Our holiday destination this summer made us realise that not everyone is clear about the location of Lundy Island. A postage stamp of land, not quite in the Bristol Channel and not quite in the Atlantic. Puffin Island, but also home to a good number of Grey Seals.
We had five days to explore and understand more about the local wildlife. The puffins are the major attraction for many of the day trippers. Jenny’s Cove on the wilder west side of the Island is the best place to see them, either bobbing in the sea below or emerging from their earth burrows just above the rock ledges that provide precarious breeding spots for thousands of Guillemots. But unlike Skomer or the Farne Islands, these are distant views. Lundy is large enough and wild enough that the puffins are not obliged to get close up and personal with their human admirers. But it was great to see the puffins back in numbers. Little more than a decade ago they were close to disappearing from the island, but a systematic programme to eradicate the predatory rat population by the RSPB has brought them back from the brink (rats are not native to the island, they were almost certainly introduced by ship-wrecks - rats really are the first thing to leave a sinking ship). When we arrived home it was heartening, if a little uncanny, to watch BBC Spotlight reporting Lundy's newly flourishing breeding populations of Puffins, Manx Shearwaters and Storm Petrels.
Lundy is also a great place to see and hear grey seals with their woeful bellowing. The water was so calm and clear that even from the cliffs high above they could be seen swimming under the waves or bobbing up and down like bulbous wine bottles. Last autumn the storms meant that most of the seal pups didn’t survive, but it is hoped that the flourishing adult population will be more fortunate in 2018.
Thanks to Sian for being our guide on a great Snorkel safari, leading us through underwater rainforests of kelp to see mammoth Wrasse, 'purple nasty' jelly fish and spider crabs shedding their shells. At low tide, near Rat island, rock pools also reveal the vivid colours that can make Lundy's shore feel like a tropical coral reef.
There are three lighthouses on Lundy, and many remnants from wrecked boats in the Marisco Tavern. The Old Light near the Quarterwall might have been cut from an Edward Hopper painting. It provides a great place to watch the sunset at the end of the day.