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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.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

10th to 13th April – Variety and numbers; the first real influx of spring migrants

In his latest update, Lundy Warden Dean Jones reports: "Some super birds about the past few days on the island."

Tuesday 10th April Very little was noted in the logbook for the 10th as the weather was a tad rubbish, with thick fog & mist dominating the day along with a few light downpours.

A single Puffin at Jenny's Cove.
One Snipe, flushed near Halfway Wall.
One female Black Redstart in Barton Field.

Wednesday 11th April Wednesday morning was much the same as Tuesday, with thick fog lingering on the island up until mid-afternoon. As the day brightened there were some good birds to enjoy, including:

Blackcap: 23 in Millcombe Valley.
Chiffchaff: Just four  birds.
Willow Warbler: 16.
The beautiful female Great-spotted Woodpecker again in Millcombe.
Ring Ouzel: A very handsome male below Benjamin's Chair.
Pied Flycatcher: Two second calendar-year males in Millcombe Valley – see photo.
And a lovely male Linnet in song outside Paradise Row.

Male Pied Flycatcher, Millcombe, 11 Apr © Dean Jones

Thursday 12th April A beautiful sunny day, complete with a strong easterly breeze. Lots of lovely birds to enjoy including:

The female Great spotted Woodpecker was again seen feeding in Millcombe Wood.
Treecreeper: Seen feeding in the trees below Brambles (P Bullock & J Cox).
Cormorant: A single bird was noted in the logbook.
Sand Martin: Three birds quartering over High Street field along with 12 Swallow.
Collared Dove: 2 seen together in Millcombe in the morning and then later in the Village area.
White Wagtail: A lone male feeding in Barton Field in the afternoon.
Blackcap: 66 birds – most of which were recorded in the Millcombe area, including two in song.
Chiffchaff: 15+ scattered throughout the south of the island.
Willow Warbler: 20 birds.
Grasshopper Warbler: The first of the year was reeling away behind the Secret Garden (lower Millcombe) first thing.
Common Redstart: Four stunning males (Millcombe, Benjamin's Chair, Terrace & Barton Field) and a single female (Benjamin's Chair) – see photo below.
Stonechat: A male and female were seen together in South West Field, showing signs of possible breeding.
The handsome male Ring Ouzel below Benjamin's Chair still.
Song Thrush: Two birds outside Government House in the early morning.
Linnet: 33 over South West Field in the early morning.
Bullfinch: A lovely female seen and heard numerous times throughout Millcombe.
Snow Bunting: A very bold and very beautiful female, seen initially by Peter Lambden, spent the morning feeding along the High Street track across from the pig pen (photo below).

Snow Bunting, High Street, 12 Apr © Dean Jones
Male Common Redstart, Terrace, 12 Apr © Dean Jones

Friday 13th April A muggy day overall, lots of low-lying fog carpeting the island with intermittent spells of lovely sunshine. The lengthy periods of fog grounded quite a few migrants throughout the day which provided us with a super day's birding on the island!

Teal: A single male and two females were on Pondsbury in the early morning.
Oystercatcher: 33 birds around the island's coastline, including 10 roosting at Brazen Ward.
Ringed Plover: A rather handsome male was feeding on a monster worm at the North End in the early morning.
Snipe: Four flushed from the Pondsbury area.
Woodpigeon: 7 from Millcombe and Quarter Wall Copse.
Collared Dove: Two birds again in Millcombe Valley.
Merlin: A single female bird looking for prey along the east coast in the early morning.
Goldcrest: 25 birds scattered over the island.
Skylark: 35, which included at least 29 territories spanning the plateau area.
Sand Martin: A total of 14 were logged throughout the day.
Swallow: 20.
House Martin: 40.
Chiffchaff: 37.
Willow Warbler: 50.
Blackcap: 80.
Whitethroat: The first bird of the year was seen perched on Threequarter Wall next to a Robin around mid-morning.
Grasshopper Warbler: A single bird was heard reeling in Millcombe in the afternoon.
Pied Flycatcher: Two seen on the Castle Parade wall.
Redstart: At least four males and two females (Benjamin's Chair and the Terrace).
Black Redstart: A male and a female at the top of Benjamin's Chair.
Stonechat: Two males (one of which was singing its heart out in St John's Valley) and one female.
Wheatear: 26+ birds – most of which were noted from the south west.
Pied Wagtail: One on the ground and four other 'fly-overs'.
Meadow Pipit: 119 scattered over the island.
Chaffinch: Just three birds.
Linnet: A superb day of passage for this species with a total of 271 birds.
Goldfinch: 30, which included a lovely little flock of 25 at South West Point.
Snow Bunting: Seen along the High Street track again at 18:45 (E Angseesing & S Evans).
Great-spotted Woodpecker: Still in Millcombe (P Bullock & J Cox).
A predated Guillemot egg, complete with albumen (freshish), was found beneath one of the lighthouse track stones near the North End.

Male Northern Wheatear, South West Point 13 Apr © Dean Jones 

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

7th to 9th April – A singing Black Redstart to kick off the day

Here’s the latest news from Lundy Warden Dean Jones, covering the period 7th to 9th April.

7th April: A very dreich start to the day with thick mist and light downpours from first light. Fortunately the weather improved by mid-afternoon which opened the gates for the first proper pulse of Swallows (61) and Sand Martins (15).

Other migrants included:
Collared Dove: One in Millcombe/Village area.
Stock Dove: Two feeding in Barton Field (see photo below) along with five Woodpigeons.
Meadow Pipit: Small arrival of 94 birds to the South End (count composed of two feeding flocks).
Pied Wagtail: Three feeding in upper Lighthouse Field alongside the Lundy ponies.
Goldcrest: 15 scattered throughout Millcombe and the Village area.
Chiffchaff: Seven from the South End and Millcombe.
Willow Warbler: 10 from the South End and Millcombe.
Blackcap: 12 males and four females in Millcombe.
Pied Flycatcher: A stunning male busily feeding at the top of Benjamin’s Chair (see photo below) – the first of the year.
Stonechat: A male on the wall of the camping field.
Wheatear: Seven along the south track.
Song Thrush: One in Millcombe Wood.
Linnet: Five (one in Millcombe and four in South West Field).

No sign of the Treecreeper though the female Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen numerous times throughout the day from the Millcombe/Brambles area and once perched on a tree outside the Laundry room in the Village (super office tick that one!), which the House Sparrows were really not happy about.

Stock Doves, Barton Field, 7th April. © Dean Jones

Male Pied Flycatcher, above Benjamin's Chair, 7th April.
© Dean Jones

8th April: A beautiful sunny day with low winds – the first day the sun cream’s been out! Migratory species somewhat sparser.

