Devon Birds (April 2008) 61(1): 47-48
"My modest 80-page book, The Birds of Lundy that was published in 1980 (covering all records to the end of 1978) gave full status to 274 species, including seven firsts for Britain. Fairly continuous manning by Lundy Field Society wardens from 1947 to 1967 and in 1972-73 enabled histograms to be used to portray the patterns of migration. Times have changed.Since around 1974, the coverage and recording of birds has been much more sporadic, generally with more observers present during the peak spring and autumn migration periods, but with much less regular coverage during summer, winter and early spring.
This magnificent new book not only brings us right up to date, with full status now given to 317 species including two more firsts for Britain and the Western Palearctic, namely the Eastern Phoebe and the extraordinary Ancient Murrelet, but it also provides a very full and informative record of the historical and continuing ornithological study on Lundy, and much more besides. Following a foreword by Hugh Boyd, one of the very early Lundy wardens, there are 35 pages of introductory chapters which include a detailed map of the island (in two halves on facing pages), a summary of the geography, geology, human usage and habitats, conservation issues (including the recent successful eradication of rats), ornithological chronology, birds through the seasons, breeding birds, ringing, the historical slaughter of seabirds and collection of their eggs, and several other topics. Some well-chosen photographs illustrate a number of these subjects.
The next 232 pages are devoted to the systematic list for 317 species in categories A, B and C of the official British list. Each species is given a status such as British vagrant, nationally scarce migrant, Lundy vagrant, rare, uncommon or common. Thereafter the length of entries varies greatly, with just three or four lines for a British vagrant such as Citrine Wagtail, seen only once on Lundy, to a full page for Curlew, which formerly bred and has always been a regular though declining spring and autumn migrant and occasional winter visitor. Special Lundy birds such as Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Peregrine and Puffin get a very thorough two-three page treatment, while several other breeding seabirds and some 15 passerines, most of which are abundant spring and autumn migrants as well as regular or occasional breeders, also run to two or three pages, especially when there is much ringing data to be presented. For three breeding species, namely Shag, Guillemot and House Sparrow, that have been the subjects of intensive scientific studies on Lundy, the most important results of these studies have been included in the text entries. For a small number of species, mostly extreme rarities, extracts from Lundy Field Society logbooks have been included.
For all species it is clear that considerable thought has been given as to what should be included in the text, what is best tabulated and what warrants explanation or discussion. The tables and graphs are all very well designed and easy to understand (unlike those in some other recent publications!). The end result is a very readable and highly informative systematic list. Furthermore, the whole text is enhanced by over 100 superb and evocative vignettes by Mike Langman. My favourite is the striking male Ring Ouzel, and the expression on the Woodchat Shrike which appears to have spotted its lunch is brilliant.
Following the systematic list is an appendix which covers introductions and escapes, records of rarities which were published in LFS annual reports but never submitted to or were rejected by the British Birds Rarities Committee, unsubstantiated historical records (including a must-read account of the purported Great Auk occurrences on Lundy). There is also a straightforward checklist of authenticated bird species recorded on Lundy, a complete table of ringing totals, a list of scientific names of plants and animals referred to in the text, a 12-page section of endnotes drawing together and correcting errors and discrepancies in all relevant previous publications (a most valuable exercise), and a list of references.
In tackling my task as a reviewer I have read virtually every line in this book. There is no doubt that the authors have done a truly magnificent job and are to be commended for such a well-designed, thorough, informative and wonderful end-product. Are there any printing errors or mistakes? I have found none at all. Well done Tim and Tim. Just the job for such an idyllic island which is right up there with Fair Isle and the Isles of Scilly for quality of birding experiences." Nick Dymond - Shetland
Nick Dymond was LFS warden of Lundy 1972-1973, and the author of The Birds of Lundy published by DBWPS in 1980. He has worked for both the BTO and RSPB, and has been warden on several reserves including Eyre Bird Observatory in Western Australia. He has lived in Shetland since 1986, and spends his winters on birding trips and leading tours throughout Asia.
For the latest sightings and photos of birds on Lundy visit the Lundy Birds blog