Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Recent Sightings

MARINElife Survey Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 17 June 2017

Posted 20 June 2017

Rick Morris and Peter Merry, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Out: clear, wind NW 1-2, sea state 1-2. Return: clear, wind NW 1-2, sea state 1-2

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 12
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2

Seabirds:
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 6
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 18
Gannet Morus bassanus 4
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 9
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 4
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 46
Razorbill Alca torda 13
Auk species 3

After a pleasant drive down to Ilfracombe, we arrived under blue skies and not a cloud in sight. Joining the queue to collect our tickets, we met up with Ruth who was today's MARINElife WLO.

Upon boarding the MS Oldenburg, we made our way straight to the bridge and were welcomed on board by Jason the captain. We left just after 10 am and headed out into a calm sea with a light northwesterly wind.

After around half an hour into the survey, we had our first Common Dolphin sighting, a small group of four animals with another five separate sightings consisting of Common Dolphin, Harbour Porpoise and Grey Seal before reaching Lundy.

Guillemot Rick Morris 04
Guillemot (Rick Morris)

Seabird sightings were low with auks being the most prominent species seen, especially as they stood out on the surface of the calm sea.

On arrival at the landing stage we stopped briefly for a catch up with Dean Lundy's Warden before making our way up top. We decided to walk along the central path as far as the Halfway Wall. Here we turned left and headed to Jenny's Cove where we stopped to have lunch and watch the charismatic Puffin coming and going from the breeding ledges.

We left Lundy at 4.30pm and settled in to start the return leg of the survey. Again, seabird numbers were low with most sightings being of single birds.

Common Dolphin Rick Morris 07
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Rick Morris)

We did not have to wait too long for the dolphins to make an appearance, with four adults and a juvenile visiting the bow, (Ruth informed us that more were at the stern, but we could not include these on the survey). The next half hour produced two Harbour Porpoise from two sightings.

We ended the survey nearing Ilfracombe and upon our arrival alongside the harbour wall we said our farewells to Jason and his crew.

Our thanks to Jason, the Oldenburg's crew, shore staff, and all on Lundy for all the help and support.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 17 June 2017

Posted 19 June 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Ruth Griffith

Weather: Sunny, sea state calm

Summary of Sightings:

Marine mammals
Common Dolphin 17
Harbour Porpoise 6
Grey Seal 8
Seabirds
Fulmar
Herring Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake
Gannet
Razorbill
Guillemot
Manx Shearwater
Puffin

I arrived at Ilfracombe harbour on a lovely sunny day and as I collected my ticket from the shore office, I met up with Rick and Peter who were conducting the monthly survey. We boarded the MS Oldenburg and greeted Jason the Captain before I headed out onto the decks to introduce myself as Wildlife Officer to a full boat of passengers.

We departed with fantastic conditions; excellent visibility and a sea state of 1. As we travelled along the coast we picked up Herring Gull, Fulmar, Guillemot and Razorbill. I was explaining to some interested passengers the different wildlife that can potentially be sighted on the crossing, when I noticed a number of passengers gathering on the starboard side and as I went over to investigate I saw 3-4 Common Dolphin surfacing in the wake of the boat. A number of people then approached me to ask me whether they were porpoise or dolphins and how to distinguish the difference between them.

Common Dolphin Ruth Griffith 04
Common Dolphin (Ruth Griffith)

Following this, I had brief sightings of two groups of two Harbour Porpoise off the port side, one after the other. As the journey continued I also picked up Lesser Black-backed Gull, Kittiwake, a number of single Manx Shearwater in flight, auks sat on the water and a couple of Gannet. As we neared Lundy, I spotted another Common Dolphin, this time one on its own. Shag and Oystercatcher were around the landing bay as we docked.

We arrived on Lundy and Rick introduced me to Dean the warden who updated us on the recent bird activity on the Island. When on the Island, I walked the lower path along the east coast of the Island. At various points along the coast I could see individual seals bottling or swimming by the shore, as well as Great Black-backed Gull and juvenile Kittiwake flying past. At Halfway Wall I could see five seals swimming around in the bay below. I crossed over the Island to the west coast to see the Puffins at Jenny's Cove before heading back down to the Landing Bay to dip my feet in the water to cool off before boarding the ship.

Manx Shearwater Ruth Griffith 02
Manx Shearwater (Ruth Griffith)

The return journey began with sightings of Razorbill and Guillemot and the Fulmar. We then came across a large number of Manx Shearwater near the boat and not long after this, Common Dolphin sightings began, with approximately 4 groups of 3-4 individuals sighted sporadically off both sides of the ship and in the wake. As we travelled back along the coast towards Ilfracombe, I sighted two single Harbour Porpoise. On both journeys I noticed a lot of jellyfish; Moon, Compass and Lion's Mane, of which a number of passengers commented on and asked about. As we came into the harbour a couple of the passengers came over to say that they thought MARINElife WLO was a great idea and thanked me for my wildlife guidance and help during the crossing.

On arrival at Ilfracombe we thanked Jason and the crew of the MS Oldenburg for their kindness and assistance.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 3 June 2017

Posted 09 June 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny with cloud increasing, wind SW, sea state calm

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 12+
Grey Seal 3

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Shag
Oystercatcher
Guillemot
Kittiwake
Fulmar
Gannet
Cormorant
Manx Shearwater

Wildlife on Lundy
Lundy Ponies
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Skylark
Swallow
Wheatear
House Martin

It was sunny with a cloudy patches when I arrived at Ilfracombe harbour, I joined the queue and boarded the Oldenburg saying hello to Julian and the crew who were collecting tickets. I went up to the bridge to have a quick chat to Jason, the Captain, left my belongings and picked up a hi-viz jacket before taking up position on the upper deck before departing.

As we left the harbour, I spoke to passengers about the wildlife I expected to see on the crossing and what to see on Lundy, many of them were interested in MARINElife and the work we do.

Common Dolphin Annette Dutton 03
Common Dolphin (Annette Dutton)

My first sightings were of a Gannet and Razorbill as we passed Lee Bay then I spotted a Manx Shearwater as we approached Bull Point. I continued talking to the passengers and after about an hour I spotted 2 Common Dolphins on the port side then shortly afterwards another group of about 6-8 approached from the starboard side and were swimming alongside the boat and bow riding much to the joy of the passengers. I also noticed a large group of various seabirds feeding nearby.

Shortly after the sea got rather choppy and a heavy shower forced me to move down to the lower deck for about 10 minutes but I was soon back up on the top deck. By now we were approaching Lundy and I spotted several Shag on Mouse Island and a Grey Seal in the landing bay.

I collected my belongings and left the Oldenburg, Dean the Warden was there so I stopped to say hello and he kindly said I could have a lift up to the village in the Land Rover.

Arriving at the village I headed past the Church and over to Hanmers Cottage to sit on the nearby bench for lunch. The clouds had passed over and it was lovely and warm and sunny so I stayed a while, checking the sea below for cetaceans but I only saw a Grey Seal in Devil's kitchen and several Gannet feeding. However, I was rewarded with some lovely butterflies and the ever present sound of the Skylark.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 08
Grey Seal (Annette Dutton)

I wandered around the Castle to scan the sea again and walked along the path for a while before returning to the village to make my way down to the landing stage where a Grey Seal was entertaining the passengers.

As we left Lundy I saw the odd Gannet, Razorbill and a small group of Manx Shearwaters then very little until about half way over when Vernon alerted me to Common Dolphins approaching the Oldenburg on the port side. They were moving quickly and passed the bow of the Oldenburg before heading towards Lundy. I only saw 2 but when I spoke to the passengers there were maybe 3 or 4.

The rest of the journey was quiet as far as sightings were concerned and we cruised along the coast to arrive at Ilfracombe Harbour on time. I returned to the bridge to collect my belongings and thanked Jason and the crew for their help.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 27 May 2017

Posted 08 June 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Alison Shearer

Weather: Dry but very windy with wind moderating in the afternoon.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 6
Grey Seal 5 (3 male, 2 female)

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater
Fulmar
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag
Herring Gull
Lesser Black- backed Gull
Greater Black- backed Gull
Kittiwake
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin
Oystercatcher

Wildlife on Lundy
Sika Deer
Lundy Ponies
Soay Sheep
Highland Cattle
Skylark
Swallow
Rock Pipit
Meadow Pipit
Carrion Crow

A fairly busy crossing with lots of new excited visitors who were here for half term and very interested in the wildlife. As well as the day visitors there were people going to stay on Lundy and also a group who had come for a few days to survey Lundy's breeding population of Manx Shearwater.

The crossing over was quiet for the first ten minutes or so with just a few Guillemot bobbing in the water but after that there was heaps to see with something in range everywhere you looked! There were lots of Manx Shearwater which always make people smile once they quickly learn to identify them. There were also good numbers of Razorbill and Guillemot on the water.

It was a sudden, magical, surprise as I was pointing a Razorbill out to a lady when six Common Dolphin leapt right out of the water a few times exactly where we were looking. They were with us very briefly and I was pleasantly surprised that such a large number of delighted passengers had managed to see them!

Grey Seal Alison Shearer 01
Grey Seal (Alison Shearer)

As we docked there was a lone male Grey Seal over on the rocks by landing bay and on Rat Island there were many Oystercatchers calling loudly.

A lovely walk up to the pub and shop and then on up towards the halfway wall taking in the atmosphere, wildlife and scenery. Always a wonderful feel of wilderness and solitude despite the volume of visitors on the boat!

At Jenny's Cove the wind was so fierce it was difficult to hold the camera for great shots but with binoculars you could see the auks were swarming both in the water and on and around the cliffs. A mix of Razorbill and Guillemot on the rocks and Puffin by their burrows on the grass above.

Lundy Cliffs Alison Shearer 01
Auks on the cliffs at Jenny's Cove (Alison Shearer)

We walked back via the old lighthouse and saw lots of Skylark and Meadow Pipits on the way.

As we came to leave there were two male sleepy Grey seals bottling by Mouse Island and a female near the rocks by the landing bay and one sleeping in the centre of the swell at Devil's Kitchen beach.

The crossing back was much calmer. A gorgeous sunny evening with a fairly, constant stream of fantastic, interesting seabirds as before but less frequent and less in number.

A wonderful day as always and many thanks to the welcoming and wonderful staff on the island and the MS Oldenburg.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 20 May 2017

Posted 25 May 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Drizzly with a slight breeze, Wind SSE, Sea State calm

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 2

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Shag
Oystercatcher
Guillemot
Kittiwake
Gannet
Cormorant
Puffin
Manx Shearwater

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay Sheep
Highland Cattle
Lundy Ponies
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Skylark
Swallow
Wheatear
House Martin

There was a bit of light drizzle as I arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour but it was fairly warm so I was hoping it would brighten up during the morning. There was a long queue at the quayside which didn't surprise me as I was already aware that there were over 230 passengers booked on the crossing.

I boarded the Oldenburg and saw some familiar faces from the Lundy Field Society who were over for four days for a meeting and a workshop. After a quick chat, I went up to the bridge to collect my jacket and say hello to Jason, the Captain, before returning to the top deck to find somewhere to stand.

We left the harbour and headed along the coast and I was joined by Dr Keith Hiscock, the Lundy Field Society Chairman, during our chat we didn't see any seabirds or cetaceans. Then about half way across the bay, I saw black clouds looming and it started to rain quite heavily and I was forced down to the lower deck to escape the downpour.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 07
Grey Seal (Annette Dutton)

It was then that the crew were asking the passengers to either move to the top deck or down below in order to leave the rear of the Oldenburg free as a Coastguard Helicopter was on the way as one of the passengers had fallen ill.

It was very crowded on the top deck which made it difficult to see any thing but I managed to engage with people nearby and I started to spot the odd Manx Shearwater, auks, Kittiwake and a Gannet.

The helicopter came and dropped off a large bag which I presumed contained a stretcher and other items to make ready the casualty for picking up on the Island.

Lundy Cabbage Annette Dutton 01
Lundy Cabbage (Annette Dutton)

Approaching the landing bay there was the usual Shags and Oystercathcers and a Grey Seal in the Devil's Kitchen. I left the Oldenburg and wandered up to the village stopping to look at the Lundy Cabbage which is found nowhere else in the world.

I got some supplies from the shop and headed over to Jenny's Cove along the main track. It was sunnier now and made for an enjoyable walk until I turned at the halfway wall and was heading into a strong breeze. There were a few people at Jenny's Cove and I sat on a rock and soon spotted the Puffins in their usual place on the grassy slopes alongside the many Guillemots nearby and on the ledges.