Great Spotted Woodpecker: The female bird still present in Millcombe Valley and seen numerous times throughout the day. It also visited Sue Waterfield’s garden feeder throughout the morning period (see photo below).
Sparrowhawk: One female past the Terrace in the late morning, seen whilst on a guided walk.
Merlin: A female being harassed by Carrion Crows next to Old Light.
Collared Dove: One in Millcombe.
Feral Pigeon: A single bird, the first of the year.
Puffin: 72 in Jenny’s in the late morning, counted mostly from the water.
Goldcrest: 12, most of which were recorded from Millcombe and the Lower East Side Path.
Swallow: 22 overhead throughout the day.
House Martin: Five past Jenny’s Cove in the early afternoon.
Stonechat: A male in South West Field (possibly the same bird from the 7th).
Blackcap: 21.
Meadow Pipit: 59.
Linnet: 26.

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Quarters,
8th April. © Sue Waterfield

9th April: Weather similar to Sunday’s with the wind picking up in the late afternoon coupled with an obvious drop in temperature. The full Conservation Team (including our two new long-term volunteers) were out counting our semi-wild stock all day, which meant we were able to get some good counts of birds as we trekked the entire island. Unfortunately numbers of migrants were surprisingly low considering the super conditions for passage.

Black Redstart: One singing loudly on the roof of Paradise Row first thing.
Merlin: A female at North End.
Peregrine: A total of seven, including a copulating pair and a young female.
Feral Pigeon: One predated bird (possibly the bird from the 8th) found on the Terrace.
Goldcrest: 20 scattered all over the island, including three at the North Light.
Swallow: Only four birds.
Chiffchaff: Five.
Willow Warbler: Six.
Blackcap: Eight.
Fieldfare: A predated bird found next to Halfway Wall.
Wheatear: 38, the highest count yet this year, most likely an underestimate as birds along the West Side were surprisingly thin on the ground as the temperature dropped.
Stonechat: One male in South West Field again.
Meadow Pipit: 55.
Linnet: 50.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

1st to 6th April – Migration picking up speed

Dean Jones reports that the spring flow of migrants is steadily picking up. Highlights for the period as follows:

Cormorant: Passage recorded on most days. Nine birds flying north on 1st, two flying north on 3rd, three flying south on 5th and two north on 6th.
Manx Shearwater: Heard most nights from the Village/Millcombe area.
Sparrowhawk: A gorgeous adult female was seen with an unidentified prey item behind the Casbah on 1st.
Water Rail: Calling most evenings now from Quarters Pond and Barton Field. Max of five birds recorded on 5th (one calling at Quarters Pond, two seen in Smelly Gully and two calling from brambles next to the Secret Garden).
Snipe: One flushed by Andrew Cleave just north of Quarter Wall on 3rd and one flushed just north of Pondsbury on 5th.
Puffin: Birds have been recorded on most days from their usual haunts. A count of 112 on 3rd was the highest of this period (and the year so far) and 87 were recorded on 4th (most of which were seen on ledges in Jenny’s Cove and near St Peter’s Stone).
Guillemot: 1,330+ on 1st, 870+ on 3rd and 2,350+ on 4th.
Razorbill: 740+ on 1st, 300+ on 3rd and 430+ on 4th.
Woodpigeon: Max count of 17 on 4th. Two birds have been heard ‘cooing’ and were seen displaying in the Millcombe area on both 4th & 5th. Stock Dove: One recorded flying past Quarry Cottages on 6th.
Collared Dove: One on 6th seen and heard from the top of Millcombe Valley.
Merlin: Single birds on 1st, 4th & 6th.
Goldcrest: Small numbers were recorded at the start of this period, mostly from the Millcombe area. A small arrival of 18 birds was recorded on 4th from numerous areas over the island, followed by 22 on 5th and 16 on 6th.
Skylark: Max count of 36 birds on 5th.
Sand Martin: A single bird was seen flying north of Middle Park on 4th and three were over Ackland's Moor on 5th.
Swallow: Ten birds on 4th was the highest count of this period (nine on 5th and eight on 6th).
House Martin: Four on 3rd (Alan & Sandra Rowland), one on 4th and three on 5th.
Chiffchaff: Similar to Goldcrests, small numbers recorded from 1st until 3rd, followed by a super spring arrival of 49 on 4th – this is a very conservative estimate for this species on this date as there were loads of unidentifiable Phylloscopus warblers noted flying with intent over the island throughout the day. Singing birds were recorded from two areas of Millcombe and from St Helen’s Copse (on 3rd and one on 6th).
Willow Warbler: A small number at the start of the period with an influx of 26 birds on 4th. A singing bird was recorded next to Brambles on 3rd.
Blackcap: Singles on 1st–3rd followed by an arrival of 24 males and six females on 4th.
Coal Tit: A single bird, presumably the same overwintering individual from last year, was seen (and heard) on 1st in numerous areas of Millcombe and again on 3rd near the Casbah and Brambles.
Ring Ouzel: The first bird (an adult female) was seen on 4th, followed by two females on 6th next to Felix Gade’s Hut.
Song Thrush (Millcombe) and Redwing: Singles of both were noted on 4th.
Robin: A max count of 13 was recorded on 4th.
Black Redstart: A lone female was seen coming in off the sea from the east on 6th. It landed on the Terrace trap briefly before heading south.
Wheatear: Ten birds (including two new colour-ringed individuals) were noted on 4th - the highest count of the period.
Pied Wagtail: Small numbers of birds recorded on most days along with numerous other fly-over alba spp.
White Wagtail: The first birds were recorded on 1st feeding near the Black Shed. Two birds were also recorded on 3rd (lower Lighthouse Field) and 4th (next to the Lambing Shed).
Chaffinch: Ten on 4th – the highest number this year so far. A singing male was heard from the top of Millcombe on 5th.
Linnet: The first obvious arrival of birds was recorded on 5th (nine birds) followed by 50 on 6th.
Goldfinch: A small arrival of 15 birds on 6th was the highest count of the period.
Siskin: A lone bird was recorded on 5th.
Reed Bunting: A female was seen feeding in the pig pen (in front of Paradise Row) on 4th. It was then observed flying north and was later relocated next to Barton Cottages.

Dean closes the latest account with the following: "The highlight of the period was most definitely a lone Treecreeper found by Zoë in Millcombe Valley in mid-afternoon on 6th April. The bird was then seen and heard numerous times up until 18:00 as it busily picked its way through every bit of lichen and bryophyte throughout the valley looking for a meal. Then, whilst we were enjoying the Treecreeper from the top of Millcombe wood, I heard a very excited yelp from Zoë (who was actually just sat beside me but couldn’t contain her excitement) – WOODPECKER!!!  Swinging the bins round I was immediately met with a stunning female Great Spotted Woodpecker only a few metres away from us both, perched on an old gnarled sycamore. As with the Treecreeper, we were able to enjoy this bird periodically for about an hour or so before it disappeared.  A perfect afternoon's birding on Lundy!"

Report composed of sightings by Neil Trout, Grant Sherman, Zoë Barton and Dean Jones.

