Ringers primarily targeting migrants were on Lundy for three and a half weeks in spring and nine weeks in autumn, while a further four weeks were spent carrying out work on Manx Shearwaters and Storm Petrels in summer and early autumn. This is the highest level of coverage achieved since there were ringers resident on the island in the 1970s, and the number of birds ringed in 2009 was the highest ever: a remarkable 4,924.
Almost a third of the birds ringed were Swallows, with a record total of 1,612. Manx Shearwater chicks were also ringed in the largest numbers ever, with double the 2008 total found. They were not just in the original two colonies that have been productive from 2004, but also on six other slopes scattered along the full length of the island. An impressive 730 Willow Warblers were caught, despite the worrying downward trend shown by this species’ breeding populations in southern Britain recently. As usual, Meadow Pipits, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Chaffinches were ringed in good numbers, all with totals over 300. For many regular migrants, it is often difficult to separate the effect of population trends from that of variable ringing effort on the numbers; however, it is encouraging that the Grasshopper Warbler total of 31 was the highest since 1990. After heading the totals list in 2008, Goldcrests seem to have had a poor breeding season, with only eleven ringed in autumn ‘09. Two other irruptive species, Brambling and Siskin, also failed to appear in significant numbers.
Among the 54 species ringed during the year, those which have only been ringed in very small numbers on Lundy included Wryneck, Yellow Wagtail, Mistle Thrush, the island’s third Cetti’s Warbler and a Red-breasted Flycatcher. With average catches of well under one bird per year in the past, four Black Redstarts and three Ring Ouzels were notable too. A full list of the year’s ringing totals is given below.
Among the recoveries and controls received during the year, there was an intriguing find of a Manx Shearwater ring that had been put on a Lundy adult more than fifty years ago, but unfortunately there was no evidence to show when the bird had died. In spring, a Sedge Warbler ringed in France arrived and a Willow Warbler ringed on the Dorset coast reached Lundy in four days. A young Sparrowhawk, which moved from South Wales to Lundy in autumn, stayed for several weeks feeding on the plentiful supply of migrant passerines. Another raptor, making a far longer journey in its first autumn, was a Kestrel that had been ringed as a chick in Finland. Four passerines showed east-west movements in autumn, rather than the more conventional north-south: a Swallow went to Sussex, a Garden Warbler arrived from Norfolk, a Blackcap arrived from Belgium and a second Blackcap – a late record from 2008 – arrived from Helgoland, the island off the German North Sea coast where Heligoland bird traps originated. Given that it is normal for Pied Wagtails to move off the island in winter, it is interesting to obtain evidence of one that may well have returned to breed for at least five summers. Details of all these and other recoveries are listed below.
Number ringed in 2009
|Manx Shearwater||(145) 188|
|Total number of birds ringed||4,924|
|Total number of species ringed
Numbers in brackets indicate pulli – i.e. chicks/nestlings – ringed in 2009. The number of pulli is included in the main total for each species.
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