Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Recent Sightings

MARINElife Survey Report: 'MS Oldenburg' Bideford-Lundy 17 August 2019

Posted 20 August 2019

Judith Tatem, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather
Westbound: Cloudy brightening into sun, wind strong, sea state5-6, with large swell
Eastbound: Sunny then clouding over, wind moderate, sea state 4-5, with moderate swell

Summary of sightings

Seabirds:
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet  Morus bassanus 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 14
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 58
Black-headed Gull  Chroicocephalus ridibundus 7
Greater black-backed gull Larus marinus 5
Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 16
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 13

Estuary birds
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 1
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 2
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 12
Curlew Numenius arquata 15
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 5

It was a mild, windy day with the sun just starting to break through as we left the quay.  A mixed group of Little Egret and a Grey Heron sat on their usual tree in the Copse and a Mute Swan was on the edge of the marshes. Passing Appledore and heading out into the estuary small groups of mixed gulls flew around. Beyond the estuary bird sightings were few and consisted mainly of Guillemot with the odd Gannet and Manx Shearwater.

Manx Shearwater Mike Bailey 01a
Manx Shearwater (Library photo: Mike Bailey)

It was a beautiful day on Lundy. I walked up to the Marisco Tavern for a cup of coffee then around to the Castle for a view over the Lundy races. Shortly after noon I headed back down to the beach behind the information hut where I spent the afternoon happily rock pooling. It was interesting to note the number of very small edible crabs that were hiding under the boulders. On arriving back to the jetty, I noted that once again a Grey Seal was entertaining the waiting queue.

Puffin Peter Howlett 01a
Puffin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The passage back was quiet for bird sightings, although a lone Puffin did add to my list. Just before passing under the Torridge bridge a group of fifteen Curlew sat on the bank watching us go by before taking off with their plaintive calls.

My thanks go to the Captain and crew of the Oldenburg for their support and allowing MARINElife on board to continue this survey.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 3 August 2019

Posted 07 August 2019

Lundy/MARINElife Wildlife Officer: Jenny Ball

 

Weather: Out: calm seas, warm but overcast
Return: light south easterly breeze, warm and sunny, then rain

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin  5, with another 5-10 reported by passengers
Grey Seal

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

Land Birds
Little Egret
Curlew
Ringed Plover
Oystercatcher

There was an eclectic mix of passengers and freight on board for our sailing to Lundy this Saturday: a group of Slope Soaring Model Glider enthusiasts with their crates and strange-shaped bags of models, around 40 bell ringers from Exeter University, looking forward to spending time in St Helen's Church and a dayboat and trailer loaded onto the foredeck.  It's always an interesting journey on the Oldenburg!

A good number of passengers were looking out for dolphins, and though we had a couple of fairly fleeting sightings, I heard later from several people that a pod of between 5 and 10 animals had been seen shortly before we arrived at Lundy.  We saw a quite a few father/chick Guillemot groups and small flocks of Manx Shearwater were swirling round, whether getting ready for their migration or simply spending their day at sea, I'm not sure.

Lundy goats Jenny Ball 01
Lundy goats (Jenny Ball)

Taking advantage of the extra time on Lundy (a day sailing from Bideford gives around 6 hours on the island), I walked up the western side to the Northwest Point, keeping well out of the way of the feisty wild goats.  As the tide went out, some 20 Grey Seals hauled themselves out on the rocky slabs around the North Light to enjoy the sun, their eerie calls echoing round the coves.  Everywhere I went I found Painted Lady butterflies feeding on the heather, thistles and gorse - this summer's influx has clearly reached Lundy.

Grey Seal Jenny Ball 01
Grey Seals (Jenny Ball)

The breeze for the return journey was a little fresher but still warm and I spoke to a number of passengers about their stays on Lundy.  Several told me they had heard the Manx Shearwater calling at night and were interested to see a big flock of the birds swooping around near the ship.  A couple of Common Dolphin made an appearance alongside, just long enough for many of the passengers to see them.

As we turned into the River Torridge the rain started, bringing everyone down to shelter but by the time we disembarked all was clear again and I thanked Captain Paul and his crew for their kind hospitality on board the MS Oldenburg.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 27 July 2019

Posted 30 July 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Amanda Jones

Weather: Sunny, warm and dry, moderate NW, sea state moderate with some swell

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise
Common Dolphin
Grey seal

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Manx Shearwater
Guillemot
Cormorant
Kittiwake
Oystercatcher
Gannet

Other wildlife:
Barrel Jellyfish
Meadow Brown

Wildlife seen on Lundy:
Lundy pony
Swallow
Skylark
Starling
House Sparrow
Crow
Raven

Ilfracombe was buzzing with activity as I arrived in the warm sunshine. Herring Gulls joined in with the excitement with their young in the harbour. Boarding at low tide I introduced myself to the captain and crew and soon we were on our way to Lundy.

Some Harbour Porpoise were seen as we left the harbour then about halfway some Common Dolphin delighted the passengers as they breached from port to starboard in front of the bow. I made my way around the deck chatting to the passengers and describing my role and MARINElife's work. Some flotsam was seen and the genuine care shown by the people about conservation and plastic pollution was very apparent.

House Sparrow Amanda Jones 01
House Sparrow (Amanda Jones)

The mixture of younger and older people on board sharing an interest in conservation was inspiring. A Kittiwake was seen as we neared Lundy and Grey Seals were bottling as we entered the harbour.

Then a most surprising thing happened as I travelled up in the Landrover thanks to the warden and staff. I found myself amongst bell-ringers, here, then at lunch and on the way back to Ilfracombe. The church bells rang out on the island, new ropes were transported and being a handbell ringer myself we agreed that today quite a percentage of visitors were of the bell ringing kind.

On Lundy the House Sparrows were very active with their young. Skylark, Crows, Starlings, a few Herring Gull and some vocal Geese were visible. Herring Gulls have bad press but on Lundy the Warden explained that gulls have been very low in numbers after the Beast from the East last year and they are in decline. Outside the church the Swallows swooped low and close to me over the fields and into the church porch. Two Oystercatchers stood on the far rocks as we waited to board MS Oldenburg and several Grey Seals were bottling with one older pup sunbathing on the beach.

Grey Seal Amanda Jones 01
Grey Seal (Amanda Jones)

The return trip to Ilfracombe saw more seabirds, Manx Shearwater in greater numbers and a few Guillemot with the young and their fathers rafting in groups. One Barrel Jellyfish floated past and a few Gannets were spotted. Then back in the harbour amongst the Herring Gulls a lone Cormorant was diving for food.

I thanked the crew for their kindness and hospitality and look forward to seeing them again soon.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 20 July 2019

Posted 22 July 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Judith Tatem

Weather
Outward: mainly overcast at first, becoming sunny, wind NW 5/6, sea state moderate
Return: sunny, warm and dry, wind NW 2/3, sea state slight.

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals
Grey seal 2

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

River/Estuary
Mediterranean Gull
Black-headed Gull
Little Egret
Woodpigeon
Carrion Crow
Mallard
Stock Dove
Buzzard
Curlew
Shelduck
Redshank

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay sheep
Lundy pony
Highland cattle
Peregrine Falcon
Swallow
Skylark
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Goldfinch
Chaffinch
Wheatear
Starling
House Sparrow
Blackbird
Stonechat
Carrion Crow
Raven
Linnet
Oystercatcher
Woodpigeon
Meadow Brown
Red Admiral
Painted Lady

This was my second trip to Lundy from Bideford this year.  It was rather an overcast morning, however, hints of sun were beginning to show as I joined a happy group of people on the quayside.  By 8.30 we were boarding and I went to introduce myself to Captain Jason and crew on the bridge.  Donning my blue and white MARINElife hi-viz jacket I headed back out on to the deck.  Soon we were slipping under the Torridge bridge and passing the Copse I saw Little Egret sitting in the trees.  Near Appledore Herring, Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls were seen.

Manx Shearwater Rob Petley Jones 01a
Manx Shearwater (Library photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

I walked around the decks talking about the wildlife that could be seen at sea and on Lundy and also explained about MARINElife and their environmental role.  We crossed the Bar which was rather choppy and headed into the wind and out to Lundy.  Small groups of Guillemot and the odd Gannet started to appear.  Manx Shearwater, first in small groups, then after half way in groups of forty plus floated on the water or flew past.

