Birdman Boyd returns to Lundy after 20 years

After years away, a former warden of Lundy returned to the island for the last time.

In what was a return of the native moment, Hugh Boyd went back to the island after a gap of more than 20 years.

However, his real association with the island was years earlier when he was warden for the Lundy Field Society in 1948-9.

At the time his duties included looking after visitors and surveying the bird life.

This meant his knowledge of the island and its inhabitants, both bird and man, was second to none.

His week-long visit in October [2007] was a chance to see what changes have taken place since.

Mr Boyd, 82, and now living in Canada, said: "The greatest change was the south-eastern part of the island where the people live and which is farmed. It is now all spruced up.

"In my time it resembled Stella Gibbon's Cold Comfort Farm; now it's more like John Betjeman's Surrey."

Other changes included those to houses. One of his abiding memories from the forties are the cold, leaky houses which were heated solely by one paraffin lamp. These are now havens of luxury by comparison and have all mod cons."

Hugh BoydOn his return to the island, Mr Boyd was accompanied by Tim Jones and Tim Davis, after he wrote the foreword to their book Birds of Lundy.

Mr Jones said what was most poignant about the trip were changes to his friend's personal circumstances.

Whereas once he scrambled down cliffs to count birds and weigh eggs, he can no longer keep upright on slopes because of poor balance.

Despite the difficulties, Mr Boyd insisted he would walk across the island, and on one day reacquainted himself with 3 miles of rough terrain.

Mr Jones said he spent all week with his friend and was sure it must have been an emotional visit.

"Like a lot of people of his generation he's not open with his feelings. But when it came to leaving I know he looked sad. It's just completely amazing he got back at all," he said.

Mr Boyd left Lundy in 1949 and in 1967 emigrated with his wife Gillian and their three children to Canada. There he was offered a job as research manager for the Eastern Region of the country - which extended from Ontario to the Atlantic provinces.

His love of birds and conservation continues to this day, but he is doubtful about returning to Lundy.

"At my age I find travelling increasingly hard work. But from my time there I remember most the excitement of doing what I love - watching and counting birds," he said.


For the latest sightings and photos of birds on Lundy visit the
Lundy Bird Observatory website