MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report 'MV Balmoral' Llandudno around Anglesey 2nd July 2017

MARINElife Wildlife Officer: Jenny Ball
A mild and sunny day, with occasional high clouds.  A moderate north-west breeze and calm sea conditions

Summary of Sightings
Cetaceans:
Harbour Porpoise 6+

Seabirds:
Gannet
Kittiwake
Cormorant
Shag
Guillemot
Black Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Common Scoter
Eider

Terrestrial birds:
Oystercatcher
Little Egret
Heron
Curlew

Looking along Llandudno Pier, we could hardly see the MV Balmoral. It was low water and she was well hidden behind the landing stage, but the crowd at the end of the pier gave the game away!  Once aboard the historic ship, I introduced myself to the Purser and the Captain and we were soon on our way across the bay and round Great Orme's Head.

Balmoral_Jenny Ball July 2017

Balmoral (Jenny Ball)

Many Cormorant and Guillemot, which nest in significant numbers on Puffin Island, were seen flying backwards and forwards, and we were lucky enough to spot a few Puffin on the water.  A quick sight of a Black Guillemot was a nice surprise, as was a brief glimpse of a Harbour Porpoise as we sailed along the north coast of Anglesey.  Overall we saw around half a dozen Harbour Porpoise during the day, with other sightings (or maybe the same ones) being reported by keen-eyed passengers along the way.

Puffin Island_Jenny Ball July 2017

Puffin Island (Jenny Ball)

The impressive South Stack was a hot spot for bird sightings, again mostly Guillemot, Razorbill, Cormorant and a few Gannet and Kittiwake, and though we looked out for cetaceans, we weren't lucky this time.  Sailing fairly well offshore, we saw some Gannet feeding in Malltraeth Bay, before turning into the Menai Strait.

South Stack_Jenny Ball

South Stack (Jenny Ball)

A group of eight Curlew flew along the south bank of the Strait as we approached Caernarfon and, waiting for passengers to board at Menai Bridge, we saw a Little Egret and a number of Oystercatcher on the exposed rocks.  Our on-board guide then called from the Bridge to point out a small island on which around 50 or so Little Egret were roosting in the trees, and we could also see three Heron standing in a grassy area nearby.

The state of the tide meant that the captain was able to take us right up close to the southern side of Puffin Island, much to the delight of the bird-watching passengers.  We could see hundreds of Cormorant, Shag, Guillemot and gulls on the rocks and ledges, on the water and in the air - spectacular!  As we neared Llandudno, flocks of Common Scoter rose from the water, a fitting end to an excellent day.

Common Scoter Graham Ekins 01

Common Scoter (Graham Ekins)

Thanks to Captain Iain Henderson and the friendly and enthusiastic volunteers and crew of the MV Balmoral for their support and assistance in making the trip so memorable both for MARINElife and for their own passengers.