A very wet Ackland's Moor, 6 Apr. © Dean Jones
Adult female Ring Ouzel, Timekeeper's Hut, 6 Apr. © Dean Jones
Linnet, Old Light track, 6 Apr. © Dean Jones
Treecreeper, Millcombe, 6 Apr. © Zoë Barton
Female Great Spotted Woodpecker, Millcombe, 6 Apr. © Dean Jones

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

3rd April – First House Martins

Alan & Sandra Rowland report four House Martins flying along the East Side at 11.50 this morning, Tuesday 3rd.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

31st March – Singing Brambling in Millcombe

In what may well be a Lundy 'first' (if anyone reading this knows better, please do let us know!), the male Brambling that has been frequenting Millcombe was heard singing first thing yesterday morning, Saturday 31st, by Dean Jones.

Also on 31st, Tony & Ann Taylor, enjoying their final day on the island for this trip, reported a flock of 10 Cormorants flying north up the East Side at midday, a Woodcock in flight from St John's Valley towards the Village, a Collared Dove in Millcombe, a Coal Tit "very mobile and noisy around Millcombe", a male Stonechat at Benjamin's Chair and a potentially newly arrived Chiffchaff in the same location. The boat crossing back to Ilfracombe brought two Manx Shearwaters and "masses of Guillemots and Razorbills".

Tony has also been able to confirm that two additional colour-ringed Wheatears seen by Dean on Friday 30th had both been ringed in 2017, when they bred together on the Pilot’s Quay slope. "This year, however, the male appears to have paired up with an unringed female and the two of them were chasing the colour-ringed female."

Saturday, 31 March 2018

30th March – First Willow Warblers

During the morning of Friday 30th Tony Taylor ringed 15 birds, including the first four Willow Warblers of the year. Other migrants present were: eight Goldcrests, eight Chiffchaffs and a male Brambling.

Friday, 30 March 2018

29th March – Spring still on a go slow

During the morning of Thursday 29th, Tony Taylor ringed a single Chiffchaff (the first of the year to be ringed) and two Goldcrests. He also managed to read the colour-ring combination of one of the island's returning Wheatears – a male ringed as a one-year-old bird in 2017 at exactly the same spot as Tony resighted it. Other sightings during yet another decidedly un-springlike day included six Teal, a flock of nine Cormorants flying north, seven Swallows (seen at Jenny's Cove by Darrin Dowding), the same female Merlin as reported previously, two Redwings in Millcombe and a pair of Stonechats.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

27th & 28th March – One Swallow, less than one Woodcock, but plenty of Water Rails...

In Tony Taylor's words Tuesday 27th was "wet & windy with nothing to report beyond five Water Rails, two Chiffchaffs and seven Goldcrests."

On Wednesday 28th, "Ann saw a Swallow, but definitely not summer." Also seen were two Fieldfares, 11 Redwings, a pair of Stonechats and a female Bullfinch. Grant Sherman saw a Hooded Crow and there were fresh pluckings from a predated Woodcock in St John's Valley. There were four Water Rails that Tony says, "included a pair in Smelly Gully that stuck very closely together, as they did on 27th and one singing in St Helen's Field this evening."

Monday, 26 March 2018

25th & 26th March – Shearwaters return, Puffins on land

Tony Taylor spent the morning of Sunday 25th mist-netting and the afternoon checking Manx Shearwater nestboxes on the West Side. Among the birds ringed were three Goldcrests. The shearwater colony showed plenty of evidence of fresh activity this season already, with new excavations, droppings at burrow entrances, new nest material in a box used last year and three piles of feathers from predated birds. Other sightings included a Great Northern Diver, a Jackdaw (Tent Field), three Wheatears and two Harbour Porpoises (off South West Point).

Monday 26th brought hints of a small arrival of migrants, including seven Goldcrests, two Chiffchaffs and a Brambling in Millcombe during the morning. Elsewhere, there were six Teal (3m,3f), a Great Northern Diver, 106 Puffins at Jenny's Cove (with up to seven ashore), a female Merlin, a Jackdaw (St Helen's Field) and five Wheatears (including two colour-ringed birds, but neither seen well). Rain has now stopped play for the day.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

23rd & 24th March – Resumption of something like spring...

Tony & Ann Taylor report single Great Northern Diver, Golden Plover and Redwing on 23rd March.

Their sightings on Saturday 24th included: four Teal (1m,3f), one Red-throated Diver, four Gannets (off South West Point), three Snipe, eight Oystercatchers, eight Woodpigeons, five Goldcrests, four Wheatears (low down on the sidelands – none seen well), three Dunnocks, five Pied Wagtails, 70 Meadow Pipits (including birds moving through towards the NW),  five Chaffinches (Millcombe), one Linnet and one Goldfinch. Also a Harbour Porpoise off South West Point.

Monday, 19 March 2018

17th to 19th March – Back into the deep freeze...

Over the weekend, Lundy was once again blasted by severe easterly gales accompanied by driving snow, though with something of an improvement today (Monday 19th). Dean Jones writes:

"There seemed to be a mass evacuation of migrants from the island just before the storm, luckily, but a few did linger including a beautiful female colour-ringed Wheatear below Benjamin’s Chair (see photo). All the seabirds disappeared from the cliffs and coastline too, bar some gangs of gulls which have been following Tom about to grab a quick meal of sheep feed in the Generator Field and on Ackland's Moor (c350 Herring Gulls today). Other than that there hasn’t been much about to count as the birds have hidden themselves well from the cold. I did have one Skylark singing its heart out in a snow flurry on Saturday afternoon which was a massive surprise – poor thing must be well eager to get on with breeding."

Tony Taylor reports that the Wheatear was ringed at Benjamin's Chair on 25 May 2014 and has been seen there regularly every year since, breeding successfully in 2015, 2016 and 2017. As Tony says, "Let's hope she has the reserves to see her through to some real spring weather."

Colour-ringed female Wheatear, Benjamin's Chair, 18 Mar © Dean Jones
Golden Hair Lichen in the snow, Dead Cow Point, 18 Mar © Dean Jones
Spring heavily disguised as winter on the plateau, 18 Mar © Dean Jones
Not Spitsbergen, but Jenny's Cove... 18 Mar © Dean Jones

Friday, 16 March 2018

8th to 16th March – First Wheatears, hirundines, Chiffchaffs and... Puffins!

The following is the latest round-up of sightings from Lundy Warden Dean Jones, including exciting news of the arrival of the first summer visitors. What a difference to two weeks ago!

