwaters and birds of breeding age already visiting their nesting burrows. Two individuals ringed in previous years were retrapped. During the afternoon, Tony Taylor, Dean Jones and the two Tims had completed a pre-season check of the shearwater nestboxes installed in 2016, some of which already showed signs of visitation this year.

Lundy Warden Dean Jones maps and marks a shearwater nestbox © Tim Davis
Nestboxes in situ, the entrances are buried piping to one side © Tim Davis
Lundy shearwater maestro Tony Taylor out on patrol © Tim Davis

Saturday, 25 March 2017

24th March – Wheatear seen on Guernsey back on territory

Tim Jones and Tim Davis report 250 Razorbills off the South End, but a big clear-out of Chiffchaffs and Meadow Pipits with only 12 and 70 respectively logged. A total of 240 Kittiwakes were counted at the two remaining West Side colonies. Of note were 2 Black Redstarts, a "singing" Water Rail, 6 Teal, 4 Snipe and a Song Thrush. The day's highlight was confirmation that the colour-ringed male Wheatear seen on Guernsey on 13 March (see blog post dated 14 March) was back on its territory near the Earthquake, in hot pursuit of a female and fending off another male – record shots below.

Lundy colour-ringed Wheatear 'pale blue over black' © Tim Davis

Now on its Lundy breeding territory, this bird was seen on Guernsey on 13 Mar

Friday, 24 March 2017

23rd March – Chiffchaff fall and returning female Wheatears

Tim Davis and Tim Jones report 60+ Chiffchaffs hopping around on the fields and walls. Meadow Pipit numbers totalled 300, with 5 Black Redstarts, 2 Redwings, a Song Thrush, a Sand Martin and 2 Swallows seen. Three more Wheatear colour rings were read, including two females – the first known returning females for the year. Rafts totalling 500 Razorbills were counted off the South End in the early morning. The Red-necked Grebe was still present.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

22nd March – Significant migration

Tim Jones and Tim Davis report significant overnight and diurnal movement. Over 20 Wheatears were counted, including the first three females of the year and three returning colour-ringed Lundy breeding males. The 5 Teal were a little early to start making predictions of breeding again this year, but counts of 130 Meadow Pipits, 19 Rock Pipits, 46 Skylarks and 6 Stonechats presumably included local breeders, whilst 8 Cormorant and 3 Kestrel were probably migrants. Other migrants included 12 alba Wagtails, 7 Sand Martins, 3 Black Redstarts, 6 Chiffchaffs, an early Willow Warbler, 10 Goldcrests, a Firecrest and 2 Redwings. Linnet numbers increased by 100% to two. The Great Nothern Diver and Red-necked Grebe were still present in the Landing Bay.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

19th & 20th March – Good on variety, low on numbers

Alan and Sandra Rowland report two Canada Geese on 19th. Tim Davis and Tim Jones arrived on the island on 20th, despite a weather delay, and saw Red-necked Grebe and Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay. There was a Merlin along the Upper East Side path and a Black Redstart at the Earthquake. Other notable sightings included 1 Wheatear, 1 Chiffchaff, 8 Woodpigeon, 10 Pied Wagtail, 1 Redwing and the first Linnet record of the year (a single bird).

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Tue 14 to Fri 17 Mar – First Puffins and a flurry of other migrants

Spring migration is really beginning to get going in earnest with some great sightings over the past few days. In an update to the previous post, there was a notable arrival of 20 House Martins on 14 March (followed by single birds on 15th & 16th), in line with observations from elsewhere in the country that bear witness to an unusually big influx for so early in the month. This has been linked to a spell of strong southerly and south-westerly winds bringing birds further north, earlier in the season than normal, conditions also consistent with this year's very early records of Tree Pipit and Willow Warbler on Lundy.

The first 7 Puffins of the season were rafting in Jenny's Cove on 16th, and on the same date the first Sand Martin, Willow Warbler and Ring Ouzel of the year were found (the latter a "stunning male" near the Timekeeper's Hut above the Terrace), whilst a Red-necked Grebe was on the sea off the Ugly on 15th (possibly the same individual as recorded earlier in the winter). There was a small fall of 21 Chiffchaffs and 13 Goldcrests on 16th, adding volume to the increasing diversity of migrants being logged. Also recorded were: Great Northern Diver (1 on 16th), Cormorant (8 on 16th), Water Rail (2 on 16th), Woodpigeon (3 on 16th & 17th), Grey Wagtail (1 on 16th), Pied Wagtail (9 on 16th – the first significant influx of the spring), Robin (max 4 on 16th), Wheatear (1 on 15th – the second of the spring), Blackbird (max 5 on 16th), Song Thrush (1 on 16th), Redwing (2 on 17th), Chaffinch (4 on 16th & 17th) and Goldfinch (2 on 16th & 17th).

