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28 October 2014

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You are in: Devon > Nature > Nature Features > Caring for Lundy's wildlife

Nicola Saunders

Lundy's wildlife warden Nicola Saunders

Caring for Lundy's wildlife

Lundy's rich array of wildlife attracts thousands of visitors each year. We've been to meet the island's wildlife warden, Nicola Saunders.

Living on a remote island which doesn't have night-time electricity and relies on bore-holes for its water supply wouldn't appeal to everyone.

But if you're a nature lover, being the wildlife warden on Lundy is just about as good as it gets.

Nicola Saunders has been doing the job since 2005, and she loves it.

Lundy is 24 miles away from the nearest ports in North Devon, and is 11 miles from the nearest part of the mainland.

Yet it is precisely this isolation which has helped the island's wildlife to flourish over the years.

A grey seal

A grey seal in Lundy's coastal waters

The wildlife on Lundy has got the place pretty much to itself, with just 27 permanent residents living on the island - and there's plenty of room for the 20,000 annual visitors without it getting overcrowded.

At various times of the year you can see puffins, grey seals, dolphins, whales and a variety of bird species. As well as the marine environment, the island also boasts rare plants and flowers.

So you can see why Nicola enjoys her job so much: "It's an incredibly varied job and there are no two days the same," said Nicola.

"It's probably one of the best jobs there is, I think.

"There is such a huge amount of wildlife on Lundy. We've got a wide range of seabirds including puffins, manx shearwaters, guillemots, razorbills and numerous other species.

"On the marine side, we have a resident population of Atlantic grey seals, porpoises and dolphins, while in the summer months we get basking sharks which visit.

A Lundy goat

A Lundy goat

"We also get the occasional Orca (killer whale) sighting and other whales.

"On land, we've got three species of feral mammals - soay sheep, goats and sika deer, and our only native mammal, the pygmy shrew.

"There's a huge variety of flora all around the island as well.

"We have the Lundy cabbage, which is probably the most special species of flower we have on the island as this is the only place in the world where you'll find it growing."

Lundy flowers

Lundy's flora comes alive in spring and summer

Nicola is part of a conservation team responsible for habitat management on land.

But much of the job involves working with visitors: "There's a huge amount of interpretation work for visitors - guided walks and taking people snorkeling in the summer months.

"And we do rockpool rambles which gives visitors a really good introduction to the island and an insight as to why it's so important and what is here."

Nicola gets back to the mainland for breaks, but says she loves living and working on Lundy.

"It's not just a job, it's a way of life," said Nicola. "And it's a fantastic way of life - it's not for everyone, but I enjoy it."

last updated: 15/05/2008 at 12:15
created: 30/04/2008

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