Arriving on Lundy I headed part of the way up the hill and took the quiet path along east side, thereby enjoying the sunshine but missing the wind which was still blowing strongly.  Nearing V.C. Quarry a female Peregrine Falcon flew quickly past me.  Shortly afterwards I discovered the remains of a Manx Shearwater which had presumably been a very recent snack. I was interested to find one of the webbed feet which gave an idea of just how small the birds are.

Lundy Judith Tatem 03
Gannets' Bay, Lundy (Judith Tatem)

At various points along the track which took me along to Gannets' Bay, I could see groups of Grey Seals on the rocks or swimming around below.  A count of over sixty was reached before I left the east coast path.  I then headed to the village for a coffee, before returning to the landing jetty.

The boat departed at 5.30, watched from the bay by two Grey Seals.  The return journey was much calmer and bird sightings were once again dominated by Manx Shearwater.

Approaching Bideford there were several groups of Curlew on the marshes.  Once the Oldenburg was moored up at the quay, I went up to the bridge to thank Captain and crew for their kindness and hospitality.

MARINElife Survey Report: 'MS Oldenburg' Ilfracombe-Lundy 13 July 2019

Posted 21 July 2019

Rick Morris and Amanda Jones, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Westbound: Cloudy, wind moderate, sea state 3-4, with slight swell
Eastbound: Cloudy, wind moderate, sea state 3, with slight swell

Summary of sightings

Marine mammals:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 3
Unidentified Dolphin sp. 1

Seabirds:
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 5
Gannet  Morus bassanus 8
Guillemot Uria aalge 60
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 3
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 177
Razorbill Alca torda 11
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2

It was a mild, cloudy day with over 240 visitors boarding MS Oldenburg. As we waited to depart Ilfracombe harbour a Cormorant delighted us, fishing in the calm water, surfacing with a flat fish which soon disappeared as breakfast.

Cormorant Rick Morris 01
Cormorant (Rick Morris)

The crossing was soon underway and it was surprisingly quiet with sightings. One lone dolphin sp. leapt from the sea just once and was too quick to get an identification. Bird sightings were few and consisted mainly of auks with the odd Fulmar and Manx Shearwater.

Once on the island we walked to Jenny's Cove and saw many nesting and feeding Puffins flying back and forth. Amongst the Puffins were Razorbill, Guillemot and some Fulmar sat tightly on their nests. It was a beautiful day on Lundy and upon return to the harbour a young Grey Seal (about 9 months old) was enjoying a rest in a rather problematic position, right by the slipway. Most of the passengers were able to take close-up photos whilst we kept them and the seal safe from close proximity. He indulged in a bit of yawning, scratching and biting of his flippers in-between snoozing then an adult seal (possibly his mum) bobbed up on the opposite side of the harbour. Once we had all boarded MS Oldenburg for our return journey he was gone.

Grey Seal Rick Morris 13
9 month old Grey Seal (Rick Morris)

There were more bird sightings on the return trip with many Guillemots rafting, the fathers looking after their chicks. About halfway across three Common Dolphin were sighted, leaping to the starboard side and travelling in our easterly direction.

A group of over 80 Manx Shearwater were rafting and as we came nearer to Ilfracombe sightings quietened down once more.

Our thanks go to the Captain and crew of the Oldenburg for allowing us on board to continue this survey.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 6 July 2019

Posted 08 July 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Judith Tatem

Weather:  Sunny, warm and dry, wind light NNW, sea state slight.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 2
Dolphin sp. 2
Grey seal 1

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

Wildlife on the river/estuary:
Mediterranean Gull
Black-headed Gull
Grey Heron
Little Egret
Common Sandpiper
Woodpigeon
Carrion Crow
Pied wagtail
Mallard
Stock Dove
Buzzard
Curlew
Shelduck
Redshank

Wildlife on Lundy:
Greay Seal
Soay sheep
Lundy pony
Highland cattle
Sika Deer
Swallow
Skylark
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Kestrel
Goldfinch
Chaffinch
Wheatear
Starling
House Sparrow
Blackbird
Stonechat
Carrion Crow
Raven
Linnet
Willow Warbler
Pied Wagtail
Whitethroat
Oystercatcher
Woodpigeon
Meadow Brown
Red Admiral
Small Heath
Painted Lady
Common Blue
Silver Y

This was my first trip to Lundy from Bideford this year. It was a warm and sunny morning and I joined a very happy group of people on the quayside. By 8.00am we were boarding and I went to introduce myself to Captain Jason and the crew on the bridge. Donning my blue and white MARINElife hi-viz jacket I headed back out on to the deck. We were soon slipping under the Torridge bridge and passing the Copse there were Little Egret and Grey Heron sitting in the trees. Near Appledore Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls were seen.

I walked around the decks talking about the wildlife that could be seen at sea and on Lundy. Also explaining about the scientific work environmental role of MARINElife.

With the ebbing tide we were soon out of the estuary and passing the Fairway buoy. Small groups of Guillemot and the odd Gannet started to appear. About halfway across two Common Dolphins were seen in the distance. Nearing Lundy the number of Manx Shearwater, Guillemot and Razorbills increased and we were treated to our first sight of the Puffins. A lone Grey Seal watched us go by.

Lundy Judith Tatem 01
Looking south over Lundy from the Castle (Judith Tatem(

Arriving on Lundy I headed up the hill and took the path along the south west coast, stopping to look out over The Race from the Castle.

Further along young Wheatears flew along the path, and the scent the thyme bushes filled the air.

Lunching on the cliff top above Shutter Point there were a group of fourteen Grey Seals on the rocks below. Occasionally the sound of them singing floated up to the top of the cliffs. I then walked to Jenny's Cove and watched the Puffins on the cliffs below. All around the island rather faded Painted Lady butterflies fluttered around. Stopping by the Flagpole Lookout on the way back to the jetty we saw two seals to the north.

Lundy Judith Tatem 02
Thyme and Centuary sp. on Lundy (Judith Tatem)

The boat departed at 6.00pm watched from the rocks by two Oystercatchers.  On the journey back there were similar groups of seabirds including newly fledged young Guillemot at sea with their dads. There were a few very brief sightings of unidentified small cetaceans in the far distance. On two occasions some passengers briefly saw single dolphins closer to the ship but they couldn't be identified.

Approaching Bideford there were three Common Sandpipers on the river's edge. Shortly before arriving at the quay I went up to the bridge to thank Captain and crew for their kindness and hospitality.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Lundy-Bideford 22 June 2019

Posted 26 June 2019

Wildlife Officer: Jenny Ball

Weather: Return only - clear, light easterly breeze and slight sea state.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin  2

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

I was fortunate enough to have been staying on Lundy for a few days, so I was pleased to be able to chat to returning passengers on the trip back to Bideford.  It had been a warm and sunny, but breezy day, perfect for enjoying the walks and views on the island, and all those I spoke to had had a marvellous day out.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 47
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The major excitement of the trip was a good sighting of two cetaceans, surfacing very close to the port side of the Oldenburg.  Although I didn't see them myself, a number of passengers described them quite confidently, so I'm sure they were Common Dolphin.  There were another couple of brief sightings, and we had several children on dolphin-watch for a while, but sadly no further views.  The crew reported that they had seen a large group of perhaps 40-50 dolphins earlier in the week, and apparently the Lundy warden had also seen them feeding in Jenny's Cove.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 02
Manx Shearwater (Library photo Peter Howlett)

We came across a good number of Manx Shearwater, always a pleasure to watch, and I was able to get a couple of passengers to identify them with confidence.  As we neared Bideford, we passed a returning fishing vessel with a flock of mixed gulls swirling around it but as it was getting late we didn't see many other birds as we sailed up the river.

Our thanks, as ever, go to the Oldenburg's captain Jason and his friendly crew for welcoming us on board their ship.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 22 June 2019

Posted 24 June 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Kevin Waterfall

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Common Dolphin 25+
Harbour Porpoise 1
Grey Seal 6

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

We left Bideford quayside and sailed down the River Torridge with a good clear commentary over the public address explaining the role of the various buildings on the banks and the history of the region, as well as pointing out gulls, herons, Shelduck and Curlews that were on the mud flats and river edges. My role on board was also announced which helped to make people feel confident in approaching me to ask for advice and information.

Both the outward crossing and my return one on 25th were in good sunshine and a calm sea, for the return it was mirror calm and never above sea state 1. I was very optimistic of some cetacean sightings and whilst there were only two dolphins seen on the way out there were lots of Common Dolphins on the return crossing.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 36
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Heading out into the channel, I made my way around the decks to introduce myself to the passengers, asking what their interests were and explaining that MARINElife are now working in partnership with the Landmark Trust who manage Lundy Island, to enhance the crossing by giving guidance and help. It was also helpful as a way to find those people who were keen birders or were watching out for cetaceans.