Based on information provided by Dean Jones, Lundy Warden – thanks Dean!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Wed 8 to Tue 14 Mar – First Wheatear, Swallow, Chiffchaffs & Firecrest and a very early Tree Pipit

Highlights from the LFS logboook for the last week, kindly forwarded by Lundy Warden Dean Jones, include the first arriving summer migrants, with single Wheatear (near Tibbetts) and Swallow on 13th and three Chiffchaffs, a Firecrest and an exceptionally early Tree Pipit seen by Dean on the side of the Ugly on 14th. Other records of interest include:
Teal 7 on 9th, Great Northern Diver 1 on 14th, Kestrel 1 on 14th, Merlin 1 on 9th, Snipe 2 on 9th, Kittiwake 17 on 9th, Lesser Black-backed Gull max 66 on 9th, Herring Gull max 268 on 9th, Great Black-backed Gull max 22 on 9th, Guillemot max 1,124 on 9th, Woodpigeon max 3 on 14th, Grey Wagtail singles on 10th & 14th, Pied Wagtail 1 on 13th, Meadow Pipit max 31 on 14th, Dunnock max 2 on 14th, Robin max 4 on 9th, Stonechat 8 on 9th, Blackbird max 8 on 14th, Redwing 1 on 13th, Goldcrest 1 on 14th, Starling max 79 on 9th, Goldfinch max 3 on 9th and Chaffinch max 9 on 14th.

Tue 14 Mar – First Lundy colour-ringed Wheatear seen elsewhere...

A Lundy colour-ringed Wheatear was seen on Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, yesterday, 13 March (note it was not the bird in the photo below). Photos can be found on the Lundy Wheatear Study Facebook page and on the Twitter feed of the observer on Guernsey. This is the first time that one of the birds from the Lundy study, coordinated by Tony Taylor & Richard Taylor, has been reported away from the island since the project began in 2013. The bird involved was ringed as a breeding male near the Earthquake, on the West Side, on 3 June 2015. Since Wheatears show high breeding-site fidelity, there is every chance that the bird seen on Guernsey will be back on Lundy, around the Earthquake, in the next day or two – if it's not already there today!

This exciting news makes it timely to renew the request for all visiting birdwatchers to submit details of any colour-ringed Wheatears they may see during 2017. Colour-marked birds are most likely to be encountered in the main study area, which runs from the Castle, around South West Point, to the Battery and on to Halfway Wall, including adjoining areas of the plateau, but could be encountered elsewhere.

Lundy colour-ringed Wheatear © Elisabeth Price

Each bird has a standard BTO metal ring plus a striped ring (which signifies the Lundy project) on one leg, and two colour rings on the other leg. Please take care to note which rings are on which leg and make sure you specify the order of rings on each leg. The bird in the photo above, for example, would be recorded as: "Left leg, striped over metal; Right leg, yellow over green". Please record sightings in the Tavern logbook, via the Lundy Wheatear Study Facebook page, or send them to Tony Taylor using the link here. In addition to the ring sequence, date, time and specific location, the bird's sex and any notable activity (e.g. singing, mating, nest-building, feeding young) would also be useful. Photos are particularly welcome.

In 2016, there were resightings (on Lundy) of 29 Wheatears marked during the three previous seasons (2013–2015), whilst 48 new birds were colour-ringed. Many thanks from Tony and Richard to all those who contributed records.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Thu 2 to Tue 7 Mar – No summer migrants just yet

Latest news from Dean is of 1–2 Great Northern Divers in the Landing Bay on 6th & 7th, a count of 103 Fulmars on 4th, 1–2 Gannets on 4th & 7th, 3 Cormorants on 4th, a single Kestrel on 4th & 5th, a Water Rail on 6th, 10 Oystercatchers on 4th, a Redwing on 7th, single Pied Wagtails on 4th & 5th and 18 Meadow Pipits on 4th.

Conditions here on the mainland near Ilfracombe were often quite wet, or very windy, or both (!) during the first week of the month, so hardly ideal for either spring migrants or anyone out trying to look for them. Although the first Wheatear has yet to put in an appearance on Lundy, blooming Primroses at both South Light and Quarter Wall Copse since the last week of February hold out the promise of the season to come. 21 Grey Seals were between Quarry Cottages and Gannets' Rock on 4 March.

Monday, 6 March 2017

A quiet start to March

Dean Jones reports the following on 1st March: Great Northern Diver 1, Snipe 6, Lesser Black-backed Gull 19, Stonechat 5, Blackbird 12, Redwing 10, Goldcrest 3 and Goldfinch 2.