Wren

Troglodytes troglodytes

[Eurasian Wren] (pp.172–173)

Selected new records

2011

Impact of cold winters on breeding numbers

Numbers were very low prior to the breeding season, following the third consecutive harsh winter, but had recovered strongly by the autumn. It is interesting to compare the peak Oct counts for 2008–2011, which were derived from broadly similar methods by the same observers; suggested explanations for the variations in numbers are given in brackets:

  • 2008: 75   (high population after a long run of mild winters)

  • 2009: 51   (decrease after the cold snap of Feb 2009)

  • 2010: 21   (further decrease after the severe weather of Jan/Feb 2010)

  • 2011: 47   (partial recovery after a successful breeding season, in spite of the prolonged cold spell in Nov/Dec 2010)

27/28 Oct – “We caught five unringed Wrens in Millcombe. Till then most had been retraps, so presumed residents. It's possible they [the five unringed birds] suddenly moved into Millcombe from elsewhere on the island, but we got the impression there might have been an influx onto the island.” (Tony Taylor)

2012

Autumn maximum

The highest autumn count was 50 on 21 Sep.

2013

Autumn maximum

The highest autumn count was 52 on 26 Nov.

2014

Autumn maximum

The highest autumn count was 58 on 1 Oct, but only the island south of Halfway Wall was covered.

2015

Autumn maximum

The highest autumn count was 47 on 13 Oct.

2016

Autumn maximum

The highest autumn count was 47 on 10 Nov.

2017

Autumn maximum

The highest autumn count was 37 on 9 Oct. This is unusually low in comparison with recent years; poor summer weather may have reduced breeding success.

2018

Winter count

30 Jan – A total of 37 individuals counted during a walk of the entire island perimeter (Tim Davis & Tim Jones).

Effects of severe cold in early spring

The severe cold spell during Mar (the 'Beast from the East') appears to have depleted the breeding population significantly, particularly along the East Side, where just 12 singing males were found from the north end of the quarries southward, including Millcombe/St John’s, on 3 Jun. This area usually supports a much higher density of Wren territories and BTO BirdTrack data show that Wrens are much more easily detected in Jun than in Jan. Circumstantially, it appeared that birds with West Side territories might have fared better than those on the East Side (which would have been exposed to the full strength of the glacial gales and blizzards); the number of singing Wrens along the West Side was not noticeably lower than normal (Tim Jones).

Autumn maximum

The highest autumn count was 30 on 24 Oct.

2019

Autumn maximum

The highest autumn count was 25 on 23 Oct.

2020

Maximum count

There was no island-wide count during the post-breeding period in late summer and autumn when numbers are typically at their highest. The peak count of the year was 33 on 16 Jun (Dean Jones).

2021

Autumn maximum

The highest autumn count was 30 on 14 Oct.

2022

Record total of singing males in the breeding season

May – Intensive surveying indicated an estimated total of 100 singing males – the highest ever for the island (Stuart Cossey).

Autumn maximum

The highest autumn count was 52 on 14 Oct.

 

Ringing

Ringing recovery

A Wren ringed as a first-year bird on Lundy on 23 Sep 2014 (ring no. HBP948) was found dead at Bothenhampton, Bridport, Dorset on 21 Oct 2014 (28 days, 144 km, ESE 111º). This is the first known movement of a Wren either to or from the island (from more than 1,200 ringed). That it should relate to a distance as great as 144 km is quite remarkable!

Treecreeper

Certhis familiaris

[Eurasian Treecreeper] (pp.228–229)

All new records

2007

New record

25 Oct – One.

2008

New record

14, 15 & 27 Sep – One.

2010

New records

20 to 28 Oct – Singles present on 17 dates in this period, plus two on 16th.

22 Nov – One.

28 Dec – One.

2011

New record

31 Jan – One. The first for the island during the period Jan–Mar and most likely the same individual seen in Nov & Dec 2010; the first known instance of overwintering on Lundy.

2012

New record

29 May – A female with a brood patch was trapped and ringed on 29 May. There were no records before or after this date and it seems likely that this bird was a wandering individual that had perhaps failed to breed successfully on the mainland.

2013

New record

30 Aug – A juvenile was trapped and ringed in Millcombe. Note: This record was accidentally omitted from the 2013 LFS Annual Report.

2014

New record

20 Sep to 2 Oct – One in Millcombe on four dates 20–27 Sep was trapped and ringed on 27th (Chris Dee, Andy Jayne et al.) but found dead on the Beach Road on 2 Oct.

2015

New records

13 Sep – One on the Terrace on 13 Sep (Dave Chown) and in Millcombe.
1 & 2 Oct – one in Millcombe (trapped and ringed on 1st – John Horton).

2016

New records

17 & 19 Mar – A single bird was present; it was seen in a conifer behind Millcombe House on the latter date.

18 to 30 Sep – A single bird was seen on four dates during this period (Andy Jayne et al.).

10 Oct – Sightings at different times in Millcombe (Andrew Jewels) and Quarter Wall Copse (Kevin Waterfall), could possibly have involved two different individuals.

2018

New record

6 Apr – One was found in Millcombe during the mid afternoon (Zoë Barton & Dean Jones). It was watched until 18:00 hrs "as it busily picked its way through every bit of lichen and bryophyte throughout the valley looking for a meal." It could not be found the next day.

2019

New records

26 Mar – In one of the more unlikely observations of the year, one was feeding amongst rocks at Jenny’s Cove (Andy Jayne).

24 & 25 Sep – One was in Millcombe Wood on 24 & 25 Sep.

8 to 25 Oct – What is considered to have been a different bird was in Millcombe on 8th, remaining until 25th (ringed on 22nd).

2020

New record

7 to 11 Sep – One was in Millcombe (Rebecca Taylor et al.).

2021

New record

21 Mar – One was foraging on sycamores in Millcombe, at one point in the same tree as a Long-tailed Tit (Dean Jones).

2022

New records

Recorded on nine dates, one in spring and eight in autumn.

26 Apr – One in Millcombe Stuart Cossey).

17 Sep to 15 Oct – One was ringed on 17 Sep and seen again the next day (Chris Dee, Angus Croudace et al.). Singles were in Millcombe on 2 Oct (Matt Stritch) and on five dates from 10 to 15 Oct (Tom Wright, Chris Dee et al.). The latter bird was trapped and ringed on 12th.

2023

New records

11 Sep – One in Millcombe (Adam Day).

21 Oct – One heard calling in lower Millcombe (Paul Morton).

Rose-coloured Starling

Pastor roseus

[Rosy Starling] (pp.242–243)

All new records

2007

New records

12 Sep – A juvenile was seen around the village (S. Barnes, A. Plant, A.M.Taylor et al.). Record accepted by DBRC.

21 & 22 Oct – A juvenile was seen in Millcombe, associating with Fieldfares as well as with Starlings (J. Allen, R.A. Duncan, A.M. Taylor et al.). Record accepted by DBRC.

These constitute the 14th and 15th Lundy records, which have involved a total of at least 19 individuals. The most recent occurrence prior to 2007 was a juvenile on 5 & 6 Sep 2004.

2011

New records

24 Sep to 15 Oct – A juvenile found in Millcombe on 24 Sep (A. Turner) was trapped and ringed on 25th and retrapped on 30th (D. Baggott, C. Dee, J. Griffin, A. Turner et al.) and last seen in the field on 4 Oct. The presence of a second, unringed bird was confirmed on 1 Oct. This bird tended to spend its time around the Village, where it frequently roosted with House Sparrows and Starlings in the farmyard buildings, remaining to at least 13 Oct (T. Davis, J. Diamond, T. Jones et al.). Both birds were seen together on 3 & 4 Oct. The decomposed corpse of the first, ringed bird, was found near Brambles on 15 Oct. Records accepted by DBRC; these constitute the 16th and 17th Lundy records, the last being two juveniles in Sep 2007.

2014

New records

21 Jun – An adult was with Starlings in the vicinity of Quarter Wall and the Brick Field and later on a wall near the Lodge (John & Silvia Buchanan, Duncan Matheson et al).

17 to 24 Aug – A juvenile was around the farmyard (Grant Cozens, Richard Taylor, Tony Taylor et al.). Photo © Richard Taylor.

Records accepted by DBRC; the 18th and 19th for Lundy.

 

2015

New record

14 Jun – A first-summer bird that had moulted from juvenile plumage into partial breeding plumage was photographed in Pigs’ Paradise gardens and sitting on top of the Church (Rebecca Bates, Robert Foster, Tim Davis, Tim Jones). Record accepted by DBRC; the 20th for Lundy.

2017

New records

1 Jun– A breeding-plumaged adult was in St Helen’s Field, immediately outside Barton Cottages, on 1 Jun (Dean Jones, Tony Taylor).

26 Aug – A juvenile was in Millcombe and in Tillage & St Helen’s Fields on 26 Aug (Richard & Rebecca Taylor, Tony Taylor). Records accepted by DBRC; the 21st and 22nd for Lundy

2018

New records

3 Jun – Two adults (presumed m & f, as one a distinctly brighter, sharper bird) were seen at Quarter Wall (main track gate) at 06.15 hrs. At 08.30 they were flying down St John's Valley and then perched on the Church before dropping down into the Tent Field, where they were still present 09.40–10.00, though by 10.00 the two birds appeared to have split up, with only the (presumed) female seen later in the day, e.g. Tilllage Field pig sty at 18.30 (Tim Davis & Tim Jones).

9 to 29 Jun – One seen initially with Common Starlings near Old Light during the morning of 9th by one of the Manx Shearwater survey team, then by Frances Stuart and Rebecca & Richard Taylor in the afternoon, when it was wheeling around Millcombe. Potentially one of the birds seen on 3rd, but perhaps more likely a new arrival given the exceptional 'invasion' of this species into western Europe during June 2018, this individual remained on the island until 29 Jun.

6 Sep – A juvenile was around the chicken run outside Quarters (Rebecca & Rich Taylor, Tony Taylor et al.)

Records accepted by DBRC.

2019

New record

6 to 21 Oct – A juvenile at the Tillage/Brick Field pigsty, seen briefly on 6th (Ryan Miller), was relocated in the farmyard on 9th, where it remained – focused on the food dispenser in the chicken run! – with forays to the Lambing Shed and Lighthouse Field, often showing at very close range to multiple observers until its last appearance on 21st (Dean Jones). The 26th record for the island. Record accepted by DBRC.

2020

New record

21 Jun – One in Millcombe (Dean Jones). "A superb adult Rose-coloured Starling in Millcombe within a small flock of juvenile Common Starlings first thing. The bird was rather flighty at first, providing only brief views on the wing, before it finally settled upon the Sycamores near Bramble Villas for a brief rest before disappearing towards the Village." Record accepted by DBRC; the 27th for Lundy.

2021

New record

14 Jun – An adult was around the Campsite, Bull’s Paradise and the Lambing Shed area during the morning, a day when the island was shrouded in fog. It flew off into the murk at about 11:00 hrs and was not seen again (Matt Stritch et al.).

Record accepted by DBRC.

2023

New record – subject to acceptance by DBRC

3 to 17 Sep – A juvenile first seen in Millcombe, below Government House, on 3rd was still present around the Village on 17th at least (Joe Parker et al.).

Starling

Sturnus vulgaris

[Common Starling] (pp.240–242)

Selected new records

 

Photo: Starling along the High Street, 28 Apr 2014 © Richard Campey

2009

Migration extensing into mid-Dec

10 & 11 Dec – Migration continued well into Dec, with flocks seen leaving the island high to the north-west, into a headwind, on 10 Dec and to the south-east, following a change in wind direction, on 11th.

2011

Notable autumn-passage count

7 Nov – There was a one-day influx, coinciding with an arrival of Blackbirds, and estimated at 2,000.

2012

Breeding summary

Adults were seen taking food to nest sites in the last week of May, with at least 11 active nests located: in the laundry, the ranger’s workshed, Barton Cottages (two nests), dog shed, communications shed, south and west walls of the workshop (two pairs), Old Light (two pairs) and the Church (Tim Davis & Tim Jones). Young from two other nests built inside the workshop may already have fledged by this date. The first fledgling was seen begging for food on the roof of The Barn on 30 May (Isabel Winney). Three weeks later, most young had not only fledged but reached independence (e.g. a flock of 14 juveniles on the Airfield on 19 Jun), though adults were continuing to carry food to a nest in the Campsite wall of the workshop on the same date.