Red-throated Diver: Five were feeding in the Landing Bay mid-afternoon on 14th, and four today (16th).
Sparrowhawk: A lone bird was perched on the rocks above the Old Light colony on 15th.
Puffin: 10 on the water in Jenny’s Cove on 14th were the first of the year.
Woodpigeon: A reasonably high count of 12 in Millcombe on 14th.
Merlin: Two seen together on 15th, just south of Threequarter Wall (photo).
Goldcrest: A very handsome male was seen feeding in the Turkey Oaks next to Smelly Gully on 9th – the first of the spring. One possible female was feeding in Smelly Gully today (16th).
Hirundines: The first Sand Martins were recorded yesterday (15th) too (a day earlier than the first of 2017). The count comprised three in total – one bird over Millcombe in the early morning (Dean Jones) and two feeding in St John’s in the mid-afternoon along with a gang of three Swallows (Rob Waterfield & Pete Lambden).
Chiffchaff: Two feeding along the margins of Millcombe Pond on 14th were the first for the year. Three were present on 15th & 16th, again in Millcombe.
Song Thrush: Only one record of a single bird in Millcombe on 15th & 16th.
Redwing: A mass evacuation of thrushes occurred over the weekend; only two Redwings have been recorded since 8th – one on 14th near Halfway Wall and one next to Quarters on 15th.
Wheatear: A single bird on 12th on Ackland’s Moor (near Quarter Wall) was the first of the spring (Zoë Barton). Three were present yesterday (15th), including an unringed bird near the Battery steps (photo) and the first returning colour-ringed bird at Benjamin’s Chair, together with an unringed female.
Pied Wagtail: Max of four on 15th & 16th with a singing male in the Village next to the Tavern on 14th.
Grey Wagtail: One in Millcombe on 14th (Nick Herbert) and one over St John’s Valley today (16th).
Meadow Pipit: c.150-200 were counted in a period of 10 minutes from the Castle Parade (Zoë Barton whilst on housekeeping duty!), 100+ over the village on 13th & 147 counted from the South End to Threequarter Wall on 15th, including large flocks of 50+ feeding birds near Benjamin’s Chair and St Mark’s Stone.

In addition Dean reports that "There was lots of breeding activity recorded yesterday, with many singing birds, gangs of Dunnocks chasing each other through the gorse and Blackbirds and House Sparrows collecting nest material. Oh, and not forgetting the non-avian highlights: the first Common Carder Bee was recorded on 13th and the first Peacock butterfly was seen sunning itself below Benjamin's Chair this afternoon (16th)."

Wheatear between The Battery & Dead Cow Point, 15 Mar © Dean Jones
Merlin near Threequarter Wall, 15 Mar © Dean Jones

Friday, 9 March 2018

2nd to 7th March – A tough time for birds

Dean Jones summarises the period 2nd to 7th March, when snow and freezing temperatures early on were very much the watchwords.

Friday 2nd March: Unsurprisingly like elsewhere in the country, Saturday was a very cold and extremely windy (gusting 70+mph) day with lots of hail and snowfall adding to the already towering snow drifts along the roads and thick carpets on the plateau. After a few days of very cold weather previously, the ground (and everything else at that matter) had frozen solid, making it extremely difficult for a lot of birds to find food.

Unsurprisingly, conditions for birding were very poor but I did manage to get out of the wind somewhat on the SW point for a few hours. Here I witnessed numerous birds, mostly thrushes, desperately trying to leave the island for a more hospitable place to hide away from the rest of the storm. A total of 17 Song Thrushes, 12 Redwings, 14 Skylarks and a lone female Stonechat were seen moving south along the sideland and out to sea past Great Shutter Rock. Most of these birds, once out past the point, were immediately met with the strong easterlies, leading them to make a hasty retreat back to the island. A few Song Thrushes were not so lucky and were flung right out to sea, eventually disappearing from view – desperate times!

Additionally flying around Great Shutter Rock were two Lapwings, 12 Common Gulls (mostly adults) and two adult winter Black-headed Gulls.

I then tried to pop over to the east coast as I had been told there were some big flocks of gulls being pushed close to the lower shore. I found very little shelter in the Ugly but did manage to pick out a further three Common Gulls and another adult Black-headed amongst the hundreds of feeding Herring Gulls.

Saturday 3rd March: The strong easterlies continued throughout the day but instead of more snow we received some well needed rain and a slight rise in temperature. The first round of birding produced some impressive numbers of Herring Gulls in Tillage Field and within the Landing Bay (total c.800). In the bay, birds were attracted to and were busily feeding on washed up bits and bobs on the lower shore, brought forth by the lofty easterly swell (see photo below). The biggest surprise though was a total of 152 Common Gulls (mostly adults) and 11 Black-headed Gulls within the mixed Larid frenzy.

Mixed gull flock on rocks in the Landing Bay, 3rd Mar. © Dean Jones

Highlights from elsewhere:
    •    A Grey Heron seen flying east near the Quarries (Dave Oddy).
    •    15 Fieldfares, 35 Redwings, 10 Blackbirds and 13 Song Thrushes all scattered around the village, Millcombe Valley and SW Point.
    •    Two Stonechats (1  male & 1 female) in SW Field.
    •    A lone Lapwing near the Old Light.
    •    Four Snipe flushed from within Millcombe Valley (one from the edge of a gorse bush next to Old School).
    •    A lone Dunlin busily feeding in Millcombe Pond (see photo below).
    •    Finch numbers still low: two Linnets.

Dunlin, Millcombe Pond, 3rd Mar. © Dean Jones

Sunday 4th March: A beautiful spring-like morning/early afternoon, complete with singing Skylarks and seabird-covered ledges – quite the contrast to the previous two days on the island.

Highlights included:
    •    Gannet: a count of 12, most of which were seen from the North end – the highest count yet for 2018.
    •    Fulmar: 185 on ledges in Long Roost, Gannets’ Rock and Jenny’s Cove.
    •    Cormorant: two were seen flying east past Rat Island mid-morning.
    •    Curlew: one over the village in the early morning.
    •    Common Gull: an adult bird and two 2cy individuals in the Landing Bay.
    •    Black-headed Gull: a beautiful adult summer bird and a single 2cy.
    •    Kittiwake: a total of 80 were counted on ledges in Aztec Bay and Jenny’s Cove.
    •    Guillemot/Razorbill: an estimated 2,000 in rafts along the West Side and on ledges (Mandy Dee & Andy Bell).
    •    Woodpigeon: three above the Terrace being chased by a Peregrine (Trevor Dobie).
    •    Sparrowhawk: one seen above the farmyard in the afternoon (Trevor Dobie).
    •    Redwing: 257 scattered all over the island from SW Point up to the North Light. Main congregations of birds were found in Barton’s, Tillage and Brick Fields.
    •    Fieldfare: a total of 20 birds scattered around the island.
    •    Song Thrush: 14 birds, most of which were in the Millcombe/Farm area.
    •    Blackbird: seven, again mostly in the Millcombe/Farm area.
    •    Pied Wagtail: four in Tillage/Brick Fields.
    •    Stonechat: a female in SW Field and a pair near the North End.
    •    Meadow Pipit: a noticeable increase of birds (42 counted), most of which were seen in small mobile flocks beyond Threequarter Wall.
    •    Linnet: two.

