Angus reports on a week busy with birders but not necessarily the birds. A team of ringers have been operating in Millcombe and St Johns Valley all week and a whole host of frequent Lundy birders have been on the island.
Mixed spells of weather this week with calm days on Tuesday
11th and Thursday 13th and a strong sustained south-westerly on Saturday 15th.
A high count of 16 Mallard were seen on the 13th, with some popping up near Rocket Pole on
several mornings. A female Teal has
been at Pondsbury for most of the week. Five Water Rail were
recorded on the 13th, mostly in Millcombe with another at Quarter Wall.
26 Oystercatcher were recorded around the island on
the 15th and 16th. A couple of Golden Plover left us early this week but
one has remained in the fields near to the village. Dunlin singles were
picked up on the 13th and 16th, and a Woodcock burst out of cover near
to Rocket Pole in the afternoon of the 11th. Snipe were recorded most days, usually picked up individually
flying over with totals of four on the 12th and the 13th.
Strong winds meant several pairs of eyes were fixed on the
sea on the 15th, resulting in: 380 Kittiwake, 1 Black-headed Gull (with
another seen on the 16th), four Common Gull, nine Great Black-backed
Gull (max count 18 on the 14th), three Herring Gull (max counts of
17 on both 11th and 16th), two Lesser Black-backed Gull (three also
recorded on the 11th, and two on the 12th), two Fulmar, 12 Manx
Shearwater, 11 Shag and five ‘commic’ terns. A high
count of 125 Gannets was recorded on the 15th, and another 82 were
recorded on the 12th. Nine Guillemot were recorded on the 12th, with 6
on the 15th. Razorbill numbered 16 on the 12th and 15 on the 15th. There
were 101 unidentified Auks on the 12th, 41 on the 14th, 335 on the 15th
and 11 on the 16th.
An Arctic Skua was recorded on the 14th off of Rat
Island and a Great Northern Diver flew past north light heading southeast
on the 16th, close enough to be identified with binoculars. One Cormorant was
recorded on the 11th, and two Grey Herons slowly flew over Millcombe and
the south of the island on the 12th.
Two Sparrowhawks are seen most days, with three each
day at the weekend (three females on Saturday 15th and two plus a male on Sunday
16th). We still have two Kestrels and one was seen brawling with a Merlin
together with a Peregrine early in the week. Two Merlins were
recorded 13th-15th, and four Peregrines on 16th, with three interacting
over the church mid-morning. 21 Carrion Crows and 22 Ravens were
recorded on the 16th with slightly increased numbers and flightier behaviour
perhaps representing some new arrivals.
The calm days this week saw large hirundine and finch
passage, with 600 Swallows on both 11th and 13th, and 160 on the 14th.
There were 200 House Martins on the 11th and 300 on the 13th, and five Sand
Martins on the 11th. Skylarks numbered 50 on the 11th and a huge 170
on the 13th, with numbers in the teens on the other windier days. 300 Meadow
Pipits on the 11th and 600 on the 13th. Good island coverage has resulted
in up 40 Rock Pipits this week, with a flock of 18 in the north-west and
12 near to Quarter Wall in the west recorded on the 16th.
A Cetti’s Warbler started the week off well, as only
the 7th record for the island. Seven Chiffchaffs have been recorded
almost every day, with the exception of 15 on the 11th and six on the 16th. Blackcap
number 20-30 most days, with a high count of 40 on the 14th. Three Firecrests
have been present since the 11th, although only one has been recorded over the
weekend. About 25 Goldcrests are noted each day, with a max of 34 on the
16th. A high count of 52 Wrens were recorded on the 14th, perhaps due to
birds moving south down the island as the weather turns colder. A Treecreeper
has been in Millcombe since the 10th. A Wryneck hung around in the gorse
by Rocket Pole on the 10th and 11th, and was even more elusive than our
previous records this autumn, with no photographs captured of this individual.
|Treecreeper, St Helens Copse © Stuart Cossey|
Max Starling count this week was 173, with the Rosy-coloured
Starling only sighted on the 10th this week. One Ring Ouzel was
observed on the 14th, and there were a lot of Blackbirds also around on
this day, with 23. A few Redwings have been picked up each day flying
over or feeding among the brambles at the top of Millcombe. The highest count was
21 on the 11th. With recent large movements of thrushes in the north and strong
easterlies forecast for the middle of the coming week it is expected that many
more will be recorded next week. Over the 12th-15th three Song Thrushes were
recorded in Millcombe.
One Spotted Flycatcher was present by the gas shed until
the 12th, with a Pied Flycatcher also on the 11th. 30 Robins were
recorded on the 14th. Black Redstart was recorded once on the 11th and
once on the beach road on the 15th. Two Common Redstarts were in
Millcombe on the 10th (one male and one female), and another female was seen on
the 13th. A very late Whinchat was seen by Quarter Wall on the 16th
(last recorded was Sept 22nd). Top of the week for Stonechat was on the
13th with 30, the highest count thus far this season. Another lone Wheatear popped
up on the 12th, and three were seen on the 14th (two in South-west Field and
one by Benjamin’s Chair).
|Black Redstart, South West Field © Tim Williams|
Most days had Yellow Wagtail flying over, with three
on the 12th. Five Grey Wagtails on the 10th and six on the 13th. One White
Wagtail each day 10th-13th. Unidentified Pied/White Wagtails flying over
peaked at 35 on the 13th with good numbers most other days too.
|Yellow Wagtail, South West Field © Tim Williams|
Chaffinches are moving through in big numbers this
week, with 90 on the 13th and 350 on the 16th! One female Brambling was
in Millcombe on the 11th. Greenfinches are occasionally heard, with five
on the 11th. Goldfinch numbers are variable with 40 and 52 on the 12th
and 13th respectively, but just 8 later in the week on the 15th. Siskin numbers
are now up, with counts of 1, 145, 200, 30, 29 and 100 stretching from Monday
to Sunday respectively. The 11th and 13th were the best for Linnets with
87 and 122, and counts between 17 and 39 on other days. Only one Lesser
Redpoll was recorded on the 11th over Millcombe.
Buntings have started passing through, with one Lapland
Bunting over the Airfield on the 13th, 3 Snow Buntings over the
weekend and two or three Reed Buntings often around St John’s Valley
between 11th and 14th, with a count of 12 on the 16th! A single Yellowhammer
calling flew over the church on the 16th.
|Snow Buntings, Main Track © Stuart Cossey|
|Angus and Tom catching up with the Snow Buntings © Tim Jones|
|The resulting shots! Snow Bunting © Tom Wright|
Highlights of birds ringed this week include: three Firecrests,
three Yellow-browed Warblers, Cetti’s Warbler, male Common
Redstart, one Treecreeper, one Redwing and a few Siskin.
|Clockwise from top left: Male Redstart, Cetti’s Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Firecrest © Tom Wright|
In non-avian news a few Painted Ladies have been
recorded this week, a Clouded Yellow on the 11th, 45 Red Admiral on
the tranquil 13th as well as up to five Hummingbird Hawk-moths in
Millcombe. 11 Rush Veneer were scattered across the island too on the 16th.
Harbour Porpoise have also been seen around Rat Island with two on the
12th, one on 13th and one of the 14th.
Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Rosie Ellis, Tom Wright, Angus
Croudace, Tim Davis, Tim Jones, Tim Worfolk, Nik Ward, Greg Conway, Andy Jayne,
Paul Holt, Andrew Cleave, Tim Williams.