Notable autumn-passage counts

17 Oct to 14 Nov – A large influx was noted on 17 Oct, with 750 reported from North Light. Numbers then remained high well into Nov, with maxima of 1,000 on 25 Oct, 1,200 on 27th, 500 on 30th and 500 again on 14 Nov.

2013

Notable autumn-passage count

16 & 17 Nov – Autumn migration peaked at 3,500 on 16th and 3,100 on 17th.

2017

Breeding summary

The spring pre-breeding maximum was 90 on 21 & 26 Mar. Successful breeding confirmed: adults were seen commuting back and forth to nest sites, carrying food, on 29 Apr; 37 occupied nests were counted on 3 May, including those in the Church, Village and Old Light complex (Tim Jones), and the first fledgling was seen by the Ranger’s Shed on 9 May (Dean Jones). The post-breeding summer peak was 130 on 8 Jul.

2018

Breeding summary

A census of nests in the Village and at the Old Light complex, carried out between 31 May and 3 Jun (Tim Jones), produced a minimum of 39 active nests, all of which had young being fed. A couple of nests at least had already fledged, so it is safe to say that there were over 40 nests; the highest total ever recorded, providing more circumstantial evidence of the benefits of rat eradication for hole-nesting landbirds (in addition to seabirds as the prime target beneficiaries).

2019

Breeding summary – a new record number of nests

A total of 56 active nests were located on 10 Jun in the Village, Church and Old Light (Dean Jones). The first fledglings of the year were not seen until 22 Jun (some three weeks later than in 2018).

Notable autumn-passage count

17 Nov – An estimated 1,000 birds, involving a “single flock of 800-900 Starlings in off the South End first thing; the noise upon arrival was incredible. The entire flock then settled in Barton Field to feed – scaring the life out of the ponies! Birds were also arriving from the north in small but steady flocks – estimate at least 1,000+ birds overall – an incredible sight!” (Dean Jones & Zoë Barton).

2020

Breeding summary

Adults were nest-building on 12 Apr and taking food to chicks in nests around the Village on 2 May. Some 56 active nests (the same total as in 2019) were located around the Church, Village and Old Light between 8 & 12 May, with most containing noisy chicks (Dean Jones). The first fledglings were seen in the farmyard on 21 May and a flock of 40 young had built up in Brick Field by 29th. Two or three late nests – potentially second broods for pairs that fledged chicks early in the season as all had held large, noisy chicks in May – contained young ready to fledge at the end of Jun (Dean Jones).

Highest autumn-passage count of recent years

4 & 5 Nov – Following a Oct peak of 500, numbers surged in early Nov, with a huge influx of 4,000 on 4th, rising to 4,750 on 5th. This remains the highest count since publication of The Birds of Lundy in 2007 but is well short of the all-time maximum of 10,000+ recorded in 1953, 1959 and 1973.

2021

Breeding summary

One was delivering nesting material to the roof of the General Stores on 16 Jan and ejected eggs were found behind the same building on 31 Mar. At least 53 active nests containing noisy chicks were located in the Village, around the Farm and at Old Light towards the end of Apr (Dean Jones). The first fledglings were seen at the Lambing Shed on 2 May, somewhat surprisingly a full 19 days earlier than the first of 2020. Adults were building a nest in the roof of the Laundry on 19 May, in preparation for a second brood, and fledglings were seen in the Laundry Garden on 15 Jun

Colour-ringing

A programme was initiated to mark Lundy's breeding Starlings with colour rings. These rings are blue, inscribed with a three-character alpha-numeric code in white-lettering, all commencing with the letter 'L' to denote Lundy. Seven individuals were colour-ringed in 2021.

Notable autumn-passage count

14 Nov – 1,500 were estimated.

2022

Breeding summary

At least 60 active nest sites were located within the Village and at Old Light (Stuart Cossey). The first fledged young were seen on 18 May and second broods started at the beginning of Jun.

Colour-ringing

A further 18 Lundy-breeding/Lundy-bred Starlings were marked with blue colour-rings inscribed with a white alpha-numeric code.

2023

Breeding summary

24 May – 52 active nest sites were located in the Village and at Old Light (Tim Davis & Tim Jones).

Colour-ringing

A concerted effort by Luke Marriner in early Jun saw an additional 55 individuals from Lundy's breeding population marked with blue colour-rings inscribed with a white, three-character, alpha-numeric code commencing with 'L'. This brings to 80 the total number of Lundy Starlings fitted with colour-rings since the programme started in 2021.

 

Ringing

Ringing recovery: A Starling ringed as an adult male on Lundy on 24 Oct 2012 (ring no. LB46253) was found freshly dead, having been killed by a cat, at Bierbergen, Hohenhameln, (about 25 km SE of Hanover), Niedersachsen, Germany on 23 Mar 2013 (150 days; 1,025 km; E 84°).

White's Thrush

Zoothera aurea

(p.184)

All new records

2020

New record

7 to 22 Oct – A typically wary and elusive individual was seen in Millcombe during the early morning, but could not be relocated after about 08.30 hrs (Dean Jones). However, it was trapped and ringed on the morning of 9th, when it was aged as a first-year bird, though wing-length was in the overlap zone between male and female. Thereafter, it was seen intermittently in Millcombe, mainly frequenting the wooded area on the south side of the valley, though often seeming to 'disappear' for long periods and usually being seen briefly – either in flight or perched in dense cover – though a few lucky observers had more prolonged views of it perched. It was retrapped on 17th, when it was found to be in good health, having put on significant body fat, and seen feeding in the relative open near Government House on 22nd. There has been one previous Lundy record – a first-year male, also in Millcombe, that was first seen on 15 Oct 1952 and remained on the island until 8 Nov. Record accepted by BBRC.

Swainson's Thrush

Catharus ustulatus

(pp.184–185)

1986

Correction The 27 Oct record should be deleted. The final two paragraphs of the Grey-cheeked Thrush species account (p.185) confirm that while the corpse was initially identified as that of Swainson's Thrush, it was later found to be almost certainly a Grey-cheeked Thrush. This means that there are only two accepted records of Swainson's Thrush for Lundy.

Ring Ouzel

Turdus torquatus

(pp.186–187)

Selected new records

 

Earliest and latest since 2006 (last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy): Earliest in spring 16 Mar 2017 (one), Latest in spring 11 May 2007 (one); Earliest in autumn 15 Sep 2017 (two), Latest in autumn 14 Nov 2017 (one).

2009

Early spring date

17 Mar – One on this date was one of the earlier spring records of recent years (see 2017 below).

2011

Notable autumn-passage count

14 Oct – A count of 15 was the highest since Oct 2005 (when there were 20 on 18th) but has been exceeded by counts in 2019, 2022 & 2023.

2015

Notable spring-passage count

8 Apr – A count of seven remains the highest spring total since publication of The Birds of Lundy, though is a long way off the highest spring count ever for Lundy of 23 on 7 Apr 1966.

2017

Early spring record

16 Mar – One on this date was the earliest in spring since publication of The Birds of Lundy. The earliest spring date ever was one on 8-10 Feb 1989.

Early autumn record

15 Sep – Two on this date were the earliest in autumn since publication of The Birds of Lundy. The earliest autumn date ever is 23 Aug 1965.

New record set for latest bird in autumn

14 Nov – A single bird on this date beat the previous 'latest ever' for the island (11 Nov 1993) by three days.

2018

Late autumn record

13 Nov – One on this date was among the latest recorded for Lundy (see 2017 entry).

2019

New record set for highest-ever count for the island

15 Oct – A remarkable count of 25 scattered along the East Side between Millcombe and the north end of the Quarries (including two flying in off the sea) was the highest ever for Lundy, the previous record being 20 on 2 & 3 Oct 1951 and 18 Oct 2005).

2022

Notable autumn-passage count

20 Oct – A total of 20 was logged, coinciding with a major influx of other thrushes. Of these, 18 were recorded over-flying Millcombe and/or dropping into the valley to feed and rest during the first three hours of daylight.

2023

Notable autumn-passage count

12 Oct – At total of 16 was logged (together with an arrival of 700 Redwing, 47 Fieldfare, 22 Song Thrush and a Mistle Thrush).

Blackbird

Turdus merula

[Common Blackbird] (pp.187–189)

Selected new records

2012

Autumn passage influx

24 Oct to 26 Nov – there was a major influx at the end of Oct, following a period of easterly winds. On 24 Oct, 13 were flushed from the former garden at Stoneycroft, while seven flew out of the nettle bed outside the former lantern room at the base of the Old Light on 25th. Similar numbers could be encountered in any area of sheltered cover, particularly away from the exposed East Side. Maxima rose from 30 on 22nd to 110 on 23rd, peaked at 150 on 25th, but remained at 100 on 28th, before dropping significantly to 20 on 29th, following a change to more favourable weather conditions. However, a further influx resulted in counts of 100 on 6 & 8 Nov, with 55 still present on 16th.

2019

Autumn passage influx

16 to 30 Oct – There was no evidence of any real movement in Sep and though counts occasionally reached double digits in the first half of Oct, it was not until 16
Oct that a noticeable arrival of 45 birds occurred. A further influx at the end of the month brought 40 on 28th, 65 on 29th and an exceptional 200 on 30th.

 

Ringing

Ringing recovery: A Blackbird ringed as a first-year female on Lundy on 21 Oct 2007 (ring no. CW21961) was found freshly dead (having hit a window) at Echt-Susteren, Limburg, The Netherlands (51°05’N, 5°53’E) on 10 Jun 2008 (233 days; 736 km; E 91°).

Ringing recovery (on-island): A Blackbird ringed as a juvenile male on Lundy on 12 Sep 2010 (ring no. LB46135) was found dead on Lundy on 27 Sep 2013 – some 1,111 days later.

Ringing control: A Blackbird ringed as a first-year female on 15 Oct 2012 (Stavanger ring no. 7576377) at Søre Merkeskog, on the North Sea island of Utsira, Rogaland, Norway was controlled on Lundy, on 23 Oct 2013 (374 days; 1,086 km; SSW 214°). Given that Utsira, like Lundy, is a small offshore island, it is likely that this individual was ringed during its autumn migration from a breeding area further to the north-east.

Ringing recovery: A Blackbird ringed as an adult female on Lundy on 16 Nov 2013 (ring no. LB46284) was found dead (road casualty) at Getterön, Varberg, Halland, Sweden on 21 Oct 2014 (348 days; 1,283 km; ENE 59°).

Ringing recovery: The ring only of a Blackbird ringed as an adult female on Lundy on 25 Oct 2007 (ring no. LA36779) was found using a metal detector in a Raven nest being used by a Peregrine, at at Cwar yr Hendre, Powys on 18 Dec 2015 (2,976 days; 119 km; NE 53°). It is likely that the bird had been long dead when the ring was found.

Ringing recovery: A Blackbird ringed as an adult female on Lundy on 23 Oct 2019 (ring no. LE36666) was found freshly dead at Salzkotten, Detmold, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany on 21 May 2021 (576 days; 926 km; E 87°).

Ringing recovery: A Blackbird ringed as an adult female on Lundy on 12 Nov 2022 (ring no. LR99212) was found freshly dead (predated) at Monkseaton, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear on 23 Mar 2023 (4 months, 11 days; 480 km NNE).

Fieldfare

Turdus pilaris

(pp.189–190)

Selected new records

 

Earliest and latest since 2006 (last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy): Earliest 6 Oct 2007 (one); Latest 22 May 2016 (three).

2007

Notable autumn-passage count

19 Oct – A strong southward diurnal passage involved at least 1,180 birds. Prior to the events of Ocotber 2022 (see below) this was the second-highest count ever recorded on the island (following 1,500 on 4 November 1981).

2022

Record autumn-passage count

18 to 24 Oct – The first migrant of autumn, a lone individual on 18th, proved to be the vanguard of a huge influx over the next two days, coinciding with strong easterly winds, with numbers estimated at 2,000 on 19th and a colossal 4,000 on 20th, both totals shattering the previous record of 1,500 set in November 1981. Unusually, arrivals on 19th did not start to become evident until late morning, when flocks appeared to be coming into the West Side and heading S or SE across the island, many dropping into the Millcombe and St John's Valley area in restless, swirling masses. On 19th, calling birds were heard before first light and a huge movement developed during a three-hour post-dawn period from approximately 07:20 hrs. The following is an extract from Tim Jones's logbook: "Waves of thrushes coming over Millcombe from the N or NW, many stopping to rest in the tree-tops and scrub, or to feed in the fields before continuing S or SE. As yesterday the great majority were Fieldfare, with a near-continous stream developing for a time. Absolutely spectacular and a privilege to witness. With the much lighter winds today, the flocks did not swirl about so much and were less restless with a more uniform direction of movement, so actually easier to get a handle on. By the time things started to quieten down, Paul Holt and I had logged 3,280 Fieldfare and 648 Redwing". Around 450 to 500 settled in the East Side farm fields (primarily Tillage Field), where they remained on 21st and 22nd, but numbers dwindled to 200 on 23rd and 120 on 24th.

