The Island is well known for its bird migration. Both in the Spring (the best times being the last two weeks of April and first two weeks of May), and in the Autumn (last two weeks of September and first two weeks of October). The Autumn is particularly interesting as the variety of birds is immense as birds can be blown off their normal course toward Lundy, as a result of the seasonal Hurricane activity in North America. Rare birds from the East are also known to have come to the Island: The red flanked Bluetail was identified in 2005, having lost its way on the route from the Siberian Taiga to South East Asia. The Yellow-browed Warbler has become a regular visitor over most years recently. Large numbers of the more common breeds can be spotted, for example 12000 Swallows passing through on just one day in September 2005.
It is commonly held that the very name Lundy is derived from the Norse for "Puffin Island" (lund - ey). It is not a theory I particularly believe, I think there are other probabilities, but nonetheless Puffin Island is very much stuck within the public consciousness.
Now that Lundy is a Marine Nature Reserve, it would be easy to think that the birds colonies were safe for ever - but unfortunately that is not the case. The various populations have been declining, and none more so than that of the Puffin. However, the Puffin is not an endangered bird, whereas the Manx Shearwater is a very restricted species, and Lundy has one of the most important colonies in the world.
This led to a decision taken a few years ago to eradicate the rat population of the island. No - one ever claimed that the rats alone were responsible for the decline (they eat the eggs), but nonetheless, their eradication was something that could be done in the shorter term. Despite condemnation from some quarters, a joint exercise was successfully undertaken with English Nature and the RSPB.
It will be some years before the effects of this will be quantifiable, but there is now little doubt that this had a significantly positive effect on the colonies. For example, a Puffin chick was seen on the island in 2005 for the first time in many years, and Shearwater chicks were spotted in 2004 and 2005.
But nonetheless, Lundy is a great place to take a good look at all the birds: the Island has a wide variety of species. Even the ignorant amateur (ie, me!) can appreciate the birdlife.
The Seabirds are amazing. To the uneducated, what just looks like hundreds of flocking seagulls, soon become distinct. The Island has large numbers of Greater Black-backed Gulls: predatory, noisy and absolutely beautiful in flight. These birds can and will take small frail lambs as they are so powerful. It also has good populations of Shags and Razorbills.
Greater Black Back Gull
But the Island has other birds as well: there is a number of pairs of Peregrine Falcons actively breeding on the Island. I actually started getting interested in the bird population as a result of watching these falcons as they started as youngsters, playing and dancing as they learnt their hunting skills, I believe they are the fastest flyers in the birdworld, and they are impressive to see, as they reach speeds of up to 240km/hour.
Can I just mention the invaluable assistance given to me by Richard Castle of the LFS who was kind enough to provide the information for this page.