We had a steady stream of  gulls, auks and Manx Shearwater as we headed for the North Light of Lundy and by the time it was in sight we had witnessed lots of Manx skimming across the surface and seen rafts of Razorbills and Guillemots. We started to pick up Shags as we approached the island and the captain took the Oldenburg along the East Coast such that we could see the gull colonies and some of the Grey Seals that lounge about on the rocks or spy hop from the waters close to Gannet Rock.

Reaching Lundy, quite a few people made their way up to Jenny's cove to watch the Puffins, either on their own, or in one of the guided walks lead by the Island wardens. It's good to see that the two colonies of Puffins have now expanded and a third one is active just north of The Battery. Seabirds are doing well on Lundy and many have increased in the last few years since rats were eradicated.

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

The return back to Ilfracombe on 25th was a steady flow of sightings of auks, especially families of Guillemot and Razor Bills actively fishing, plus Common Scoter and Gannet and a sighting of a Harbour Porpoise as we left Lundy. The best was yet to come with over 25 Common Dolphins being seen around mid-channel. They were in groups of three to five at a time breaching and leaping out of the water to the great delight of the passengers, especially the primary school party on board. According to the ship's officers this has been common on the return crossings over the last month with up to 50 dolphins at a time.

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

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 15 June 2019

Posted 21 June 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Christine Roberts

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin 2

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

After collecting my ticket from the Shore office I met fellow MARINElife volunteer Hazel, who was to be conducting a  MARINElife survey from the bridge of the ship during our sailing. We boarded the ship and were welcomed by the crew. While Hazel prepared for her survey, I collected my MARINElife Hi-Vis vest and headed out to meet fellow passengers.

Guillemot Peter Howlett 21
Guilemot (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Although there were some changeable weather conditions on our outward journey, the visibility was good and we were soon enjoying views of a variety of seabirds. Initially, Herring Gull, Lesser and Great Black-backed Gull then later good sightings of Gannet and Guillemot both in flight and resting on the water. Closer to Lundy we began to see good numbers of Manx Shearwater on the wing and a couple of Puffin. As we reached Lundy, a large Grey Seal was hauled out on the rocks near the landing stage and as we waited to disembark, we spotted several moon jellyfish in the clear shallow waters by the ship.

After a brisk walk up the hill, I headed up to Jenny's Cove. A superb sight, particularly at this time of year. The cliffs were alive with constant activity of Puffins outside their burrows, nesting Fulmars and large numbers of Guillemot huddled on the ledges. On the water were good numbers of Puffin and Guillemot with some Razorbills among them.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 37
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Heading back to the village, there was time for a cup of tea in the Marisco Tavern and a quick beachcomb before boarding the ship for our return journey. Sunshine and light winds blessed our return sailing.  Seabird sightings were reasonably quiet with Guillemot, Puffin and Gannets seen but as we neared Ilfracombe, 2 Common Dolphin were seen close by on the port side of the ship. A super end to the trip!

We thanked the crew for their assistance and disembarked.

MARINElife Survey Report: 'MS Oldenburg' Ilfracombe-Lundy 15 June 2019

Posted 20 June 2019

Hazel Munt, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Summary of sightings

Marine mammals:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 2

Seabirds:
Herring Gull Larus argentatus
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis
Guillemot Uria aalge
Razorbill Alca torda
Puffin Fratercula arctica
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Gannet Morus bassanus
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Swallow Hirundo rustica

The morning started beautifully, clear but with nice cloud cover.  I met Christine Roberts the WLO in the que to the tickets and after a little chat whilst the passengers embarked we headed to the ship.  We had the wonderful Jason as captain who as always was extremely welcoming and always helpful. I helped Christine find the leaflets and her HI-VIS. I also had a chat with the rest of the crew before we set off.

Puffin Peter Howlett 13
Puffin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Although clear and overcast the sea state was not too forgiving to begin with, especially viewing from the bridge so I had to head to the left side of the outside deck so I wasn't looking through salt spray.  However, we saw a few gull species shortly after setting off and also the odd Fulmar. As we crossed towards Lundy the swell was quite large with a few waves crashing over the bow, despite this we managed to see a few Guillemot and Razorbill. Fortunately, as we got closer to Lundy the swell reduced making it easier to see resting individuals with a few Gannet and even a couple of Puffin logged.

As we neared Lundy we saw the usual coastal species such as Cormorant and Great Black-backed Gull and there was a single Grey Seal hauled out close to the dock. In the calmer waters at the landing stage there were also moon jellies to be seen.

I met up with the WLO and we had a march up the hill and then went our separate ways. I walked to the halfway wall and watched Grey Seals diving and resurfacing along the coast, with Wheatears and Meadow Brown butterflies flying close by and the odd Great Black-backed Gull gliding in the distance.  I then walked over to west side and Jenny's cove and watched the hundreds of auks on the water including many Puffin.

Common Dolphin Rick Morris 01b
Common dolphin (Library photo: Rick Morris)

We headed back for the return journey said hello to Dean and Sian the warden and assistant warden and found our places on the ship, mine on the bridge on the inside this time as the conditions were flat and crystal clear. There still wasn't much to be seen, just a few auks and gulls but as we came parallel to the Devon coast two very showy Common Dolphins made it worth the wait and as we docked back in Ilfracombe we were welcomed by a large number of Herring Gulls flying around. This sudden injection of excitement made a great end to the trip.  I said my goodbyes and thanked Jason and his team and headed back to Woolacombe for the night before my journey home.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 1 June 2019

Posted 03 June 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Judith Tatem

Weather: Sunny, warm and dry, wind light SW, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise 3
Common Dolphin 3
Grey seal 2

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay sheep
Lundy pony
Highland cattle
Swallow
House Martin
Skylark
Meadow Pipit
Goldfinch
Chaffinch
Wheatear
Starling
House Sparrow
Blackcap
Crow
Linnet
Pied Wagtail
Red Admiral
Common Blue
Small Heath

This was my second trip to Lundy this year and I was really looking forward to seeing how the season had moved on. Once again It was a warm and sunny morning and I joined a very happy group of people on Ilfracombe pier. By 9.30am we were boarding and I went to introduce myself to the Captain, Jason and crew on the bridge. Donning my blue and white MARINElife hi-viz jacket I headed back out on to the deck as we were departing the outer arm of the pier, watched by a group of Herring Gulls, to walk around the decks talking about the wildlife that could be seen at sea and on Lundy.  I also explained about MARINElife and their environmental role.

The early part of the journey was quiet on the wildlife front with just the occasional groups of gulls and distant views of Fulmar and Gannet. About half way out we started to see groups of Guillemot floating on the sea and were entranced by flocks of thirty or more Manx Shearwater skimming over the waves. Nearer to Lundy two Harbour Porpoise approached the boat and dived, followed almost immediately by three Common Dolphin coming alongside and staying around to have a short ride at the stern. Just before we arrived on Lundy a Harbour Porpoise was seen in the distance towards the Hartland coast.

Lundy west coast Judith Tatem 01
Lundy west coast (Judith Tatem)

Arriving on Lundy I decided to head to see the Puffins. On the way from the landing jetty a large Grey Seal bottled in the cove. I passed several plants of the Lundy Cabbage and saw a couple of Common Blue butterflies when passing the garden of Millcombe house. Six weeks after my previous visit to Jenny's Cove there were far more Puffins visible over a wider area of the cliff. Lunch was very stretched out whilst I enjoyed the views and sounds of the sea bird colony and the Atlantic waves below.

On my way back across the island via the Old Light House Wheatears bobbed and Small Heath Butterflies flew amongst the short grasses. On the granite walls Navelwort climbed out of the joints. Down once more on the jetty I found my fellow passengers being entertained by a young Grey seal.

We departed shortly after 4.00pm.  There were far fewer bird sightings on the way back, however the glorious early evening sun highlighted the North Devon coast.  A lovely end to another Lundy trip.  Shortly before arriving in Ilfracombe I went up to the bridge to thank them for their kindness and hospitality.