Cold-weather influx

15 Dec – A flock of 64 arrived following a period of freezing conditions on the mainland.

 

Ringing

Ringing recovery: A Fieldfare ringed as a first-year male on Lundy on 21 Oct 2007 (ring no. CW21959) was found freshly dead at Littlehampton, Sussex on 12 Nov 2007 (22 days; 295 km; E 98º).

Redwing

Turdus iliacus

(pp.192–103)

Selected new records

 

Earliest and latest since 2006 (last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy): Earliest 27 Sep 2012 (one); Latest 17 May 2013 (one).

2012

Significant autumn-passage influx

15 to 26 Oct – A significant influx during the second half of Oct included 100 on 15th, 120 on 21st, 350 on 23rd and two huge counts (for Lundy) of 1,500 on 24th and 2,000 on 25th, falling to 600 on 26th, 300 on 27th and 150 on 28th. The all-time maximum for the island was 2,500 on 24 Oct 1974. The count of 2,000 on 25 Oct was matched on 29 Oct 2014 but remains the highest since publication of The Birds of Lundy.

2013

Notable autumn-passage count

16 Nov – A count of 1,200 was one of the larger totals recorded in recent years.

2014

Significant autumn-passage influx

29 Oct – A count of 2,000 matched that of 25 Oct 2012 as the highest since publication of The Birds of Lundy.

2017

Notable autumn-passage count

26 Oct – A count of 1,200 was one of the larger totals recorded in recent years.

2018

High numbers early in the year and impact of the 'Beast from the East'

At the start of the year, unusually high numbers remained on the island from the influxes of the previous autumn and early winter, with maxima of 37 on 5 Jan, 22 on 12 Feb and 25 on 22 Feb. A significant new influx coincided with the severe cold weather of early Mar, with 31 on 3rd, 257 on 4th (scattered across the whole island, though most in Brick, Tillage and St Helen’s  Fields), 52 on 5th, 124 on 6th and 48 on 7th. Numbers were subsequently much lower, with observations on just six dates, including a peak of 11 on 28 Mar, until the last of the spring, a single bird on 4 Apr.

2021

Notable autumn-passage count

13 Oct – A count of 1,000 was one of the larger totals recorded in recent years.

Icelandic-race bird

22 Oct – A bird of the Icelandic race T. i. coburni was trapped and ringed in Millcombe. It was a particularly large and heavy, dark-plumaged individual with a wing-length of 124mm and weighed in at 72.7g – in spite of having a fat-score of zero. Most of the 36 other Redwings handled that day had weights below 60g (Rob Duncan).

2022

Early autumn date

27 Sep – The equal earliest (together with 27 Sep 2012) since publication of The Birds of Lundy.

Notable autumn-passage count

19 Oct – A count of 1,500 was one of the larger totals recorded in recent years.

 

Ringing

Ringing control: A Redwing ringed as an adult on Lundy on 27 Oct 2006 (ring no. RT24343) was controlled on 18 Oct 2007 at Hamme Sint-Anna, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium (51°06’N, 4°09’E). (356 days; 615 km; E 91°).

Ringing recovery: A Redwing ringed as an adult on Lundy on 29 Oct 2008 (ring no. RF31057) was found dead on 10 Jan 2010 at Furbo, Co. Galway, Ireland (438 days; 385 km; NW 307°). Furbo is right on the Atlantic coast and it is likely that many wintering Redwings headed to westernmost Ireland to seek refuge from the freezing temperatures and heavy snow that affected the UK and much of continental Europe between mid-Dec 2009 and mid-Jan 2010. A satellite image taken on 7 Jan 2010 shows virtually the whole of the UK and eastern Ireland blanketed by snow, with only western Ireland snow free.

Ringing control: A Redwing ringed as a first-year bird on Lundy on 29 Oct 2009 (ring no. RF40556) was controlled on 12 Jun 2012 at Pihlajaniemi, Kerimäki, Mikkeli, Southern Savonia, Finland (958 days; 2,398 km; ENE 60°). The control site is on a lake peninsula in the far SE of Finland, close to the Russian border. Perhaps this bird was already back in its breeding area, but given that spring was cold and late in northern Europe in 2012, it is also possible that it was still migrating, perhaps heading even further east into Russia.

Song Thrush

Turdus philomelos

(pp.190–191)

Selected new records

2009

Breeding season summary

In spite of the severe cold of Feb 2009, there were two territorial pairs (both seen carrying food in May) and a fledgling was seen in Millcombe on 14 May, with a well-grown juvenile seen there on 7 Aug.

2010

Breeding season summary

Singing birds were holding territory in Millcombe/St Helen’s Copse and Quarter Wall Copse in early Jun, but there was no evidence of breeding.

2011

Breeding season summary

For the second year running no evidence of successful breeding was reported and for the first time since the mid-1980s there were no records of singing (i.e. territory holding) males. This is most likely a consequence of three consecutive hard winters. Equally remarkably, Song Thrush was not recorded at all in Sep, with a thin autumn passage not really getting underway until mid-Oct.

2012

Breeding season summary

No singing males or other evidence of breeding for the third consecutive year.

Autumn influx

22 to 27 Oct – A major influx towards the end of Oct brought 60 on 22nd, rising to 80 on 23rd & 24th and an exceptional 150 on 25th, before falling to a still notable 60 on 26th and 40 on 27th. The count of 150 on 25th remains (as of the end of 2023) the highest since publication of The Birds of Lundy but falls a considerable way short of the all-time record of 500 on 25 Oct 1973!

Notable winter count

25 Dec – A count of 25 remains the highest winter (Dec to Feb) count since publication of The Birds of Lundy.

2013
to
2019

No evidence of breeding attempts

There were no territory holding birds in spring and no other evidence that breeding was attempted.

2017

Autumn influx

26 to 31 Oct – A significant influx  brought 100+ on 26th and over 30 on 27th and 31st. Alongside Redwings and Blackbirds, Song Thrushes remained a feature of island birding until the end of the year.

Notable winter count

28 Dec – A count of 16 was one of the higher winter (Dec to Jan) counts of recent years.

2018

Notable winter counts

5 & 27 Jan – Counts of 21 on 5th and 24 on 27th were among the higher winter (Dec to Feb) counts of recent years.

2019

Autumn influx

15 Oct – A notable influx of 60 birds – by far the highest count of the autumn.

2021

Territory-holding male

Apr to Jul – A lone territory-holding male sang his heart out in Millcombe throughout the spring and (more sporadically) well into Jul. Although two individuals were logged on 17 May and the singing male was seen together with a second bird, perched in a sycamore in upper Millcombe on 27 May, there was no subsequent evidence of a pair, or any sign that a breeding attempt was made.

Autumn influx

13 & 14 Oct – A notable influx of 65 on 13th, increasing to 80 on 14th – by far the highest counts of the autumn.

2022

Territory-holding male

Apr to Jul – A territory-holding male again sang daily in Millcombe but no breeding evidence was recorded.

Mistle Thrush

Turdus viscivorus

(p.193)

Selected new records

 

Earliest and latest dates since 2006 (last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy): Earliest in spring 18 Feb 2014 (one), Latest in spring 4 Jun 2018 (one); Earliest in autumn 6 Oct 2007 (one); Latest in autumn 23 Nov 2015 (one) – but see also midwinter records below.

2007

Midwinter record

29 Jan – A group of three.

High count in autumn

18 & 19 Oct  – A count of eight remains the highest since publication of The Birds of Lundy.

2010

Midwinter record

26 & 27 Dec – A group of three on 26th and a single bird on 27th had probably moved in response to severe winter weather on the mainland.

2018

Winter record

26 & 28 Feb – One was near the Heinkel wreck on 26th (Louise Cookson & Trevor Dobie/LFS Working Party) and below Benjamin's Chair on 28th (Zoë Barton & Dean Jones).

Late spring/early summer record

4 Jun – One was in the vicinity of the Logan Stone, at the eastern end of Halfway Wall on this unusual date (Tim Davis & Tim Jones).

2023

Winter record

23 Jan – One at Quarter Wall (Stuart Cossey).

American Robin

Turdus migratorius

(pp.194–195)

All new records

2018

New record

26 Oct – A first-winter bird watched and photographed in Millcombe and St John's Valley (Paul Holt) at 13.50 hrs stayed for only 15 minutes or so and could not be relocated. Record accepted by BBRC; the 4th  for Lundy following others in 1952, 1962 and 1982, all of which occurred between 27 Oct and 18 Nov.

American Robin Millcombe 26Oct2018 Paul HoltAmerican Robin, Millcombe, 26 Oct 2018
© Paul Holt

Spotted Flycatcher

Muscicapa striata

(pp.222–223)

Selected new records

 

Earliest and latest since 2006 (last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy): Earliest in spring 19 Apr 2012 (one); Latest in autumn 27 Oct 2021 (one).

2009

Notable spring-passage count

2 May – A total of 45 was logged.

2010

Notable autumn-passage count

10 Sep – A total of 50 was logged.

2012

Earliest spring record of recent years

19 Apr – One. Although the earliest record since The Birds of Lundy was published, the earliest ever for the island were two reported on 12 Apr 1987. Unfortunately, no further details are available for either record.

2019

Highest spring-passage count of recent years

9 May – A spectacular fall of 80, on a sunny but windy morning after a stormy day on 8th, is the highest spring count since The Birds of Lundy was published.

2021

Highest autumn-passage count of recent years

7 Sep – A count of 60 (mainly in Millcombe and along the East Side, but also on the plateau, including a group of seven feeding from the fencing around the water tanks) is the highest autumn total recorded since The Birds of Lundy was published.

Latest autumn record of recent years

27 October – One was trapped and ringed in Millcombe (Rob Duncan et al.). Although the latest record since The Birds of Lundy was published, it is some way off the latest ever, on 13 Nov 1982.

2023

Notable spring-passage count

23 May – A total of 64 was logged.

Notable autumn-passage count

6 & 7 Sep – Counts of 45 were logged on both dates.

Robin

Erithacus rubecula

[European Robin] (pp.175–177)

Selected new records

2007

New record set for autumn-passage maximum

14 Oct – A count of 80 was the highest ever made on Lundy (the previous all-time maximum being 75 on 29 Oct 2004).

2012

Notable autumn-passage count

23 Oct – A count of 65; one of the higher totals for the island (see above).

2013

Breeding season

16–20 Apr – Up to six potential breeding territories located, with singing males in Millcombe (three), St Helen’s Combe (one) and Quarter Wall Copse (two).

2017

Notable winter count

30 Dec – A count of 12 was the first double-digit count in winter (Dec to Feb) since publication of The Birds of Lundy.

2018

Notable winter count

27 Jan – A count of 15 was one of the higher winter (Dec to Feb) counts since publication of The Birds of Lundy, following on from high numbers at the end of 2017.

2022

Record winter count equalled

Jan & Feb – Counts of 16 on 30 Jan and 20 on 2 Feb were the highest winter (Dec to Feb) counts since publication of The Birds of Lundy; the latter count equalling the record set on 27 Dec 2000.

 

Ringing:

Ringing recovery: A Robin ringed as a first-year bird on Lundy, on 05 Sep 2021 (ring no. ANL4054) was found dead (killed by cat) at Flackwell Heath, Buckinghamshire on 14 Mar 2022 (190 days; 278 km; E 81°).

Bluethroat

Luscinia svecica

(p.178)

All new records

2008

New record

28 Sep – One was found skulking in rushes around Pondsbury (E. Davis, B. Heasman, I. Lakin et al.) and what was presumably the same bird was seen at Quarter Wall on 1 Oct (E. Davis). Record accepted by DBRC – the 9th occurrence on Lundy and the first in autumn since 1964. More recent sightings have all been in May, including the last in 2004.

2010

New record

9 May – A female seen and photographed amongst rushes near the water tanks in the south-east corner of Ackland’s Moor (R. Campey). Record accepted by DBRC; only the 10th for Lundy.

