Return to the Isle of Puffins
In 1939, Richard Perry travelled to Lundy to study seabirds. His work, along with the work of Ronald Lockley, initiated a new era of seabird research (Gaston and Jones 1997). Although some of his conclusions have been challenged, Perry's observations of Lundy's auks and Kittiwakes remain a useful baseline for current studies. As the 75th anniversary of Perry's research approaches it is perhaps a good time to return to his work and to the work of other researchers who have been drawn to the Isle of Puffins.
This web site is very much a work in progress. It aims to be a tool for those interested in Lundy's seabirds. It aims to do this in three ways. Firstly to provide a record of previous studies of Lundy's seabirds. Secondly, to cross reference those studies to work at other colonies. And finally, to suggest directions for future research.
Finally, this is very much a personal website. Although it catalogues the work of many other people and organisations, any errors or omissions are mine. If you like the site tell your friends, if you don't like it tell me. I can't fix it if I don't know what's wrong.
Grant Sherman, Lundy 2008
The winter of 2015 to 2016 has been very windy, and this has kept me away from Lundy's Guillemot cliffs. I have been cross referencing seabird articles while I have the time.
Common Guillemots disperse to sea after breeding where they become flightless during their pre-basic moult (Birkhead & Taylor 1977). Breeding birds at the south of their European range make brief visits to their breeding ledges from October onwards (Harris & Wanless 1990). Autumn records on Lundy were sparse, and some reports do not record whether birds were seen at sea or on land. This survey found that Lundy's Guillemots usually return to their ledges in mid October. The earliest record is now of 29 birds on ledges on 12th Oct (in 2011). This is 26 days earlier than the previous records. - [more]
Common Guillemots breed on tightly packed ledges and and only raise one chick per year. Birds on each ledge attempt to synchronise their breeding as, statistically, late hatching chicks are less likely to fledge. This is perhaps due to the reduced number of adults on the ledge making them more vunerable to predators.
On Lundy, eggs are laid in the middle of May and a second or third egg can by laid as a replacement if the eggs are lost. Eggs are lost either by being knocked of the ledge, or through predation (Ravens, Carrion Crows, or Great Black-back, Lesser Black-back or Herring Gulls). The first chicks hatch in the middle of June, and (except in times of severe food shortage) at least one of their parents will be in attendance until they fledge. Parental attendance can be measured and some studies have shown it to be positively correlated to food availabilty and breeding success. - [more]
The Lundy Seabird Recovery Project was a plan to increase seabird productivity by eliminating their major land predators, the Brown and Black Rats that lived on the island. The project was started in 2001 as a partnership between Natural England, the RSPB, the National Trust, and the Landmark Trust. As Black Rats are nationally rare, the project attracted criticism from some mammal and animal welfare groups. The Lundy Field Society could not reach a unanimous position and therefore neither opposed nor supported the project (Webster 2003). After two winters of poisoning and an additional three years of monitoring by Wildlife Management International, Lundy was declared "offically" rat-free in 2006. The seabirds, however, had noticed the change, and both Manx Shearwater and (Atlantic) Puffin chicks were seen in 2005. By the end of 2013 over 1200 Manx Shearwater chicks have been ringed on Lundy. These successes are mirrored by increased numbers of seabirds in whole island censuses. Manx Shearwaters increased from ~300 pairs in 2001, to ~1000 pairs in 2007, to ~3000 pairs in 2013. Numbers of Puffins, Common Guillemots, and Razorbills are also the highest for many years. Another milestone was reached in 2014 when the first European Storm Petrel chick was ringed. Although adult Storm Petrels have been caught on the island, this was the first confirmed breeding for this species on the island, and means that there are now 11 species of seabird successfully breeding on Lundy. - [more]
Guillemot - Razorbill - Atlantic Puffin - Black-legged Kittiwake - European Shag - Northern Fulmar - Manx Shearwater - Great Black-backed Gull - Herring Gull - Lesser Black-backed Gull
Over the years many people have been drawn to Lundy and its seabirds. Here is a record of some of their work:
Contact the Warden
If you are interested in doing research on Lundy or have any questions about seabird research on the island, please contact the Warden.