Navelwort Judith Tatem
Navelwort (Judith Tatem)

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 25 May 2019

Posted 31 May 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny and dry, light breeze, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin 2
Common Dolphin 6+
Harbour Porpoise 4
Grey Seal 8

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay sheep
Lundy pony
Sika Deer
Swallow
Skylark
House Martin
Wheatear

I arrived at a busy Ilfracombe harbour with many passengers looking forward to the Bank Holiday break and the local boats were getting ready for the day's visitors. I boarded the Oldenburg and went to the bridge to collect a Hi-Viz jacket and then returned to the upper deck to talk to the passengers.

I met Paul, the Captain on deck and soon afterwards the Oldenburg left the harbour and began to cruise along the coast. I spotted a Gannet nearby then as we approached Lee Bay I saw some splashes in the water which were caused by 2 Harbour porpoises but I soon lost sight of them. Soon afterwards, I was chatting to some passengers and I saw a large brown seabird which I recognised as a Great Skua. Later on a passenger who had taken photos confirmed that it was a Great Skua rather than an Arctic Skua.

Common dolphin Peter Howlett 41
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

There were more seabirds around than the previous Saturday and I saw small groups of Manx Shearwater, Guillemots and Razorbills then as we moved onwards into the channel, I could see Common Dolphins on the starboard side looking east and then looking towards the mainland there was another small group of Common Dolphins and 2 larger Bottlenose Dolphins leaping out of the water behind them.

As we approached Lundy there were more of the same seabirds then 2 Harbour Porpoise showed briefly on the port side.

Lundy Annette Dutton 11
Hanmers Cottage, Lundy (Library photo: Annette Dutton)

There was the usual line of Shag atop Mouse Island as we landed and there were Oystercatchers and a Grey Seal in the bay. I left the Oldenburg and walked up to the village taking the track over towards Hanmers Cottage to sit on the nearby bench for lunch. There were many House Martin, Swallow, Meadow Pipit and Skylark as I enjoyed the views and amazing weather and in the distance I could see a group of Sika Deer by the copse further along the coast.

I wandered over to the Castle and spotted a Grey Seal by the islands then walked along the path towards Shutter Point. Although I was in glorious sunshine, there was a bank of sea fog over the middle of the island and I couldn't even see the Old Light so I went back to the village and into the Marisco Tavern for a cold drink and a chat to Grant.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 07
Grey Seal (Library photo: Annette Dutton)

I walked down to the landing bay and had a quick paddle in the crystal clear sea before joining the queue to board the Oldenburg. There was a Grey Seal in the Devil's kitchen and one swimming near the rocks by the pier then as we left Lundy I could see a further 4 seals hauled out on the rocks below Rat Island.

As we sailed along, I saw the same sea birds as on the outward crossing but no cetaceans although some of the passengers told me they had seen a Harbour Porpoise on the port side during the journey. The weather changed slightly and became overcast and cool but changed again as we neared Ilfracombe and we arrived in warm sunshine. I collected my belongings and said goodbye and thanks to Paul and the crew before leaving.

MARINElife Survey Report: Lundy Ferry ‘Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy survey 18 May 2019

Posted 25 May 2019

Maggie Gamble and Mary wood, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Westbound: Cloudy, wind slight, sea state 1-2, with long low swell
Eastbound: Some cloud, wind slight, sea state 2-3

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 6

Seabirds:
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 17
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 60
Guillemot Uria aalge 189
Razorbill Alca torda 21
Puffin  Fratercula arctica 4
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Auk sp. 19

Terrestrial birds at sea:
Swallow  Hirundo rustica 5

It was yet another lovely spring day as we drove to Ilfracombe for a 10am departure on the Oldenburg.  As we left and made our way along the headland, we looked hopefully for Harbour Porpoise who frequent this area, the conditions were perfect for spotting this small often shy cetacean but frustratingly we failed to spot any! Perhaps they were feeding elsewhere.

Oldenburg Lundy Maggie Gamble 01
Oldenburg at Lundy (Maggie Gamble)

The Oldenburg made excellent time to the Island in some very pleasant sailing conditions. Birds were fairly sparse but there were quite a few Guillemots and as we neared the island there was a small group of Puffin and an occasional Manx Shearwater who were still somehow managing to get enough lift from the sea surface. The few Fulmar seen were having to work harder than they prefer as a good force seven is perfect conditions for these great travellers.  Since Lundy Island was cleared of its rat population the Puffins and Manx shearwater are nesting in increasing numbers. Many Lundy visitors make Jenny's Cove on the west side of the island their favourite destination to watch the Puffin colony there.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 31
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Halfway to the island we could see some rafting auks and a small group of Common Dolphin who appeared to be feeding in that area. Later as we were just approaching the landing stage on Lundy and I was about to halt the survey the bridge crew alerted us to three common Dolphin who appeared from the landing stage area and raced towards the bow of the ship. Unfortunately for both species - dolphin and human - they didn't have enough time or space to indulge in a spot of bow riding.

More birds were evident on the way back Including Razorbill which we had failed to spot on the way over to Lundy. We again made excellent time back to Ilfracombe and our thanks go to the Captain and crew of the Oldenburg for allowing us on board to continue this survey.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 18 May 2019

Posted 24 May 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Duttton

Weather:  Sunny and dry, light breeze, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin 5
Common Dolphin 4

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay sheep
Lundy pony
Highland cattle
Swallow
Skylark
Goldfinch
House Martin
Wheatear
Cuckoo

I arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour and noticed 2 large coaches parked by the quayside so I presumed there was a large group going over to the island. I met Lundy Field Society secretary Michael Williams who told me that the Cloud Appreciation group were over for a few days and they had booked the entire Island, we were then joined by former Lundy Warden Beccy MacDonald who was going over with her family for a few days.

I boarded the Oldenburg, collected my Hi-Viz jacket and said hello to Jason the Captain then went back on deck where I was approached by passengers including members of the Cloud group for information about the wildlife we would see on the journey and on Lundy.

The weather was ideal, it was warm and sunny with calm seas and my first sighting was of a Gannet as we sailed out of the harbour. We journeyed towards the channel and I saw the odd Guillemot, Razorbill and other seabirds as I toured the upper and lower decks. Then with Lundy in sight, one of the passengers alerted me to something in the distance - dolphins! I struggled to focus on them as there were a lot of people on the deck but  managed to see a group of animals which looked too big to be Common Dolphins and looked more like Bottlenose Dolphins.

Cuckoo Annette Dutton 01
Cuckoo (Annette Dutton)

We continued towards Lundy and I went towards the bridge to look for seals on the rocks, I spotted a couple of auks in the water but they suddenly dived before I could identify them. I then saw that MARINElife surveyors Maggie and Mary were onboard for the monthly survey and they told me that they were Puffins.

As we approached the landing stage, Mary alerted me to some Common Dolphins in the bay but they  swam away after briefly swimming around the Oldenburg - much to the joy of the passengers.

I left the Oldenburg and walked towards the village and took the track past Bramble Villas and stopped for lunch on the steps by the shop. I walked to the Old Light and had a quick look inside, then, as I came out I heard a Cuckoo nearby and managed to spot it on the wall by the graveyard so I took several photos before moving on.

I continued my walk to the sound of Skylarks with Swallows, Martins, Wheatear and pipits flying around me and I passed carpets of Bluebells and Sea Thrift on the rocks. Arriving at Jenny's cove I saw that many of the passengers were already there and took up position to look for Puffins. I heard one of the nearby passengers pointing out a Peregrine and saw it flying towards us then down and back over to rest on one of the stacks. There were many Guillemots with the Puffins and the usual nesting seabirds.

It was time to walk back to the village and I took the main track passing the Soay sheep, Lundy ponies and Highland cattle then continued through the village and down into Millcombe where I saw the Lundy Cabbage on the way.

Lundy cabbage Annette Dutton 03
Lundy Cabbage (Annette Dutton)

I boarded the Oldenburg and had a quick sit down before touring the decks, a group of about 12 - 15 Manx Shearwater passed by and I saw a Gannet and 2 Puffins with regular sightings of Guillemot and Razorbill as we sailed along. I also spotted a Barrel Jellyfish but not the numbers previously seen.