2022

New record

13 May – A female was flushed along the Lower East Side Path a little way north of Mousehole & Trap. It was extremely skulking and last seen diving for cover low down on a buttress on the southern edge of Gannets' Combe (Tim Davis & Tim Jones).

Record accepted by DBRC, the 11th Lundy record and the sixth in a narrow window between 9 & 27 May.

Nightingale

Luscinia megarhynchos

[Common Nightingale] (p.177)

All new records

2010

New record

1 May – One mist-netted and ringed in Millcombe (Colin McShane) was the first occurrence since one was seen in St John's Valley in May 2005.

NB This record was included in the 2010 ringing totals in the 2010 LFS Annual Report but inadvertently omitted from the full systematic list in the Bird Report that year.

2017

New record

25 Aug – A first-year bird was mist-netted and ringed in Millcombe (Tony Taylor). The tenth Nightingale to be ringed on Lundy. Record accepted by Devon Bird Recorder.

2018

New record

20 Apr – One in Millcombe (Dean Jones). Record accepted by DBRC.

2019

New record

28 Apr – One trapped and ringed in Millcombe (Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, David Kightley).

25 Aug – A remarkably confiding individual was at the top of Smelly Gully – in the same area as a Wryneck – and feeding on grass around Millcombe Pond (Dean Jones et al.).

Records accepted by DBRC; only the fifth & sixth Nightingales for Lundy of the 21st century.

2023

New records – subject to acceptance by DBRC

28 Aug – One was seen in bracken north of the quarries (Luke Marriner).

12 Sep – A visitor made a sound-recording of one in bracken below the Terrace.

Red-flanked Bluetail

Tarsiger cyanurus

(pp.178–179)

All new records

2010

New record

18 Oct – A first-winter bird was trapped at 09:40 in a mist-net set in the gully below Brambles. It was promptly ringed, photographed and released outside Brambles, whereupon it flew strongly over the treetops and down into Lower Millcombe. An hour later it was retrapped in a different mist-net in Millcombe, but released immediately. At 17:30 it was seen briefly once more, perched and flying into a tamarisk bush in Millcombe (A.M. Taylor, F. Watts et al.). This is the second record for Lundy following one in Oct 2005. Record accepted by BBRC. 

Pied Flycatcher

Ficedula hypoleuca

[European Pied Flycatcher] (pp.224–225)

Selected new records

 

Earliest and latest since 2006 (last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy): Earliest in spring 2 Apr 2019 (one, male), Latest in spring 2 Jun 2018 (one) & 2021 (one); Earliest in autumn 22 Jul 2022 (one), Latest in autumn 23 Oct 2011 (one).

2009

Notable autumn-passage count

10 Sep – A count of 15.

2011

Late autumn record

23 Oct – One on this date – presumably the first-year individual that had been trapped and ringed in Millcombe the previous day – remains the latest since The Birds of Lundy was published (though some way off the latest ever on 6 Nov 1962).

2012

Notable spring-passage count

2 May – A count of 10 remains the highest spring total since The Birds of Lundy was published.

2013

No spring-passage records

For the first time in many years there were no spring records, perhaps a reflection of the cool, unsettled conditions, but also gaps in observer coverage.

Notable autumn-passage count

25 Aug – A count of 11 was one of the higher autumn totals of recent years.

2018

Notable autumn-passage counts

31 Aug & 2 Sep – A count of 20 on 31 Aug was the second-highest autumn total since The Birds of Lundy was published. A further notable count of 15 was made on 2 Sep.

2021

Notable autumn-passage counts

27 Aug – A count of 20, equalling the second-highest autumn total of recent years.

2023

Notable autumn-passage counts

6 & 7 Sep – Counts of 18 and 24 respectively were made on these two dates – the latter being the highest day-total since The Birds of Lundy was published.

Late autumn record

22 Oct – One was in the willow scrub next to the Terrace Heligoland and later in trees at Quarter Wall Copse. The only recent later record is of one on 23 Oct 2011.

 

Ringing

Ringing control: A Pied Flycatcher ringed as a pullus (nestling) at Llananno, Powys, on 11 Jun 2006 (ring no. T733340) was controlled as an adult male on Lundy on 08 May 2008 (697 days; 162 km; SW 215°) – a further ringing movement suggesting that many of the Pied Flycatchers seen on Lundy in spring are from the Welsh breeding population.

Collared Flycatcher

Ficedula albicollis

(p.280)

2008

Unproven report

12 May – An adult male was reported along the Lower East Side Path between the [then] northernmost clump of rhododendrons and the Terrace Trap. A description was submitted to BBRC, but the Committee assessed the record as 'not proven'. A record for Quarter Wall Copse in October 1986 was also not accepted by BBRC, so there have yet to be any authenticated occurrences of this species on Lundy.

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Ficedula parva

(p.223)

All new records

 

Earliest and latest since 2006 (last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy): Earliest in autumn 21 Sep 2009 (one), Latest in autumn 5 Nov 2007 (one); only one spring record, 31 May 2016.

2007

New records

8 & 10 Oct – A first-winter bird was seen in Millcombe on both dates; apparent plumage differences and the lack of any sighting on 9th (in spite of thorough searching) suggested that two individuals could have been involved (C. Baillie, T. Davis, T. Jones et al.). Record accepted by DBRC.

5 Nov – An adult male in Millcombe (Peter Davies). Record accepted by DBRC.

2009

New records

21 to 24 Sep – One first seen below Brambles on 21st was seen daily in Millcombe. It was caught, ringed and aged as a first-winter on 23rd (Derek Baggott, Chris Dee, Andy Turner). Record accepted by DBRC.

2012

New record

15 Oct – A first-winter bird was trapped, ringed and photographed in Millcombe on 15 Oct (Richard Taylor, Tony Taylor et al.) Record accepted by DBRC. Photo © Richard Taylor.

2013

New records

8 to 10 Oct – One, thought to be a first-winter bird, was in St Helen’s Copse on 8th (Malcolm Shakespeare) with one in Millcombe the following day (John Horton et al.). On 10th two were seen together in Millcombe, feeding above the Casbah in shelter from north-east winds (John Haddaway & John Horton). Records accepted by DBRC.

2014

New record

28 & 29 Oct – One in Millcombe, in the vicinity of the Casbah, (James Diamond et al.).

2015

New record

15 Oct – A first-winter bird was watched at close range in Millcombe in an area between the Casbah, Government House and Millcombe House (Tim Jones et al.). Record accepted by DBRC.

2016

New records

31 May – A female or first-year male in St Helen's Copse (Paul Holt). This is the first spring record since Jun 2003.

1 Oct – One was in Millcombe in the vicinity of the walled gardens and lower slopes of the Ugly (Paul Sterry, Tim Jones).

Records accepted by DBRC.

Red-breasted Flycatcher St Helens Copse 31May2016 Paul HoltRed-breasted Flycatcher, St Helen's Copse,
31 May 2016 © Paul Holt

2017

New records

15 Oct – One in the Terrace Trap willows and later at Quarry Pond (Richard Campey).

28 Oct – One in Millcombe (Andy Jayne).

Records accepted by DBRC.

2020

New records

6 Oct – A first-winter bird in Quarter Wall Copse (Paul & Jackie Holt, Dean Jones).

18 Oct – A first-winter bird in Quarter Wall Copse (Dean Jones). Plumage differences apparent in photographs identified this as a different individual to the one seen on 6th.

Records accepted by DBRC.

2021

New records

20 Oct – Following a wild night of torrential thundery showers with lightning and a westerly gale, it was something of a surprise when a first-winter Red-breasted Flycatcher turned up at about 09:30 hrs, feeding along the sheltered northern edge of Millcombe Wood between the Casbah and Brambles. At times it perched prominently in the open, but more often moved rather elusively among the branches and bunches of Turkey oak and sycamore leaves. It spent much of the day in Millcombe but turned up in St Helen's Copse later in the afternoon (Tim Jones et al.).

2 Nov – One was seen in the walled gardens of Millcombe (Eleanor Grover). Writing for the Lundy Birds blog at the time, Eleanor related: “Checking through a group of feeding Chiffchaffs revealed a surprising find: not a warbler at all but a Red-breasted Flycatcher. Flitting about in the trees, it paused only to seemingly smirk at the camera being pointed at it, before dropping down into thicker branches and being lost from view. A delightful little bird, it appeared and then disappeared all in the space of the time it took to check the mist-nets and, unfortunately, was not resighted again.”

Records accepted by DBRC.

2022

New record

27 Oct – A first-winter bird was found at the top of Millcombe (Chris Baillie, Stuart Cossey, Angus Croudace, Tom Wright).

Record accepted by DBRC.

2023

New record – subject to acceptance by DBRC

20 Oct – One seen briefly in alders on the north side of Quarter Wall Copse during the late afternoon (James Diamond) was heard calling in the same area shortly afterwards (Joe Parker) but could not be relocated visually.

Black Redstart

Phoenicurus ochruros

(p.179)

Selected new records

 

Earliest and latest since 2006 (last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy): Earliest in autumn 3 Oct 2015 (one), Latest in spring 22 Jun 2010 (one).

2007

Winter record

17 Feb – One, adding to the relatively few winter (Dec to Feb) records for Lundy.

2008

Winter record

24 to 28 Dec – One; see comment for Dec 2007.

2009

Winter record

9 Dec – One at the top of Puffin Slope; see comment for Dec 2007.

Notable autumn-passage count

31 Oct – 20 were in the area close to North Light. This remains (as of 2024) the highest total since The Birds of Lundy was published; the highest-ever count for the island is 24 on 23 Oct 1996.

2010

Late-spring/Early-summer record

17 to 22 Jun – A female was seen at Jenny’s Cove on 17, 21 & 22 Jun. While late spring migrants or wandering failed/non-breeding individuals have occasionally been seen in Jun in previous years, this appears to be the latest on record.

2012

Notable autumn-passage counts

25 & 26 Oct – During strong easterly winds, seven were feeding in the shelter and relative warmth of the west sidelands between Shutter Point and Dead Cow Point on 25th. The next day, the all-island count reached 12.

2013

Winter record

30 Jan – One; the first winter record since Dec 2009.

Late-spring/Early-summer record

28 May – One at Long Roost (Grant Sherman).

2014

Winter records

27 & 28 Dec – A female on 27th and a male on 28th were the only winter records.

2015

Late-spring/Early-summer record

7 Jun – A female was in Gannets’ Combe; an unusually late date (Tim Jones).

2016

Winter record

18 Dec – One near the Church (Philip & Helen Lymbery).

2017

Winter records

25 Jan to 4 Feb – Single birds were noted on each date, the bird on 27th at Jenny’s Cove.

12 Dec – One.

Late-spring/Early-summer record

18 Jun – One.

2018

Winter records

31 Jan – Two female-type birds below Benjamin's Chair (Tim Jones).

15 Feb – One below Benjamin's Chair (Dean Jones).

27 Feb – A first-year male preening below Benjamin's Chair (Dean Jones).

Singing male

9 Apr – A male was singing from the roof of Paradise Row (Dean Jones). No instances of singing males are reported in The Birds of Lundy and this is the first record for the island that we can recall.

Late-spring/Early-summer record

27 May – One at The Battery (Rebecca & Rich Taylor).

2019

Winter records

2 Feb – One at Benjamin's Chair (Tim Jones).

2020

Winter records

10 Jan – One on the camping field gate (Dean Jones).

1 Dec – One; possibly a late autumn migrant as there were no later sightings in Dec.

2021

Winter records

9 & 10 Jan – A male at Benjamin's Chair and nearby area of Tent Field (Dean Jones).

21 Jan – A female at Benjamin's Chair (Dean Jones).

8 Feb – A male at Benjamin's Chair was thought to be the same individual as seen on 9 & 10 Jan (Dean Jones).

13 Dec  – A female-type on scree above the Landing Bay (Martin Thorne).

2022

Winter record

25 Feb – A female-type was below Benjamin's Chair (Stuart Cossey).

Notable spring-passage count

24 Mar – Eight on this date was the highest spring-passage count since publication of The Birds of Lundy in 2007 and one of the higher spring-passage counts on record, equalling the number seen on 24 Apr 2002 and second only to a total of ten on 25 Mar 1949.

