British Birds 101: 161 (March 2008)
"During the last decade, I have visited Lundy on ten occasions with fellow Cambridgeshire birders Ade and Steve Cooper. Our main references regarding the status of Lundy birds until now have been the collection of annual reports contained within our accommodation. This volume has changed all that.
The book is the first devoted to Lundy birds since Nick Dymond's Birds of Lundy published back in 1980. It includes a clear map as well as artwork of the high standard expected from Mike Langman. Introductory sections include a portrait of the island, bird conservation on Lundy, a chronology of Lundy ornithology, ringing, Lundy's breeding birds and four suggested walks. These are followed by the main section of the book, the systematic list plus associated appendices, which together run to 242 pages.
The systematic list is bang up to date. It includes records up to 25th August 2007 and deals with the 317 species on the 'full' island list. The species accounts are highly readable and blend facts with interesting titbits. See, for example, the Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto account for the fate of some of the migrants, the Richard's Pipit Anthus richardi account for a comprehensive review of all claimed Lundy records, and the Great Auk Pinguinus impennis account contained within the 'unsubstantiated' section.
Lundy has long been famed as a migration site, and its isolated island nature leads to some intriguing and unexpected statistics. For instance, species with a single island record include Goosander Mergus merganser, Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris, Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus, and both Marsh Poecile palustris and Willow Tits P. montana, as well as the sole British records of Ancient Murrelet Synthliboramphus antiquus, Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe and Eastern Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus! Also of interest to rarebird aficionados is a record thought to refer to Blue-headed Vireo Vireo solitarius. Tables show that 85,741 birds of 172 species were ringed on Lundy between 1947 and 2006, and some of the movements detailed within the species accounts are most enlightening. Reading this volume while on the island may lead one to speculate where the next birds are coming from, as ringing recoveries have linked Lundy with many of the major migration sites within the UK.
In conservation terms perhaps the most important breeding species on Lundy is the Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus. Until recently the island had a huge rat interpopulation (both Brown Rattus norvegicus and Black Rats R. rattus), but an intensive trapping campaign has led to their eradication. Lundy was officially declared 'rat free' in 2006; this coincided with successful nesting by Manx Shearwaters and Puffins Fratercula arctica and no doubt benefited the latest addition to the list of breeding birds - Water Rail Rallus aquaticus, which bred in 2007. All are fully detailed here.
The endnotes contain some 228 references to specific records, revealing the thoroughness of this work. Checking through some of the more significant records from our visits, I noticed a few errors. The authors have, however, indicated in conversation their hope to update this volume, perhaps via a website. Re-reading my notes from a visit in October 2007 and referring to this book reveals that we shared in the highest-ever Lundy day counts of Arctic Skuas Stercorarius parasiticus, Yellow-browed Warblers Phylloscopus inornatus and Siskins Carduelis spinus, in addition to the first claim of Blyth's Pipit Anthus godlewskii for the island. It is certain that there will be further significant records to be included in any future update.
To quote the authors, 'Whether you have already being [been] visiting Lundy for many years or are a newcomer to the island. we hope you will find within these pages much that is informative and entertaining and that will add to your enjoyment of Lundy and its birds.' In this they have surely succeeded." Richard Patient
For the latest sightings and photos of birds on Lundy visit the Lundy Birds blog