The Oldenburg arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour on the high tide and I went up to the bridge to chat to Maggie and Mary before saying goodbye and thanks to Jason and the crew.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 11 May 2019

Posted 23 May 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Steve McAusland

Weather: Sunny, warm, light breeze, sea state  2

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals
Grey Seal 3

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

Birds on Lundy
Stonechat
Meadow Pipit
Whitethroat
Wheatear
Starling
Raven
House Sparrow
Wood Pigeon
House Martin
Swallow
Linnet
Robin
Blackbird
Dunnock
Oystercatcher
Chiffchaff
Skylark
Wren
Blackcap
Carrion Crow
Chaffinch
Blue Tit
Magpie
Pied Wagtail

Arriving in Ilfracombe at 09:30am I was really looking forward to my first trip to the Island for 2019, it already felt warm and I was optimistic for a fabulous day of weather and the day didn't disappoint, as the sun shone all day with the temperature in the 70's. After boarding the MS Oldenburg, I made my way up on to the bridge to meet Jason Mugford the ship's captain. Then, after collecting the essential items for the trip (MARINElife leaflets, binoculars and my camera) I proceeded to start my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to the passengers.

Kittiwake Steve McAusland 02
Kittiwake (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

The outward passage gave me an opportunity to point out sea birds such as Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Razorbill and Guillemot. The usual gulls were seen along with Kittiwake and Fulmar.

As the Oldenburg made its way slowly towards the landing bay, we had sight of a very large Grey Seal. Soon everyone disembarked and began to make their way up to the higher levels. My planned route was to take in the southern coastal footpaths along and past the old battery and then on towards halfway wall and lunch overlooking Jenny's cove. Here I met and helped many of the visitors with locating the Puffins. After lunch I made my way back to the jetty stopping for some time to view the birds.

Whilst walking back the island's Sika Deer were running around in many directions. Other animals observed were the usual sheep along with Lundy ponies and wild goats.

Guillemot Steve McAusland 01
Guillemot (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

The crossing back to Ilfracombe was calm, with the same birds being seen along the way. Sadly, no cetaceans were seen this trip and I look forward to my next Lundy trip in September.

Before leaving the ship, I thanked Jason the Captain and his crew for their support.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 4 May 2019

Posted 11 May 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Amanda Jones

Weather: Sunny, warm and dry, slight ESE, sea state moderate.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Grey seal 1

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Guillemot
Shag
Kittiwake
Cormorant
Fulmar
Oyster Catcher
Gannet
Storm Petrel

Other wildlife
Barrel Jellyfish
Small White Butterfly

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay sheep
Lundy pony
Sika Deer x 4
Swallow
House Martin
Skylark
Wheatear
Starling
House Sparrow
Crow
Sparrowhawk

As I reached Ilfracombe quay the sunshine was warm and the queue of excited passengers were happily waiting to board. This was my first trip as Wildlife Officer and second trip to Lundy and I was as excited as everyone else. We boarded and after I introduced myself to the captain and crew we were away at 10am with Herring Gulls and a few Cormorant in the harbour. I introduced myself to the passengers explaining who I was and why I was on board. We chatted about wildlife around our coasts, on Lundy and all about the role of MARINELife and conservation.

A few Guillemot and Herring Gull were seen on the outgoing trip. In the water at least six Barrel Jellyfish floated past. On arrival at Lundy two very loud Oystercatchers greeted us and small, blue jellyfish clustered by the landing jetty.

Lundy Sika Amanda Jones
Sika Deer (Amanda Jones)

I walked round to the old lighthouse. Here I saw a flock of Starling settle on the church tower in the distance. A Lundy Pony and foal were grazing in the field and the farmland sheep were surrounded by lambs. As I sat and rested in the distance four Sika Deer could be seen at first walking slowly along the ridge then running in fright before posing for a photograph. Skylarks sung merrily overhead flitting in the blue sky.

As I walked back towards the church a pair of Wheatear were ahead of me flying back and forth. Then a Sparrowhawk sliced through the air and was gone into the landscape.

Lundy ponies Amanda Jones
Lundy ponies (Amanda Jones)

As I am disabled I cannot walk very far so I was delighted to have a trip back down in the Landrover with the Warden (who had also driven me up upon arrival). It is great to have the accessibility to the island and I thanked him very much. Joining the other waiting passengers we saw one Grey Seal in the Landing Bay.

Returning we saw several passing Barrel Jellyfish and more seabirds including Gannet and a Lesser Black-backed Gull who stayed with the ship for some time.

As we sailed into Ilfracombe Harbour I thanked the crew for their kindness and hospitality and look forward to seeing them again soon.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 20 April 2019

Posted 22 April 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Judith Tatem

Weather: Sunny, warm and dry, wind very light SSE, sea state calm.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey seal 2

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

Other wildlife
Barrel Jellyfish

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay sheep
Lundy pony
Highland cattle
Swallow
House Martin
Skylark
Meadow Pipit
Goldfinch
Chaffinch
Wheatear
Starling
House Sparrow
Chiffchaff
Blackcap
Crow

This was my first trip to Lundy this year and I was really looking forward to my first season of volunteering as a Wildlife Officer and regularly visiting the island.

It was a beautifully warm and sunny morning and I joined a very happy group of people on Ilfracombe quay.  By 9.30am we were boarding and I went to introduce myself to the captain and crew on the bridge.  Donning my blue and white MARINElife hi-viz jacket I headed back out on to the deck as we were departing the harbourside watched by a group of Herring Gulls and a pair of Cormorant.

All of the tickets had been sold so the Oldenburg was at full capacity.  I walked around the decks talking about the wildlife that could be seen at sea and on Lundy.  Also explaining about MARINElife and their environmental role.

The early part of the journey was quiet on the wildlife front with just the occasional gull and Fulmar. However, as we approached Lundy small rafts of Guillemot floated past regularly past, there were also more distant views of Razorbills, Kittiwake, Manx Shearwater and various gulls.  About the same time, we found that the boat was sailing through a bloom of spectacular large Barrel Jellyfish.  A first for myself and many of the passengers.  After docking alongside we were able to get good views of a Barrel Jellyfish floating near the jetty.

Barrel Jellyfish Judith Tatem 01
Barrel Jellyfish by landing jetty on Lundy Judith Tatem

I decided to walk to Jenny's cove in search of the Puffins, so headed straight up the hill, stopping only to investigate a tree with a couple of Chiffchaff.  I took the path along the southwest coast and  Immediately the serenade of the Skylarks filled the air and I found a few clumps of Thrift bursting into flower. Along the cliff top on the boulders Wheatear were standing a and flashing their white rumps has they flew ahead.

Lundy Thrift Judith Tatem 01
Thrift on Lundy Judith Tatem

Lunchtime found me along with several others watching a small group of Puffins near a larger group of Guillemot on the cliffs below.  A few Kittiwake were also nesting on nearby rocks. Certainly, a picnic spot to remember.

I walked across the island and picked up the track into the Village and down towards the jetty.  Two seals could be seen bottling in the landing bay.

Just after departure there was a particularly good view of a Shag with it's crest held high.  The sea had a slight swell and slowly people were forced to get their jumpers out of their bags, however rarely can there have been such a warm trip on an Easter weekend.  I saw the same sea birds that I had seen on the way over.

We sailed along the North Devon coast until we arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour and I went up to the bridge to thank the crew for their kindness and hospitality.

MARINElife Survey Report: MS Oldenburg Ilfracombe-Lundy 13 April 2019

Posted 18 April 2019

Jenny Ball and Mallory Warrington, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Outward: wind SE 4, Return: wind SE 4

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 1

Seabirds
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 20
Gannet  Morus bassanus 8
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 3
Guillemot  Uria aalge 43
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 7
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 25
Manx Shearwater  Puffinus puffinus 28
Razorbill  Alca torda 38
Shag  Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5

This was to be MARINElife's first Ilfracombe-Lundy survey of the year, and Mallory and I met up with Annette, on Wildlife Officer duty, aboard the MS Oldenburg, also for the first time this year.  We were all welcomed by Captain Jason Mugford and his crew, and we were soon organised and starting our survey as the ship got onto course for Lundy, a few minutes after leaving the harbour.

common dolphin Peter Howlett 22
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The forecast had been for a fairly stiff breeze, so we were relieved to find that the south easterly force 4 was blowing with the tide, and our outward passage was quite smooth and comfortable.  The crew said that they hadn't seen any dolphins since they started sailing at the beginning of April, so Mallory did well to spot one on our return journey, off Bull Point.  Bird life on the way to Lundy was fairly sparse, with Fulmar, Guillemot and Razorbill being the most frequently recorded species.  Closer to the island we started to see a number Manx Shearwater, a few on the water but mostly cruising over the waves.

