One of the best things about studying biology is the fieldwork I got to do. A few years ago a life long dream became true: I was send to a small, almost uninhabited island. An island with puffins and other seabirds I would not see at home in the Netherlands. My research focussed on the population of house sparrows living on this island. Why travelling so far to study birds you find in every garden closer to home? Because on this island the population has been isolated for many years (they can’t fly the 12 miles to mainland). Therefore, the family history of almost all birds is well know and going back many generations. This makes the population perfect for studying population and family dynamics.
So, off I went, with my big backpack on the plane to Bristol. From there, I took a train to Ilfracombe, a cute seaside town in Southern England. I spend the night in a bed & breakfast, treated very kindly by the owner who was worried about ‘such a young girl travelling all on her own’. The next morning I boarded the MS Oldenburg to cross the Bristol Channel to Lundy Island.
Big piece of granite
Lundy is a big piece of granite; 4.8 kilometers long and about 900 meters wide. It’s positioned there where the Bristol Channel becomes the Atlantic Ocean. From one side of the island you can see the mainland of Devon, Southern England. From the other side you’ll see nothing but water. Closest land from there is America! The coast on the side of the ocean is rough and wild, with cliffs that are home to many species of seabirds. The sea hits on the rocks and often mists approach the island from this side. The Devon-side of the island is way more peaceful, with flowers and more gradual slopes.
The human population of the island consists of 28 people who work in the holiday houses, the pub or in the small supermarket. The pub, Marisco Tavern, is the central meeting point of the locals and visitors. Being on the island for a month, I felt part of the island family, who I missed very much when leaving the island.
There is one farm on the island, a sheep farm. I visited the island in spring, when the sheep were lambing. I enjoyed seeing those cute little babies every day!
There are cows, horses and goats grazing the wilder parts of the island.
Wildlife on the island is pretty amazing too. Many people are visiting this island for it’s special flora and fauna. Sika deer and Soay sheep were introduced between 1920 and 1950 and are still grazing on the slopes. Puffins, Scandinavian petrels and other species of seabirds live and breed at the oceanside of the island for even longer. Read more about the bird species on this island on this page. At sea level you can spot seals and dolphins, and even swim with them if you go snorkeling in this Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ).
There are 23 lovely holiday homes/rooms on the island. There is a camp site in the middle of the town (do not forget to secure it very well, the winds are strong, I learned that lesson). This is a place to find back your calm, and you won’t be disturbed by your phone because there is no phone signal or WiFi. Oh and no electricity at night. You can take nice walks on the island and watch the sunrise or sunset from the top of the lighthouse. You can buy your groceries in the small supermarket with very nice owner, or you enjoy your meals with the locals in the pub. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?
Want to know more?
Learn more about this special place on the official website of Lundy island. And of course you can also contact me, few things I love more than talking about this adventure!