This summer I was a long term conservation volunteer on Lundy island. I spent most of my free time photographing and filming the wildlife, mostly underwater, and exploring the coastline. It was an absolutely awesome 3 months, with some truly mind boggling experiences. Here are some of the most memorable (in no particular order):
Swimming as fast as I could along the east side of Lundy, feeling the water rushing past and looking down at the amazing patterns of many different seaweeds. Sleeping out near the north end of the island (away from all the people) amongst a cacophony of manx shearwaters flying in to feed their chicks. Listening to the screaming of peregrines as I woke up (flashback to Cambridge). Watching storm petrels flitting across the sky just above my head in the dark. Capsizing a leaky kayak in rough waves (was actually quite dangerous at the time, but I was ok in the end). A seal hugging my leg for about a minute. Me and my 2 housemates watching an absolutely giant beetle crawling around in someone’s dirty pants. Being chased by an absolutely massive bull seal when kayaking. Snorkelling through spectacular sea caves with seals. Peering over the cliff edge to see 2 female seals with pups on a secluded beach below. Walking past a seal pup about 2 metres away when it hauled out on the road near the jetty. Swimming far out from the west side of the island to photograph seabirds underwater. Swimming the length of the island. Meeting an angry seal in a remote cave. Sneaking up on turnstones, oystercatchers, and common sandpipers to within a few metres by kayak (it is definitely easier to sneak up in a kayak than if you are on the shore). Attempting to climb up a bramble covered cliff, wearing only shorts. Trying to kayak through the narrow gap between 2 rocks as the tide rushed through in the opposite direction. Getting heat stroke during the 14 mile Lundy race. Walking up to the north end at 3:30am the next morning, with just a bit of orange light in the sky. Getting drunk (x3). Swimming in complete darkness with bioluminescent plankton lighting up silver as I disturbed the water. Walking around in the dark, and in the moonlight. Sleeping behind a random rock at the top of a cliff, and waking up with no memory of where I was. Watching the sun go down over the horizon countless times. Watching the sun go down over the horizon with puffins silhouetted in front just a few metres away, swimming around in the reflection of the sunset. Fulmars flying past my head closer than 1 metre whilst I was swimming. Fulmars flying past me when I was sitting on the cliff edge, close enough that I could have touched them. Hating myself when I didn’t wake up for the sunrise. Watching and photographing shags just a few metres away at the bottom of the cliffs at the north end as the sun went down over the horizon. Glimpsing deer running like ghosts silhouetted against the blue glow after a cloudy sunset, as I was walking up the island to sleep. Being forced to kiss a guy who worked in the pub as part of a drinking game (would not recommend). Looking into the eyes of guillemots underwater as close as 1 metre (definitely would recommend). Swimming with puffins and guillemots for up to 5 hours a day for several weeks. Eating mouldy food from the depths of the fridge. Being surrounded by the bubble trails produced by guillemots and puffins underwater. Falling in love with a seal (it repeatedly nuzzled the camera and nibbled my fins and wetsuit). Seeing the most awesome stars. Putting on a wet wetsuit at 4:30am. Snorkelling with 3 incredibly inquisitive seals at sunrise in absolutely unreal visibility and the most epic light. Being smashed around by big waves whilst photographing guillemots underwater, and also when trying to get out onto the rocks (pretty edgy but certainly very exciting!) Swimming around in the bay beneath a seabird colony at sunset, with all the birds wheeling around overhead. Watching a peregrine hunt kittiwake chicks inside a cave. Listening to kittiwakes calling in the dark as I fell asleep.