January: the quietest month of the year on Lundy! Two and a half weeks of shut down with no visitors. However, it s all but quiet for the maintenance team it is one of the busiest times, with all the outstanding jobs to be done and the occasional big pr

January: the quietest month of the year on Lundy! Two and a half weeks of shut down with no visitors. However, it's all but quiet for the maintenance team - it is one of the busiest times, with all the outstanding jobs to be done and the occasional big project.This year it was Millcombe house. Millcombe dates from 1838 when Hudson Heaven owned the island and built the mansion as his stately home. It was a grand statement and to this day stands proudly in the sheltered wooded valley at the top of the beach road; in fact it is one of the few buildings that can be spotted from the mainland on a clear sunny day: look for the bold white spot tucked in on the south east corner. Despite its grandeur, age takes its toll and it was time for some electrical work, so the whole house has been rewired and repainted - no small feat for a seven-bedroom mansion. And I'm pleased to say she is starting to look pristine and ready for the coming season.Wildlife on Lundy continues to astound me and despite being only January, the island wildlife is signalling that spring is on its way. The first goat kids of the year have arrived, twins were spotted with a proud mum in the last week of January. We have around 50 feral goats on the island and that number is set to increase as I expect many more will be born in the next couple of weeks. The soay sheep lamb a little later in the year, but some of the ewes are obviously heavily pregnant and the first lambs should arrive in March. Daffodil leaves are sprouting and the first of the bulbs are starting to bud. Soon the island will be awash with the pinks of foxgloves and campion and the yellow of daffs and primroses and they will be closely followed by many beautiful wildflowers. But most exciting of all is the beginnings of the seabird season.With the exception of the Shags (a coastal cormorant species) and a couple of gull species, all our seabirds are seasonal visitors. The breeding season begins in April but, from December, guillemots start to visit their nesting cliffs. In the last few weeks many have been seen at Jenny's cove, and other nest sites along the west coast. Lesser black-backed gulls have started to return, as have fulmars and razorbills. Kittiwakes have been seen and, while they'll not come ashore for some months, at least 900 were feeding just off shore for most of a day.A great northern diver has been here for a while. These birds spend summer months in Iceland and North America and are scarce winter visitors to UK. This individual seems at home fishing in the landing bay where he can be seen most days. It is quite possible that he (or she) will remain until its return home for the breeding season. Many of you may be familiar with the call of the great northern diver, without realising - its voice is heard in many films where it has been used as an 'atmospheric' to heighten suspense. Check the RSPB website to see if you recognise it - they have detailed descriptions, including pictures and calls of many different bird species at: www.rspb.org.uk Our first volunteer group of 2008 spent a week working extremely hard cutting down the rhododendron on the eastern sidelands. In fantastic weather, we managed to clear a large area of the invasive shrub.All in all, there has been a lot going on during this 'quiet' January.Nicola Saunders, Lundy Warden