Jennys Cove Annette Dutton 2017-01
Puffins and Guillemots in Jenny's Cove (Annette Dutton)

I returned to the village via the Old Light and it started to rain again as I walked through the village and down to the Oldenburg for the return trip. The rain stopped and it was brighter as I waited in the queue and one of the passengers spotted a Grey Seal in Devil's Kitchen and another one near the landing stage by the rocks.

The journey back was pretty uneventful with sightings of small groups of Manx Shearwater, auks and the odd Gannet then as we passed Bull Point I noticed several Gannets and a lone Manx Shearwater but sadly still no cetaceans.

As ever, many thanks to Captain Jason and the crew of the 'Oldenburg' for their help and assistance.

MARINElife Survey Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 13 May 2017

Posted 18 May 2017

James McCarthy and Ruth Crundwell, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Sunny outbound, cloudy for the return, wind W 4-5, sea state 4, visibility good.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds:
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 408
Gannet Morus bassanus 14
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 8
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 14
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 10
Razorbill Alca torda 20

The MARINELife Lundy survey of May 13 started early out of Bideford and we were soon steaming to the island.

Puffin Peter Howlett 14
Puffin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Unfortunately, the calm conditions forecast a few days earlier had been replaced by a lumpy sea making viewing uncomfortable. As we moved away from the mainland, the swell calmed somewhat as the first seabirds came close to the MS Oldenburg. Good numbers of Manx Shearwaters gave spectacular views as they flew parallel to the ship - the day's highlight - with Puffin coming across the bows in a group of Guillemot as a supporting cast. Sadly, despite all the wishing, no fins broke the waters and we completed the outward-bound trip, cetacean free.

The island was blessed with sunshine but with a stiff westerly wind. Despite this migrant birds were in good numbers with a count of between 25-30 Spotted Flycatchers being a multi-year high count. A handful of Willow Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers and a decent number of hirundines made up for a pleasant stop on the land.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 11
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The journey home was again cetacean free, a personal first after 10 years of MARINElife surveys! More Manx Shearwaters and auks kept us busy but in general the trip back was choppy and uneventful.

As always we would like to thank the crew of the MS Oldenburg for their hospitality.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 13 May 2017

Posted 15 May 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Maggie Gamble

Weather: Sunny and dry to start, wind SW, sea state slight to moderate

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Shag
Oystercatcher
Guillemot
Razorbill
Kittiwake
Gannet
Fulmar
Manx Shearwater

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Spotted Flycatcher
Meadow Pipit
Skylark
Swallow
Wheatear
House Martin
Blackbird
Linnet
Goldfinch

It was an early morning sailing from Bideford which gave maximum time on the Island so there was plenty of time for the more energetic to walk to the dramatic north end of Lundy.  For the trip out, a cool dull start improved and the two hour crossing to Lundy was sunny and clear. Conditions were perfect for Manx Shearwater and we had several small groups alongside the Oldenburg giving many passengers excellent views of their wonderful banking, gliding flight just above the wave surface.

Smaller numbers of auks were also seen hurrying to and fro especially closer to Lundy and a few passengers spotted Puffins. There were a couple of feeding aggregations mainly of Kittiwakes but no cetaceans this time. Strolling up the path from the pier I paused for breath and to take a picture of the moored Oldenburg in the sunshine.

Landing Bay Lundy Maggie Gamble
Oldenburg alongside in Landing Bay (Maggie Gamble)

It was a special occasion for any philatelist on Lundy this weekend as the new stamps were being issued. The beautiful artwork was by North Devon artist Sharon Read and shows some iconic Lundy birds in their Island setting.  I particularly liked the Manx Shearwater which I used to send a Puffin post card to America. As it was the "First Day of Issue" there was a busy pop up post office in the Marisco Tavern manned by Lars Liwendahl. Here you could buy first day covers or post letters and post cards with a first day frank on them.

Lundy pop up Post Office Maggie Gamble
The pop-up Post Office (Maggie Gamble)

After a sustaining cup of tea in the Tavern I made my way over to the old battery which is situated low down on the west side cliffs and gives excellent views of the passing seabirds. An added bonus was a mass of thrift in full flower on the grassy slopes. From the battery I carefully scanned a feeding aggregation of mainly Kittiwakes with a few auks and shearwaters. Beneath them was a small fish boil but no sign of any fins that I could see.  On their walks around the Island some people had enjoyed watching a pair of canoeists with an attendant flotilla of curious Grey Seals following behind.

The weather turned cooler for the return trip and unfortunately no cetaceans were spotted, although there was still plenty of bird life to admire.

As ever, many thanks to the captain crew of the 'Oldenburg' for their help and assistance.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford - Lundy Saturday 29 April 2017

Posted 05 May 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Steve McAusland

Weather: Warm and sunny to start becoming overcast, warm, sea state 2

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals
Grey seal 2

Birds at sea
Manx Shearwater
Shag
Fulmar
Guillemot
Razorbill
Gannet
Kittiwake
Puffin
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull

Birds on Lundy
Teal
Willow Warbler
Pied Wagtail
Oystercatcher
Linnet
Wheatear
Whitethroat
Buzzard
Peregrine
Kestrel
Raven
Meadow Pipit
Skylark
Robin
Blackbird
Dunnock
Blackcap
Chiffchaff
Goldfinch
House Sparrow
Mallard

Arriving early in Bideford for my first Lundy trip of 2017 as Wildlife Officer I was made very welcome at the shore office and was soon on the quay waiting to board MS Oldenburg along with a great many passengers. Here I also met Simon Dell a well-known professional tour guide who I have met on many occasions, he was going to the Island and we chatted for some time whilst waiting our turn to board. Once on board Jason the Captain also greeted me and I made ready for speaking to passengers that showed an interest in wildlife and discussed MARINElife and what the charity does.

As the ship left the quay, we passed Crow Point on the starboard side and then a few minutes later Northam Burrows to the port side. Once clear of the sand bank, Oldenburg's engine was opened up and we were soon making good speed. Almost half way towards Lundy the engines were cut to an almost stop for quite some time as a mayday message was received from a yacht that had lost engine power. Communication with the Ilfracombe lifeboat made sure that is was soon on its way to assist and we then continued towards Lundy.

Puffin Steve McAusland 02
Puffin in Jenny's Cove (Steve McAusland)

Sadly no cetaceans were seen this trip, however the birds at sea were Gannet, Fulmar, Guillemot, Razorbill and the spectacular Manx Shearwaters that have returned to breed on Lundy following their journey all the way from Patagonia!

As we reached Landing Bay on Lundy the passengers disembarked. Before I made my way up to look for migrant birds, I introduced myself to Dean the new Warden and his assistant. After scanning the wooded areas for possible rare migrants, I made my way see the Lundy Puffins for the first time this year.

At Jenny's Cove, I counted 53 Puffins and caught up again with Simon Dell who had led his party to see the famous sea parrots. Sadly, a carcase of a Porpoise could be seen floating on the sea below - surrounded by gulls 'the circle of life continued'.

Leaving the Island, the journey back gave sightings of the same birds with a few Swallows along the way.

Bristol Channel waves Steve McAusland 01
Surf over the sandbank (Steve McAusland)

As the ship passed through the sand bank on route to Bideford we were treated to some awesome waves crashing through.

When alongside, I thanked Jason, Vernon, and crew for another superb trip and their continued support for MARINElife. I look forward to my next trip to Lundy, which is in July when this time I will be staying on the Island for four days along with some of the other regular MARINElife Wildlife Officers.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 22 April 2017

Posted 29 April 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny and dry, wind NW, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise 1
Common Dolphin 1

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Shag
Oystercatcher
Guillemot
Kittiwake
Gannet
Cormorant
Fulmar
Manx Shearwater

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay Sheep
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Skylark
Swallow
Wheatear
House Martin

I walked down to Ilfracombe harbour looking forward to the crossing to Lundy as the weather was set to be sunny with little wind. I boarded the Oldenburg and went up to the Bridge to get my hi-viz jacket and to say hello to Jason, the Captain, before returning to the top deck to talk to the passengers.

As we left the harbour and cruised towards Lundy I saw a couple of Gannet and a Fulmar then no further sightings until we reached the open sea when someone shouted 'dolphin' and I spotted it in time to see that it was a Harbour Porpoise.

Closer to Lundy, two Swallows flew over the Oldenburg and more seabirds such as Manx Shearwater, Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar, Kittiwake appeared and we also saw a Barrel Jellyfish.

Lundy Annette Dutton 09
Old Light and gorse (Annette Dutton)

As we landed at the island I saw several Shag on the top of Mouse Island and a couple of Oystercatchers flying about the rocks.

I decided not to go to Jenny's cove on this visit so I made my way up towards the village and took the path past Hanmers holiday cottage to sit on the nearby bench for lunch. I could see a Grey Seal below in Devil's Kitchen and also saw Swallows, House Martins and a Meadow Pipit.

Walking over to Castle Keep it was very warm and I sat down again in the sun to scan the sea for cetaceans but only saw a Grey Seal swimming along. There were many Wheatear, Swallows and Skylark flying around and I carried on along the coastal path to Shutter Point passing Seals Cave where I saw another Seal and when I arrived at Shutter Point I had another look for cetaceans but only saw a Grey Seal, a Gannet and a couple of Shag.

Walking back towards St Helen's Church the smell of the gorse was lovely and the bells started to peal as there were groups of bell-ringers on the island.

I arrived back in the village and wandered down to the landing stage to board the Oldenburg for the return journey. Shortly after leaving I began to see small groups of Manx Shearwater, Guillemot and Razorbills and a very brief glimpse of a Common Dolphin swimming towards Lundy. I also saw lots of Barrel Jellyfish as we cruised along.

common dolphin Peter Howlett 24
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The sightings of seabirds continued until we reached the coast then I spotted a Gannet by Bull Point and two Swallows flew over as we passed Lee Bay.

We arrived back in Ilfracombe and I returned to the Bridge to say thank you and goodbye to Jason and Vernon.

MARINElife Survey Report: MS Oldenburg Bideford-Lundy 15 April 2017

Posted 18 April 2017

Hannah Claydon and Hazel Munt, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Wind NW, sea state 2-4, visibility good

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 37
Gannet  Morus bassanus 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 1
Sanderling Calidris alba 20
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 98
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 6
Guillemot  Uria aalge 10
Razorbill Alca torda 13
Gull sp.  4

Terrestrial Birds
Swallow Hirundo rustica 1

It was a bright and fresh start to the day, with weather forecast to be fine and dry; ideal for the crossing as well as spending the day on Lundy. Hazel and I first met at the Lundy Island booking office where we joined up with Rick Morris, who was representing MARINElife as the Wildlife Officer for the day. We were then welcomed aboard the MS Oldenburg by Captain Paul and the crew and made our way to the bridge.

This was mine and Hazel's first visit to Lundy Island and the first survey of the season, so we were both optimistic for what we might be able record out at sea.

Kittiwake Peter Howlett 09
Kittiwake (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Having left the harbour at 08:30, the ship was soon greeted by a sea state 4 which made spotting cetaceans a little tricky, however a number of seabirds were observed, including Manx Shearwater, Herring gull, Shag and some rafting Razorbill as we entered the Landing Bay. We were also fortunate to sight a lovely Kittiwake, Gannet and Guillemot. In terms of cetaceans, none were observed during the outward crossing.

The survey across to Lundy took roughly two hours, allowing approximately six hours on the island to enjoy before returning to the jetty and boarding the MS Oldenburg for the homeward bound survey.

Conditions during the return journey were much calmer, which enabled 20 Sanderling to be sighted as well as several Manx Shearwater shearing gracefully in front of the ship. As we neared Bideford harbour, a group of 41 juvenile and 24 adult Herring gulls were sighted. Again no cetaceans were observed from the bridge, however, from the deck Rick reported a sighting of a deceased Harbour Porpoise.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 02
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Our thanks go to the staff and crew of MS Oldenburg who were very accommodating and made the crossing an enjoyable experience.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 15 April 2017

Posted 17 April 2017

Rick Morris MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer (WLO)

Weather: Overcast with sunny periods, wind NE 2-4 sea state 3-4 with 1m swell at times

Summary of sightings

Marine mammals:
Harbour Porpoise 3 + 1 dead
Grey Seal 30+ (around island trip)

Seabirds:
Gannet
Shag
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake
Manx Shearwater
Fulmar

Estuary birds
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Oystercatcher
Cormorant
Shelduck
Mute Swan
Cormorant
Wader Sp.

