I have visited the island of Lundy, off the north Devon coast, for all but one of the last seven autumns. I first went in September 2003 and almost immediately met Richard Campey, who was on the island for the same week. We hit it off, he introduced me to the island, bird photography and to the joy of discovering your own birds. In fact, he has a lot to answer for and a lot for me to thank him for. Without him this Snow Bunting cover would not exist.
A few years afterwards Richard introduced me to Lundy regulars Tim Davies, Tim Jones and James Diamond. I joined them for a week and this has become an annual event every autumn. It is one of the birding and social highlights of my year and is always a huge pleasure. Last year we nearly struck gold. Richard, James and I left the island after a week with Tim D and Tim J only for them to find a Yellow-rumped Warbler, fresh in from the US on the back of the St Jude's Day storm. Despite such acts of treachery, we have arranged to go out to the island together once again this autumn:
Snow Buntings are cracking birds. The birds we come across in the autumn on Lundy are almost certainly from Iceland (subspecies insulae) and are heading south-east to winter on the coasts of France and the Lowlands. They can be incredibly approachable, but are a bugger to photograph: they spend all their time selfishly creeping about on the ground, with barely a thought for the poor photographer waiting for them to look up:
But when they do, it is special: