Letter from Lundy
TRUE to form, time is flying on Lundy and it s hard to remember what the summer felt like as we are battered by howling gales and torrential rain. We are well into the Helicopter season which normally signals the quieter time of year on Lundy. The isla
TRUE to form, time is flying on Lundy and it's hard to remember what the summer felt like as we are battered by howling gales and torrential rain.
We are well into the Helicopter season which normally signals the quieter time of year on Lundy. The island has a feel that it has gone into hibernation when it's blowing a hooley with people tucking themselves away in the cosy warmth of their cottages or in the Tavern in front of the log fire.
It's a time of change for everyone as our roles alter slightly to adapt to the changing seasons. On busy days islanders become helicopter ground crew and people are set to work where they are most needed.
It's the same for the wardens too. At this time of year as we take a back step from welcoming the Oldenburg, rhodi bashing becomes a high priority. As we are only allowed to clear rhododendron from September to March to avoid disturbing nesting birds, it's a matter of getting as much done as possible in the time available. We have seen lots of volunteers this season already and have a packed schedule of clearance from January onwards.
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It is also a time of year when the wardens visit the mainland for school visits and as I write this I am preparing for just that. I will be visiting a number of schools in North Devon to talk about Lundy and its wildlife hoping to inspire local children to explore the wealth of wildlife that is on their doorstep. Lundy is living proof that you don't have to go far to experience extraordinary wildlife and this autumn on Lundy has been another fine example.
The sika deer stags are looking healthy and proud as they are at their peak of fitness for the yearly rut, often seen standing at the cliff tops surveying their territories. The female goats are looking round and plump ready to give birth in February and the Soay sheep fat from a summer of rich grass are thriving - a hardy breed perfectly suited for Lundy's harsh environment.
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Although we are miles from the mainland, Lundy still provides an important service station for birds on migration and many stop over to take advantage of the island's food stocks. Throughout autumn birds worldwide have been travelling the globe moving from their breeding grounds to where they will spend the winter months. Many turn up on Lundy having travelled from the colder north. This includes numerous redwing and fieldfares from Scandinavia and recently eight whooper swans from Iceland arrived rather spectacularly.
I watched their graceful arrival while rhodi clearing on the east sidelands slightly bemused at seeing a group of large birds in perfect flight formation heading for the island. We were lucky enough to be given a close-up view as they came in circling overhead in preparation for landing at Pondsbury our largest lake where they stayed for a few weeks. It was a real treat and a record number of whooper swans recorded on Lundy. They fed up on the plants and grasses before taking flight again and heading for the mainland - maybe Lundy was a little too exposed for them!
Numerous other birds species have been recorded this year and if you enjoy bird watching then spring or autumn is a good time to visit the island, often rewarding us with a number of unusual sightings. Over winter however it is very much a different scene with all the animals and birds on the island heading for cover on the windiest of days. I think that we would do well to follow suit, staying wrapped up and cosy in front of the fire sounds like a good way to spend the winter to me!