We spent a happy few hours on Lundy: Mallory was looking forward to some solitary birding and I was introducing a friend to my favourite island.  We climbed up the Old Light for an overall view, walked through a field of new lambs with their mothers, and up towards the Halfway Wall with Wheatears and Skylarks singing and displaying as we went.  We watched several Fulmar, flying in and out of cracks in the cliffs below us, some gulls sitting in the sun (just like us!) and could just about identify a couple of distant Puffin on the water.

Manx Shearwater Steve McAusland 01
Manx Shearwater (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

The conditions for our return survey were a little more challenging, to start with at least, before the sea state dropped and we could hold onto our binoculars rather than the furniture!  However, there were not many birds to be seen, a few Shag and Fulmar soon after our departure, a scattering of Guillemot, Razorbill and Manx Shearwater during the crossing, and some gulls as we approached Ilfracombe.

This was a quiet but enjoyable survey to start the season - we very much appreciate the Landmark Trust's support and the friendly welcome from the captain and crew of MS Oldenburg.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 13 April 2019

Posted 16 April 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

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

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey seal 1

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay sheep
Sika deer
Lundy pony
Highland cattle
Swallow
Skylark
Goldfinch
House Martin
Wheatear

This was my first trip for 2019 and I was really looking forward to another season of volunteering as a Wildlife Officer and going back to Lundy.

It was a bright morning and the reports of a strong easterly wind had me wondering about the sea conditions but it didn't look too bad as I arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour. I spotted several familiar faces in the queue and I also met Jenny who was accompanied by Mallory to do the monthly MARINElife survey.

I boarded the Oldenburg and went up to the bridge to say hello to Jason, the Captain, before donning my hi-viz jacket and going onto the upper deck to talk to the passengers. There were over 140 passengers onboard and I soon got chatting about the wildlife that could be seen on the journey and on the island and about MARINElife and the work they do.

The sea was quite choppy with a fair swell but we sailed along without too much movement and my first sighting was of a small group of Fulmar followed by a Curlew which I spotted as I was chatting to a passenger.

As we passed Morte Point and headed into the channel, I saw a Gannet and a pair of Razorbills then the numbers of seabirds picked up as we got nearer to Lundy with the group of Fulmar still with us and more sightings of Gannet, Kittiwake, Manx Shearwater and various gulls.

Oldenburg Annette Dutton 02
Oldenburg alongside at Lundy (Annette Dutton)

The easterly wind was blowing directly onto the east coast of Lundy and the Oldenburg started to roll about as we approached the landing stage but after making a couple of runs in order to land, the passengers were led off one by one as the swell subsided.

I said a quick hello to Lundy Warden Dean and his assistant Sian who were helping the passengers off the Oldenburg and walked up to the village and sat by the Barn to have some lunch before taking the main track towards Jenny's Cove.

I stopped a couple of times to take photos of the Lambs, Highland cattle and Lundy ponies and as I walked from the halfway wall across the island to Jenny's Cove, I saw some Sika deer running out of sight.

I was the only person at Jenny's Cove and I sat in my usual spot to finish my sandwiches whilst scanning the ledges for Puffins but I only saw 2 and they flew away before I had chance to take a photograph. There were several pairs of Kittiwakes on the rocky ledges and I heard the cry of a Peregrine but didn't see it.

I walked back along the lower track towards the village, it was beginning to cloud over and the wind was getting colder. There were lots of Wheatear along the way and more sheep with their lambs in the paddock behind the campsite. I continued walking down to the landing bay and met up with Mallory who was already in the queue and we boarded the Oldenburg for the return trip. The conditions didn't seem as bad as we left the island although the easterly wind was getting colder.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 02
Grey Seal (Library photo: Annette Dutton)

I saw the same sea birds that I saw on the way over and didn't see anything of note except a huge male Grey seal who was battling with it's meal of a Skate.

We sailed along the North Devon coast until we arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour and I went up to the bridge to have a quick chat and to say goodbye to Jenny and Mallory before collecting my belonging and bidding farewell to Jason and the crew, thanking them for their kindness and hospitality.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 20 October 2018

Posted 28 October 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton
Weather: Sunny and Dry, Sea State slight, light breeze

Summary of sightings:
Marine Mammals
Grey seal 6
Harbour Porpoise 3
Common Dolphin 4/5

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Guillemot
Kittiwake
Gannet
Razorbill
Cormorant
Shag

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Lundy pony
Meadow Pipit
Goldfinch
House Martin

This was my last trip to Lundy as WLO for 2018 and the weather was glorious, so I was looking forward to a lovely sunny day on the island. As it was half term, there were several families waiting to board in addition to the usual selection of passengers. As I was waiting I spotted something in the water, it was 2 Harbour Porpoise which looked like a mother and calf feeding just outside the harbour and I hoped it was a good sign of things to come.

Once onboard, I popped up to the bridge and had a quick chat to Jason, the Captain then went back onto the upper deck to talk to the passengers. There was a bit of a swell as we left the harbour and as we passed Capstone I spotted a single Porpoise but only briefly.

There were few seabirds about then as we got closer to Lundy I noticed a splash further out to sea on the starboard side and saw a small group of 4/5 Common Dolphin and although they were quite away off, some of the passengers could make them out. I began to see a few more seabirds, mainly Gull species before we turned to approach the Landing Bay.

There were a couple of Grey Seal on the rocks plus one swimming around which delighted the children on board.

Hamners Cottage Annette Dutton

Hamners Cottage (Annette Dutton)

I left the Oldenburg and walked up to the village, taking the road to walk over towards Hanmers Cottage but I could see someone had beaten me to my favourite bench, so I carried on to the village to pick up some water from the shop and by the time I walked back, the bench was free.

I sat for some time enjoying the warm sunshine and the view, I could hear the Seals on the rocks below and I noticed a pair jostling in the water, there was another one swimming along. I could see several Gannet and other seabirds in the tidal race, but I couldn't see any cetaceans below them.

South Light & Oldenburg Annette Dutton

South Light and Oldenburg (Annette Dutton)

I wandered over to the Castle to see if I could see anything but the seabirds had gone so I sat for a while leaning against the Castle wall then made my way down to the landing bay where the passengers in the queue were watching a large male seal swimming nearby.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 16

Grey Seal (Annette Dutton)

The return journey was disappointing as there were few seabirds and I saw no cetaceans and we arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour on the high tide. I returned to the bridge to say goodbye to Jason and to the crew as I left the ship.

It had been a lovely day and a fitting end to the 2018 season of volunteering as a Lundy Wildlife Officer and I look forward to doing it all over again in 2019.

Annette Dutton; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 07 October 2018

Posted 16 October 2018

Annette Dutton, Wildlife Officer for MARINElife 
Weather: Sunny and Dry, Sea State slight, light breeze

Summary of sightings:
Marine Mammals
Grey seal 8
Harbour Porpoise 3

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Guillemot
Kittiwake
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Lundy pony
Soay sheep
Highland Cattle
Wheatear
Kestrel
House Martin

Saturday's sailing had been cancelled due to bad weather, so I went over on Sunday with the staying passengers who were eager to get there plus several day trippers. It was quiet on the harbour as there were only 98 passengers going over. I took up position on the top deck after saying hello to Paul, the Captain and collecting my Hi-Viz jacket.

The sea was calm as we left the harbour to proceed along the coast, as we passed Lee Bay I noticed a Gannet feeding with a Porpoise below then a passenger came over and said she had seen a Porpoise on the starboard side. Then as we approached Bull Point I could see several Gannet and spotted another Porpoise below but it was only a fleeting glimpse.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 14

Gannet (Adrian Shephard)

Moving into the channel I noticed a juvenile Guillemot and a juvenile Kittiwake but no other seabirds except the odd Gannet. As we arrived at the Island I could see several Grey Seal hauled out on the rocks of Mouse Island and a few Shag along the top. As we got closer, I could make out a couple of pups amongst the seals too. We moored up and I got a lift to the top in the Land Rover then after a visit to the shop, I started to walk up the main track. I was followed by a group of Goldfinch as I wandered along then I turned left at half way wall to go to Jenny's Cove.

It was very quiet and peaceful as I sat and ate my lunch thinking how different it was compared to the spring and summer months when the ledges are full of nesting seabirds and busy with people. I sat alone enjoying the peace then started to walk back along the coast track towards Battery Point.

Old Battery Annette Dutton

Old Battery (Annette Dutton)

As I wandered along, I saw a Kestrel land on the top of a rock so stopped to take some photos then as I passed the Old Battery I saw 2 Kestrel flying above, possibly juveniles.

