The Puffins Return

Lundy Island is home again to large numbers of Puffins and other seabirds. But this hasn’t always been the case…

Rupert Bedford

A photo story by Rupert Bedford

A granite outcrop, three miles long and half a mile wide, Lundy Island lies off the coast of North Devon, where the cool clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean meet the nutrient rich estuary waters of the Bristol Channel.

Lundy Island

It’s an island known for its large population of Atlantic Grey Seals as well as a variety of other wild and feral animals.

Atlantic Grey Seal in the bay at Lundy
Lundy Feral Goat

But it’s the Puffin from which the island takes its name (‘Lund’ is Norse for Puffin) and if you visit between April and July, you’re likely to see large numbers of this distinctive and charismatic bird at Jenny’s Cove and other locations along with other seabirds including Guillemots, Manx Shearwater and a variety of Gulls.

Puffins and other seabirds on a cliff ledge at Jenny’s Cove on Lundy Island
Jennys Cove

But this hasn’t always been the case…

Puffin numbers plummeted from over 3,500 recorded pairs in 1939 to fewer than 10 pairs in the year 2000. The culprit was found to be non-native rats — brought over on ships visiting the island or from shipwrecks — and predating on the eggs and chicks of these burrow nesting seabirds.

Non-native rats found their way onto the island from ships and shipwrecks

In 2002 a partnership of conservation organisations formed a plan with the local community to eradicate the rats.

Conservation organisations worked closely with the local Lundy community

And, in 2006, the island was declared rat free.

In 2006 Lundy Island was declared rat free

15 years on, a recent study has revealed that total seabird numbers on the island have now tripled to over 21,000 birds, with key species such as Manx Shearwater increasing to more than 5,500 pairs and Puffins to 375 birds.

The scale of this recovery has far exceeded expectations, and once again this magical island is living up to its name.

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