2023

Winter record

1 Feb – A female-type was seen briefly below Benjamin's Chair (Stuart Cossey).

2024

Winter records

7 Jan – A female-type was at Benjamin's Chair (Joe Parker).

24 Feb – One.

Redstart

Phoenicurus phoenicurus

[Common Redstart] (pp.179–180)

Selected new records

 

Earliest and latest since 2006 (last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy): Earliest 2 Apr 2011 (one found dead) and 3 Apr 2022; Latest 29 Oct 2015 (one).

2011

Early spring record

2 Apr – One found dead on this date is the earliest spring record for the island since publication of The Birds of Lundy.

 2012

New record set for spring-passage maximum

2 & 3 May – Maxima of 20 on both dates were the highest ever recorded during spring passage through Lundy (the previous maximum being 15 on 2 May 2004). Late Apr and early May 2012 saw some extremely unsettled weather and it is likely that birds took advantage of a break in the conditions to move en masse and/or were displaced from their usual migration route.

Late date in autumn

26 Oct – A female in the vicinity of Brambles, St John’s Valley and Castle Hill was one of the later records of recent years.

2013

Autumn-passage count

23 Sep – A day-total of four. Surprisingly, this remains the equal-highest autumn count since publication of The Birds of Lundy (see also 2021). The highest-ever total logged in autumn was 20 on 19 Sep 1977.

2015

Late date in autumn

29 Oct – A single bird remains the latest since publication of The Birds of Lundy (the latest ever was on 16 Nov 2002).

2020

Late date in autumn

23 Oct – The remains of one were found near the Quarries.

2021

Autumn-passage count

8 Sep – A day-total of four. Surprisingly, this remains the equal-highest autumn count since publication of The Birds of Lundy (see also 2013). The highest-ever total logged in autumn was 20 on 19 Sep 1977.

2022

Early date in spring

3 Apr – One (a male); the second-earliest date of recent years.

2023

Late date in autumn

22 Oct – A male at Stoneycroft continued the recent run of single birds recorded in late Oct.

Whinchat

Saxicola rubetra

(pp.180–181)

Selected new records

 

Earliest and latest since 2006 (last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy): Earliest 14 Apr 2012 (one); Latest 16 Nov 2013 (one) – the latest ever for the island, the previous latest date being 10 Nov 1952.

2007

Notable spring-passage count

30 Apr – Four on this date remains the highest spring-passage count since publication of The Birds of Lundy; three were recorded in May 2008 and May 2017. The all-time spring maximum was 30 on 2 May 2004.

2008

Notable spring-passage count

17 May – Three on this date remains one of only three spring records in recent years of more than two in a day.

2011

Notable autumn-passage count

2 Oct – A count of 15 (during a period of exceptionally hot weather, with warm, southerly winds) was the highest ever recorded on Lundy in Oct and remains the highest number recorded during autumn passage since publication of The Birds of Lundy (the all-time record was 25 in Sep 1958 and Sep 1972).

2012

An early date in spring

14 Apr – One; among the earliest ever recorded on the island, although still some way behind the earliest ever, which occurred on 17 Mar in both 1955 and 1958.

2013

Late bird in autumn

16 Nov – One; the latest ever recorded on Lundy (see above).

2015

Notable autumn-passage count

16 Sep – A count of 11.

2017

Notable spring-passage count

7 May – Three on this date remains one of only three spring records in recent years of more than two in a day.

2021

Notable autumn-passage count

4 Sep – A count of 12 (including six at Quarter Wall) was the second-highest total recorded during autumn passage since publication of The Birds of Lundy.

2022

Notable autumn-passage count

14 Sep – A count of 12 equalled the second-highest total of recent years.

2023

Notable autumn-passage count

8 Sep – A count of 11.

Stonechat

Saxicola rubicola

[European Stonechat] (p.182)

Selected new records

2007

Notable autumn-passage count

17 Oct – A count of 30 remains the equal-highest autumn count since publication of The Birds of Lundy. See also 2021 & 2022.

2008

Notable spring-passage count

16 Mar – A count of 20 was, at the time, the highest spring-passage count ever recorded, but was exceeded in Mar 2018.

2009

Breeding season summary

Seen in every month of the year, in spite of the severe weather in Feb, and although there were no reports of nesting pairs or adults feeding young, well-grown young were seen around the Terrace in the first week of Aug and seem likely to have been fledged on the island.

Notable autumn-passage count

20 Sep – A count of 18 remains the highest autumn-passage total since publication of The Birds of Lundy. The all-time autumn maximum was 70 on 10 Oct 1984.

2010

Breeding season summary

There were many fewer records in 2010 than in other recent years and there was no indication of breeding. This is assumed to be a cumulative effect of the cold weather of Feb 2009 and Jan/Feb 2010. 

2011

Breeding season summary

Numbers in spring were very low, following three consecutive winters with prolonged freezing conditions and there were no indications of breeding behaviour.

2012

Breeding season summary

No evidence of breeding.

2013

Breeding season summary

No evidence of breeding.

2014

Breeding season summary

No evidence of breeding for the fifth consecutive year.

2015

Breeding season summary

A pair were at Tibbetts on 6 Apr, a male was noted on 15 Apr and two birds were seen on 25 & 27 May (one on 25 May was an alarm-calling female just south of Pondsbury), but given the paucity of spring sightings it still came as a welcome surprise when, in Jun, breeding was confirmed for the first time since 2009: a pair with fledged young were on the heathland south of Pondsbury 9–15 Jun.

2016

Breeding season sumary

There was no evidence of breeding.

2017

Notable spring-passage count

25 Feb – A count of 14 was one of the higher spring-passage count since publication of The Birds of Lundy.

Breeding season summary

There was no evidence of breeding.

2018

Notable spring-passage count

7 Mar – A count of 24 (13 m, 11 f), all south of Halfway Wall (Dean Jones), was (at the time) the highest spring-passage count since publication of The Birds of Lundy and indeed the highest spring count on record for the island (the previous record being 20 in Mar 2008). However, this count has since been exceeded – see 2020 below.

Breeding season summary

Successful breeding was confirmed in Aug when a pair were feeding chicks just north of St Helen's Copse.

2019

Breeding season summary

Breeding was confirmed when a pair were carrying food east of Pondsbury on 5 May and fledged young were seen in the same area on 23 May. Confirmation of a second breeding pair came on 11 May when a male was seen carrying an Emperor Moth to a nest on the seaward side of the Beach Road; both adults and three fledglings were seen there on 27 May. A third pair with two newly fledged young were on the northern slope above Pondsbury on 23 May. Finally, on 26 Jul, a fourth brood of three fledglings were with a male below the rhododendron-brash tree-planting enclosure near St Helen’s Combe.

2020

New record set for spring passage

There was a remarkable fall of spring-passage migrants on 5 Mar, when at least 36 were distributed around the island, including 12 concentrated in a small area of South West Field. Obvious passage continued until the middle of Mar, after which most observations appeared to involve Lundy’s small breeding population. This remains (as of the end of 2023) the highest spring count ever recorded for the island.

Breeding season summary

Four pairs successfully fledged chicks from nests sited next to the Beach Road, north of St Helen’s Copse, along the Terrace, and at Tibbetts. Three of these pairs were feeding young on 13 May and the fourth was feeding young on 23 May. A fledged second brood was being fed along the Lower East Side Path on 15 Jul. (Dean Jones)

2021

Notable winter counts

23 Jan & 18 Dec – Counts of six equalled the highest mid-winter (Dec/Jan) count of recent years (see also 2022).

Breeding season summary

An adult was delivering food to chicks in South West Field on 15 Apr (Eleanor Grover) and four recently fledged young were seen near Pondsbury on 19 May (Ben Arkless & Dean Jones). A pair with at least one fledgling was above White Beach on 21 May and a second brood of fledglings was seen in the same area on 12 Jul. Elsewhere in mid-May there were territorial pairs at the Terrace and along the Lower East Side Path, plus singing males by Threequarter Wall gate and in Gannets’ Combe (Tim Jones), but there was no further evidence of breeding at any of these sites

Notable autumn-passage count

14 & 15 Oct – A count of 30 remains the equal-highest autumn count since publication of The Birds of Lundy. See also 2007 & 2022.

2022

Notable winter count

30 Jan – A count of six equalled the highest mid-winter (Dec/Jan) count of recent years (see also 2021).

Breeding season summary

Up to 19 territories were found during May, including eight pairs feeding young (Stuart Cossey). This is by far the highest number of territories ever recorded for the island. Second broods were started by 22 Jun, with a pair still feeding young on 7 Aug.

Notable autumn-passage count

13 Oct – A count of 30 remains the equal-highest autumn count since publication of The Birds of Lundy. See also 2007 & 2021.

There is clear evidence that Stonechats are becoming more frequenrt and more numerous throughout the year – likely a consequence of climate-change impacts, including winters significantly milder than the long-term average.

Wheatear

Oenanthe oenanthe

[Northern Wheatear] (pp.183–184)

Selected new records

 

Earliest and latest since 2006 (last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy): Earliest 24 Feb 2019 (one); Latest 11 Nov 2011 & 2018 (one).

2008

Ringing evidence for occurence of Greenland Wheatears

Tony Taylor has recently reviewed ringing information and comments that: "Forty of the birds ringed between 1972 and 1999 were noted as Greenland Wheatears O. o. leucorhoa and there are others that were not recorded as such but which had wing-lengths well beyond the nominate range. There has been less chance of catching Greenland Wheatears in more recent years, with little ringing activity at the best times for them and Quarter Wall Trap out of action.” (received from Tony Taylor 31 October 2007).

2009

Greenland Wheatear ringed

2 May – An immature male Greenland Wheatear O. o. leucorhoa was trapped and ringed.

2010

Notable spring-passage count

27 Apr – A total of 200 was among the higher counts recorded during spring passage (the record being 300 on 2 May 2004).

Good breeding season

2010 appears to have been a bumper breeding season for Wheatears on Lundy. A survey of breeding landbirds during the first week of Jun resulted in an estimated 30-40 territories, located mainly along the South End and West Side. At least 24 recently fledged juveniles – most in loose family groups and still being fed by adults – were counted. Other adults were continuing to carry food to nest sites.

2011

Notable spring-passage count

20 Apr – A count of 200 matched the high number recorded during late April 2010.

Greenland Wheatear ringed

26 Apr – A Greenland Wheatear O. o. leucorhoa was trapped and ringed.

New record set for the highest ever count during autumn passage

1 Oct – A fall of at least 400, during a period of unseasonably hot weather, with very warm southerly winds, was (at the time) by the far the highest count ever recorded on the island during either spring or autumn migrations, the previous autumn maximum being 300 on 15 Sep 1974. A higher count was made during spring passage in May 2012, but this remains (as of the end of 2023) the all-time record for autumn.

Late birds in autumn

There were unusually late (though not record-breaking) stragglers into Nov, with single birds on 4th, 6th and 11th.

2012

New record set for the highest ever count during spring passage

27 Apr to 5 May – Significant falls brought 400 on 27th, 200 on 30th, 500 on 1 May and 150 on 2 & 5 May. The estimates made for both 27 Apr and 1 May established new records for the highest numbers ever recorded in spring (eclipsing the previous record of 300 on 2 May 2004).

Greenland Wheatears 

Greenland Wheatears O. o. leucorhoa were trapped and ringed on 28 Apr (one), and 30 Apr (three). Of 100 counted around Castle Hill on 1 May, nearly all appeared to be Greenland Wheatears, typical of this relatively late phase of spring migration, and most had moved on by the next day. Though numbers of Wheatears logged did not exceed 30 after the first week of May, continued passage through the island was demonstrated by the trapping and ringing of six more Greenland birds on 23rd & 24th. Tony Taylor commented: “These six birds were notable because their mean weight was 41.5g (range: 35.8-46.6g). This contrasts with the 29 other Wheatears (probably Lundy breeding birds) ringed in the same week, which had a mean weight of 25.1g (range: 22.4-29.0g). The Greenland birds were not only larger but were carrying much more fat than the local birds, and so were probably about to start a long flight north. They were all one-year-old birds, and would probably arrive on their breeding grounds later than more experienced adults.”

Breeding season

20 Jun – 42 adults and 50 juveniles were recorded during a perimeter walk of the island.

2013

Colour-ringing project and breeding population estimate

As a result of a colour-ringing study being led by Tony Taylor & Richard Taylor, the island’s breeding population in 2013 was estimated at about 80 pairs – the highest ever recorded and likely to be attributable, at least in part, to the eradication of rats.

2014

Colour-ringing project and breeding population estimate

Further research based on colour-ringing resulted in a breeding population estimate of 115 pairs; another new record. Full details can be found in a paper by Tony Taylor published in the 2014 Lundy Field Society Annual Report.