Kestrel Annette Dutton

Kestrel (Annette Dutton)

Looking down to the Battery, I could see the newly restored cannon which I plan to visit on my next trip.

I walked back to the village and down to the landing bay where there was a dead seal pup floating on the tide line, I went to inform Sian the Assistant Warden who had arrived in the Land Rover but she was already aware. The pup was probably a casualty from the bad weather the previous day.

The sail back to Ilfracombe was very quiet and I saw nothing until we passed Morte Point when I saw a Gannet flying west then another Gannet as we passed Lee Bay but no Porpoise this time. We arrived at Ilfracombe, moored up and I said thank you and goodbye to Paul, our Captain, and the crew for their support.

Annette Dutton; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer

MARINElife Survey Report: ‘Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 15 September 2018

Posted 23 September 2018

Emma Howe-Andrews and Poppy Lakeman-Fraser, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Visibility: Good-Excellent, 16-20km, scattered showers, cloudy with some sunshine  Sea State: SW 3-4

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 4
Unidentified Dolphin sp. 2

Birds
Auk sp. Alcidae 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 10
Gull sp. 6
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1

This was my first time in Ilfracombe as I had never been to Lundy Island before and as I made my way to the Lundy Office, I was thinking how picturesque and beautiful the harbour was. With the anchored boats, amazing architecture and stunning coastal cliffs, it really is a lovely place to visit and I was keen to explore it, but the MS Oldenburg awaited me. I will save it for another day!

I had arranged to meet my fellow surveyor, Poppy at the booking office to collect our tickets and this would also be her first trip to Lundy as well as her first survey, so we would both be seeing the island together through fresh eyes. After collecting our tickets and a short introduction we headed to the ship and eagerly joined the rest of the passengers waiting to board the Oldenburg.

As we waited, we saw Rick Morris on the outside deck of the ship, who would be the onboard Wildlife Officer for our trip. We gave him a quick wave, handed our ticket to the Officer as we boarded and headed to the bridge where we introduced ourselves to Jason, the Captain. Whilst Jason gave us an introduction to the layout of the bridge and where to stow our bags, Rick popped his head around to say hello and all of us talked about what the trip may bring and what had been seen recently. At this time, Captain Jason introduced us to his Chief Officer, Mike who would also be working on the bridge today.

With three blasts of her horn, the MS Oldenburg left her berth and headed out into a sea state 4, a 1 metre swell, cloudy, but dry conditions with excellent visibility. As the Oldenburg ploughed through the waves we started our survey and we were joined by a Gannet sweeping across the waves ahead of the ship. As I was stood on the port bridge wing, I heard Rick behind me shout that there were two Harbour Porpoise feeding underneath a group of circling Gannet closer to shore.

Guillemot Peter Howlett 08

Guillemot (Peter Howlett)

As much as I scanned the area with my binoculars, I could not see any breaking fins, but what a good start for Rick and the passengers, brilliant!

We continued our journey and had sightings of rafting Guillemot and a solitary Shag. It wasn't long until our first and only cetacean sighting of the trip was recorded, a brief view of two unidentified dolphin fins breaking the surface 125 metres ahead of the ship moving towards port. It was a very good spot by Poppy as the conditions were challenging due to the south-westerly winds the MS Oldenburg was sailing into. Well done!

We berthed at Lundy and decided to join a guided tour which had been organised by one of the island ambassadors, and after taking in the sights of Grey Seal hauled out on the rocks and breath-taking views it was time to return to the ship. The return journey brought calmer conditions with the sea fluctuating between 3-4, a reduced swell and views of Manx Shearwater, Fulmar and Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Lundy Emma Howe Andrews

Lundy (Emma Howe-Andrews)

We continued surveying and before we knew it, we were sailing back into Ilfracombe with the late afternoon sun casting beautiful light across the sea as we made our way back into the harbour. It was a very worthwhile trip as Lundy and its wildlife are stunning and the crew of the MS Oldenburg just wonderful. The crew couldn't have made us feel more welcome and were really interested in our work and accommodating. For me, I would go back to Lundy time and time again just to experience that.

Huge thanks go to Captain Jason, Chief Officer Mike, their crew and the staff of Lundy Booking Office who made this a very enjoyable and memorable crossing with their kind hospitality, and to The Lundy Landmark Trust for their continuing support.

Emma Howe-Andrews and Poppy Lakeman-Fraser; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 15 September 2018

Posted 23 September 2018

Rick Morris; MARINElife Wildlife Officer
Cloudy with sunny spells and the odd shower: Wind: WSW to SW 3-4. Sea state: 3-4

Summary of sightings
Marine mammals:

Harbour Porpoise 5
Grey Seal 3

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

Terrestrial birds seen at sea: 
Swallow
Carrion Crow

Lundy terrestrial birds: 
Peregrine Falcon
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Starling
Raven
Carrion Crow
Jackdaw
House Sparrow
Swallow
Robin
Blackbird
Goldfinch

Heading down the hill as I neared Ilfracombe, I could see the fun fair was in the Harbour car park and looking beyond out to sea, I thought conditions didn't seem too bad.

After a brief visit to the shore office to say hi to Jacqui and Kate, I wandered over to where the MS Oldenburg was moored and upon boarding made my way up to the bridge. After a catchup with Jason (Captain) I made my way out to meet the passengers and was greeted by Emma and Poppy (this month's survey team) who were about to come into the bridge.

Leaving the calm water of the Harbour, we headed along the North Devon coast in a moderate sea with a slight swell. As I was explaining to a passenger that all the Puffin had now left the Island, we saw a solitary one sat on the surface within 10 minutes of sailing - a first for me to see a Puffin so close to Ilfracombe!

Puffin Rick Morris 06

Puffin (Rick Morris)

As we approached Lee Bay I noticed a small group of Gannet feeding and constant monitoring of the sea surface for a few minutes rewarded me with 2 Harbour Porpoise in with them.

The rest of the trip to Lundy was very quiet for seabirds; I expected to see a few Manx Shearwater, but only managed just the one with sporadic sightings of Gannet, Fulmar, Guillemot and gulls.

There were a few Grey Seal in the Landing Bay on our arrival and upon walking up the jetty a grey seal pup was on the beach with mum keeping a close eye just in the water.

Seal Pup 01 Rick Morris

Seal Pup (Rick Morris)

Up on top I popped into the Tavern for a cuppa and catchup with Grant before a spot of lunch and sea watching from the 'Ugly' which overlooks the East side and the Landing Bay. It was here whilst enjoying my sandwich that a female Peregrine Falcon flew beneath me heading toward the South Lighthouse.

The Ugly Rick Morris

The Ugly (Rick Morris)

Back down in the Bay the 3 of us enjoyed watching the seals and their pups before boarding for the return home under clearer skies and a calmer sea. As on the outbound, it remained very quiet on the seabird front, but nearing Bull Point, Gannet were seen, this time tracking 3 Harbour Porpoise that were heading toward Morte Point.

Looking for Porp Rick Morris

Looking for Porpoises (Rick Morris)

Safely tied off back in the Harbour, I popped to the bridge to give my thanks and farewells to Jason and Mike. Emma and Poppy joined me in leaving the boat and once off and onshore, we said our goodbyes and made our way home.

Even though it was a quiet trip, for me it's always great to have a day out to Lundy and meet up with familiar faces!

Huge thanks to Jason and his crew, the shore staff and all on Lundy for the help and support.

Please note; if you are going to Lundy during the next few months, please keep off the beaches and keep well clear of any seal haul outs to avoid disturbance!

Rick Morrios; MARNINElife Wildlife Officer

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 8 September 2018

Posted 16 September 2018

Jenny Ball; MARINElife Wildlife Officer (WLO)
Weather: Outward - overcast, wind SW force 5, sea state moderate, with some showers.  Return - brighter, wind SW force 5, sea state slight.

Summary of sightings:
Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 4

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

I was very much looking forward to this trip to Lundy, having spent 6 excellent days there with the MARINElife Lundy Adventure in early July.  This time I took my husband along, to show him what the fuss is all about!

The outward sailing on the MV Oldenburg was quite wet and slippery on deck, and the choppy seas meant that we didn't expect to see very much at all.  A few Gannet and Fulmar swept by, together with one or two gulls, and people were either enjoying the bracing conditions or taking refuge in the cosy lounge!  Many people on this trip seemed to be groups of climbers, being let loose on the cliffs again after the end of the nesting season, and we had some interesting conversations about their encounters with wildlife.

