Blackcap

Sylvia atricapilla

[Eurasian Blackcap] (pp.201–204)

Selected new records

Earliest and latest since 2006 (last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy): Earliest 14 Mar 2012 (one); Latest 23 Nov 2011 (one). Excludes presumed wintering birds recorded in late Nov/Dec 2007 and Jan 2008, as well as in mid-Dec 2013.

 

Correction p.203 table (a): the 1st-year bird ringed on Lundy on 20 October 1988 and found in Switzerland in May 1990 was a female, not a male as stated. The original BTO recovery form showed male, but a correction was issued subsequently (Tony Taylor, personal communication).

2007

Winter record

22 to 27 Dec – A male was seen daily outside Quarters/Pig's Paradise, photographed feeding on a fat-ball on 26 Dec (see photo by Stuart Leavy posted on www.lundybirds.org.uk).

2008

Winter record

1 Jan – Presumably the same bird as that seen in December was again seen outside the staff accommodation at Quarters/Pig's Paradise.

2011

New record set for autumn-passage maximum

4 Oct – A major fall of an estimated 300 Blackcaps (together with 300 Chiffchaffs and 100 Goldcrests) occurred on the morning of 4 Oct, the main concentrations being in Millcombe, St Helen’s Copse and along the Terrace, with smaller numbers in all parts of the island that were visited by observers. Seventy were ringed using a small number of mist-nets in Millcombe. At the time, the total of 300 represented a record for Lundy during either spring or autumn passage, but that number has been eclipsed in spring (see 2012 below) and matched in autumn in Oct 2013 and Sep 2017. Most of the birds involved in the fall of 2011 were gone by the next day, when only 40 were seen.

2012

Unprecedented spring fall

26 Apr to 8 May – An unprecedented fall of at least 3,000 occurred on 26 Apr, with 500 on 27th and 200 the following day. Unusually high numbers continued into the first week of May, with counts of 150, 450, 450 and 250 for 1st-4th, but only small numbers after 8th. Unfortunately, the mass grounding on 26 Apr and the other high counts during this period were associated with a prolonged spell of cold, unsettled weather, with frequent strong winds and heavy rain that clearly disrupted normal migration patterns. Some 147 Blackcaps were ringed on 26 Apr alone, contributing to a record annual total of 721 for this species.

Circumstantial evidence of breeding

On 29 May a singing male was heard in Millcombe and a female with a brood patch was trapped and ringed. Alarm calls were also heard (Tony & Ann Taylor). One was singing at Quarter Wall Copse on 31 May. Efforts to prove breeding during June (19th-21st) proved fruitless, short bursts of song in Millcombe being the only evidence of the species’ continued presence (Tim Davis & Tim Jones). Successful breeding by Blackcaps on Lundy therefore remains to be proven, though further strong circumstantial evidence came in the form of a male, originally ringed in Millcombe in May, being retrapped in active wing moult on 31 Aug (David Price et al.). This individual had almost certainly summered on the island and it seems probable that a breeding attempt was made, given the presence of a female with a brood patch.

2013

Record autumn-passage count equalled

5 Oct – A fall of 300+ (of which 75 ringed), coincided with a major arrival of Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs and other migrants. This equals the number estimated on 4 Oct 2011 and 14 Sep 2017, together representing the highest autumn counts since The Birds of Lundy was published in 2007 and indeed the highest autumn counts on record for the island.

Winter record

16 Dec – One. This is only the second winter record since publication of The Birds of Lundy (the other being 22 Dec 2007 to 1 Jan 2008).

Breeding season

There were no records in Jun or Jul.

2014

Circumstantial evidence of breeding

May to Jul – There was circumstantial evidence of a nesting attempt in Millcombe, where a single singing male was seen and heard regularly around the slope below Brambles in late May and early Jun, and a female seen occasionally in the same area on 9 & 10 Jun. The male was singing only briefly and intermittently, which together with the infrequent appearance of the female, was strongly suggestive of a pair with a nest and eggs. A female was seen in the same area on 6 Jul.

25 Sep – A significant fall grounded 250 autumn migrants (Chris Dee et al.)

2015

Notable spring-passage count

16 Apr – There was an influx of at least 200 Blackcaps, which Paul Holt and Tony John described as being "all over the place".

Circumstantial evidence of breeding

4 to 16 Jun – There were again some intriguing records in Jun, hinting at a possible breeding attempt in Millcombe, with a male on 4 & 5 Jun, a female on 8 Jun and a male sub-singing in the same area on 15 & 16 Jun. However, a small arrival of three strongly singing males on 14 Jun (Millcombe, Quarter Wall Copse and Terrace) for one day only showed that a trickle of migration was continuing. There were no records after 16 Jun until one on 10 Aug.

2016

Successful breeding confirmed for the first time

Jun & Jul – On 11 Jun, a pair (both carrying rings) were gathering spiders’ webs as nesting material from the ‘Secret Garden’ area of Millcombe and flying to their presumed nest site on the slope below Brambles
East. The male was singing in short, intense bursts, ‘wing shivering’ and thought also to be courtship feeding the female (Tim Davis & Tim Jones). A male was singing daily in Millcombe from 21–28 Jun (David Price), whilst a male carrying food and alarming, plus two juveniles, were in Millcombe during 28–30 Jul (Chris Baillie). These observations constitute the first-ever record of successful breeding on Lundy.

2017

Highest ever autumn-passage count equalled

14 Sep – An estimated 300 were present on the island (with 200 the following day), equalling the autumn-passage record set on 4 Oct 2011 and matched on 5 Oct 2013.