 

Photo: Male Wheatear, Quarter Wall, 25 Apr 2014 © Richard Campey

2015

Birds singing in total darkness

29 May – Birds were singing in total darkness below Tibbetts at around 02.00 hrs and near Pondsbury at about 04.00 hrs (Richard & Rebecca Taylor).

2016

Colour-ringing project and breeding population estimate

Tony Taylor and Richard Taylor continued their colour-ringing study, marking 48 new birds and logging sightings of 29 birds ringed in previous years. The survival rate from 2015 to 2016 among the colour-ringed birds was 44%. The all-island breeding population in 2016 was estimated at 110 pairs.

Greenland Wheatears

A female Greenland Wheatear O. o. leucorhoa on the west end of the Airfield on 5 Jun was caught and ringed (Richard & Rebecca Taylor). On 8 Sep, an adult female Greenland bird was caught by hand at 23:00hrs in the Old Light Manx Sheawater colony. Perhaps newly arrived, its weight was quite low, but after being kept overnight and ringed, it flew off strongly the following morning (Richard Taylor, Rosie Hall). The last bird of the year, on 27 Oct, was considered to be a first-winter male Greenland Wheatear (Chris Baillie).

2017

Colour-ringing project and breeding population estimate

The colour-ringing project under the BTO Retrapping Adults for Survival scheme entered its fifth year. A further 51 birds were newly colour-ringed, whilst 48 birds marked in previous years (2013–2016) were resighted. One of the latter, ringed in 2015, was seen on Guernsey on 13 Mar (2017), then back on Lundy 11 days later. The breeding population within the main study area, from the Castle, along the south and west coast as far as Halfway Wall, was estimated at 53 pairs and for the island as a whole, 121 pairs – yet another new record for the island.

2018

Colour-ringing project and breeding population estimate

The ongoing colour-ringing study of the island’s breeding population showed that at least 56% of the birds breeding in 2017 survived migration to and from their African winter quarters and bred on Lundy in 2018. The main study area (from the Castle, along the South End and West Side as far north as Halfway Wall) was estimated to have held 53 pairs in 2018, the same as in 2017, but the whole-island population estimate was down slightly at 114 pairs.

Late date in autumn

11 Nov – A single bird, in Lighthouse Field, equalled the latest date in autumn since publication of The Birds of Lundy (see also Nov 2011).

2019

Exceptionally early arrival in spring

Dean Jones’s sighting of a male at Jenny’s Cove during the morning of 24 Feb was (by seven days) the earliest Lundy record for this species and one of the first seen in the whole of the UK in 2019.

Colour-ringing project and breeding population estimate

Summarising the continuing long-term BTO Retrapping Adults for Survival (RAS) colour-ringing study of Lundy’s Wheatears, Tony Taylor reports that 53% of the breeding birds recorded in 2018 survived their migration and returned to breed in 2019. This was slightly below the 2013-18 average return rate. Even so, there were a record 54 pairs in the study area (the south and west coasts between the Castle and Halfway Wall), and the population estimate for the whole island was 118 pairs. This is the second highest total recorded, after 121 in 2017. A colour-ringed male, holding territory on the sidelands just south of Quarter Wall Copse, was originally ringed on Lundy in 2012 (with colour-rings added in 2015).

2020

Colour-ringing project

The usual three weeks of fieldwork in late May and early June were not possible because of the Covid lockdown. However, thanks to some dedicated searching by Dean Jones and other islanders, 34 different individuals colour-ringed in previous years were identified. These included 24 birds from 2019, and a further 10 from the preceding three years. Since fieldwork effort was not directly comparable with other years, the BTO was unable to calculate adult survival rates, but the records will still be very valuable in tracking the histories of the individuals involved.

2021

Colour-ringing project and study area population estimate

With no Wheatears colour-ringed in 2020, the BTO Retrapping Adults for Survival project resumed with relatively few previously colour-ringed birds still in the breeding population and many unmarked birds to be captured and ringed. The timing of breeding for many pairs was also disrupted by spells of bad weather in spring, meaning that many pairs were not at the ideal stage for trapping during the usual three weeks of fieldwork in late May and early June. Even so, 48 birds were newly colour-ringed, and 19 birds ringed in 2019 or before were re-sighted. The results suggest a mean of 43% adult survival per year between 2019 and 2021, and the 2021 breeding population in the study area was estimated at 48 pairs. Both these figures are a little lower than in 2017-19, but they are minimum values, less reliable than usual because of the relatively large number of unringed birds that remained at the end of the season. In 2022 it should be possible to restore the very high levels of confidence that were achieved pre-pandemic.

2022

Colour-ringing project and record all-island breeding population estimate

Within the Recapturing Adults for Survival (RAS) project study area, 56 breeding adults were newly ringed and 39 were resighted from previous years. The latter included a bird originally ringed in 2016 and which had therefore crossed bthe Sahara at least 14 times! The breeding population within the study area was estimated at 55 pairs. The whole-island population was estimated at 129 breeding pairs – the highest ever recorded. When breeding is over, some colour-ringed adults are known to remain on Lundy in July and August to moult, but the scarcity of such records suggests that others may move away. Firm evidence was provided in 2022 when a male colour-ringed on Lundy on 28 May, had moved to Sokholm (Pembrokeshire) by 1 Jul, when it was in the early stages of its annual moult. It was last seen on Sokholm on 9 Aug, with its moult almost complete.

2023

Colour-ringing project

The same Lundy colour-ringed male Wheatear that moulted in Skokholm in 2022, was re-sighted on Lundy during the 2023 breeding season but returned to Skokholm for its annual moult in the late summer of 2023 (see below for details).

 

Ringing

Colour-ring sighting: A Wheatear ringed and colour-ringed as a breeding adult male on Lundy on 3 Jun 2015 (ring no. Z660128; colour-ring combination: left leg, pale blue over black; right leg, metal over stripe) was seen at Pulias, Guernsey, Channel Islands on 13 Mar 2017 (649 days; 244 km; SE 142°) then re-sighted on Lundy from 24 Mar to 4 Jun 2017. This is the first – and to date only – sighting of a Lundy colour-ringed Wheatear away from the island, from among the >200 individuals marked to the end of 2017.

Colour-ring sightings: A Wheatear ringed and colour-ringed as an adult male on Lundy on 28 May 2022 (ring no. AXH2316) was seen (and identified by its colour-ring combination) on Skokholm, Pembrokeshire on 1, 7, 17 Jul and 09 Aug 2022 (34 to 73 days; 74 km; NW 325°). It was logged back on Lundy during the breeding season of 2023, but was re-sighted on Skokholm on 23 & 27 Jul and 24 Aug 2023 (up to 1 year, 2 months, 27 days after ringing).

Colour-ring sighting: A Wheatear ringed and colour-ringed as a nestling on Skokholm, Pembrokeshire on 07 Jul 2022 (ring no. TX22194) was seen (and identified by its colour-ring combination) on Lundy on 03 Apr 2023 (8 months, 27 days; 72 km SE). This is the first record for Lundy of a Wheatear colour-ringed elsewhere.

Isabelline Wheatear

Oenanthe isabellina

Species added to the Lundy List since The Birds of Lundy was published in 2007.

All new records

 2019

First for Lundy

18 Oct – One was seen briefly between the Beach Road and the 'Goat Path' (Martin Elcoate). Seen in rapidly deteriorating weather conditions, the bird could not be relocated. Fortunately, some snatched photos, followed by Martin’s doggedly patient and forensic marshalling of all the evidence, ultimately led to the clinching of a superb first for the island. Record accepted by BBRC.

Dipper

Cinclus cinclus

[White-throated Dipper] (p.284)

Species added to the Lundy List since Birds of Lundy was published in 2007

All new records

2014

First for Lundy

9 Jun – A juvenile was seen perched and in flight in Millcombe walled gardens on 9 Jun (Tim Davis, Tim Jones, Martin Palmer). This is the first substantiated record for Lundy and perhaps one of the most unexpected sightings on the island of recent decades!

2016

New record

30 Sep – One was seen briefly in lower Millcombe (Steve Howells & Tim Pett). After a long wait for the first, the island's second Dipper followed in relatively short order.

House Sparrow

Passer domesticus

(pp.244–246)

Selected new records

2007

Breeding season summary

There were about 120 adults in Jun and 150 chicks fledged during the breeding season.

2008

Breeding season summary

The first chicks of the year fledged from a nestbox in the lambing shed on 16 May; to have four chicks surviving to fledging this early in the season was an unusual occurrence. The adult population was estimated to be between 80 and 100 individuals at most, with definite records of at least 44 different individuals (Ian Cleasby). A female was still feeding fledglings on 5 Sep.

2009

Breeding season summary

The breeding season was remarkably early, with the first chicks fledging on 1 May, indicating that egg-laying must have commenced around the beginning of Apr. During the previous two breeding seasons no eggs had even hatched until the start of May. A large number of first-year birds were present in the spring, suggesting high recruitment in 2008 (Ian Cleasby).

2011

Breeding season summary

The 2011 breeding season was very successful, with 151 clutches laid, beginning on 3 Apr, and 475 nestlings hatched. The post-breeding population was composed of at least 230 individually marked birds, including 102 adults and 128 successfully fledged young. Sparrowhawks routinely entered the lambing shed to hunt during the autumn and winter, leading to a significant drop in sparrow numbers. While 123 marked individuals (of all ages) were recorded in Nov, only 41 were caught in Feb 2012 (Isabel Winney & Yu-Hsun Hsu).

2012

Breeding season summary

See comment above concerning the impacts of winter 2011/2012 Sparrowhawk predation.

The 2012 breeding season started late, with the first egg laid on the latest date since comprehensive monitoring began in 2000. This led to a delay in the first fledglings, with none before June, in contrast with past breeding seasons. The mean number of chicks ringed annually from 2000 to 2011 was 179 (range 68 – 335). In 2012, the University of Sheffield team ringed 200 chicks. So, despite the late start to the season, 2012 was more productive than the average year, but was not exceptional (Isabel Winney).

2013

Breeding season summary

On 8 Aug the post-breeding population was estimated at 230 individuals, composed of 130 breeding adults and 100 young of the year (Isabel Winney). On 13 Nov the research team estimated the population to be about 200 individuals.

2014

Breeding season summary

The 2014 breeding season started very early, with the first egg laid on 15 Mar – the earliest date since comprehensive monitoring began in 2000 (though monitoring in previous years generally did not begin as early as it did in 2014, which probably reduced the likelihood of recording any very early clutches). 2014 was also a record year in terms of fledglings ringed (553) and almost a record year in terms of number of broods recorded (241, the record being 248). A few birds bred up to four times, something very unusual in the Lundy population. By the end of Jul, only a handful of birds were risking new breeding attempts and by 19 Aug (the date that the sparrow research team left the island), only two pairs were still feeding chicks. Many of the 2014 fledglings as well as many of the adults were caught in two subsequent winter trips. In Dec 2014, 100 individuals were caught, followed by 85 in Feb 2015.

The highest field count of the year was 160 on 26 Aug, immediately after the breeding season. As in some previous years, a small number of individuals appeared to have learnt how to make a living from picking about under the tables inside the Tavern; three birds were watched doing this on 27 Oct.

2015

Breeding season summary

The 2015 breeding season was average in terms of starting time and number of fledglings ringed. The first egg was laid on 11 April. Surprisingly, the totals for pairs, broods and fledglings were reduced by 50%, 50% and 60% respectively, when compared to the breeding season of 2014. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the breeding season of 2014 involved the biggest population ever recorded. During 2015 the sparrow research team recorded a total of 122 broods and ringed 227 fledglings from April to August. The main reason for the reduction in the number of breeding pairs in the summer of 2015 might have been the continuous presence of Sparrowhawks and Merlins during the previous winter.

2016

Breeding season summary

After a winter visit in February, when 71 individuals were caught, researchers expected the population to be lower in summer 2016, compared to 2015. However, with slightly higher numbers for both broods and fledglings, the summer of 2016 showed that accurate population predictions for Lundy House Sparrows are difficult to make. The breeding season started with the first egg being laid on 14 April, and ended relatively late with the first egg of the last brood being laid on 11 August. With 22 more broods than 2015, and 146 broods in total, producing 253 fledglings, the summer of 2016 can be classified as an average year. A ringing trip in November 2016 showed high numbers of sparrows. A total of 105 individuals were caught, compared to the 71 in February.