Lundy terrestrial birds:
Peregrine Falcon
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Willow Warbler
Wheatear
Skylark
Starling
Raven
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow
Swallow
Robin
Goldfinch
Mallard

This was my first Wildlife Officer (WLO) trip for 2017 although I did visit the Island last month to meet Dean the new warden. Arriving in Bideford on an overcast morning and chilly NW breeze, I collected my ticket and upon joining the rest of the passengers waiting to board I met up with this month's MARINElife survey team, Hazel and Hannah. Hazel's mum and Hannah's friend came along for the trip and joined the passengers on deck whilst we popped up to the bridge and after getting myself ready, made my way out on deck to introduce myself.

We left our mooring in the River Torridge and headed downstream just after 08:00. An Oystercatcher was heard and Grey Heron, Little Egret and Shelduck were seen, also seen were several groups of 2nd and 3rd year Herring Gull. Swallow were seen heading inland and on nearing the sandbar I spotted 3 Harbour Porpoise of which those passengers close by had a brief sighting.

Once out in the channel we were getting sightings of small groups of Razorbill and Guillemot plus the odd Gannet. Also seen were the occasional Kittiwake and Fulmar and once out around the halfway point, Manx Shearwater were seen in groups ranging from just a few birds to one group of around 50+.

Willow Warbler Rick Morris 01
Willow Warbler (Rick Morris)

We were greeted at the jetty by Dean (Warden) and Rob (Manager), I then made my way up top, joined by Hazel and her Mum and we decided to walk around the west side where we saw a couple of black Rabbit. Reaching Jenny's Cove, we stopped for lunch and watched the small number of Puffin that were present together with Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Fulmar and gulls.

The NE breeze made it chilly to stay at Jenny's for too long, so Hazel and Mum went on to the north end whilst I made my way back as I said I would help out with the planned round the island trip aboard the 'Oldenburg'. During my walk back I observed Willow Warbler, Meadow Pipit and Skylark amongst others! I also came across Sika Deer, Soay Sheep, Highland Cattle and Lundy Ponies.

Reaching the Marisco Tavern I stopped for a welcome mug of tea and a quick catch up with Grant before heading down to the Landing Jetty. There were still no Grey Seal to be seen in the Landing Bay and at 16:00 we set sail for the cruise around the island. We made our way around in an anti-clockwise direction, taking in the east side first and it wasn't too long before we started to see seals, especially in Gannets Bay. It was just after passing here that I noticed a seal that was smaller and different from all the Grey Seal and this animal turned out to be a Common (Harbour) Seal, not so 'common' in these parts!

Common Seal Rick Morris 01
Common Seal (Rick Morris)

We continued on around the north end taking a wide birth of the 'Hen and Chickens' giving good views of the North Lighthouse before continuing along the west side. More seals were seen and we all enjoyed the sight of the seabird colonies - Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin and Kittiwake along the way. After rounding the southern end, passing Rat and Mouse islands, we arrived back at the Jetty ready to collect those passengers waiting to go back to Bideford.

The return crossing was peppered with Guillemot, Razorbill and Manx Shearwater and quite a few juvenile Kittiwake. The only cetacean seen was that of a dead Harbour Porpoise around three quarters of the way back, a truly sad sight for all those that saw it.

Thanks to Paul, Vernon and the crew of the 'Oldenburg' and to all on Lundy and the shore offices.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 8 April 2017

Posted 13 April 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny and dry, wind SE, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise 1

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Shag
Oystercatcher
Guillemot
Puffin
Kittiwake
Gannet
Cormorant
Fulmar
Manx Shearwater

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay Sheep
Sika Deer
Highland Cattle
Meadow Pipit
Skylark
Swallow
Wheatear
Oystercatcher
House Martin

The weather was forecast to be glorious and I wandered down to Ilfracombe harbour in the warm sunshine, when I arrived I saw that it was already busy as nearly 200 passenger had booked for the trip over to Lundy Island.

I boarded the Oldenburg and went up to the bridge to get my hi-viz jacket and say hello to Jason, the Captain, before I went back onto the deck to position myself so the passengers could see where I was.

We left on time and sailed along the North Devon coast passing Capstone, Tunnels Beaches, Lee Bay and Morte Point but all I saw was a solitary Fulmar.

Many of the passengers were staying on Lundy so I gave advice about the wildlife, walks on the island and where to go to see the Puffins. I was chatting to the Reverend Brenda Jacobs, Vicar of St Helens Church, who was going over for a meeting when I was alerted to a dolphin sighting but sadly I didn't see it. However, Vernon, the First Mate saw it and thought it was the Risso's Dolphin he had seen on a previous trip.

The sea was lovely and calm but void of cetaceans and seabirds as we glided towards Lundy.  As we got nearer I saw a several Shag, Razorbill, Guillemot and a couple of Barrel Jellyfish floating by.

We arrived at the Landing Bay and I was disappointed that there were no Shag along the top of Mouse Island and also no Grey Seals on the rocks or in the water.

I left the Oldenburg and walked up to the village then along the main track where I was followed by swirling and noisy Skylarks. I reached Halfway Wall and crossed over to Jenny's Cove and was surprised to see how few birds were on the ledges compared to my visit last week. There were no auks rafting on the sea below but after a short while I spotted a couple of Puffins bobbing about in the sea. I also saw my first Swallow and Wheatear as I sat in the lovely sunshine.

Wheatear Annette Dutton 02
Wheatear (Annette Dutton)

I walked back to the village along the lower path passing the Battery and then over to the Old Lighthouse before walking down to the Landing Stage for the return journey.

Back on the Oldenburg I sat on the starboard side in the sun and chatted to Grant Sherman from the Marisco Tavern who was traveling back to the mainland. We saw lots of Barrel Jellyfish as we cruised along and after 20 minutes into the journey I spotted a Harbour Porpoise but it was gone before I could alert the passengers.

As we neared the coast I started to see more seabirds such as Razorbill, Guillemot, Kittiwake, Fulmar and Manx Shearwater but a noticeable lack of Gannet around Bull Point.

We arrived back in Ilfracombe and I returned to the bridge to collect my belongings and to say goodbye to Jason and to thank him for an enjoyable trip.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 1 April 2017

Posted 09 April 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny with showers, Wind NW, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 2

Seabirds
Red-throated Diver
Manx Shearwater
Gannet
Shag
Cormorant
Herring Gull
Oystercatcher
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake
Sandwich Tern
Guillemot
Puffin

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay Sheep
Sika Deer
Lundy Pony
Highland Cattle
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Skylark
House Martin

This was the first WLO trip of 2017 and I was looking forward to going back to Lundy Island, this time with my husband for company. The sun was shining as we walked from the car park to the Oldenburg and Julian greeted us as we boarded then I made my way over to the bridge to have a quick chat with Jason, the Captain before returning to the deck.We departed from Bideford Quay on time and as we cruised along the Estuary, I started my tour of the decks introducing myself to the passengers and talking about the work of MARINElife and what wildlife we were likely to see on the journey and on the Island.

I didn't notice anything as we made our way towards the channel but spotted a Cormorant as we passed Westward Ho! There were few seabirds about until we got about halfway across when I saw diver, identified as a Red-throated Diver by one of the passengers who is a regular visitor to Lundy and who then spotted a Sandwich Tern on a piece of wood.

The weather stayed reasonably fine although we did get a couple of showers which produced a lovely rainbow and provided some of the passengers with a photo opportunity.

As we got nearer Lundy I saw a lone Manx Shearwater then started to pick up the odd Gannet, Guillemot, Fulmar and several Oystercatchers. As we arrived at the landing stage it was nice to see the usual line up of Shag along the top of Mouse Island.

We left the Oldenburg and walked up towards the village, turning to follow the road and onto the path leading up past Hanmers holiday cottage to my favourite bench and viewpoint. The sound of Skylarks filled the air and House Martins flew by and I saw a seal in the bay below while we ate our lunch in the sunshine.

First stop after lunch was a stop at the Castle to scan the sea to see if any cetaceans were about but sadly saw none so we carried on walking back to the village and along the main track where we saw the Sika Deer in a field next to the Highland Cattle then we passed the Lundy Ponies before crossing over to Jenny's Cove.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 06
Grey Seal (Annette Dutton)

It was nice to sit at Jenny's Cove in the sun especially as it was not too windy. There were already quite a few Guillemots on the ledges along with a some Kittiwakes and Herring Gulls. There were groups of auk rafting on the sea below and amongst them I could just about make out a Puffin or two.

We started to walk back towards the Old Light, stopping to look in the Lamp Room then across to the Marisco Tavern for a drink and a chat to regular birders who told me that they had seen over 30 Puffin in Jenny's Cove earlier on in the day. Walking down towards the Landing Bay I saw a seal swimming about and a group of Oystercatchers flying past.

The return journey started off with sightings of small groups of Manx Shearwater, Guillemot and Razorbill which continued until we reached the estuary then, as we neared the North Devon coast, we were treated to a lovely sunset.

Bristol Channel sunset Annette Dutton 01
Photo: Annette Dutton

We arrived back in Bideford and I returned to the bridge to collect my belongings and to say goodbye to Jason, Vernon and Julian and to thank them for an enjoyable trip.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 22 October 2016

Posted 23 October 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Dry and sunny, Sea State slight, Wind Easterly

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 2
Grey Seal 2

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Shag
Oystercatcher
Kittiwake
Gannet

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Wheatear
Meadow Pipit
Starling

This was my last trip over to Lundy for 2016, it was dry and sunny and the sea looked calm so I was hoping to see cetaceans. I collected my ticket, boarded the Oldenburg and went up to the bridge to sort out my belongings and collect my Hi-Viz jacket. Paul, the Captain was not around so I went out onto the deck and started chatting to the passengers.

We left Ilfracombe Harbour and I scanned the area around Capstone for Porpoise as I usually see them there but I didn't see any, although a Gannet flew by as we passed Lee Bay. I moved down to the lower deck to speak to the passengers, handing out MARINElife leaflets, explaining what we do and what to see on the journey and on Lundy.

Lundy Annette Dutton 08
Lundy cliffs (Annette Dutton)

I was at the rear of the Oldenburg when I suddenly spotted something dark in the ship's wake and realised it was 2 dolphins, I shouted and several passengers came over to see but they were gone. We passed several Guillemots bobbing about and the odd Razorbill but alas saw no more dolphins.

As we neared Lundy there were masses of feeding seabirds including Gannet, Kittiwake, in vain I searched the area for cetaceans but saw none. There were a couple of regular visitors to Lundy on board so I asked if they had spotted anything but they hadn't either.

We arrived at the Landing stage and I got off the Oldenburg  pretty sharpish as I wanted to walk up to Gannet's Bay to look for seals. I sat on a bench by the shop to eat lunch then headed up the main track to three quarter wall, passing a large flock of Starling, Highland cattle and Lundy ponies, as I approached Tibbets, a flock of Soay sheep ran past.

Lundy cow Annette Dutton 01
Highland calf (Annette Dutton)

I arrived at Gannet's Bay but it was high tide so I couldn't see any seals so I finished my lunch and started to make my way back along the track. There was an easterly wind which had started to pick up so the usually sheltered eastern side of the Island was chilly and by the time I reached the village it was quite windy.

I wandered down to the landing bay and spotted a Grey Seal in the waves, the wind was fairly strong by now and the Oldenburg was rolling about. As I was waiting to board I saw another Grey Seal high up on the rocks and another one swam over and settled below.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 05
Grey Seals in Landing Bay (Annette Dutton)

I said a silent goodbye to Lundy as we left, there were still lots of feeding seabirds and again passed several Guillemots and Razorbills plus the odd Gannet as we made our way towards the North Devon coast.

Arriving at Ilfracombe, I said my goodbyes to Paul, Vernon, Justin and the crew before leaving the Oldenburg for the last time in 2016. This was my third year volunteering for MARINElife and I would like to thank everyone who has made this possible, see you again in 2017.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 15 October 2016

Posted 17 October 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Steve McAusland

 

Weather: partially overcast, good visibility, light westerly breeze force 1 or 2

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 9

Seabirds
Fulmar
Manx Shearwater
Gannet
Shag
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Guillemot
Shag
Herring Gull

Terrestrial Birds
Pied Wagtail
Sparrowhawk
Cormorant
Meadow Pipit
Kestrel
Meadow Pipit
Oystercatcher
Wood Pigeon
Skylark
Dunnock
Robin
Blackbird
Great Tit
Starling
Magpie
Jackdaw
Carrion Crow
Raven
Linnet

This was my last trip of 2016 as MARINElife Wildlife Officer and I was so looking forward to being out on the sea as the August and September trips were cancelled due to storms!

