"As well as being important for seabirds, the 3.5 mile long Lundy Island rivals Fair Isle and the Isles of Scilly as one of the places for watching spring and autumn migrants in Britain. Although situated 10 miles off the North Devon coast, and so well away from SOC home territory, from personal experience I can recommend a visit to Lundy to SOC members. It is a charming place, with plenty of good accommodation and, even better, a pub.

I can also recommend this excellent and comprehensive book, which is well illustrated with photographs and more than 100 line drawings by Mike Langman. The brief opening chapters provide background and context. A description of the island and its history of human habitation and land use, which has provided a wide variety of suitable habitats, is followed by a history of ornithology and conservation there (including apparently successful rat eradication in 2002-04). Regular bird-ringing began in 1947 following the formation of the Lundy Field Society in 1946, and establishment of an ‘observatory’. There are also some suggested walks for bird-watching day-trippers.

The bulk of the book consists of detailed accounts of all 317 species on the Lundy list. Of these, the vast majority are “vagrant” or “rare”, 65 (21%) are “common” or “regular” and 39 (12%) are regular breeders. In the past, Lundy was famed for both its Puffins (in Old Norse, “lundi” apparently means puffin and “ey” means island) and its Peregrines, which were highly prized for falconry. Although the former is now “teetering on the edge of extinction on the island”, it is hoped that it and the other regular burrow nester, Manx Shearwater, will respond well to the recent rat eradication. Peregrines, on the other hand, are doing much better, having gone from 1 or 2 pairs breeding annually until 1990 to 6 territory-holding pairs in 2002. Lesser Black-backed Gulls have also increase markedly in recent years, whereas other seabirds, and Lapwings, have shown major declines.

One aspect I found of particular interest was what could be gleaned from the ringing data (numbers of ringed birds, controls and/or recoveries) provided in species accounts. There is also a summary at the end of the book of totals in each of the 172 species represented in the 85,741 birds ringed on Lundy from 1947-2006. Apart from information about ringed birds’ movements, what fascinated me (as a non-ringer) was the huge variation among species in “percentage returns”. These ranged from an amazing 28% of (nestling) Cormorants, and 3% of Manx Shearwaters, to a fraction of 1%, or zero, for just about everything else. Ages which some species can attain, based on ringing evidence, also surprised me, especially smaller species like Blackbird (> 8 yrs), Dunnock and Robin (both > 5 yrs). The book ends with a comprehensive bibliography and species index." John Savory


For the latest sightings and photos of birds on Lundy visit the Lundy Birds blog