Inevitably, the Covid pandemic had a direct impact on bird ringing, with no visiting ringers able to operate on the island until August. This meant that work on the long-term study of Wheatears for the BTO’s RAS (Retrapping Adults for Survival) project could not be carried out. However, Dean Jones recorded sightings of 34 Wheatears that had been colour-ringed on Lundy in previous years, filling in what would otherwise be gaps in those birds’ life histories. Dean was also able to ring some spring migrants, record the Manx Shearwaters making use of nestboxes through their breeding season, and to mist-net Storm Petrels near North Light in July. We are most grateful to him for all his efforts at a time when he had so many other tasks to tackle.

With Covid restrictions easing in August, the first visiting ringers arrived in time to mist-net Storm Petrels in two more night-time sessions that month, and good numbers of Manx Shearwater chicks were ringed during two weeks in late August and early September. In these same two weeks some autumn migrants were also ringed, though the ringers’ need for sleep, after nights spent in the shearwater colonies, limited the numbers caught. Autumn migrants then became the primary targets during a further six weeks of ringing to early November.

In total, 1,977 birds were ringed in 2020. While this was lower than in most other recent years, good autumn coverage resulted in a productive year considering the difficult circumstances. The birds caught were made up of 47 species, which is close to the average for the previous ten years. For the fourth year in a row Blackcap topped the species list, with 511 ringed, followed by Manx Shearwater (319), and Goldcrest, Swallow, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler also reaching three figures. It was another record year for Storm Petrels, with 79 ringed.

Rarities included the first White’s Thrush to be ringed on Lundy, the eighth Little Bunting and the thirty-third Melodious Warbler. Though not unusual nationally, a Cetti’s Warbler was only the fifth ringed on the island and a Bullfinch was the thirtieth. The Woodcock total of three was a record, with just fifteen ringed in the previous 73 years. A full list of ringing totals is given below.

In a major step forward for Lundy bird ringing, Lundy Warden, Dean Jones attended the Bird Observatories Council meeting in Thetford on 1st February 2020 at which he presented the case for Lundy to rejoin the Bird Obervatories network. This went very well, but the process will require three probationary years before full recognition is given. Lundy’s case will be backed up by two actions currently in progress or being planned.

First, the digitisation of historic ringing data has continued, with over 100,000 Lundy records now in the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) database and available for analysis. As well as the original ringing data, all subsequent recaptures are included. Recaptures are particularly valuable because they allow demographic statistics, such as annual survival, to be calculated. The second development is the planned rebuilding of the Terrace Heligoland trap. This will require permission from Historic England, which the Covid pandemic has delayed.

Another change initiated in 2020 has been the move by Imperial College London and Sheffield University, who carry out the long-term study of House Sparrows on Lundy, from using their own rings to using LFS ones. This will make it easier for LFS ringers to help with the study when the researchers are not on the island. It will also make the long-term future of the study more secure, as research students are not always sufficiently qualified as ringers to order new ring stocks from the BTO directly.

 

Number ringed in 2020

Manx Shearwater

(245) 319

Storm Petrel

79

Water Rail

1

Woodcock

3

Snipe

1

Kestrel

1

Goldcrest

122

Firecrest

7

Coal Tit

1

Swallow

196

House Martin

9

Cetti's Warbler

1

Yellow-browed Warbler

9

Chiffchaff

114

Willow Warbler

147

Blackcap

511

Garden Warbler

5

Lesser Whitethroat

1

Whitethroat

19

Grasshopper Warbler

1

Melodious Warbler

1

Sedge Warbler

27

Reed Warbler

4

Wren

18

Starling

50

White's Thrush*

1

Blackbird

42

Song Thrush

10

Redwing

52

Spotted Flycatcher

2

Robin

23

Pied Flycatcher

2

Redstart

2

Stonechat

1

Dunnock

17

House Sparrow

38

Grey Wagtail

2

Pied Wagtail

1

Meadow Pipit

2

Chaffinch

51

Bullfinch

1

Greenfinch

2

Linnet

2

Lesser Redpoll

5

Goldfinch

47

Siskin

26

Little Bunting

1
   

Total number of birds ringed

1,977

   

Total number of species ringed

47

Numbers in brackets indicate pulli – i.e. chicks/nestlings – ringed in 2020. The number of pulli is included in the main total.

* Species added to the Lundy ringing list in 2020.

Ruppell's Warbler by Mike Langman from The Birds of Lundy

 

For the latest sightings and photos of birds on Lundy visit the
Lundy Bird Observatory website