Monday 5th March: A reasonably calm but very wet morning and afternoon.
    •    Still lots of thrushes about but the highlights of the day were two Manx Shearwaters flying SW past Rat Island in the early morning, and two very showy Water Rails feeding together in Smelly Gully. Additionally a Curlew, thought to be the same bird as yesterday, was heard calling in Tillage Field.

Tuesday 6th March: A lovely warm, still and sunny day.
    •    Good numbers of thrushes still about: 140 Redwings, six Fieldfares, eight Song Thrushes and 12 Blackbirds.
    •    Small arrival of Pied Wagtails: eight counted from the Village/Pondsbury area.
    •    Noticeable arrival of Stonechats, with a total of eight males and four females, most of which were found in the Pondsbury area.
    •    Skylark: 21 scattered in areas from Halfway Wall south.
    •    Meadow Pipit: 42 scattered in areas from Halfway Wall south; first displaying bird of the year was seen/heard near Quarter Wall.
    •    Kestrel: one hovering over Ackland’s Moor mid-morning.
    •    Golden Plover: three in SW Field (see photo below).
    •    Highlight of the day was a total of 12 Red-throated Divers and a lone Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay at around 15.00.

Golden Plover, South West Field, 6th Mar. © Dean Jones

Wednesday 7th March: Another beautiful sunny day but a tad colder due to reasonably strong SW winds.
    •    Thrush numbers lower than previous days: 48 Redwings, one Fieldfare, six Song Thrushes and 14 Blackbirds.
    •    Continued arrival of Stonechats, with 13 males and 11 females noted – most of which were found on Ackland’s Moor near the ‘Pointless Wall’.
    •    Merlin: a female perched on the ground in SW Field in the early morning.
    •    Woodpigeon: six in Millcombe Valley.
    •    Water Rail: a total of four – two in Smelly Gully and two next to Millcombe House.
    •    Teal: two drakes and five ducks on Pondsbury.
    •    Super diver numbers were again the highlight of the day. A total of nine Red-throated Divers were feeding in the Landing Bay in the early afternoon, along with a lone Black-throated Diver in near full summer plumage – what a bird!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

February photos from Martin Thorne

Along with a Raven and a lovely portrait of a Robin, below are record shots of the scarcer birds Martin Thorne was able to capture during his stay on Lundy in February. Of the Robin, Martin says: "The Robin was at Quarry pond, a character to say the least; he's very bold, demands food and unbelievably I was feeding the fish and he flew out to pick up a large piece of bread from off the water."

Cormorant with a flatfish in the Landing Bay, 17 Feb. © Martin Thorne
Great Northern Diver with flatfish, Landing Bay, 17 Feb. © Martin Thorne
Ringtail Hen Harrier, Pondsbury, 25 Feb. © Martin Thorne
 Dunlin, North End, 23 Feb. © Martin Thorne
 Iceland Gull, Mouse Island, 17 Feb. © Martin Thorne
Raven. © Martin Thorne
 Robin, Quarry Pond. © Martin Thorne

Friday, 2 March 2018

Sightings to 1 Mar – Winter bites back...

Along with much of the rest of the country (and indeed continental Europe), Lundy is experiencing its most severe winter conditions for many years, with frozen water pipes among a variety of challenges for staff and visitors, not to mention the LFS Working Party (see photos on the Lundy Island public group Facebook page) who have been on the island all week. Needless to say, the weather must also be having a serious impact on Lundy's birds, whether residents, 'normal' migrants or refugees fleeing the mainland in a futile attempt to find less harsh conditions.

The following is Dean Jones's latest roundup of recent sightings, up to and including 1 March, the first day of meteorological spring...!

Red-throated Diver – Four off SW Point on 24th Feb (Martin Thorne).
Teal – Counts on most days with a max of eight on Pondsbury on 26th. One drake was found on Quarters Pond on 27th, probably an individual from Pondsbury trying to escape the relentless chill of the wind.
Mallard – Eight on 27th and again on 1st from Quarters Pond.
Gannet – Four on 25th and one on 28th; still very scarce.
Cormorant – Two birds at the North End on 23rd.
Golden Plover – Three birds present above Benjamin’s Chair on 28th and 10 on 1st, scattered around SW Point desperately trying to find a place to shelter out of the wind.
Lapwing – A flock of 26 was seen flying over the helipad field by Pete Lambden whilst on helicopter duty on 26th. Twenty on 27th comprised a flock of 18 moving north near Pondsbury and two roosting individuals near the water tanks. Nine present on 28th and five on 1st, hiding from the blizzard-like conditions near SW Point.
Woodcock – Two flushed from the long grass south of Pondsbury by LFS Working Party members who were searching the area for Rhododendron.
Snipe –14 on the 25th and 22 on the 27th, again flushed from around the Pondsbury area whilst the LFS Working Party were on the hunt for Rhododendron.
Dunlin – One at the North End on 23rd (Martin Thorne).
Razorbill – 309 rafting off SW Point in the early morning of 27th.
Herring Gull – 1,000+ roosting and feeding in Tillage Field on 26th (Martin Thorne).
Common Gull – Three immature birds at the North End on 23rd (Martin Thorne).
Skylark – Six on 28th has been the highest count since 21st.
Fieldfare – One on Ackland's Moor on 1st.
Redwing – No further records since three on 24th.
Mistle Thrush – Unusual for Lundy at any time of year, and especially in winter, one was near the main-track Heinkel wreck on 26th (Trevor Dobie & Louise Cookson) and one was below Benjamin’s Chair on 28th (Dean Jones).
Black Redstart – A 1st-year male below Benjamin’s Chair on 27th.
Stonechat – Two on 25th and one on 27th.
Pied Wagtail – One on 25th & 27th.
Brambling – One on 24th.
Linnet – Two on 26th (first of the month).

2 Mar "High Street passable with care" © Trevor Dobie/Facebook

Monday, 26 February 2018

Commuting Peregrines

During the early afternoon of 16 Feb, Mark Darlaston and Adele Rennells were at Hartland Point to count Red-throated Divers. They watched two Peregrines gaining height, then setting out purposely for Lundy in continual wing-beating flight. Mark says "Having my scope set up I followed them for c15 minutes until they were tiny dots (at 50x mag), then lost them as Lundy appeared in the background. It was a crisp day with very sharp visibility and the resolution was pretty amazing in that I could see sheep grazing and people walking on the top of Lundy through the scope, so I probably had followed the two birds around three-quarters of the way before I lost them. A tentative estimate that a Peregrine would be doing around 30-40mph in a straight purposeful flight like this would see them cover the 11 miles from Hartland Point to Lundy in a bit under 20 minutes. Perhaps a day's foraging flight to the mainland when food is scarcer on Lundy in winter?"