I arrived at the quay early and before collecting my ticket I had a walk around the area checking out the sea and any birds that might be around. Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail and the usual gulls were seen. A Sparrowhawk caught my eye gracefully hugging the contours of the car park before flying over towards the trees on the other side of Ilfracombe harbour.

Gannet Steve McAusland 03
Gannet (Steve McAusland)

Soon after, I boarded MS Oldenburg in bright autumnal weather conditions bound for Lundy. Jason the Captain and First Mate Vernon welcomed me aboard and I was soon amongst the passengers chatting and assisting some with bird identifications. As with all trips you always get to meet people from different parts of the world and today was no exception. I had a really interesting conversation with a gentleman from South Africa who told tales of his great trips that produced cetaceans that I have yet to see.

During the crossing Gannets were observed diving not too far from Morte Point, also on the crossing were Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, the usual gulls and Guillemot. Sadly no cetaceans were seen, however, a passenger did tell me that he had seen five Harbour Porpoise.

Grey Seal Steve McAusland 09
Grey Seal (Steve McAusland)

As we came towards the Lundy jetty five Grey Seal were observed both in the sea and hauled up on the rocks of Mouse Island.

I disembarked and proceeded to walk up to the wooded area around Milcombe house and finally stopping off at the 'Ugly' - a stone shelter with a corrugated iron roof and an excellent view out to sea - for lunch. I was joined here by a party of five people who had been staying on the Island, we were soon chatting about their time over the last few days and my trips and experiences of Lundy. The weather rapidly turned from bright sunshine and clouds to what could be described as a monsoon storm, heavy rain and wind battered the Island for three hours and we were all glad that the Ugly was there to keep us from the elements!

As I walked back to the jetty for the return sailing the weather changed for the better again and the sun was soon out and the wind had dropped to a slight breeze. Sadly my last trip didn't produce any cetaceans, but I look forward to next year and hopefully the opportunity to volunteer for more Lundy trips?

Before leaving the ship I thanked Jason the Captain and his crew for their hospitality this year and for supporting MARINElife.

MARINElife Survey Report: MS Oldenburg Ilfracombe-Lundy 1st October 2016

Posted 05 October 2016

Ruth Crundwell and Annette Dutton, Research Surveyors for MARINElife


Weather: Outward - overcast, light rain at first, moderate visibility: Westerly wind 4-5. Sea state 4-6.  Return - brighter, good visibility: Westerly wind changing to Easterly 4-5. Sea state 5

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 12
Guillemot Uria aalge 4
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 8
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Juvenile gull Sp. 2
Auk Sp. 16

Annette and I met outside the Lundy Island Company booking office and greeted Alan Altoft, the Marinelife Wildlife Officer and Marinelife's Rick Morris who was undertaking the trip with his family. We were welcomed aboard the 'MS Oldenburg' by captain Jason and the crew and made our way to the bridge.

This was Annette's first survey (she also volunteers as a Wildlife Officer on this route) and as it was the final survey for the season, so hopes were high that we would get good sightings of cetaceans and seabirds that we knew were in the area.

Leaving at 10.00, we left the shelter of the harbour, but the conditions soon became challenging as we headed toward Lundy, so no cetaceans were seen, we did manage some sightings of seabirds including Gannet and Auk species, Rick also reported seeing a Storm Petrel on the outward journey.


Gannet Rick Morris 07
Gannet (Archive photo: Rick Morris)

We spent our 3 hours on Lundy enjoying watching the sea on the west coast from the comfort of the Old Light sun room before visiting St Helens church.

On the way back to the landing stage we met members of the Lundy Field Society who had been on the island for a week undertaking various surveys and activities.


Kittiwake juv Mike Bailey 04
Juvenile Kittiwake (Archive photo: Mike Bailey)

The return journey was smoother and speedier than the outward one, this gave a brief glimpse of a Harbour Porpoise and a number of seabirds including Gannet, Kittiwake (including a juvenile) and juvenile Guillemot with adults on the water. Rick observed 50-60 Gannets feeding with possibly porpoises in attendance just as we left Lundy and also reported seeing a Great Skua and juvenile Kittiwake on the homeward journey.

Many thanks to the crew of the Oldenburg, especially Vernon who looked after Annette and I so well during the outward journey when we found conditions challenging.

Ruth Crundwell and Annette Dutton, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 17 September 2016

Posted 23 September 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Wind SW, dry and sunny, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 10+

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Shag
Oystercatcher
Kittiwake
Gannet
Manx Shearwater

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Wheatear
Meadow Pipit
Linnet
Swallow
House Martin

The sea looked a bit choppy as I arrived at Ilfracombe but once onboard Jason,  the Captain, assured me it was going to be a good crossing. I left my belongings and went on to the deck and started chatting to some of the passengers, among them was a group from the Lundy Field Society who were going over for a working holiday.

Oldenburg Annette Dutton 01
View from the bridge of the Oldenburg (Annette Dutton)

As we left Ilfracombe I spotted a Manx Shearwater then a Gannet and after Julian had made the tannoy announcement regarding my presence onboard, several passengers came over to ask me lots of questions about the wildlife we might see and the work of MARINElife . It was quite bumpy at first but as we passed Morte Point the crossing became more enjoyable and it remained warm and sunny.

I had seen lots of dolphins and porpoises on my recent trips to Lundy so I had told the passengers to look out for them amongst groups of feeding Gannets but on this occasion there were none to be seen although a couple of passengers told me they had seen cetaceans. However, it was difficult to distinguish between fins and waves as the sea was choppy plus there was the glare of the sun too.

As we had made good time, the Oldenburg headed towards the north of the island and cruised along the coast to the Landing Stage which gave me the opportunity to look for seals and enjoy a close up of the sailing vessel Irene. There were a few seals hauled out on the rocks but I couldn't get an accurate count.

Meadow Pipit Annette Dutton 01
Meadow Pipit (Annette Dutton)

After leaving the Oldenburg I said hello to Becky, the Warden before making my way up to my favourite bench by Hanmers holiday cottage to have lunch and a bit of a seawatch. I was surrounded by Swallows and House Martins flitting about and I was also joined by a cheeky Meadow Pipit.

I could see a couple of seals in the landing bay but I didn't spot anything else so I wandered over to Castle Keep and along the path towards the Devil's Limekiln stopping to enjoy the view back towards the Devon coast before continuing to the Old Light then making my way back to the Oldenburg.

Lundy Annette Dutton 07a
Lundy coast (Annette Dutton)

We departed from Lundy and I was invited to join the crew on the bridge to improve my chances of spotting cetaceans but while I was there I only saw the odd Gannet. Then as we passed Bull Point there were several Gannets flying along the coast but I couldn't see any Harbour Porpoise.

We arrived back at Ilfracombe and I said goodbye to Jason, Vernon and Julian and thanked them for an enjoyable trip.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 10 September 2016

Posted 14 September 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Maggie Gamble

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin 5
Harbour Porpoise 1

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Kittiwake
Fulmar
Guillemot
Razorbill
Shag
Gannet
Manx Shearwater
Common Scoter

I drove the down the M5 to Ilfracombe in heavy rain, hoping that the forecast fine day was to become a reality - it did thankfully.

Leaving Ilfracombe with a moderate sea state was not conducive to spotting the diminutive and shy  Harbour Porpoise which are often seen around this part of the coast and so it proved. Farther out from shore we had a few Common Dolphin approach the Oldenburg from behind and then quietly fade away but fortunately quite a few passengers still managed to see them. There is something about spotting a wild cetacean which never fails to make people smile.

Common Dolphin Steve McAusland 03
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Steve McAusland)

For the birds there was a few Fulmar, Gannet, Guillemot, Razorbill, Manx Shearwaters and a variety of gulls throughout the trip. A surprise sighting was a distinctive low flying skein of Common Scoter, a large dark sea duck. Nearer to Lundy one of the passengers picked up the erratically waving fine fin of an Oceanic Sunfish, a unique and fast growing fish, which can grow to three or metres across. The smaller ones seen in UK waters follow the warm water currents to our shores in pursuit of their prey - jelly fish.

From the track leading down to the landing dock I watched an elegant two masted sailing vessel (a ketch) approaching under sail to moor in the bay. Once back on board the Oldenburg for the return to Ilfracombe the captain made a slight detour on departure so as to pass closer to the Irene giving ample opportunity to admire this lovely vessel which was originally built in Bridgwater. It was a fairly quiet trip back but as we approached Ilfracombe a single Harbour Porpoise was spotted by at least one passenger.

Ketch Irene Maggie Gamble 2016
The Irene (Maggie Gamble)

As ever, many thanks to the crew of the 'Oldenburg' for their help and assistance.

MARINElife reports: MS Oldenburg Ilfracombe-Lundy 3 September

Posted 05 September 2016

There was no WLO trip and monthly survey undertaken on the 3rd due to severe weather.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 27 August 2016

Posted 28 August 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Ruth Crundwell

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin 12
Harbour Porpoise 1
Dolphin sp. 1 (passenger sighting)

Seabirds:
Manx Shearwater
Herring Gull
Gannet
Shag
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Auk sp.
Storm Petrel (passenger sighting)
Great Skua (passenger sighting)

We left Ilfracombe harbour on a slightly cloudy Bank Holiday Saturday, with a fresh easterly breeze making the sea state 4 with some white caps to the waves. However, with reports of cetacean sightings on recent sailings I was optimistic we would we see some on this one.

Manx Shearwater Tim Balmer 01
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Tim Balmer)

Heading out into the channel, I made my way around the decks to introduce myself to the passengers, explaining how MARINElife is working in partnership with the Landmark Trust, who manage Lundy Island, to enhance the crossing by giving guidance and help.

The outward journey was relatively quiet with just a few sightings of Gannet and Manx Shearwater halfway across to Lundy, although a passenger later informed me he had seen the fin of single dolphin and a Storm Petrel. Approaching Lundy we passed a raft of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls made up of adults and their recently fledged young. We also saw Shags flying past heading further offshore to feed. Reaching Lundy, I stayed around the south end of the island for lunch.

common dolphin Peter Howlett 26
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The return trip back to Ilfracombe was a little more exciting. Things kicked off with spotting the fin of a lone Harbour Porpoise, which only came up once on the starboard side. Then, while looking at Manx Shearwaters on the port side, we were treated to the sight of Common Dolphin in pairs heading towards the boat on the starboard side on two occasions.

Other bird sightings on the return jounrey included many juvenile gulls, auks in winter plumage and a juvenile tern and a passenger mentioned he had seen a Great Skua.

As ever, huge thanks to the crew of the Oldenburg for their help and assistance.

MARINElife Survey Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 6 August 2016

Posted 10 August 2016

Fiona McNie and Alan Sumnall; Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Westward: sea state mainly 1 and 2. Return: sea state 2 and 3

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Common Dolphin (Short-beaked) Delphinus delphis 36

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 67
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 76
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 8
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 54
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 47
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 7
Gull sp. 123
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 6
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1

Terrestrial Birds
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 5

The survey kicked off with a Harbour Porpoise sighting not far from shore and as we approached Lundy we encountered three distinct Common Dolphin groups.  There were potentially a few larger dolphins nestled in the group, possibly males, but we were unable to get a clear view of them for confirmation.

Birds were also steady on the journey with lots of sightings of Kittiwake and Guillemot, and it was really lovely to see quite a few adult Guillemot with their chicks.

Guillemot Adrian Shephard 01

Guillemot parent and chick (Adrian Shephard)

Off effort sightings were also excellent, and these started with a Peregrine Falcon, in the estuary under the bridge, swooping down towards the water.  Also within the estuary were numbers of Little Egret resting on trees, accompanied by Grey Heron, most likely a heron colony which egrets were utilising. The birds on Lundy themselves were really good too, and with the great bird expertise of Alan, we spotted Wheatear, Dunnock, Meadow Pipet, a few remaining Puffin, Wren, Swallow, Kestrel, and even one more sighting of Common Dolphin spotted from Lundy Island when walking along the coast path.