2017

Breeding season summary

The 2017 breeding season started extremely early; by the time of the team’s arrival on Lundy on 22 April, many nests already contained chicks of at least a few days old. The first egg was estimated to have been laid around 31 March. What sparked this early onset of the breeding season is only speculative, but could have been the relatively mild winter, followed by some early warmth in spring. Unfortunately, most of these early broods did not make it; a lot of chicks died during a cold spell that lasted for a few days. Most birds waited for a week or so before they started laying again and this time the chicks fared much better than the first wave. At the end of the season researchers had accounted for 218 broods – a much higher total than in 2016 – and 317 chicks had been ringed. The Lambing Shed was back in business in 2017, hosting many broods. Given that the area remained undisturbed during winter 2016/2017, sparrows had time to prospect and claim nestboxes, which they took full advantage of. In November, the team returned to Lundy for about a week to catch surviving fledglings and adults, trapping a total of 144 individuals, so numbers remained high after a successful breeding season.

2018

Breeding season summary

The breeding season began quite late in comparison to previous years and though sparrows can have up to four broods a year, few had more than two. There were also few adults from the previous year’s fledglings, suggesting that the young birds didn’t fare very well in the cold. Those breeding in the lambing shed appeared to do a bit better, as birds there began breeding before elsewhere on the island (likely due to the shelter provided). Overall however, the breeding season was largely successful. In total, there were 175 broods, a fairly average number compared to other years, but lower than in 2017 when 218 broods were recorded. Interestingly, the number of chicks didn’t vary much between years. In 2018, 309 chicks were ringed (chicks are ringed when 12 days old and fledge when roughly 17 days old), whereas 317 chicks were ringed in 2017. This could be due to parents raising larger broods in 2018 or a higher mortality rate of young chicks (fewer reaching the age of 12 days) in 2017.

2019

Breeding season summary

The 2019 season started very late, with only eight broods in the entirety of May, just one of which contained chicks that survived to fledging. Mainland birds were easily on their second or even third brood by the start of June, whereas the Lundy breeding season had really only just begun to take off. We speculate this was because of cold night-time temperatures throughout May. The spell of warm weather in February 2019 caused many other species to begin breeding very early in the year. However, unlike many other passerines, House Sparrows are not reliant on particular seasonal events (such as tree masting) and therefore can afford to wait until conditions become more suitable. The late season effectively meant that the Lundy sparrows skipped a brood. Typically, the island birds have three broods, with some higher-quality pairs rearing four, but most birds in 2019 had two broods, with only a handful having three. There was a total of 103 broods, compared to 175 in 2018. Ringing occurs when the chicks are 12 days old, with almost all birds reaching this age going on to fledge successfully. Some 217 nestlings were ringed in 2019, compared with 309 nestlings ringed in 2018, so productivity was much lower in 2019. However, the smaller number of fledged birds is not concerning, being due simply to the delayed start to nesting.

2020

Breeding season summary – contributed by Jamie Dunning

Our project monitoring the House Sparrows on Lundy turns 20 in 2021 (excluding the addition of historic back-data), and it is this long-term monitoring, as well as the population’s geographic isolation, which makes the Lundy Sparrow Project so valuable to ecological research. These specific factors allow us to study the genetics of the population without the frequent introduction of new genetic information from immigration/emigration, as would be the case on the mainland. This genetic pedigree, which underpins much of our research, has allowed us to continually record the pairings, infidelities and divorces, births and deaths of more than 10,000 individual sparrows. Complete genetic pedigrees are rare in wild systems because they require continued monitoring without missing a single generation. However, while the Lundy project weathered the foot-and-mouth epidemic of 2001, fieldwork in 2020 presented a particular challenge owing to the coronavirus pandemic. Lucy Winder and I arrived in mid-June to an island in lockdown, having already missed the first two waves of House Sparrow broods. Despite this, we monitored 35 broods up to August, from which 99 chicks fledged (although some of these birds were captured as post-fledglings). Given the late start, it is difficult to compare with data from previous years. In 2019 we ringed 217 chicks from 103 broods, so the number of broods in 2020 may have been slightly down.

We returned in October and November to catch, colour mark and DNA sample those birds that we missed as fledglings. Some of these individuals can be retrospectively allocated to natal broods, based on unique genetic information derived from the parents. Despite the increased effort, we caught far fewer birds (73, including 29 ringed prior to 2020) than during the previous year’s winter trip (192), which may suggest a poor breeding season, or high mortality in the early autumn of 2020. As the preceding few seasons were particularly good, it is not unexpected that the breeding population was smaller in 2020. We now hope, without the uncertainty of spring 2020, that our 2021 field season will proceed more normally. The apparently small breeding population may mean that we missed fewer sparrows than we feared, and that those we did miss were subsequently caught, ringed and DNA-sampled in the autumn.

2021

Breeding season summary – contributed by Jamie Dunning

Following a difficult season in 2020, when the uncertainty around access and the ongoing Covid pandemic forced us to reduce our field effort, we arrived in April 2021 to nestboxes already lined with nesting material and horsehair, and a small number of pairs already with full clutches of eggs. The aim of our field season was, as always, to colour-mark individual sparrows so that they can be identified in future without the need for recapture, and to collect genetic material to add another generation to our pedigree. Between Janet Chik (University of Groningen), myself and a handful of specially trained field assistants, we monitored 115 broods, 34 pairs having a second brood, and 15 a third brood. From these we ringed 185 chicks (averaging 1.6 per brood; but note that not all broods were successful in rearing young that survived to the point of ringing at about 12 days old). We also managed to capture and ring 93 birds outside of nestboxes, a mix of unringed sparrows from 2020, as well as chicks from ‘wild’ nests, and 129 retraps of previously ringed birds.

A generous grant award from the Lundy Field Society in 2020 enabled us to replace some of the ancient sparrow nestboxes around the village. Our thanks also to Eleanor Grover, Ben Arkless and Adam Waters for their help in building boxes during stormy weather. In 2021 we also moved to using BTO metal rings obtained by the LFS, bringing our project in line with existing monitoring of other species on the island. LFS bird ringers also contributed by rounding up unringed sparrows in Millcombe (which had at least two pairs again).

2022

Breeding season summary – contributed by Sophie Wilkins

The season started slowly, with the first chicks hatching on 9th May, nearly a month later than in 2021. Through the nesting season a total of 70 broods were found and a total of 129 chicks hatched, with 88 ringed as nestlings. This is a decline from the previous year where 185 nestlings, across 115 broods, were ringed. The differences may be explained by the cold snap experienced in February 2022 and the delayed start to the season.

This trend remained evident when we returned, as usual, in November to ring and take DNA samples from adult birds. This trip also gave us the opportunity to catch any unringed adults born in 2021. However, only 10 birds were caught during the time we were on the island. This is far fewer than the previous year’s 108 captures during the same period and is a record low for the project. This decline has been attributed to the presence of a Sparrowhawk wintering on the island, encouraging the House Sparrows to be more cautious and less likely to be out in the open. However, thanks to the efforts of LFS ringers, an additional 41 unringed birds were captured between August and October, along with 66 retraps.

 

Ringing

Colour-ringing movement

One of the Lundy House Sparrows colour-ringed as a nestling by the University of Sheffield on 3 May 2011 was seen in Hartland, North Devon mainland, on 27 February 2012. It was thought to have been in the Hartland area for about two weeks before the sighting was confirmed by Lundy sparrow researcher Isabel Winney. This is the first proven movement of House Sparrows between Lundy and the mainland (or vice versa).

Tree Sparrow

Passer montanus

[Eurasian Tree Sparrow] (pp.247–248)

All new records

2014

New record

22 Aug to 2 Sep – A remarkable influx occurred at the end of Aug, when three were seen near the helipad on 22nd, rising to 12 on 24th, with 11 remaining to 29th and the last nine remaining until 2 Sep, when seen just south of Old Light (Richard Taylor, Tony Taylor et al.). The mobile flock tended to frequent the main tracks between the Village and Old Light, and between the Village and Quarter Wall. The most recent previous Tree Sparrow record for the island was of a single bird on 29 Jul 2000 (though there was also an unconfirmed report of one in early Aug 2008), but it’s necessary to go as far back as 1975 to find a count of more than 12 (namely 16 on 29 May that year). Given that there are no Tree Sparrows breeding on nearby parts of the mainland, the birds’ likely origin was a matter of debate. On one hand, their appearance coincided with a period of blustery NW winds, so perhaps they had come from the thriving breeding population in Ireland? On the other hand, significant Tree Sparrow movements were reported along the East coast of England in late Aug and early Sep (e.g. 300 at Spurn on 31 Aug, 26 on the Farne Islands on 2 Sep), perhaps suggesting a northern British, or even continental origin. Elsewhere, targeted conservation efforts in parts of southern England have resulted in locally high breeding productivity from nestbox schemes. Whatever the answer, the Lundy Tree Sparrows were a welcome late-summer surprise for those who saw them. Record accepted by Devon Bird Recorder.

 Photo © Tim Davis

2016

New record

29 & 30 May – One was feeding outside Brambles (Ann & Tony Taylor). Record accepted by Devon Bird Recorder.

Dunnock

Prunella modularis

(pp.174–175)

Selected new records

2011

Summary

In spite of the extremely low numbers recorded during the first few months of the year (ones and twos only), breeding was proven when an adult carrying food was seen in lower Millcombe on 3 May (R. Campey). As usual, numbers reached a peak – albeit a modest one – in Oct, with seven on 3rd. Although the clearance of rhododendron has reduced the extent of suitable nesting habitat, the ‘dead hedges’ of rhodie brashings and developing scrub between St Helen’s Copse and the Terrace continue to provide opportunities for this species outside of Millcombe.

2012

Summary

During the period 29 May to 2 Jun, a pair carrying food was seen below the Beach Road south of the small Turkey Oak clump, an adult was seen in Millcombe and another along the Lower East Side Path. The island’s breeding population was estimated as one to three pairs (Tim Davis & Tim Jones). Once again, the peak count of the year – seven – was recorded in Oct, perhaps reflecting increased observer coverage in that month, but maybe also a degree of movement through the island. Given that the island population is now very small, the ringing records during the year (data supplied by Tony Taylor) are of particular interest: an adult male retrapped in spring had originally been ringed on Lundy as a first-year bird in Sep 2009. Two other adults, caught in early autumn, were undergoing their annual full moult and were therefore likely to be resident birds. Four first-year birds were ringed in Sep.

2013

Summary

The island’s small breeding population seems to be holding its own, with a max spring total of seven singing males (Millcombe and the Lower East Side Path as far north as the Terrace). The highest counts of the year were nine on 22 Oct and ten on 26 Nov.

2014

Summary

Three singing males were present in early Jun, but there was no earlier spring survey and no confirmation of successful breeding. The highest count was six on 24 & 25 Oct. Seven different individuals were handled by ringers in 2014; three adults (two retraps from previous years) and four birds of the year.

2015

Summary

The highest count in spring was six on 15 Apr. During the period May–Jul, song was heard in Millcombe and St John’s Valley (two singing against each other on 28 May), from below the Terrace and at St Helen’s Copse. However there was no confirmation of breeding, or even evidence of nesting. Although first-year birds were trapped in the autumn, these could have dispersed or migrated from the mainland; a possibility underlined by the apparent influx of birds in Oct, when nine were logged on 14th, and seven on 15th & 28th. Thorough coverage of suitable habitat during Sep had yielded only single birds on just four dates.

2016

Summary

No counts reached double digits. The spring max was four on 6 Mar and 4 Apr. During late May and the first half of Jun, single birds were recorded in Millcombe and on the Terrace. Breeding was confirmed with a record of a recently fledged juvenile in late Jul. Autumn counts peaked at five on 13 Sep and seven on 20 Nov. Nine indivduals were handled by ringers during the year.

2017

Summary – notable counts in both spring and autumn

There were signs of birds passing through the island in late Mar, with counts of eight on 22nd and 11 on 27th – the latter the highest count for Lundy since 2005. This total was exceeded in the autumn when there were 13 on 9 Oct (the highest since Oct 2004), and eight or nine on six other dates during Oct, suggestive of both a good breeding season and some passage movement. Successful breeding confirmed: song was heard in lower Millcombe on 30 Apr and a pair were feeding fledged young by the gas store in on 21 May, when there were two males singing in Millcombe (Tim Davis & Tim Jones). A territory-holding singing male was heard between the Terrace and Quarry Beach on 30 Apr and in the same area in late May, and one was singing above White Beach on 22 May.