This mirrors a journey in the opposite direction witnessed by Tim Davis & Tim Jones on the morning of 11 Dec 2010, when a pair of Peregrines that had apparently roosted on Lundy overnight circled upwards over the Castle and headed off at height directly for Hartland Point, not deviating until they were lost from sight.

Highlights for 18th to 25th Feb – A mixed bag of winter visitors and early migrants

The following observations are from Dean Jones and Martin Thorne:

Red throated Diver – Two birds were off Rat Island on 18th & 19th; three were off South West Point on 20th; and a single bird was feeding near North Light on 21st.
Black-throated Diver – One was off Shutter Point on 24th (Martin Thorne).
Great Northern Diver – A single bird was present in the Landing Bay on 18th, 19th and 22nd.
Gannet – 3 on the 20th off the SW – very scarce this month.
Hen Harrier – Martin Thorne watched a ringtail quartering east and west over Pondsbury on the afternoon of 25th.
Water Rail – Two on 21st: one calling from the rushes in Barton Field in the morning and another in Millcombe.
Oystercatcher – maximum count 17 on 21st.
Snipe – Singles flushed from the Pondsbury area on 20th & 21st.
Common Gull – A lone adult bird was roosting within a small flock of Herring Gulls off North Light on 21st.
A possible Glaucous Gull – Martin Thorne had a brief glimpse of what looked like a first-winter Glaucous Gull preening itself on The Rattles on 20th. Unfortunately the bird flew off east before he managed to get a closer look. Martin had also reported a possible Glaucous Gull the day before but unfortunately it again did not allow for great viewing as it disappearing into the morning fog near the Castle with three Herring Gulls.
Great-black backed Gull – Birds are back on their breeding promontories including the small colony on Great Shutter Rock.
Woodpigeon – A single bird coming in from the sea near Benjamin’s Chair on 21st was the first of the year.
Merlin – Single birds were seen from the Village area on 21st and 22nd.
Jackdaw – A lone bird was found in Barton Field during the late morning of 22nd (see record shot below).
Skylark – 17 birds on 21st included a flock of 10 next to Halfway Wall.
Fieldfare – One was next to the water tanks on 21st.
Redwing – A flock of 17 was seen in Millcombe on 20th; nine on 21st.
Song Thrush – Six on 21st.
Grey Wagtail – A single fly-over bird heard from South West Point on 21st was the first of the year.
Rock Pipit – 17 recorded on 21st, mostly from the south and west coasts. A single bird was displaying from South West Point on the same day.
Chaffinch – A small arrival of birds included 10 on both 20th & 21st.

Jackdaw in Barton Field, 22 Feb 2018 © Dean Jones

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Sat 17th Feb – A taste of spring

"A beautiful spring-like day" on Saturday 17th February brought a host of interesting sightings, including an influx of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits and an exodus of Redwings, showing that spring passage is already getting underway. Another seasonal first was a Buff-tailed Bumble-bee in flight next to the Upper East Side Path. The following records have been compiled from observations by Dean Jones, Grant Sherman & Martin Thorne.

Great Northern Diver: A single bird was feeding in the Landing Bay during the late morning.
Red-throated Diver: Six were feeding/roosting in the Landing Bay.
Guillemot: 1,541 on the ledges between St Mark’s Stone and Jenny’s Cove.
Razorbill: 600 birds, some on ledges but most out at sea.
Kittiwake: 70 birds, some of which were seen on ledges along the west coast.
Iceland Gull: Presumably the same bird that was seen on Fri 16th was again present on Mouse Island. Prolonged views allowed it to be aged as an adult and though Dean noticed apparent differences in head markings, he couldn't be certain that it was a different individual to the one he saw on 19 Jan.
Snipe: Seven between Quarter Wall and Pondsbury.
Merlin: A single female bird was looking for prey in Tillage Field in the early morning and later in St John’s Valley.
Skylark: There was a very noticeable arrival, with 18 counted during the late morning and early afternoon. These included two small, mobile flocks near Castle Parade and 10 birds "singing their hearts out with some superb in-flight territorial disputes between males" in South West Field (2), Ackland's Moor (4) and between Quarter Wall and Halfway Wall (4).
Meadow Pipit: A small arrival of birds – four were in flight between Tillage Field and the Airstrip.
Redwing: "Seemingly the majority of birds from earlier in the week have cleared out" – only six were seen during coverage of likely habitat south of Halfway Wall.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Highlights for Sat 3rd to Fri 16th Feb – Skylarks start to sing; another Iceland Gull

After a 'blank week', when Lundy Warden Dean Jones was off-island and there were no logbook entries from visitors, highlights during the last few days have included:

Red-throated Diver – six present in the Landing Bay on 12th at around 14:00, followed by four on 15th and six again on 16th; Great Northern Diver – one feeding close in to Rat Island on 14th; Shag – a small southward passage of 13 birds, plus an additional three feeding birds in the Landing Bay, all seen from the Ugly on 12th; Water Rail – Dean reports "rather quiet as of late but I saw two birds chasing each other in Smelly Gully on 15th"; Snipe – three flushed near Quarter Wall on 12th; Iceland Gull – one, thought to be a 3rd-winter bird, was found on Mouse Island, by Martin Thorne, during the early afternoon of 16th (it flew off around Rat Island after being harassed by Herring Gulls, but reappeared in the Landing Bay just 50m off the jetty!); Skylark – two were in South West Field on 15th and this year's first reports of singing birds came from there on 16th and from near the Water Tanks on the same day; Blackbird – max 10 on 15th (Dean notes that numbers of both Blackbirds and Song Thrushes seem to have dropped again); Redwing – 22 scattered between Barton Field and Millcombe on 12th and 14 in Barton Field on 15th; Song Thrush – max seven on 15th; Black Redstart – one below Benjamin's Chair on 15th; and Goldfinch – two birds still regularly around the village area.

The Iceland Gull is the second record for 2018, but only the 10th ever for the island, and follows the sighting of an adult – and therefore a different individual – in Tillage Field on 19 January.

Observations by Dean Jones and Martin Thorne.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Highlights for Tue 30th Jan to Fri 2nd Feb

On Tuesday 30th Jan, Tim Davis and Tim Jones walked the entire island perimeter (including all the ins and outs...) counting birds as they went, starting from the Castle at 8am and getting back there at just after 4pm, after (according to Apple) some 13km and 21,397 steps. Unfortunately, the last section, from the Battery, back south to the Castle, was plagued by incoming thick clag and rain, so sightings for this part of the circuit were negligible. On the plus side, it was calm and sunny on the outbound route via the East Side to North End, and dry and bright along most of the West Side as far as Quarter Wall. The most unexpected sighting was of a female Goldeneye, flying north over the East Side of the island near Tibbetts at around 10.15am. We wondered if it had been on Pondsbury earlier in the morning. There was a single Great Northern Diver again in the Landing Bay and one Red-throated Diver off North Light among feeding Razorbills, Kittiwakes and other gulls. There were 279 Fulmars on the breeding ledges on the north side of Gannets' Rock, at Long Roost and in Jenny's Cove, while Grant Sherman's early morning count of 961 Guillemots on the ledges from Jenny's to St Mark's Stone, when added to what the Tims saw at sites further north, gave a total of just over 1,100 – almost all in full breeding plumage. Conversely, the 38 Razorbills we saw were all in winter plumage and remained offshore. Other higher counts included 40 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 66 Great Black-backed Gulls and 720 Herring Gulls, as well as 27 Oystercatchers (mainly on the East Side) – the only wader species encountered, and 21 Rock Pipits. The island's breeding Shags have yet to return in any number, with only five seen all day. An adult Cormorant coming into breeding plumage flew north off the East Side and the Coal Tit was in St Helen's Copse as we passed through early on.