Swallow Adrian Shephard

Swallow (Adrian Shephard)

In addition, a nature tour group on the Oldenburg, led by a well-known local ecologist were lucky enough to spot 2 Leatherback Turtle as the vessel was coming into Lundy.  These would have been in a very similar place to where we saw the Common Dolphin, so unfortunately had been missed by the surveyors, but it's exciting to know they were there.

So all in all a great day, and our thanks go to the staff and crew of the Oldenburg who were very accommodating as ever.

Fiona McNie and Alan Sumnall; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 6 August 2016

Posted 09 August 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Vicky Dewar-Fowler

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Common Dolphin 30+
Grey seal

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Cormorant
Fulmar
Guillemot
Puffin
Gannet
Manx Shearwater

Other birds:
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Peregrine
Kestrel
Meadow Pipit
Wheatear

I arrived in Bideford on a bright sunny day for my first trip as a wildlife officer and my first solo trip to Lundy. Once on board the MS Oldenburg I made my way to the bridge to be greeted by the crew, this was also where I bumped into the MARINElife survey team.

As we left Bideford, to head down the Torridge estuary, I began to make my way around the ship to introduce myself to the paying passengers, explaining the work that MARINElife is carrying out and to let them know I would be on hand to answer any questions they may have about any of the wildlife seen on the crossing.

As I was making my rounds I was approached by Simon Dell, a Lundy tour guide, who told me about the wildlife he had seen on the crossings in the past few weeks and showed me the photos he had taken of Common Dolphin. With his knowledge we soon spotted a Peregrine on one of the uprights of the high bridge over the Torridge, along with a number of Little Egret and a few Grey Heron before reaching Appledore.

common dolphin Peter Howlett 21
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Once we reached the channel I began my rounds again introducing myself to as many passengers as possible and heard reports of dolphins being spotted in the north Devon area only the day before. I had a lot of interest from a number of passengers wanting to know more about what they may see, particularly regarding the cetaceans and the Puffins on the Island and was engaged in conversation for the majority of the journey.

In the channel we started to pick up numerous species of gull, both adults and juveniles, Fulmar and Manx Shearwater. About an hour and a half into the journey I was alerted to something being spotted in the water (bringing a cetacean discussion with a couple of passengers to an end), the survey team had spotted a pod of 30+ dolphin, which became easily identifiable as Common Dolphin. As the boat neared the pod the excitement built up and the pod split with good views of the dolphins now being seen from either side of the ship. A little further on I spotted a few more dolphin a greater distance out on the port side. As we reached Lundy, Gannet and Manx Shearwater were spotted.

Once on Lundy I joined the Survey team for lunch before heading out of the village to walk up the east side of the island. From the path we spotted a small pod of dolphin out in the distance and numerous Grey Seals hauled out on the rocks. We were also joined on our walk by a number of bird species including Kestrel, Peregrine, Cormorant, Meadow Pipit and Wheatear. Half way up the island I left the survey team heading north and crossed the island in the hope of catching a glimpse of any remaining Puffin at Jenny's cove. After some time scanning the rocks I caught a glimpse of a pair of distinctive orange feet and saw a pair of Puffin tucked in amongst the cliffs surrounded by gulls.

Kestrel Peter Howlett 01
Kestrel (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

I then headed back down to the harbour ready for the return crossing. As the queue was building the crowd were entertained by some Grey Seals a the quayside. Once on the Oldenburg, Simon, the Lundy guide, informed me that he had seen two Leatherback Turtles from the island.

The return crossing was quieter than the journey out with gulls, Gannet and Manx Shearwater being seen. A number of Guillemot were seen resting on the water as we approached the mouth of the estuary mouth and a large number of juvenile gulls were disturbed by the MS Oldenburg within the estuary.

Many thanks to the crew of the 'Oldenburg' for their help and assistance.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 30 July 2016

Posted 03 August 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Steve McAusland

Weather: Bright sunshine and westerly breeze, sea state 2

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 15
Harbour Porpoise 1
Grey Seal 6

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater
Herring Gull
Kittiwake
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Fulmar
Guillemot
Razorbill
Shag
Gannet

Terrestrial birds
Meadow Pipit
Wheatear
Starling
Carrion Crow
Jackdaw
House Sparrow
Wood Pigeon
Swallow
Linnet
Oystercatcher
Skylark
Goldfinch
Spotted Flycatcher
Pied Wagtail
Cormorant

This week's Wildlife Officer trip to Lundy Island began in Ilfracombe, the sun was shining and the crew of MS Oldenburg were soon welcoming the many passengers on board. With me this trip was Ruby, my fiancée who like me, was looking forward to another excellent trip. Before boarding Emma who, along with her husband had recently attended a MARINElife training day, introduced herself and we chatted in the queue for the ship. Although primarily interested in volunteering to take part in the MARINElife surveys I took the opportunity to tell her about the role of wildlife Officer and what was involved.

After a brief chat on the bridge with Jason the ship's captain and Vernon the first mate, I began my tour around the upper and aft deck introducing myself to as many interested passengers as possible. Within 10 minutes of leaving Ilfracombe a single Harbour Porpoise made a few passengers run to the port side to catch a glimpse of this small cetacean.

Fulmar Peter Howlett 16
Fulmar (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The first birds of note were Gannet, followed by Fulmar and Manx Shearwater. All three species were seen within a mile of the harbour. We soon had sightings of Kittiwake, Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gull and a single Great Black-backed Gull.

As we approached Lundy landing bay the first of six Grey Seal was seen. Our afternoon was spent in the wooded area around Milcombe house looking for birds of note, here a Spotted Flycatcher showed itself. Stopping for lunch on the eastern side of the Island, we conducted an hour of sea watching. Looking down to the sea there were many Razorbill, Guillemot, Gannet and the usual gulls.

Wheatear Steve McAusland 01
Wheatear on Lundy (Steve McAusland)

There were also numerous Goldfinches seen, perhaps not surprising as the species is one of the true success stories with a huge increase in their population throughout the UK. In the surrounding area the gorgeous sound of Skylark was heard and I watched many fly very high continuing their song. Linnet, Meadow Pipit and both adult and juvenile Wheatear were plentiful too.

During our descent towards the landing bay we stopped off to watch a very large shoal of Mullet that were very close inshore. As we expected, a playful Grey Seal soon appeared to start moving through them, it didn't take any of the fish, which suggests it was already full from an earlier meal.

During the return sailing two separate pods of Common Dolphin thrilled everyone on board. Firstly a pod of 12 individuals, then within 10 minutes 3 more were breaching within 500 metres of the ship.

Common Dolphin Steve McAusland 02b
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Steve McAusland)

For me, volunteering as a MARINElife Wildlife Officer is always a great privilege as we get to meet some wonderful like-minded people interested in cetaceans and birds. However, when you point out a Porpoise or dolphin to passengers that have never seen a cetacean before, it is always a thrill for both them and me!

We arrived back in Ilfracombe harbour where the day's trip concluded, I thanked Jason and his crew for another successful day on behalf of MARINElife and I look forward to my next Lundy Wildlife Officer trip in August.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 23 July 2016

Posted 27 July 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Wind southwesterly, sea state slight, dry, warm and sunny

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 17
Common Dolphin 2
Harbour Porpoise 10

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Shag
Oystercatcher
Guillemot
Razorbill
Kittiwake
Gannet
Manx Shearwater
Puffin

Terrestrial birds
Little Egret
Meadow Pipit
Kestrel
Wheatear
Peregrine Falcon

I was looking forward to the trip from Bideford as there is more time to spend on the island giving us the opportunity to walk to the northern tip of Lundy. Joining me today was my husband and we arrived at Bideford, parked up then wandered down to where the MS Oldenburg was docked. There was a long queue and by the time we boarded there were no seats and even the standing room was limited. I went up to the bridge and introduced myself to Paul, the Captain and to collect my hi-viz jacket.

The Oldenburg left Bideford and started to make her way up the Torridge estuary passing Appledore and Instow then out to sea. I started to go round the decks and chat to the passengers then a tannoy announcement was made telling the passengers that a WLO was on board for this trip and people came over to speak to me. A lot of the passengers were eager to see the Puffins and I advised where they would find them.

North Light Lundy Annette Dutton
North Light, Lundy (Annette Dutton)

There were few sightings along the estuary then as we reached the open sea one of the regular passengers we were chatting to spotted something below in the water and he and my husband agreed it was an Ocean Sunfish although I didn't see it. Another passenger I spoke to on the lower deck who was also a regular visitor to Lundy told me he had just seen two Sandwich Terns.

I saw the odd Gannet, Guillemot, Kittiwake and Shag and I also had a very brief sighting of two Common Dolphin. As we neared the landing stage, I saw the large male Grey Seal that usually hangs around the bay and the row of Shag along the top of Mouse Island.

By now it was lovely and sunny and we left the Oldenburg to wander up to the village and along the main track stopping at Gannet's Bay to look at the seals below and to watch the Peregrine flying about. We continued to the top of the island where the views were fantastic, there were more seals in the sea below and we sat for a while overlooking the North Light.

There was a 'round the island' trip scheduled for 3.30 but as we wanted to explore the North of the island we decided to leave it and made our way along the coast path passing the Soay Sheep and over to Jenny's Cove to see the Puffins. A passenger alerted us to a Peregrine sat on top of the stack in front on the grassy slope where there must have been over 100 Puffins. The masses of Guillemot I had seen on the ledges on my previous trips had gone and I spotted a Kittiwake and it's chick hidden on a ledge.

Puffin Annette Dutton 02
Puffin at Jenney's Cove (Annette Dutton)

After a while the Puffins flew off the slopes and rafted on the sea below so we left and wandered back to the village for a quick pint in the Marisco Tavern before walking down to the landing stage.

The Oldenburg was arriving back from the 'round the island' trip and we boarded, managing  to find a spot by the railings on the port side to do some sea watching. The conditions were good as we left Lundy and we had only just left the island when I saw a group of four Porpoise swimming nearby then as we moved along we saw a further six much to the joy of the nearby passengers who saw them.

Again, seabird sightings were similar to the outward trip and as we approached Bideford I saw lots of Little Egret in the trees. The Oldenburg spun around to face seawards before docking and I went to the bridge to collect my belongings and to say goodbye to Paul and Vernon and to thank them for their help and support on the journey.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 16 July 2016

Posted 21 July 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Neil Spencer

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals
Grey seal 4

Seabirds
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake
Fulmar
Guillemot
Razorbill
Common Tern
Shag
Gannet
Manx Shearwater

I arrived in Ilfracombe on an overcast day and after collecting my ticket joined the queue of 150 other passengers waiting to board the Oldenburg. This was my first trip as a solo WLO but once on the bridge Skipper Jason was friendly and welcoming. He told me that recent crossings had been quiet in terms  sightings, although they had seen some Puffins recently but no Gannets.

The sea conditions were slight and with the overcast skies the sea colour was a dull grey, not the easiest condition to spot marine life. Heading out into the channel, I made my way around the decks to introduce myself to the passengers, explaining the work of MARINElife and the partnership with the Landmark Trust who manage Lundy Island.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 11
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

As we started to make our way across we began to see gulls and numerous Manx Shearwater. The Manx Shearwater provided many good opportunities to actively engage passengers in spotting their characteristic flight behaviour. Although the conditions were not the best for spotting cetaceans the crossing out to Lundy did provide a chance to see Shag, Guillemot, Kittiwake, Lesser and Great Black-back Gull, as well as the shearwaters.

On reaching Lundy there were 3 or 4 Grey Seals in the harbour which were enjoyed by the passengers, again this provided more opportunities to engage passengers in conversations about marine wild life on Lundy.

After seeing the seals in the harbour I made my way along the east coast footpath with the intention of seeking out an opportunity to spot any Peregrine Falcon. I was not disappointed and I was able to watch the Peregrines in action as well as seeing them resting on rocks above the quarry.

Peregrine Peter Howlett 03
Peregrine Falcon (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The return back to Ilfracombe was fairly quiet with sporadic sightings of gulls, Common Tern, Manx Shearwater, Guillemot, Razorbill and several juvenile Gannet who seemed to be following us.