2018

Summary

One was carrying nesting material in Smelly Gully (lower Millcombe) on 4 May and an adult was taking food to chicks in upper Millcombe on 2 & 31 May. On 2 Jun there was a singing male near Brambles stream, a pair carrying food just below Smelly Gully dam and an adult feeding fledged young by Millcombe gates. Further singing males were noted just north of St Helen’s Copse and just south of Quarter Wall Copse on 3 Jun. Altogether, there were three nests in Millcombe, one below the Terrace and a possible nest along the Lower East Side Path above White Beach (Dean Jones). There were hints of a small post-breeding or autumn passage influx, with counts reaching 11 on 24 Sep and 19 Oct.

2019

Summary

An encouraging year, with good overwinter survival apparent and double-digit counts in seven months, peaking at 16 on both 19 Oct and 25 Dec. Breeding confirmed: at least four pairs in Millcombe, one at St Helen’s Combe, one above White Beach, one near South Light, one below the Terrace and another at Quarter Wall Copse. Adults were feeding chicks at nests in Millcombe on 2 & 27 May, and fledglings were seen on 7 Jun.

2020

 Summary

The highest day-total of the year was 14, logged on 2 & 6 Mar and again on 11, 12 & 30 Oct. Whilst these numbers could be accounted for by the island’s breeding population alone, it is likely that some dispersing or passage birds move through the island in both spring and autumn. Twelve breeding territories were located – the highest for some years (five in Millcombe, two in St Helen’s Combe, one above White Beach, one at Quarter Wall Copse, two along the Terrace and one at South Light). Several adults were feeding nestlings in ‘Smelly Gully’ (lower Millcombe) on 24 May and the first fledglings were seen there on 30th, with some pairs embarking on second broods before the end of Jun and feeding fledglings again in Millcombe on 14 Jul (Dean Jones).

2021

Summary

The highest counts during the spring were 12 on 23 Mar and 14 on 14 May. One trapped and ringed on 30 Mar was carrying quite a lot of fat and was thought to be a possible passage migrant (Dean Jones). Adults were seen removing faecal sacs from a nest site in ‘Smelly Gully’ on 15 May, the first fledglings logged there on 27 May. The autumn maximum was 15 on 14 Oct. The peak counts in both Jan and Dec were identical, at nine, indicating no overall change during the year.

2022

Summary

The highest day counts of the year were 21 on 13 Apr and 18 on 17 Oct. It seems likely that these high counts may have coincided with a small passage of birds from the mainland. There were an estimated 11 breeding pairs, some of which had second broods, with many young seen in Jun and Jul.

 

Ringing

Ringing control: The previously suspected occurrence of at least some autumn passage of Dunnocks through Lundy was confirmed when a first-year bird ringed on Lundy on 14 October 2010 (ring no.L037967) was recaptured on the Wirral Peninsula, Merseyside on 08 April 2011 (176 days; 267 km; NNE 23°). The BTO Migration Atlas shows that British-bred Dunnocks are extremely sedentary – more than 95% staying within 1 km of their place of hatching. Continental Dunnocks are, however, highly migratory and this recovery raises the intriguing thought of a bird moving north west from Central Europe, to winter in the British Isles, in the manner of many Central European Blackcaps.

Yellow Wagtail

Motacilla flava

[Western and Eastern Yellow Wagtail] (pp.168–170)

Selected new records

 

Earliest and latest since 2006 (last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy): Earliest in spring 22 Mar 2007 (one; the earliest ever recorded on the island), Latest in spring 13 Jun 2010 (one); Earliest in autumn 23 Aug 2011 (one); Latest in autumn 23 Oct 2022 (one).

2008

Blue-headed Wagtail

27 Apr – A male of the nominate race, 'Blue-headed Wagtail' M. f. flava, was seen in St Helen's Field during the annual day-trip by members of Devon Birds (R. Doble et al.). Details accepted by Devon Bird Recorder.

2010

Intermediate-race bird

10 to 12 Jun – A singing male, showing characteristics intermediate between Blue-headed Wagtail M. f. flava and Yellow Wagtail M. f. flavissima was seen around the Village, mainly in St Helen’s Field.

Notable autumn-passage count

8 Sep – Five; one of the higher autumn-passage counts since publication of The Birds of Lundy (see also Oct 2011).

2011

Notable autumn-passage count

2 Oct– Five; one of the higher autumn-passage counts since publication of The Birds of Lundy (see also Sep 2010).

2012

Possible eastern-race bird

7 Oct – The call of a single bird in flight was considered to be typical of one of the eastern races, rather than Yellow (M. f. flavissima) or Blue-headed Wagtail (M. f. flava) (Ivan Lakin & Kevin Rylands).

2013

Blue-headed Wagtail

19 & 21 May – One of two birds seen on both dates (in South West Field on 21st) showed characteristics of the nominate race Blue-headed Wagtail M. f. flava (Mark Dyer).

2014

Grey-headed Wagtail

31 May – A male in St Helen's Field showed characteristics of the race 'Grey-headed Wagtail'  M. f. thunbergi  (Chris Townend, Pete Clabburn, Philip Lymbery). Record accepted by DBRC; the fifth Lundy occurrence of Grey-headed Wagtail, the last being in Jun 1997.

2015

Grey-headed Wagtail

14 & 15 Sep – An adult male feeding around sheep in the Lighthouse Field showed the characteristics of Grey-headed Wagtail M. f. thunbergi, which breeds in Scandinavia and western Russia (Tim Davis & Tim Jones). Record accepted by DBRC; the sixth for Lundy.

2017

Notable spring-passage count

5 May – Seven (including two Blue-headed Wagtails) remains the highest spring-passage count since publication of The Birds of Lundy.

Blue-headed Wagtails

5 & 6 May – Two female Blue-headed Wagtails M. f. flava, keeping company with Yellow Wagtails and feeding around the ponies, were in Barton, St Helen’s and Tillage Fields (Tim Davis, Tim Jones, Joanne Wilby et al.). Record accepted by Devon Bird Recorder.

2021

Highest autumn-passage counts of recent years

Sep – Better numbers than in any recent year were logged throughout the first three weeks of Sep, with maxima of five on four dates from 3rd to 8th, 15 on 15th and seven on 20th. The count of 15 on 15th remains the highest for the island since publication of The Birds of Lundy.

2022

Late autumn record

23 Oct – One; the latest since publication of The Birds of Lundy (the latest ever was one on 19 Nov 1976).

Blue-headed Wagtails

24 to 26 Apr – A male in Barton Field.

15 to 22 May – A male in Barton Field on 15th & 16th and again on 21st and 22nd – it is unclear if one or two individuals were involved.

Records accepted by Devon Bird Recorder.

2023

Blue-headed Wagtail – record subject to acceptance by Devon Bird Recorder

16 & 17 Apr – A male was in Barton Field.

Grey-headed Wagtail – records subject to acceptance by DBRC

26 May – A male in St Helen's Field showed characteristics of the race 'Grey-headed Wagtail' M. f. thunbergi (Richard Campey, Luke Marriner et al.).

15 Sep – An individual in St Helen's Field showed characteristics of the race 'Grey-headed Wagtail' M. f. thunbergi (Shaun Robson et al.).

Grey Wagtail

Motacilla cinerea

(pp.170–171)

Selected new records

2008

Highest autumn-passage count of recent years

14 Sep – A count of 11 remains (as of the end of 2023) the highest since publication of The Birds of Lundy. The highest autumn counts ever were 15 on 20 & 24 Sep 1973.

2009

Notable autumn-passage count

15 Oct – Six; among the higher counts of recent years.

2011

Effect of cold winters

Three consecutive cold winters appear to have had a significant adverse effect on this species, with one on 9 Mar being the only record during the first eight months of the year. Even in autumn, the only reported occurrences were singles on seven dates between 29 Sep and 23 Oct and two on 2 Oct – the poorest showing for many years.

2015

Unusual date in late spring/early summer

7 Jun – The only spring record was of one in the ditch near the cattle grid outside Square Cottage; an unusual date for Lundy.

Notable autumn-passage count

17 Sep & 2 Oct – Five on both dates were among the higher counts of recent years.

2017

Unusual dates in late spring/early summer

14 May to 27 Jun – There was an unusual series of records of single birds on seven dates during this period; perhaps a single, long-staying individual?

2018

Late-winter/early-spring record

17 Feb – One flew over South West Point.

Unusual dates in late spring/early summer

16 May to 26 Jun – For the third year running there were unusually late spring/early summer records involving single birds on 16 May and 2, 3 & 26 Jun.

2019

Unusual dates in late spring/early summer

5 & 6 Jun – Two reported on both dates.

2020

Unusual date in late spring

27 May – One was in Millcombe.

Notable autumn-passage counts

15 Sep & 21 Oct – Seven on both dates were among the higher counts of recent years.

2021

Highest spring-passage count of recent years

18 Mar – A total of four remains (as of the end of 2023) the highest spring-passage count since publication of The Birds of Lundy. This equals the all time spring-passage record, with four also logged on 30 Mar 1999 and 10 Apr 2006.

Notable autumn-passage count

14 Oct – Eight was among the higher counts of recent years.

Pied / White Wagtail

Motacilla alba

[White Wagtail] (pp.170–171)

Selected new records

 

Breeding summary

Successful breeding has been confirmed in nearly every year since 2006 (the last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy), through the observation of adults carrying food and/or feeding fledglings, but it has proved difficult to pin down the number of territories and broods in most seasons.

2010

Breeding season

Early Jun – Up to six territories were identified during a survey of breeding landbirds in early Jun, though it is unknown how many pairs bred successfully.

2013

Notable spring-passage count of White Wagtails

20 Apr – Twelve White Wagtails remains the highest spring-passage count since publication of The Birds of Lundy

2015

Notable spring-passage count of White Wagtails

14 Apr – Twelve White Wagtails equalled the highest count since publication of The Birds of Lundy.

Exceptional autumn-passage count of White Wagtails

16 Sep – An early-morning fall of White Wagtails numbered at least 100, concentrated mainly at the southern ends of the Tent Field and South West Field. Most had left the island by 10.00 hrs (Tim Davis & Tim Jones). This was one of the higher counts of White or Pied Wagtails ever recorded on the island and remains by far the highest count since publication of The Birds of Lundy.

2016

Breeding season

Three pairs bred successfully.

Notable spring-passage count of Pied Wagtails

8 Apr – A count of 20 was one of the higher spring-passage total for Pied Wagtail in recent years.

2017

Breeding season

5 Jul – Two recently fledged young were in Millcombe (Mike Archer).

2018

Breeding season

A pair of Pied Wagtails were carrying food to a nest near the stonecrusher on 5 Jun, whilst a second pair, also carrying food, were perched on Quarry Cottages and active around Brick Field on 6 Jun (Tim Davis & Tim Jones). A third pair bred successfully in Millcombe walled gardens (Dean Jones).

2019

Breeding season

A pair of Pied Wagtails were gathering food for chicks in the farmyard on 3 Jul, while a second pair were feeding two young in Millcombe on 26 Jul.

2020

Breeding season

Three breeding territories were located (Millcombe, Village allotments and Lambing Shed). A male was collecting food for nestlings in the Village on 15 May and the first two fledglings were seen, in Millcombe, on 7 Jun. One pair located its second nest of the season in a compost bin at Paradise Row towards the end of Jun (Dean Jones).

Notable autumn-passage count of unidentified 'alba wagtails'

7 Sep – A day-total of 63 'alba wagtails' (i..e not separated as Pied or White) was the second highest autumn count of recent years (second to the 100 or more White Wagtails in Sep 2015)

2021

Breeding season

An adult was gathering nesting material in Barton Field on 11 May and the first fledglings were logged on 22 Jun, on the wall by the pigsty along the main track.

2022

Notable spring-passage count of Pied Wagtails

21 Mar – A count of 25 confirmed Pied Wagtails was the highest spring-passage count since publication of The Birds of Lundy; numbers have only rarely reached 20 or more in recent years.

Breeding season

Up to five breeding pairs were present, with fledged young seen by Millcombe Pond, Brick Field pigsty, Quarter Wall, the Village and by the Lambing Shed.

 

Ringing

Ringing recovery (on-island): A Pied Wagtail ringed as an adult female on Lundy on 24 Apr 2005 was found freshly dead on Lundy on 27 Jul 2009 – some 1,555 days later.

 

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