Breeding season

May to Jul – Although song was heard in Millcombe on 22 & 23 May, the only occurrence in Jun was of one on 3rd and there were no sightings at all in Jul, meaning that there was no repeat of the successful breeding recorded in 2016.

2018

Breeding confirmed – second record for Lundy

Jun/Jul – A pair (including a singing male) was present in Millcombe during the first week of Jun and fledglings were being fed by a female in the 'Secret Garden' area of lower Millcombe on 17 Jul (Dean Jones).

2019

Notable spring-passage count

20 Apr – A count of 300 was one of the higher spring-passage day-totals of recent years, but well short of the 'mega fall' of Apr 2012 (see above for details).

Breeding confirmed – third record for Lundy

Jun – A female collecting food in lower Millcombe on 15th indicated a breeding attempt and successful breeding was confirmed when two fledglings were seen with an adult female below Brambles on 29th.

 

Ringing:

Ringing recovery: A Blackcap ringed as a second-year female ringed on Lundy on 10 May 2004 (ring no. R873165) was found dead (having hit a window) in Antrim, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, on 19 May 2007 (1,104 days; 411 km; NNW 346°). This is the second Lundy-ringed Blackcap to have been found on the island of Ireland and is likely to have been in its breeding area. The first instance involved a bird found in Co. Cork in the Irish Republic in June 1996.

Ringing control: A Blackcap ringed as a full-grown female ringed on 06 Nov 2007 (Spanish ring no. N678134) at Junta de los Rios, San Roque, Cadiz, Andalucia, Spain (36° 14’N 5° 22’W) was controlled on Lundy on 25 Apr 2008 (171 days; 1,661 km; N 2°). This is the second ringing movement of a Blackcap involving Lundy and Spain.

Ringing control: A Blackcap ringed as a first-year female on 16 Sep 2008 (German ring no. 90011969) on Helgoland, Germany (54° 10’N 7° 55’E) was controlled on Lundy on 01 Sep 2008 (15 days; 911 km; WSW 249°). This is the second ringing movement of a Blackcap involving Lundy and Germany, but the first showing such rapid, long-distance movement south-west in autumn.

Ringing control: A Blackcap ringed as a second-year male on 21 Apr 2008 (ring no. V798210) at Braunton, Devon, was controlled on Lundy on 18 Apr 2009 during spring migration a year later (362 days; 37 km; WNW 282°).

Ringing control: A Blackcap ringed as a full-grown male on 07 Sep 2009 (Belgian ring no. 11305869) at Rijkevorsel, Antwerp, Belgium (51° 21’N 4° 46’E) was controlled on Lundy on 14 Oct 2009 (37 days; 657 km; W 269°). This is the sixth ringing movement of a Blackcap involving Lundy and Belgium.

Ringing recovery: A Blackcap ringed as a first-year female on Lundy on 16 Oct 2010 (ring no. L556016) was found freshly dead at, Boliqueime, Loulé, Algarve, Portugal (37° 09’N 8° 08’W) on 08 Nov 2010 (21 days; 1,582 km; S 190°). This is the first Blackcap movement involving Lundy and Portugal. The bird could already have been in its wintering area; equally, it may still have been heading further south when it died.

Ringing control: A Blackcap ringed as an adult female on Lundy on 28 Apr 2010 (ring no. L037253) was controlled on 16 Jun 2011 at Cors Ddyga, Llangefni, Anglesey, where it seems likely to have been in its breeding area (414 days; 229 km; N 6°).

Ringing control: A Blackcap ringed as an adult female at Nanjizal, Land's End, Cornwall on 28 Apr 2012 (ring no. Y101842) was controlled on Lundy on 02 May 2012 (4 days; 144 km; NNE 31°).

Ringing control: A Blackcap ringed as a first-year female at Longham Lakes, Dorset on 09 Sep 2011 (ring no. L902631) was controlled on Lundy on 03 May 2012 (237 days; 198 km; WNW 284°).

Ringing control: A Blackcap ringed as a first-year male at Finca Castillejos, Guadalajara, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain on 16 Oct 2011 (ring no. 1L27285) was controlled on Lundy on 28 Sep 2012 (348 days; 1,180 km; N 354°). This is the third ringing movement of a Blackcap involving Lundy and Spain.

Ringing control: A Blackcap ringed as a first-year male at Icklesham, Suffolk on 05 Oct 2013 (ring no. D354936) was controlled on Lundy on 05 Sep 2014 (335 days; 374 km; W 275°).

Ringing control: A Blackcap ringed as a first-year female at Nanjizal, Land's End, Cornwall on 27 Sep 2014 (ring no. Z350310) was controlled on Lundy on 28 Sep 2014 (1 days; 144 km; NNE 31°).

Ringing control: A Blackcap ringed as a first-year female on Lundy on 03 Oct 2015 (ring no. Z420822) was controlled on Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside, on 04 May 2016 (214 days; 264 km; NNE 22°).

Ringing control: A Blackcap ringed as a first-year female at Beachy Head, East Sussex on 22 Sep 2018 (ring no. AYD2111) was controlled on Lundy on 05 May 2019 (225 days; 348 km; W 278°).

Ringing recovery: A Blackcap ringed as a first-year female on Lundy on 13 Sep 2018 (ring no. ABB7781) was found dead (hit wires; not fresh) at Socuéllamos, Ciudad Real, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain on 22 Nov 2019 (435 days; 1,329 km; S 174°). This is the fourth ringing movement of a Blackcap involving Lundy and Spain.

 

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