Many thanks to the crew of the 'Oldenburg' for their friendly help and assistance.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 9 July 2016

Posted 11 July 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Julie Hatcher

Summary of sightings:

Mammals
Grey Seal

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Fulmar
Guillemot
Razorbill
Shag
Cormorant
Gannet
Manx Shearwater

Waders
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Curlew

Having collected my ticket I waited on the quayside at Bideford while the passengers boarded the MS Oldenburg, everyone seemed excited in anticipation of the trip. Although overcast it appeared fairly calm as we headed down the river and out of the estuary. Passing the saltmarsh as we headed down-river to the open sea I saw several Little Egret, a Grey Heron and a flock of very well camouflaged Curlew.

I spoke to a few people as I made my way around the decks to introduce myself to the paying passengers. Everyone wanted to know what sort of animals we might see on the crossing. As we left the estuary behind the swell picked up and I pointed out a couple of juvenile Gannet flying low over the waves. Small numbers of Guillemot, Razorbill and a Fulmar passed us and as we started to near Lundy their numbers increased.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 02
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Groups of 20 or so Manx Shearwater were active on either side of the ship, shearing gracefully over the waves in the strong wind. We spotted several pairs of what appeared to be adult and fledgling Guillemots sitting on the water and paddling away as the boat approached.

Although we all watched keenly we did not spot any cetaceans but as we sailed into the sheltered waters of the cloud-topped island there were 3 or 4 Grey Seal popping their heads up to watch us tie up to the quay.

Low cloud was covering the top of the island and very strong winds battered the west side. After a short walk around the southwest corner of the island and saying hello to the little piglets in the farm I took shelter in the warmth of the Marisco Tavern for lunch and then headed back down to explore the rock pools and seashore close to the landing bay.

GBB Gull Peter Howlett 08
Great Black-backed Gull (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The first half of the return voyage was exhilarating but the strong wind and big waves made cetacean spotting tricky. However, we were entertained instead by close views of Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Guillemot and Razorbill as well as several Great Black-backed and Herring Gull that followed the ship. Several passengers also spotted jellyfish as we neared the mainland. As we enjoyed the calm and shelter of the estuary and approached Bideford I made my way to the bridge to thank Captain Jason and his crew for their help and assistance.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 2 July 2016

Posted 08 July 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Annette Dutton

Weather: Dry with sunny periods, sea state moderate, wind northwesterly

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 2 (mother and calf)
Grey Seal 4

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Shag
Oystercatcher
Guillemot
Razorbill
Kittiwake
Gannet
Manx Shearwater
Puffin

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Lundy Goat
Soay Sheep
Lundy pony
Wheatear
Meadow Pipit
Linnet
Swallow
House Martin

I arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour, collected my ticket from the office then waited in the queue to board the Oldenburg. After a short hold up due to an incident with the mobile gangway we all boarded and I went up to the bridge to say hello to Jason, the Captain and to sort my belongings out.

I started to go round the decks as soon as we left the harbour as I could see it was going to be a bit rough and we had already started to roll about a bit. The announcements were made then Julian announced my presence as MARINElife WLO and I waved at everyone which made it a lot easier to introduce myself. Many of the passengers were keen to find out what they may see on the journey and on Lundy, especially the Puffins.

Common Dolphin Charles McGibney 01
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Charles McGibney)

My first sighting was of a Gannet followed by a Manx Shearwater and an auk although. About half way across one of the nearby passengers alerted me to a couple of dolphins to the starboard side of the ship which I saw were a mother and her calf. The sightings of Gannet, Manx Shearwater and auks continued until we neared Lundy then a Razorbill hovered over us for a while providing a photo opportunity for one of the passengers and someone shouted 'Penguin'.

 

On the final approach to the Island I saw a Puffin bobbing about and as we were turning towards the Landing Stage I noted two Guillemot, four Manx Shearwater, a Gannet and a Shag. There were also two Grey Seal below the rocks of Mouse Island.

 

Leaving the Oldenburg, I stopped for a quick chat to Becky, the Warden, who was on the Landing Stage then wandered up towards the village. Although Becky had told me of the huge numbers of Puffin at Jenny's Cove, I decided to explore the south of the Island and took the road up to the Castle then followed the track past Hanmers cottage and stopped for lunch on the nearby bench. By now the skies were clear and it was lovely and warm on the sheltered eastern side of the Island but a passing couple told me it was quite windy on the western side.

Lundy Annette Dutton 07
Hanmers Cottage and the Lundy coast (Annette Dutton)

After lunch I walked along the southwest of the Island for a while and it was a lot cooler and quite windy which made cetacean watching tricky. I headed back towards St Helens Church and crossed back over to Shutter Point where I met a couple of the passengers who pointed out some rafting auks below, on closer inspection there were 12 Razorbill. Nearby I noticed a Grey Seal down below in the water and a Kestrel hovering nearby. I started to make my way back to the village, stopping to say hello to a Lundy foal before carrying on down to the Landing Stage.

The journey back was still a bit bumpy but it was sunny and warm and many of the passengers were having a snooze in the sun. I saw the same seabirds as on the way over with the usual Gannet by Bull Point and a juvenile Gannet passing Lee Bay but sadly no cetaceans this time. We arrived at Ilfracombe and I went back to the bridge to collect my bag and said goodbye to Jason and the crew as I left the Oldenburg.

 

MARINElife Survey Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 2 July 2016

Posted 02 July 2016

This survey was cancelled for logistical reasons.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 25 June 2016

Posted 29 June 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Lucy Grable

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 2
Harbour Porpoise 2
Grey Seal 6

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Manx Shearwater
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin
Kittiwake
Shag
Fulmar
Oystercatcher
Gannet
Cormorant

Terrestrial Birds
House Martin
Skylark
Starling
Common Swift
Swallow
Linnet
Jackdaw
Meadow Pipit
Wheatear
House Sparrow
Blackbird
Peregrine Falcon
Pied Wagtail
Mallard
Coot

Lundy wildlife
Sika Deer
Highland Cattle
Soay Sheep

After excitedly collecting my ticket from the shore office, I proceeded to board the beautiful MS Oldenburg where I was welcomed aboard by Jason the ship's Captain and his crew. I placed myself on the very popular outer decks to greet the passengers and tell them about the various marine wildlife often seen on the crossing.

Once leaving Bideford, the weather soon brightened up and I was very hopeful for a glimpse of some cetaceans. Unfortunately, the sea state soon crept up to a 4 which made this difficult. I did however spot a couple of Harbour Porpoise fins amongst the white caps, but they were too far away to alert the passengers. The outward journey to Lundy was fairly quiet to begin with. Once in the channel, small numbers of Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Herring Gull, Guillemot and Razorbill were seen, but it was not until we approached the island that the numbers really began to pick up.

Puffin Peter Howlett 02
Puffin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Arriving on Lundy, a large number of passengers that were last to disembark stopped along the jetty and joined me watching a few Grey Seals playing around Landing Bay. It was a beautiful day for a walk so I set off along the west coast of the island for magnificent views all around. I stopped for a quick pit stop at Jenny's Cove where there were large numbers of Puffin, Guillemot and Razorbill. A majority of the passengers were able to see the Puffins here and for many it was the highlight of their day. I then carried on walking along the island until I reached the three quarter wall before taking the central track back. Five Sika Deer were leaping and bounding across the track just ahead which was a delight to see as well as frequent Highland Cattle and Soay Sheep. A huge variety of bird species were spotted on my walk including Skylark, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Pied Wagtail and a single Peregrine Falcon.

Whilst waiting to board the Oldenburg for the return journey, I noticed a huge abundance of Moon Jellyfish and a single Compass Jellyfish floating in the Landing Bay. As we left Lundy behind us, a large number of Gannet were seen feeding which pleased the many photographers on-board. We were also treated to spectacular displays of Manx Shearwater for the majority of the return leg as well as the occasional floating auk.

Common Dolphin Ruth Griffith 02a
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Ruth Griffith)

The cetacean front was looking very quiet and as I was doing the rounds one lovely lady named Sally asked me if I had seen any marine mammals yet. Low and behold at that exact moment two Common Dolphin leapt out of the water 20 metres in front of us. Later, I asked Sally to ask me the same question again, but alas no more cetaceans appeared.

The return leg was much busier with queries from the passengers, however. Questions such as "how do dolphins sleep?" and "how do dolphins talk?" were answered as well as general identification questions.

Oldenburg Lucy Grable 01
Oldenburg in Landing Bay (Lucy Grable)

Just as we were approaching Bideford, I was greeted by Beccy Macdonald, Lundy's resident warden, and we had a quick chat about all things marine before disembarking. I had a fabulous first trip to Lundy and I cannot thank the Landmark Trust, Oldenburg crew and Beccy enough.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 18 June 2016

Posted 23 June 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Steve McAusland

Weather: Cloudy but clearing to sunny, westerly breeze, sea state 2

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals
Grey Seal 3

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater
Herring Gull
Kittiwake
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Fulmar
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin
Shag
Gannet

Terrestrial birds
Meadow Pipit
Wheatear
Starling
Carrion Crow
Jackdaw
House Sparrow
Wood Pigeon
Feral Pigeon
Swallow
Linnet
Blackbird
Dunnock
Oystercatcher
Skylark
Goldfinch

This week's Wildlife Officer Trip to Lundy Island began in Ilfracombe, the morning started cloudy but as we made our way towards Lundy the weather brightened up and soon the sun was shining.

The crew of MS Oldenburg welcomed the many passengers on board in their customary cheery manner. This particular voyage also had the people going to the island for the four day MARINElife experience led by Rick Morris and MARINElife Patron Maya Plass.

Gannet Steve McAusland 06
Gannet (Steve McAusland)

After a brief chat on the bridge with Jason, the ship's captain, I began my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to as many interested passengers as possible. As usual the conversations were positive and it's always great to hear other likeminded people's wildlife experiences.

As the ship left Ilfracombe harbour, the first birds of note were Gannet, followed by Fulmar and Manx Shearwater, all were seen within a mile of the harbour. We soon had many Kittiwake, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and a few distant Great Black-backed Gull.

As the Oldenburg approached the Lundy landing bay the first of three Grey Seal was seen bobbing effortlessly. My afternoon was spent at Jenny's Cove scanning the nesting birds, here there were good numbers of Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill and Kittiwake.

Puffin Steve McAusland 01
Puffin (Steve McAusland)

Just before we left Lundy Rat Island provided a further Grey Seal. The return sailing was rather quiet but six rafting Puffin were seen off the port side, much to many peoples delight.

We arrived back in Ilfracombe harbour and I thanked Jason, the captain and his crew, for another successful day on behalf of MARINElife and I look forward to my next Lundy Wildlife Officer trip in July.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 11 June 2016

Posted 12 June 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Rick Morris

Weather: Cloudy with sunny periods. Winds SW 1-3

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals:
Common Dolphin 4
Harbour Porpoise 13
Grey Seal 2

Seabirds:
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Manx shearwater
Gannet
Kittiwake
Fulmar
Shag
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin
Oystercatcher

Terrestrial Birds on Lundy:
Swallow
Starling
Carrion Crow
Jackdaw
Raven
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Wheatear
Skylark
Pied Wagtail
House Sparrow
Mallard
Rock Dove
Greylag Goose
Peregrine Falcon
Kestrel
Robin

The drive down to Ilfracombe had me wondering if I was going to get wet today as there were several showers on the way but upon reaching the harbour the dark skies lightened, the rain stopped and it stayed dry all day.

After popping into the shore office to say hello to Jacqui and Kate I joined the passengers waiting to board the 'Oldenburg' and once aboard went to the bridge to equip myself with camera and binoculars and headed out to talk to those on-board about the diversity of wildlife we see on the crossings to Lundy and on the island itself.

Rock Pipit Rick Morris 01
Rock Pipit - a common bird around Lundy's cliffs (Rick Morris)

We slipped our mooring at 10:00 under an overcast sky with light winds and a fair sea state offering good chances of spotting cetaceans! We had just left Bull Point behind us when 4 Common Dolphin appeared around 300m off the stern with a couple of passengers able to get views. Shortly after this the first Harbour Porpoise were seen with further sightings on the journey out to Lundy, thanks to a sea state of 2. This did increase to a 3 around the halfway point, but still good enough to pick out rafting auks, gulls and Manx Shearwater. Gannet numbers were still very low with only 8 seen throughout the whole day.

A Grey bull Seal was seen 'bottling' watching us watching him and again I managed to get lots of passengers to see.  We continued to get plenty of auks with the occasional charismatic Puffin as we headed into the Landing Bay under the watchful eye of another Grey Seal.