Sunrise over South Light on 30 Jan – the start of the perimeter walk © Tim Jones

The last day of January brought blustery NW winds and heavy showers, while February started cold and bright, with plenty of sunshine but a chilly northerly wind, which at least gave a chance for a very soggy island to start drying out. Notable sightings included: four to five Red-throated Divers off Rat Island/South Light on 31st, three Water Rails in Millcombe on 1st, 11 Snipe on 1st, two female-type Black Redstarts at Benjamin's Chair on 31st, two Fieldfares on 2nd and two Meadow Pipits, also on 2nd. The lone overwintering Coal Tit and pair of Goldfinches continued to be seen daily, but there was no sign of the Firecrest after 29th (though it may simply have taken to deeper cover as colder conditions arrived). The same change in the weather, with clear skies at night and a good tail wind for anything wanting to make the short hop to Hartland, seemed to have prompted a partial exodus of thrushes, with numbers of Blackbirds and Redwings noticeably reduced by the end of our visit. On the other hand, numbers of Skylarks appeared to be building up slowly as the first breeding birds return to take up their territories; an almost complete absence, despite thorough searching, was a noticeable feature until the last two or three days. We watched one (first picked up distantly through a telescope whilst seawatching) fly in off the sea at North Light on 30th.

Skylark near Dead Cow Point on 26 Jan © Tim Jones

Flushes of flowering Snowdrops in Millcombe and Primroses in abundance at Quarter Wall Copse, alongside singing Wrens, Robins, Dunnocks, Song Thrush (sub-singing in Millcombe) and Starlings, and a pair of Ravens carrying sticks to their nest site along the East Side on 1st gave a distinct feeling of approaching spring.

Singing male Starling at Barton Cottages, 2 Feb © Tim Jones

Monday, 29 January 2018

Highlights for Fri 26th - Mon 29th Jan

Tim Jones and Tim Davis report Teal 7 daily, Great Northern Diver 1-2 daily, Red-throated Diver 1-2 on 27th-29th (Landing Bay & North Light), Fulmar max. 123 on ledges on 28th, Woodcock 1 near Pondsbury on 29th, Snipe max. 22 on 28th, Kittiwake max. 320 on 29th, Common Gull 1 1st-winter on 29th, Guillemot max. 300 on 26th, Razorbill max.  60 on 28th, Merlin female on 26th, Coal Tit 1 on 26th & 27th, Skylark max. 3 on 26th in spite of thorough searching, Firecrest 1 female in Smelly Gully 27th-29th, Goldcrest 1 on 27th & 28th, Fieldfare 2 at Old Light on 26th, Blackbird max. 26 on 27th, Song Thrush max. 24 on 27th, Redwing max. 14 on 29th, Stonechat 1 female (first of the year) at Pondsbury on 29th, Pied Wagtail 1 (first of the year) on 26th, Goldfinch 1-2 most days, Reed Bunting 1 female at Pondsbury on 26th.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Wed 24 Jan – A blustery but productive afternoon

On yet another blustery afternoon, Dean made it up to North End on Wednesday 24th, enjoying some good birding by January standards:

Black-throated Diver – The star of the show! A single bird feeding and preening just off North West Point.
Red-throated Diver – 2 birds feeding off North End, just out from the Virgin’s Spring area.
Fulmar – Total of 88: a raft of 30 off North End, 44 on Gannets Rock, 8 on ledges in Long Roost and 6 on Jenny’s Cove ledges.
Gannet – A single bird off North End.
Shag – 2 off North End feeding near Kittiwake Gully.
Great Black-backed Gull – 24 (14 of which were preening on Pondsbury).
Lesser Black-backed Gull – 4 preening on Pondsbury.
Herring Gull – 143, most of which were feeding and roosting in Tillage Field.
Kittiwake – 245 off North End.
Common Gull – A single 1st-winter bird resting with a few Herring Gulls just off from North Light.
Oystercatcher – A total of 4 consisted of 3 in the Landing Bay and 1 in Gannets' Bay.
Guillemot – A feeding raft of 230 off North End.
Razorbill – A feeding raft of 53 off North End.
Carrion Crow – 35 feeding in Tillage Field.
Skylark – 3 birds in Middle Park.
Redwing – 6 in Barton Field.
Blackbird – 6 from the Village to Quarter Wall.
Chaffinch – 2 feeding along track next to Tillage Field.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Mon 22 Jan – PS: things that go "squelch" in the night...

In a further bulletin from the Misty Isle, Dean says of last night, Monday 22 Jan:

"As it was a relatively calm night here I went for a late night jaunt through the fields to look for feeding birds. Altogether I saw 3 Woodcock, 8 Snipe, a single Jack Snipe next to Quarter Wall Pond, a roosting Mallard in Tillage Field and a rabbit! The first I’ve seen in quite a while."

Just goes to show what's there for the finding if the lure of a muddy field on a damp January night exceeds the lure of a warm living room!

20 to 22 Jan – Between the rain, mist & wind...

Dean has sent through a few records from Saturday 20th and Monday 22nd, writing that "Sunday was miserable – thick mist all day/night".

Teal – 5 females and 2 males on Pondsbury on 22nd.
Great Northern Diver – In the Landing Bay on the morning of 22nd and again in the afternoon below the Ugly with a rather big Monkfish in its bill.
Oystercatcher – 9 in the Landing Bay on 20th; highest count since 19 Nov 2017.
Snipe – 16 on 20th (higher than any count in 2017) and 3 on 22nd – flushed between Quarter and Halfway Walls.
Herring Gull – 151 roosting in Barton Field on 22nd.
Merlin – one off the Terrace on 20th.
Blackbird – 24 on 20th (Village, high street, Lower East Side Path and Millcombe).
Song Thrush – 16 on 20th (Village, high street, Lower East Side Path and Millcombe).
Redwing – 16 feeding in Barton Field on 20th.
Robin – 11 on 20th (Village, high street, Lower East Side Path and Millcombe).
Chaffinch – 4 on 22nd.

