Sunday 6 June 2010

Finding the BIG ONE or rather LITTLE ONE on LUNDY!

Sunday 6th June
It has been a mad and somewhat frustrating 48hrs and as I write this I am still awaiting confirmation before the news goes out!

What news? you may ask, well I hope if you are reading this that you are now aware of what can surely only be a calling male
Little Shearwater (Barolo's) on Lundy!

In a nutshell, I have been on Lundy with the Mrs (aka Helen Booker!) "volunteering" my time to the RSPB and helping Helen with her continued work in monitoring seabirds on the island, since the rat eradication in 2004. We found no evience of the hoped for Storm Petrels, but whilst out listening for Stormies in the early hours of Saturday (5th), we heard an unfamiliar call. The bird was a little distant and vaguely reminiscent of an odd wader, but enough to bug me and although I did utter the words "it could be a Little Shearwater" to Helen at the time, I did not really believe it!! Luckily, the bird continued to call and we both headed towards it and Helen managed to get a good sound recording (to be posted here soon) as it uttered its high-pitched notes in darkness with a backdrop cacophony of Manx Shearwaters and the island's foghorn, and I became more convinced it might just be a Little Shearwater! The next morning once I had power in the caravan, I turned on my laptop and checked my itunes for Little Shearwater, played the call and both our jaws dropped simultaneously!

Since that time, it has to have been the longest 48hrs as Lundy had terrible reception, and internet connection as we desperately tried to get confirmation from someone who had previous experience of hearing Little Shearwater - not an easy task! I have seen a fair few birds in Biscay and the Canary Islands, but never had the privilege of hearing birds at a breeding colony.

We are currently awaiting confirmation from Magnus Robb to be certain of our thoughts before putting the news out and we have been discussing the situation regarding visiting birders with the warden on Lundy. I hope by the time that you read this that some of you may have actually made the journey and heard the bird yourself!

Looking back on the week, it was a real privilege to have been on Lundy and to see the great results that the rat eradication has clearly done as we heard literally hundreds of Manxies whilst carrying out night surveys at various sites around the island. Numbers of occupied Manxie burrows have increased, Puffin numbers have started to slowly increase again (2prs pre-eradication and around 8prs now),both Guillemots and Razorbills have also increased in number and although we found no evidence of breeding Stormies, it is surely only a matter of time? It is a great recovery project that has involved RSPB, Natural England, NT and the Landmark Trust. I have to say, I am very proud of Helentoo, as she has also worked very hard to improve the situation for seabirds on the island and it was great to see/hear the fruits of her labour - particularly, the Little Shearwater(!), an experience we shall never forget!


  1. Oi Jaffa, BIRD IT UP. Sounds like a real cracker on Lundy and very heart warming to hear your proud comments about Helen and her work..I got quite emotional. I did a bit of birding it up last week in Norfolk, missed the trumpeter finch but got a few others that are new for my list and got some cracking views of a couple of Dartford warbs too at Kelling Heath, I was birding it up big time. BIRD IT UP (AND OVER), Big Si

  2. Top stuff Jaffa. Had been wondering where you were, what with Sam in Ecuador, Gandy in Bangkok and Barbato in Naarwich, but now I know. Great find, and well handled. cheers, James L