Puffin Rick Morris 04
Puffins in Jenny's Cove (Rick Morris)

I decided to walk straight up to Jenny's Cove (now under blue skies) and take in the stunning views whilst consuming the contents of my lunchbox. I was joined on my walk by a few different folk that wanted to know I bit more about our work and what to see on the island.

It was soon time to return to the ship and I made my way back via the 'Old Light', the village and down through Millcombe Valley. Having arrived at the landing jetty with plenty of time to spare, I popped into 'Devil's Kitchen' and sat watching a couple of seals with Oystercatcher noisily flying around. The wind and sea had picked up slightly for the return making it a little more difficult for distant sightings but Harbour Porpoise and a good variety of seabirds were still observed. A passenger alerted me to a single shearwater and, once I got onto it, I was able to see that in fact it was a juvenile Gannet. Shortly afterwards the 'round the world' yacht 'Challenge Wales' appeared off the port side offering great views.

Lundy path Rick Morris
The main track on Lundy (Rick Morris)

Arriving at Ilfracombe, Jason (captain) skillfully maneuvered us past some yachts to get to our mooring and once tied off, I said my thanks and joined the passengers to alight. My thanks to the crew, the Landmark Trust, shore office and island staff for all their help and support.

MARINElife Survey Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 4 June 2016

Posted 08 June 2016

Rick Morris and Ruth Crundwell, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Out: overcast with reduced visibility, wind easterly 1-2
Return: cloudy with sunny spells, good visibility, wind easterly 1-2

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena 19
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 60
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2

Seabirds:
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 38
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 9
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 20
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 7
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Puffin Fratercula arctica 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 137
Razorbill Alca torda 66
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 2
Gull sp. 1
Auk sp. 6

We arrived in Ilfracombe on a warm misty Saturday morning, meeting Annette the WLO for this trip outside the shore office. Boarding the MS Oldenburg we made our way to the bridge and were greeted by Jason the Captain. We also met Beccy Macdonald, Lundy's resident warden who had been staying on the 'mainland' for a few days.

We left around 10 am, heading out into a near flat sea with a light sea mist. Just as we were leaving the harbour before the survey had officially started, Harbour Porpoise were seen around the headland much to the delight of those on board and on shore. After that hopes of sighting more cetaceans were high.

Common Dolphin Rick Morris 04
Common Dolphin (Rick Morris)

The flat calm sea made it easy to see even single birds just loafing on the water. Beccy helped out with sightings too and we observed a good number of seabirds including Guillemot, Razorbill and Gannet throughout the outward journey. A Grey Seal was sighted at 10.35 near Bull Point, then the welcome sight of a fin belonging to a Harbour Porpoise at 11.05. This was closely followed by sightings of more Harbour Porpoise and also Common Dolphin - at times on both sides of the ship which kept us busy until we landed on Lundy. A surprise sighting of 4 Storm Petrels two of which were together also added to the excitement and were the bird highlight of the day.

Moon jellyfish could be seen in the harbour near the jetty as we made our way up the hill to walk to Jenny's Cove, where we had our lunch watching puffins and other auks on their cliff nesting spots.

The return journey was equally as busy with sightings of Harbour Porpoise, Common Dolphin as well as a variety of auk species, Manx Shearwater, Fulmar, Gannet and gulls.

Common Dolphin Rick Morris 05
Common Dolphin (Rick Morris)

After arriving back in Ilfracombe we said our thanks to the crew of MS Oldenburg particularly Jason and Vernon who had looked after us so well and set off for a fish supper at the Lynbay chippy and to reflect on a fantastic survey.

Our thanks to the Oldenburg's crew, shore staff, and all on Lundy for all the help and support.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 4 June 2016

Posted 07 June 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Annette Dutton

Weather: Overcast, Sea State slight, Wind light

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 1
Common Dolphin 60+
Harbour Porpoise 10+

Seabirds

Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Shag
Oystercatcher
Guillemot
Razorbill
Kittiwake
Gannet
Manx Shearwater
Storm Petrel
Puffin

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Highland Cattle
Soay Sheep
Wheatear
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Linnet
Swallow
House Martin

It was a bit overcast when I arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour but the sea state was calm so I was hopeful of spotting cetaceans on the way over to Lundy Island. I met up with Rick Morris and Ruth Crundwell who were doing the monthly survey then we boarded the Oldenburg and went up to the bridge to say hello to Jason, the Captain and to deposit my belongings. Becky MacDonald, the Lundy Warden was on board returning to the Island so we had a quick chat before I went back onto the deck.

Shortly after leaving Ilfracombe Harbour and whilst waiting for the tannoy announcements to finish, I spotted 2 Harbour Porpoise in the distance looking towards the Welsh Coast, a mother and calf. As we headed offshore the cloud cleared and it was sunny and warm as I started my tour of the decks to engage with the passengers. I soon started to note the many Guillemot and Razorbill I would see on the crossing along with regular sightings of Gannet. About half way across Bideford Bay I noticed movement on the water towards Hartland Point and made out a couple of Common Dolphin but they were too far away to alert the passengers.

Common Dolphin Annette Dutton 01
Common Dolphin (Annette Dutton)

As we neared Lundy Island the sea state became very calm and glassy, I spotted some disturbance in the distance over on the starboard side which on closer inspection was several Common Dolphin then a group of passengers were pointing to the north of the island where there was a large number of them feeding along with several Manx Shearwater. Then a passenger alerted me to a small seabird flying past which he thought was a Storm Petrel, luckily he had an impressive camera and from the photos we initially thought it might have been a Wilson's Petrel but further investigation by Becky proved it to be a juvenile Storm Petrel. The Oldenburg stopped for several minutes to allow the passengers to enjoy the spectacle then carried on to the landing stage.

I re-joined Rick and Ruth and we made our way up to the village and over to Jenny's Cove for lunch. We sat in the warm sunshine watching the spectacle of the many Puffin along with Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Fulmar and other seabirds, we also spotted a male Grey Seal in the bay and heard the call of the Peregrine Falcon.

Puffin Annette Dutton 01
Puffins (Annette Dutton)

After lunch and taking many photographs we walked back to the village and down to the landing bay, stopping at the Marisco Tavern to say hello to head barman Grant Sherman.

There were more passengers on the journey back and the Oldenburg glided through the glassy sea. Again, we passed many Guillemot and Razorbill along the way then after about 35 minutes I spotted a couple of Common Dolphin in the distance from the port side then suddenly a larger group were fast approaching the Oldenburg and swam around the bow to the starboard side. The passengers were ecstatic as the dolphins played in the bow waves then in the wash at the rear of the Oldenburg. Afterwards, one of the passengers pointed out a huge Bull Grey Seal bobbing about then I had another brief glimpse of a couple of Porpoise.

The auks stayed with us until we neared Bull Point where the sky was now overcast and it was a lot cooler. During the rest of the journey I only saw a single Gannet along the coastline around Lee Bay.

On the approach to Ilfracombe Harbour I re-joined Rick and Ruth on the bridge and we gathered our belongings, said our goodbyes to Jason and thanked him and the crew for their help and hospitality on the trip.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 28 May 2016

Posted 03 June 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Andy Gilbert

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 3

Seabirds
Fulmar
Gannet
Herring Gull
Lesser black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Razorbill
Guillemot
Manx Shearwater
Shag
Cormorant
Puffin
Kittiwake

Lundy Birds
Oystercatcher
Goldfinch
Blackbird
Chiffchaff
Raven
Wren
Carrion Crow
Peregrine Falcon
Skylark
Kestrel
Wheatear
Meadow Pipit
Wood Pigeon
Starling
House Sparrow

With the SS Oldenburg almost full to capacity on this bank holiday weekend, we cruised out of the harbour and into the Bristol Channel to find a millpond - sea state zero. Excited at the perfect cetacean spotting conditions, and having toured the decks introducing myself, I set myself up on the top deck with a number of passengers ready to make the most of the conditions.

Grey Seal Peter Howlett 03
Grey Seal (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

After a couple of Razorbill and Fulmar we spotted a male Grey Seal in the water checking us out as we passed by. Unfortunately soon after that the sea mist descended and we were shrouded in fog for the rest of the journey with little more sighted than a few more auks and a Manx Shearwater disappearing into the fog.

However, once on Lundy I climbed the path from the landing bay and emerged through the fog into beautiful sunshine and the island in all its spring glory. I walked the eastern coast path past Bluebells, Sea Pinks and Red Campion and spotted lots of Green-veined White butterflies on the wing in the sunshine. I could see and hear a Chiffchaff in one of the copses and came across a group of Sika Deer quietly observing my passing.  As I approached Quarter Wall I could hear a Peregrine calling and spent some time locating it on the cliff.

Peregrine Peter Howlett 02
Peregrine Falcon (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

After eating my lunch on the cliffs I headed up onto the central plateau and found a Kestrel hunting above the heath studded with the tiny yellow flowers of Tormentil. Many Skylark flew and sang as I crossed the island to take a seat above Jenny's Cove and watch the Puffin, Fulmar and Guillemots.

Back at the landing beach a couple of Grey Seals popped out of the water to observe us as we queued to board the ship for the return journey. The fog had cleared for the trip back to Ilfracombe and the sea state had risen a little. However, that didn't help matters and it was a very quiet journey back.

Many thanks to Captain and crew of the Oldenburg for always making us welcome and supporting our work.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 21 May 2016

Posted 24 May 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Overcast, wind southerly, sea state moderate

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 4

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Shag
Oystercatcher
Guillemot
Razorbill
Kittiwake
Gannet
Manx Shearwater
Great Skua

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Lundy Pony
Lundy Goat
Swallow
House Martin
Peregrine Falcon

It was damp and drizzly when I reached Ilfracombe Harbour and I wondered what the visibility was going to be like on the crossing over to Lundy Island. I boarded the Oldenburg and went up to the bridge to say hello to Jason, the Captain, and to collect my MARINElife jacket.

The sun had made an appearance as we left the Harbour and I waited until the tannoy announcements had been made along with the additional announcement regarding the presence of a MARINElife WLO on board before making my way around the decks to chat to the passengers. I immediately saw a Gannet then shortly afterwards Julian, one of the crew came over and said he had just seen a Porpoise. I carried on talking to the passengers about the work of MARINElife and what wildlife we could see on the crossing and on the Island.

Lundy Old Light Annette Dutton 01
The Old Light on Lundy (Annette Dutton)

The sea state made moving around the decks a bit challenging and as we moved away from the coastline towards Bideford Bay it began to rain and this put a stop to my tour. I was unable to use my binoculars but managed to see several Gannet, Manx Shearwater and Great Black-backed Gull on the journey.

We approached the landing stage from the north of the island so I was unable to see if there were any seals on the rocks but I could see the row of Shag along the top of Mouse Island. As we landed the rain stopped but I could see the top of the Island was enveloped in cloud.

I made my way up to the village, keeping an eye out for seals in the bay on the way and stopping to say hello to Becky, the Warden. As I walked up a Peregrine Falcon flew by much to the delight of those on the guided walk who were behind me. I arrived at the village and the visibility was grim so I wandered over to the Old Light which was invisible until I was almost upon it. I was accompanied by the many Swallows and House Martins on the island but I didn't see or hear any other birds. I arrived at the Lighthouse and sat and ate my lunch in the newly refurbished lower light room which is an ideal place to shelter from inclement weather.

Lundy goat Annette Dutton 01
An impressive Lundy Goat (Annette Dutton)

The visibility still hadn't improved after lunch so I didn't go to Jenny's Cove as planned and made my way back to the village and over to the Castle. The mist lifted as I approached the village and I could see the sea and the Devon coast again. At the Castle I saw several Lundy Goat sat below on the grass and I noticed several Gannet flying over the sea, I scoured the waves for cetaceans but sadly saw none. I then noticed two Grey Seals in Devil's Kitchen below and as I walked back along the path down to the road I saw 2 more further along the coast.

We left Lundy and soon had regular sightings of Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Guillemot and the odd Razorbill along the way. As we passed Bull Point I saw what I thought was either a piece of wood or a seal bobbing on the water but as we got nearer it turned out to be a Great Skua. I saw several more Gannet along the coastline around Lee Bay but again no Porpoise.

