12th of May 2013.

Lundy Island – North Devon.

Another enjoyable long weekend in North Devon and a trip to Lundy Island was the eagerly awaited highlight.  Lundy’s name comes from the Old Norse words “Lundi” which means Puffin and “ey” meaning Island. Lundy is situated ten miles off the coast of North Devon where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Bristol Channel; it is three miles long and half a mile wide.

The day was organised by the Devon Bird Watching and Preservation Society (dbwps).  After joining the ship and crew of the MS Oldenburg at 07.00am at Bideford quay, the journey to Lundy started in the calm waters of the Taw and Torridge Estuary. Here many Redshanks, Shelduck and Curlew were seen as everyone on board settled back for the journey of approximately two hours to our destination. As the ship entered open water, we met the full force of open sea, very soon most of the passengers were donning waterproof clothing and wrapping up to keep the elements out! Along the way there were hundreds of Manx Shearwaters skimming the waves, along with the usual coastal gulls. Gannets dived just a hundred metres or so off our position on the ship’s starboard side. A lone Fulmar was pointed out along with many more resting Shearwaters.

Arriving at the Island the skipper travelled up from the south to the north of the Island as the waters were relatively calm; here the rocks gave us Guillemot, Razorbill, Cormorant, Shag, Oystercatcher and Herring Gull.

We docked at the landing bay and soon joined a group of thirty or so people who were met by a local guide “Alan” who took us on a tour of the south part of the Island. Walking up the causeway the first bird spotted was a Peregrine Falcon, not a bad start! This was quickly followed by many Linnets and a few Goldfinches. The weather was really starting the worsen and upon reaching the top fields we couldn’t see much more than fifty metres in all directions. A decision was made to keep to the lower slopes where our group of hardy souls soldiered on, seeing many of Lundy’s wild flowers including the rare Lundy Cabbage, which only grows here.

Sadly due to weather conditions the amount of birds seen was low and Lundy’s most famous of birds the Puffin eluded everyone. The driving rain also meant that my camera stayed safe and dry within my bag for most of the day therefore resulting in not many photos being taken. The following birds were seen on or around the Island.Blackbird, Black-headed Gull, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Cormorant, Dunnock, Fulmar, Gannet, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, House Martin, Jackdaw, Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Linnet, Manx Shearwater, Meadow Pipit, Peregrine Falcon, Pied Wagtail, Razorbill, Robin, Shag, Spotted Flycatcher, Swallow, Wheatear, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Wren.

Leaving Lundy at 5pm the journey back was a lot less bumpy, all of the birds spotted earlier were seen again, however, the highlight for me was five Common Dolphins spotted off the Port side jumping clear out of the water and following the ship for a short while. I will be back in Devon over the next few months and if the weather is good, I will return to Lundy to see more of the Island and its birds and wildlife. 

2nd of May 2013.

Brandon Marsh – WWT.

Following an early morning check of Twitter, I saw that @boatbirder (Keith Yates) had found a Woodchat Shrike in the top field at Brandon Marsh. I was straight out the door and arrived within 15 minutes. 

It was no surprise to see that a small crowd of local birders were gathered and I was therefore on to it straight away. Also to note that it was good to see everyone staying at a reasonable distance so as to not disturb this rare vagrant that normally spends its time in Southern Europe.

We observed it as it made frequent flights to the many advantage perch’s on top of the bushes, from these we followed it as it dropped to the ground to seize prey of inserts and bees. Sadly I could only stay for a short while due to work; I did however get time to record some distant shots. And I mean, distance shots!