As a kid I was obsessed with puffins. I grew up on the North Devon coast, with views across the bay to their home on Lundy Island, so these clown faced-penguins were a bit of a legend to me. Then one day when I was about 8 years old, I got the chance to visit the island, and loved every second. Though there was one problem… where were all the puffins?
Sadly in 2002, the Lundy puffin population had reached an all time low – with just 2 or 3 breeding pairs remaining, and it was all down to the invasive rats. Luckily a Seabird Recovery Project was soon set up to eradicate the rats and it turned out to be a complete success! – and for other seabirds too, including an incredible repopulation by manx shearwaters! So around 15 years later I finally boarded the MS Oldenburg once again, sailing the 12 miles from Bideford Quay, to revisit this 400 foot granite outcrop in the Bristol channel.
At just 3 miles long and half a mile wide, this wind-beaten and barren landscape has so much more than just seabirds too! The island is home to an incredible variety of hardy livestock and wildlife, including 3 endemic species (meaning only found there in the entire world!). Also, interestingly around 20% of the island’s rabbit population are melanistic (the opposite of albinism), compared to the 4% national average.
On a calm day, be sure to bring your swimmers for a dip in the sea, you might even be joined by UK’s largest mammal – the Atlantic Grey seal. These agile beats are 2-3 metres in length and can weight up to 350kg!! This makes them three times the size of a Common Harbour seal, and have been known to quite literally ‘have them for breakfast’! Can you spot the two in the photo?
I cannot recommend a trip to this wonderful place enough. I definitely won’t be leaving it so long this time!