We arrived back at Ilfracombe and as I had already collected my belongings, I managed to be first off the Oldenburg. Thanks again to Jason, Vernon, Julian and the crew for their help and kindness on the trip.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 14 May 2016

Posted 19 May 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Rick Morris

Weather: Mostly sunny with light easterly winds

Summary of sightings

Marine mammals:
Harbour Porpoise 2
Grey Seal 1

Seabirds:
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Manx Shearwater
Gannet
Kittiwake
Fulmar
Shag
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin
Oystercatcher

Terrestrial Birds on Lundy:
Swallow
Starling
Carrion Crow
Jackdaw
Raven
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Wheatear
Skylark
Pied Wagtail
House Sparrow
Mallard
Peregrine Falcon
Linnet
Robin
Wren
Dunnock
House Martin

It was a glorious sunny morning when I arrived in Ilfracombe with light easterly winds. I walked down to the harbour from the long stay car park and looking out to sea was pleased to see it looked quite calm and so I was hopeful of some cetacean sightings.

We set off on time at 10am and I made my way around the decks to have a chat with the passengers. I try to get folk to keep an eye out toward land as we head out toward Morte Point as we often get Harbour Porpoise in this area, unfortunately we saw none, although a solitary Grey Seal was seen feeding just over the halfway point. Seabirds were also very low on the outward trip (many are now on the breeding sites), with most noticeably no Gannet or Manx Shearwater seen.

Jennys Cove Rick Morris 01
Seabirds on the ledges in Jenny's Cove (Rick Morris)

Once on Lundy I decided to walk straight to Jenny's Cove to have lunch and watch the Puffin coming and going from their burrows, with a total of 57 counted. Also in good numbers on the ledges were Guillemot  together with Razorbill, Fulmar and Kittiwake. Around me you could hear the resident Meadow Pipit and Skylark and on the rocks beside me I had a Rock Pipit and Linnet for company.

For the walk back I chose the west side path to look into some of the bays in the hope of seeing seals and this produced a couple sightings. Reaching the village I stopped for a chat with some of the staff before heading down to the ship via Millcombe valley.

Puffin Rick Morris 02
Puffins on the sea in Jenny's Cove (Rick Morris)

Bird numbers increased for the return to Ilfracombe with regular sightings of Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Gannet and a few small groups of Manx Shearwater. Upon reaching the North Devon coast I again gave more attention to looking toward land and this time was rewarded with 2 Harbour Porpoise swimming leisurely along past Lee Bay toward Bull Point. The sighting was all the more rewarding as I managed to get a good number of passengers onto them.

Arriving back into Ilfracombe Harbour (again in full sunshine), I popped onto the bridge to say farewell to Jason and Vernon and made my way home.

My thanks to the crew, the Landmark Trust, shore office and island staff for all their help and support.

Verity Rick Morris 02
Verity, Ilfracombe (Rick Morris)

MARINElife Survey Report: MV Oldenburg Ilfracombe-Lundy 7 May 2016

Posted 17 May 2016

Fiona McNie and Elizabeth Hall  Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Wind E-SE 3-4, sea state 3, visibility very good, mainly cloudy.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 1
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 1

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 14
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 11
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 4
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 60 (50 on cliffs)
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 11
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 15
Guillemot Uria aalge 19
Razorbill Alca torda 43
Gull sp.  8
Tern sp.  1
Auk sp.  8

Terrestrial birds
Swallow Hirundo rustica 1

The journey out to Lundy was exciting as usual, but perhaps from recent rain, a very large amount of natural debris such as branches and logs were floating on the surface. It's amazing how many dorsal fin shapes there are in logs, and more than one log had us fooled and excited - though just for a few seconds!

BND Peter Howlett 07
Bottlenose Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

On approaching Lundy, the captain decided to head for the north of the island and travel down the length of it to the harbour, allowing passengers and surveyors the chance to see birds nesting in the cliffs on Lundy.  On the way back we experienced a large spring tide, which lead to so some rougher areas of sea in the races and also the Oldenburg travelling effortlessly back at very fast speeds of around 17 knots, which lead to a slightly shorter than normal return survey.

Although the crew have not been seeing many dolphins, we were graced with two sightings of dolphins - once on the journey out and once on the way back and, although not seen by the survey team, the WLO on board also managed to spot some Harbour Porpoise which some passengers on the deck saw.

common dolphin Peter Howlett 24
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The birds kept us busy, with a steady flow of auks, shearwater, and gulls, though not in high numbers. The birds also took advantage of the floating logs with many seen using them as resting platforms.

Thanks again to the crew on the Oldenburg, for allowing us to survey, and for being so hospitable to surveyors.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 7 May 2016

Posted 14 May 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Steve McAusland

Weather: Sea state was force 1 to 2 with westerly winds. Cloudy at first then hot and sunny on Lundy

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans
Common Dolphin 1
Harbour Porpoise 4
Grey Seal 1

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Kittiwake
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Fulmar
Guillemot
Razorbill
Shag
Gannet
Swallow
Common Tern

Birds on Lundy
Puffin
Meadow Pipit
Wheatear
Starling
Raven
House Sparrow
Wood Pigeon
Swallow
Robin
Blackbird
Oystercatcher
Skylark
Wren
Carrion Crow
Chaffinch
Goldfinch
Jackdaw
Mallard
Pied Wagtail
Chiffchaff
Willow Warbler
Whitethroat
Spotted Flycatcher

I arrived in Ilfracombe at 9:30am for my second Lundy trip of 2016 where the weather was dry and cloudy. I collected my ticket from the Landmark Trust office and proceeded to board the MS Oldenburg. Upon making my way up to the bridge I was welcomed on-board by Jason the ship's Captain. Entering the bridge's office I met up with Fiona McNie and Liz Hall who were on board to do this month's survey.

Steve McAusland WLO
Steve McAusland hard at work on the Oldenburg

Following introductions I left and proceeded to start my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to the passengers. As the Oldenburg got under way I started to chat to many passengers about the possibility of seeing cetaceans. It's always a great moment when you explain to passengers that there is a good chance of spotting dolphins, porpoises, seals and much more. The ones I did speak to were very interested in the work of MARINElife and took a leaflet with a view to logging on to the website and to hopefully support the charity in the future.

One of the passengers was Charles McGibney who also volunteers for MARINElife whom I met last year when he did a Lundy survey. Charles was going to the island and staying for a number of days to do university research work relating to the Lundy seals.

Grey Seal Steve McAusland 08
Grey Seal (Steve McAusland)

As the ship passed Morte Point on the mainland we had our first sightings of Harbour Porpoise. Two animals about five minutes apart. During the crossing there were lots of trees and large branches floating by, one in the distance even looked like a tail fluke which got everyone's attention for a few seconds, sadly it was just the remains of another tree! Birds of note were Manx Shearwater and Gannet along with Guillemot and Razorbill rafting as the ship passed them by. The usual common gulls were seen along with Kittiwake and Fulmar.

As the Oldenburg made its way slowly towards the landing bay there was no sign of any seals on the rocks, however, I did see one before returning to the ship. As the 208 passengers disembarked, they began making their way up to the higher levels. I joined up with Fiona and Liz and we had lunch outside the island's shop. As Liz hadn't seen Puffins before we took the central track towards halfway wall, arriving at Jenny's Cove, I got my scope on to a total of fifteen Puffins both on the rocks and rafting on the sea. While we enjoyed the many birds and the stunning view we managed to assist over sixteen people in getting to see their very first Puffin. After a good hours spotting we began our walk back to meet up with Fiona for a cold drink in the Marisco Tavern, as we did, we saw Skylark, Meadow Pipit and many beautiful Wheatear.

Sika Steve McAusland 01
Sika Deer on Lundy (Steve McAusland)

Whilst walking back, the islands Sika Deer were spotted in a small group, the Lundy Ponies were grazing as too were the Highland Cattle. Other animals observed were the usual sheep and wild goats. The crossing back to Ilfracombe was a pleasant one and I got to chat to more people about MARINElife and I'm sure that there will certainly be a few Lundy day trippers looking to attend one of the training days that are organised for 2016.

Before disembarking I thanked Captain Jason for his and his crews' continued support for MARINElife. I look forward to my next trip in June.

 

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 30 April 2016

Posted 04 May 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Tony Chenery

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans:
Harbour Porpoise 1

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake
Fulmar
Guillemot
Razorbill
Shag
Manx Shearwater

I arrived at Ilfracombe in good time, excited to be embarking on my first Lundy trip and my first outing as a MARINElife WLO. As the Oldenburg started on its way, I made my way around the decks to introduce myself to the passengers trying to spot the wildlife enthusiasts among the many bank holiday trippers. Setting out from Ilfracombe harbour the sun shone and it was comfortable out on deck. With a sea state 2, conditions were very favourable for sighting cetaceans.

Harbour Porpoise Mike Bailey 02a
Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo: Mike Bailey)

Leaving Ilfracombe we encountered Herring Gulls and heading out to sea we came across Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Further on we saw Guillemot, Razorbill and Kittiwake. Approaching Lundy we encountered a single Harbour Porpoise, the Captain alerted me to its presence in front of the bow but it quickly trailed off to the port side. Coming up to the landing on Lundy we past several Shags and a lone Swallow flew past heading for the Island.

On Lundy I made my way around enjoying the scenery and wildlife, in particular a fall of Blackcaps and Willow Warblers that were flitting around in the sunlight among the available tree cover.

The return Journey quickly became exciting when we encountered several mixed feeding parties of Manx Shearwater, auks and Kittiwakes. As the feeding parties gradually grew smaller then disappeared we encountered Razorbill and Guillemot auks in ones, twos and threes.  Later these were added to by some Fulmar, several of which were intriguingly dark in colouration on the wings and back.

Razorbill Peter Howlett 07
Razorbill (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

I very much enjoyed my first trip as WLO. The return leg was particularly rewarding in terms of birdlife and it was interesting talking to some of the passengers that had been staying on Lundy, some of whom were particularly keen to hear about the work of MARINElife.

Thanks to the crew of the 'Oldenburg' for their help and assistance on my first trip as WLO.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 23 April 2016

Posted 28 April 2016

Annette Dutton MARINElife WLO

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 1

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Shag
Oystercatcher
Guillemot
Puffin
Kittiwake
Gannet
Manx Shearwater

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay Sheep
Lundy Pony
Highland Cattle
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Skylark
Wheatear
Swallow
House Martin

It was sunny but cool as I walked down to Ilfracombe Harbour and the sea looked fairly calm so I was hopeful for some cetacean sightings. I boarded the Oldenburg and went up to the bridge to say hello to Jason, the Captain, and to collect my MARINElife jacket.

I waited until the tannoy announcements had been made (including one about the presence of a MARINElife WLO on board) before making my way around the decks to chat to the passengers who were keen to know what wildlife they might see on the crossing and on Lundy when they arrived.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 02
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

I saw very little until we passed Morte Point then one of the passengers pointed out a feeding frenzy of around a dozen Manx Shearwaters, I thought I saw a fin amongst them but sadly it was a piece of wood floating on the water.

The journey was surprisingly calm and it was quite warm so many of the passengers were enjoying the trip on the outer decks. As we got nearer to Lundy, I saw several Guillemot and a lone Grey Seal bobbing about on the calm sea then as we approached the landing stage there were several Shag in their usual spot along the top of Mouse Island and a couple of Oystercatchers flew away from the rocks below.

After leaving the Oldenburg I walked up to the village and headed towards half way wall. It was like a summers day and I was accompanied by Swallows and House Martins flitting about with regular appearances of Wheatear and Skylarks.

Guillemot Annette Dutton 01
Guillemot colony at Jenny's Cove (Annette Dutton)

At half way wall I stopped to take some photos of the Highland Cattle and Soay Sheep with their lambs before turning towards Jenny's Cove. I found a perch looking down into the cove and soon spotted the many Guillemot on the cliff ledges along with a few Herring Gull and the odd Kittiwake. Amongst the Guillemot rafting on the water below I managed to make out several Puffin, a Peregrine called from close by but I wasn't quick enough to see it.

I ate my lunch whilst enjoying the view and the warm sun then I headed back towards the Old Light stopping now and again to see if I could spot any cetaceans in the calm sea - sadly there were none to be seen.

Wheatear Annette Dutton 01
Wheatear (Annette Dutton)

Walking down towards the Landing Bay I saw a Kestrel fly by and Oystercatchers on the rocks below.

The return journey started off with sightings of a Gannet and a lone Kittiwake followed by regular appearances of Guillemot. As we passed Morte Point four Gannet flew by low over the water so I searched for Porpoise but no joy then another three Gannet flew by but still no Porpoise.

We arrived back in Ilfracombe and I returned to the bridge to collect my belongings and to say goodbye to Jason and to thank him for a pleasant trip.