Friday, 19 January 2018

12 to 19 Jan – Iceland Gull the highlight of a stormy period

Lundy Warden Dean Jones found an adult Iceland Gull among 72 Herring Gulls in Tillage Field this morning, Friday 19 January – the first record of this Arctic-breeding gull since 2014 and only the ninth for the island.

During what has been a rather cold and very stormy period (again...), other bird sightings have, unsurprisingly, been quite thin on the ground, but have included (for 12th to 19th):

Red-throated Diver – A single bird was present in the Landing Bay on 12th and there were four feeding off the North End on 14th.
Great Northern Diver – Single birds (possibly the same individual) were in the Landing Bay on 12th, 17th and 18th.
Fulmar – A raft of 19 was off the North End on 14th.
Herring Gull – Dean reports "some super roosting flocks in both Barton and Tillage Fields"; 156  on 17th was the highest count of the period.
Kittiwake – A feeding flock of 54 seen from the North End on 14th was the highest count.
Guillemot – A feeding raft of 75 birds was off the North End on 14th.
Razorbill – A count of 52 feeding off the North End on 14th.
Water Rail – Maximum count of two, in Millcombe, on 11th & 18th; oddly, one was calling from the brambles below the Millcombe to Ugly path, near the pines.
Snipe – Three were flushed between Quarter Wall and Pondsbury on 14th.
Skylark – A single bird on 12th & 14th in Tillage Field.
Redwing – Dean notes that thrush numbers seemingly dropped off after the storms at the start of the week; 13 on 14th was the highest count of the period.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Thu 11 Jan – Record count of Red-throated Divers off the East Side

An email in from Dean brings further news of divers from yesterday, Thursday 11 Jan:

"I managed to get in a brief seawatch from the Ugly during my lunch break. The sea was beautifully still yesterday afternoon meaning that most of the birds were rather far out and difficult to ID, but I did get some good views of a roosting flock of 8 Red throated Divers! There were two other divers present too, flying over the flock and heading west, that I didn’t get a good look at. It is amazing how fast these birds go once they get up off the water!"

This is by far the highest number of Red-throated Divers ever recorded from the island (the previous maximum being just three).

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Wed 10 Jan – Red-throated Diver and more winter thrushes

Following on from Philip Lymbery's New Year update below, Lundy Warden Dean Jones reports (with masterly understatement) that the weather in early January continued to be "not the best for birding" with westerly gales dominating the start of the month, followed by lots of rain, then bitterly cold winds from the east...

A decent day, today, Wednesday 10th, saw the undoubted highlight of the period, a Red-throated Diver in the Landing Bay during the afternoon. It was preening close-in to begin with, pausing periodically and giving Dean good views. "The bird then powered out of the bay to deeper waters, where it began to search for food."

Other sightings of note between 4 & 10 Jan have included good numbers of wintering thrushes, including a very high midwinter Song Thrush count for the island, but finches have reached their typical winter nadir:

Mallard – Eight were on Rocket Pole Pond on 6th.
Teal – Three males were frantically courting four females on Pondsbury on 5th.
Great Northern Diver – A single bird was in the Landing Bay on 6th & 10th.
Kittiwake – The large feeding flocks present at the turn of the year soon disappeared at the onset of the strong easterly winds; max 68 on 4th.
Herring Gull – Some decent flocks were noted sheltering in Barton Field during the few days of westerly gales; max 172 on 4th.
Water Rail – One has been calling from the iris bed next to Millcombe House on most days.
Goldcrest – One was in Quarter Wall Copse on 5th.
Skylark – Three on 6th was the highest count since three on 28 Dec. To find a day-total of more than three means going all the way back to 16 Nov, when there were nine.
Blackbird – A max of 24 on 5th.
Song Thrush – A max of 21 on 5th.
Redwing – A max of 37 on 5th.
Fieldfare – A single bird in Barton Field on 5th.
Chaffinch – A max of four on 5th.
Goldfinch – A max of two on 7th.
Linnet – A single bird calling over the village on 5th was the first since another singleton on 24 Nov.

Happy New Lundy Birds Year!

The following report and photos, covering the Christmas and New Year period, have been contributed by Philip Lymbery.

Helen and I were lucky enough to spend Christmas and New Year on Lundy (22nd December 2017 until 2nd January 2018) for the first time. We had a magical time, despite the weather, which seemed a wintry rotation of mist, rain and high winds.

Bird-wise, we were treated to a Firecrest in Millcombe Valley, which showed during a couple of better weather days, on the 24th and 28th. One Goldfinch was seen around Windy Corner on the 30th.

Firecrest, Millcombe, 28 Dec 2017 © Philip Lymbery

A Great Northern Diver toured the east coast of the island, being seen on the sea from the Landing Bay to Quarry Beach (24th, 26th and 31st).

Great Northern Diver off Quarry Beach, 31 Dec 2017 © Philip Lymbery

A feeding party of Kittiwakes were seen each day off the east coast, with 500 or more birds recorded on the 29th. 30 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also sat on the sea on the same day off The Ugly. A Merlin was seen before dusk on several afternoons over Quarter Wall, Halfway Wall or The Battery. A Fieldfare was seen at Threequarter Wall on the 27th, with a single bird also recorded in Barton Field on the 28th. The field played host to a busy feeding flock of Redwing, with 28 being counted by us on New Year’s Eve. Three female and one drake Teal spent late afternoon on Pondsbury on the 30th. The heavy rain meant that the island was very wet underfoot everywhere, meaning that feeding Snipe were scattered across the island and could be flushed pretty much anywhere, from the north end of the island to Quarter Wall. Our maximum count was of 8 birds accidentally flushed singly from various parts of the island on the 28th. A Stonechat was seen on Tibbett’s Hill on the 31st.

Kittiwake off Lundy, 22 Dec 2017 © Philip Lymbery

Friday, 5 January 2018

22 to 29 Dec – Is that an island out there?

Though thick mist prevented the helicopter from flying, prompting creative transport solutions, Alan & Sandra Rowland spent the Christmas period on Lundy and have sent the following update for what sounds like an ideal week to have been enjoying the fesitvities in the Tavern!

"At dawn on the 22nd, we travelled from Clovelly in small boats with the hope of good seabird sightings. At sea level the air was clear, and as we approached the island, we spotted a handful of Gannets, Guillemots and the odd Fulmar and Great Black-backed Gull. With the exception of the 27th, the week was either extremely windy, wet or misty and really wet underfoot. That said, Barton Field was a really good location for Blackbirds and Redwings with up to a dozen of each when visibility showed them. The North End revealed very few birds, only three Meadow Pipits and a small flock of a dozen Gannets off North East Point. There were just two Fulmars on the nesting ledges at Long Roost. Millcombe revealed the occasional Firecrest to dedicated searchers and a Merlin was seen around Halfway Wall.”

See also photos posted on Facebook by Philip Lymbery.