Autumn has properly arrived on Lundy: the mornings are crisp and chilly, the evenings are getting darker and the swallows have all but left the island, destined to join the passage of birds on autumn migration. We have seen thousands of birds passing thr

Autumn has properly arrived on Lundy: the mornings are crisp and chilly, the evenings are getting darker and the swallows have all but left the island, destined to join the passage of birds on autumn migration. We have seen thousands of birds passing through, most just beginning their mammoth journeys across the globe in search of warmer climates. Chaffinches have been recorded in their thousands as well as others like goldfinch, siskin, linnets and goldcrest being spotted in large flocks busily feeding up on the island's provisions before moving on in a flurry of activity. Redwings have also returned to the island which is another indicator of the season change, as they move from their Scandinavian residence to over-winter on Lundy which is considerably warmer, supposedly!It is at this time of year that rare birds often turn up on the island, blown off course while on migration and this year has been no exception. One particular sighting has caused a real stir on the island and among the birding community. A 'paddyfield warbler' was sighted on the East coast sidelands by John Smith who had been staying on Lundy. This is a first sighting for Lundy and Devon which makes it particularly special (recent Lundy bird sightings and photos can be viewed at www.lundybirds.co.uk). Other rare sightings include a long eared owl, a Richard's pipits and a number of yellow browed warbler - proving to be an memorable stay for many bird enthusiasts this year. It's not just the 'bird' season which has got off to a flying start! The 'rhodi bashing' season is in full swing and already we have had five groups of volunteers on Lundy since September, helping us to eradicate the invasive rhododendron plant from the island. A combination of 'working holiday' groups from near and far have travelled to Lundy to help us tackle this invasive impostor. The Lundy Field Society, BTCV, Accenture (an IT company who devote their charity days to helping Lundy) and the National Trust - who in return for their blood and sweat, spend the week here enjoying the outdoors and doing something completely different. By the end of the week, everyone hates rhododendron and never wants to see another plant ever again - but they must enjoy themselves as we see the same faces coming back to help year after year! We have waved goodbye to the regular Oldenburg sailings until next year; her only visits from now on will be to deliver cargo supplies to the island to keep us going through the winter. Now it is the helicopter season the only visitors arriving on the island will be coming to stay. The island takes on a different atmosphere at this time of year. It's much quieter, almost like it's preparing for winter and the bleak time ahead. Winters over here can be wild when the wind picks up and the sea gets really stormy. The island is very exposed with no protection on the West side from Atlantic winds which makes for a bracing time if you decide to brave the elements and go for a walk. Alternatively, you might prefer to watch it all going on from the cosy confines of the Tavern sat in front of the log fire!Sophie Wheatley, Assistant Lundy Warden