Land birds

Spring (March to June) and Autumn (August to November) are the periods of greatest interest to birdwatchers. Thousands of migrant birds pass through at these times, with spring also being the breeding season when many nest on the island. With so many birds, there is always something to see whether you’re visiting for a few hours, on a day trip, or staying longer.

Residents 

Starlings, blackbirds and robins are common sights around the village, whilst house sparrows make use of nestboxes and are the subject of long-term research. For more information please refer to the Sparrow research  page in the Research section.

The tiny wren is widespread and stonechats are often seen perched on gorse bushes, their call sounds like two stones knocked together. Meadow pipits and skylarks are abundant on the open grasslands and heath of the island’s plateau. The Skylark’s rich varied song, delivered in hovering flight high above Lundy’s grasslands, is what first draws attention to this bird. Close up it reveals streaky brown markings and a crest which is raised when the bird is excited or alarmed.

High above the cliffs raven soar, ‘cronking’ and tumbling on oceans breezes, their agility belying their impressive size but nothing compared to the dives of the peregrines. These phenomenal hunters perform dives in pursuit of prey and can reach speeds approaching 200mph. Lundy’s cliffs are home to many of these elegant birds, who are commonly seen majestically surveying their territories from rocky pinnacles.

The most secretive resident of the island’s wet, thickly vegetated areas is the Water rail. Since the eradication of the rats, the Water rail has begun breeding on Lundy. Listen out for its pig-like squealing call at the bottom of Millcombe valley and around Quarter Wall.

Migrants 

Lundy is a welcome ‘service station’ for tired migrating birds seeking food and shelter during their epic journeys.

From March onwards, Millcombe and St.John’s Valley attract warblers and flycatchers, some travelling non-stop from Africa, whilst the plateau draws wheatears, pipits, wagtails, finches and occasional waders including Golden plover and birds of prey such as Kestrels. One of the most commonly seen finches is the Goldfinch whose brightly coloured plumage draws your attention. These sociable birds are often seen in late summer and autumn, and can sometimes be encountered in small flocks, particularly on the open but sheltered slopes of the east sidelands. Its bill is designed to expertly extract seeds from thistles.

Wheatears, swallows and Pied wagtails stay to nest, starting the return journey south in August. Thousands of finches and thrushes pass through in autumn, whilst woodcocks are winter visitors from northern Europe, enjoying Lundy’s milder climate.

To help understand migration, licensed bird-ringers catch birds using ‘mist-nets’. Once caught, birds are quickly weighed, measured and fitted with a tiny numbered leg-ring before being released to continue their journey. For more information please see the Bird-ringing  page in the Research section.

Rarities 

Each year rarities are seen on the island, particularly after periods of high winds, providing some unusual names for the Lundy bird list which already has an impressive average of 140 birds recorded annually. Rarities in the past have included the yellow throated American robin, Spanish sparrow and Ancient Murrelet. More recently, Golden Oriole and Hoopoe have been recorded, so keep your eyes peeled as you never know what you might see!