MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report 'MV Balmoral' Clevedon to Nash Point 30th August 2017

Terry Bridgwood; MARINElife WLO
Weather: Overcast, raining. Cleared to blue skies & sunshine. Wind: NE 3-5

Summary of sightings
Marine mammals:
Harbour Porpoise 2

Seabirds:
Oystercatcher
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Little Gull
Common Gull
Unidentified Gull Sp.

Other species
Pigeon
Barrel Jellyfish

This being my first solo trip, I was very nervous about how I would manage. The drive to Clevedon was rain all the way and grey skies. When I reached the pier I heard an Oystercatcher on the shore.  I embarked along with the rest of the passengers and introduced myself to the Purser and donned my Wildlife Officer tabbard.

Ropes off was at 09:30 hours and we headed across the Bristol channel to Penarth. There was a lot of marine debris floating but I was really excited to see a possible seal pop its head up amongst a raft of seaweed. On closer inspection it turned out to be nothing more than a log bobbing upright in the water.

En-route to Penarth I saw a variety of gulls - Herring, juvenile Lesser Black backed, Common and some others that I couldn't positively identify. A pigeon flew overhead and joined his fellows as we pulled alongside Penarth pier.

LBB Gull Graham Ekins 03

Juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull (Graham Ekins)

Some passengers disembarked and others joined us for our trip along the Welsh coast to Porthcawl.

The weather had changed from raining and overcast on the English coast to clear blue skies and glorious sunshine on "the other side". As we rounded the coast, passing Barry and Nash Point, I started to see the occassional Barrel Jelly Fish. A juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull made an appearance.

Nigel, one of the Balmoral volunteers gave a running commentary, pointing out interesting features on shore,the power station at Cardiff, the airport, a castle and the lighthouse.

We entered Porthcawl harbour, the ship sounded its horn to notify swimmers of our approach. Anglers on the harbourside quickly reeled in their lines. Unfortunately I missed the 2 Harbour Porpoise on the Port side, which a passenger kindly told me about a bit later.

Harbour Porpoise Adrian Shephard 09

Harbour Porpoise (Adrian Shephard)

We did a short trip for the embarkees from Porthcawl, returning to the harbour about an hour later.

More lesser black backed gulls were seen on the way  back to Penarth. I enjoyed listening and speaking to passengers who were very knowledgeable about the area.

We returned to Clevedon and disembarked. I thanked the Captain and crew for having me on board and making me welcome.

My thanks to the crew of the Balmoral for all their help and support.

Terry Bridgwood MARINElife Wildlife Officer (WLO)