As we went ashore we said hello to Dean, the Head Ranger, and walking up the hill we noticed that one of the other rangers was standing guard by the Landing Beach: a new seal pup had been seen and could safely be watched from the path.  It wasn't being very active, so we carried on up the hill, hoping to spend more time with it on our return.

We climbed to the top of the Old Light, to get an overall view of the island, and then walked over to the more sheltered side of the island, along to the quarry timekeeper's hut for our lunch.  It was very peaceful out of the wind: we watched a Cormorant diving in the bay, a couple of Kestrel hunting amongst the bracken below us, and a seal near the rocks.  The occasional flash of white out to sea was of course Gannet, but most of the sea birds left their breeding grounds some weeks ago.

Seal Pup 01 Jenny Ball

Seal Pup (Jenny Ball)

We walked back to the Landing Beach, and this time the seal pup was on the move.  The incoming tide had encouraged it to crawl up the beach: it was trying to hide under an overhanging rock, but having learnt to roll over, decided to come out again.  Meanwhile, its mother was swimming nearby, watchful but quite relaxed, and the local dominant male was cruising up and down, keeping a close eye on both of them.  Dean told us that this seal is the" Beach Master" for this stretch of coastline, ready to challenge any other incoming males in defence of his females.  There was quite a big crowd of passengers enjoying this fascinating sight; the seals are quite used to seeing people around the Landing Beach, and weren't worried at all.

Gannet Rob Petley Jones 09

Gannet (Rob Petley-Jones)

The return trip was rather calmer than the morning's sailing, but again we didn't see more than a few Fulmar and Gannet, a couple of Manx Shearwater, one solitary Guillemot, a Great Black-Backed Gull and a few other gulls.  A couple who had travelled over to Lundy last Thursday told me about the dolphins they had seen on that trip, but no such luck this time.

We thanked the Captain, Jason, and his helpful crew for supporting MARINElife, and made our way back into Ilfracombe.

Jenny Ball; MARINElife Wildlife Officer

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 1 September 2018

Posted 02 September 2018

Wildlife Officer: Annette Dutton

Weather: Cloudy and Dry, Sea State slight, light breeze

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey seal 6
Harbour Porpoise 2
Common Dolphin 4 - passenger sighting
Ocean Sunfish - passenger sighting

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Lundy pony
Soay sheep
House Martin
Meadow Pipit

I walked down to the Harbour and over to the Lundy Office to collect my ticket before boarding the MS Oldenburg. I was told there would be around 200 passengers so I joined the queue and once on board, I made my way up to the bridge to collect my Hi-Viz jacket and have a quick word with Jason, the Captain before taking up position on the top deck.

As we left, I noticed a Cormorant and an Oystercatcher but apart from that I saw no other seabirds until we neared Morte Point and a Fulmar flew by heading towards Ilfracombe. Whilst chatting to the passengers, I saw a Gannet, a small group of juvenile Guillemots and several gulls then I noticed that passengers were looking at something on the starboard side and I went over to investigate but only saw something black disappearing below the water. I initially thought it was a seal but I was later told by one of the passengers that there had been two dolphins. Another passenger told me that she thought she saw a Porpoise as we left Ilfracombe but after hearing her description we decided it was a Sunfish.

Lundy east coast Annette Dutton 2018-09
The east coast of Lundy (Annette Dutton)

As we got nearer the island there were more groups of juvenile Guillemot, Manx Shearwater and Gannet but only in small numbers. Arriving at Lundy there were two Grey Seal in the bay and a further two over in Devil's Kitchen on the high tide. I walked up towards the village and took the left turn and then onto the grassy path to Hanmers Cottage and the nearby bench for lunch.

The sea below was calm and glassy and although the visibility was good, it was hazy out towards the coast. There were few seabirds around and I saw a couple of Grey Seal below by the rocks waiting to haul out when the tide was low enough.

I didn't see anything else so I made my way over to the village and the shop where I got chatting to some people I knew before returning to the path and back down to the landing bay. The seals I had seen earlier were now hauled out on the rocks giving the passengers in the queue a good photo opportunity.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 15
Grey Seal (Annette Dutton)

As we left the island there were lots of groups of juvenile guillemots and as I was talking to one of the passengers they spotted a couple of dolphins in the distance but I couldn't see anything and shortly afterwards another passenger said they had just seen a Harbour Porpoise. I was beginning to think I wouldn't see any cetaceans when I saw a group of Gannets circling off Morte Point above the tidal race, the sea was very choppy and I couldn't see anything at first but then spotted two Harbour Porpoise swimming away in the calmer water.

We arrived back at a very busy Ilfracombe as the Sea Ilfracombe Festival was under way and I said goodbye to Jason and the crew, thanking them for another enjoyable trip.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 18 August 2018

Posted 19 August 2018

Wildlife Officer: Steve McAusland

Weather: Strong westerly winds, sea state 4-5, light rain showers.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Common Dolphin 7
Harbour Porpoise 2 (Brief glimpse)
Grey Seal 24

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

Terrestrial birds:
Meadow Pipit
Wheatear
Starling
Raven
House Sparrow
Wood Pigeon
Swallow
Robin
Blackbird
Dunnock
Oystercatcher
Wren
Cormorant
Carrion Crow
Goldfinch
Jackdaw
Pied Wagtail
Willow Warbler
Firecrest

I arrived in Ilfracombe at 9:00am for my last Lundy trip of 2018 where the weather was windy and there was a good chance of rain during the crossing. The crossing was rather bumpy with the expected rain making an appearance after we were underway.

As the MS Oldenburg started out of the harbour the ships motion made it difficult to chat to as many passengers as I would normally. 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.

Firecrest Peter Howlett 01
Firecrest (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The count of birds at sea was very low as was the number of species which was a first for this usually plentiful crossing. Birds of note were Manx Shearwater and Gannet along with the usual common gulls, plus Kittiwake and Fulmar. What was very surprising was no Guillemots and Razorbills were seen all day.

As the Oldenburg made its way slowly towards the landing bay there were a few Grey Seals on the rocks and a few Shag on the water. A wet afternoon ensued and the highlight was a Firecrest in the woodland next to the walled garden.

As we left to return to Ilfracombe the weather changed to give a more pleasant sailing back. Here we enjoyed 7 Common Dolphins and 2 Harbour Porpoises.

Common Dolphin Steve McAusland 01a
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

Before disembarking I thanked the Captain for his and his crews' continued support for MARINElife.

MARINElife Survey Report: ‘Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 11 August 2018

Posted 17 August 2018

Maggie Gamble and Amanda Jones, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Outward - overcast, wind S force 4, good visibility. Return - overcast, wind S 4-6, good visibility.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal  Halichoerus grypus 2

Seabirds
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet  Morus bassanus 34
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 8
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 3
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 2
Manx Shearwater  Puffinus puffinus 62
Pomarine Skua  Stercorarius pomarinus 1
Shag  Phalacrocorax aristotelis 9
Storm Petrel  Hydrobates pelagicus 2
Wader sp.  18

When I arrived in Ilfracombe the residents of Ilfracombe were busy setting up for their Harbour Festival. I met up with Amanda my fellow surveyor who had already collected our tickets and we boarded the Oldenburg for what was to be Amanda's first survey.

Pomarine Skua Peter Howlett 02
Pomarine Skua (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

It was a quiet survey overall, no cetaceans were spotted and fairly low numbers of seabirds. However, that gave us plenty of time to cover the survey methodology and to enjoy watching the birds we saw. The great bonus of sea watching from a boat is the amazing close views you can have of these wonderful marine inhabitants. So, it was a day of quality birds and not quantity but it gave Amanda plenty of time to admire some new species. Manx Shearwaters were working the air currents and a couple of diminutive European Storm Petrels flitted past on their way to the southern tip of Africa for yet another summer. Bird of the day was a Pomarine Skua, a passage migrant on its way south to the coast of west Africa was a bonus spot by Amanda.

Storm Petrel Mark Darlaston 01a
Storm Petrel (Library photo: Mark Darlaston)

Unfortunately Saturday was the day that the 2018 hottest, driest summer for decades finally broke. Lundy was suffering from a shortage of water but there was plenty coming down outside. The Marisco Tavern was clearly the place to be for a hot meal and a cup of tea. Afterwards I made my way back down to the pier for the return leg of the survey. Just off the beach were a couple of Grey Seals and their pupping/ breeding season will soon commence.

On our arrival back in the harbour Ilfracombe was in the middle of glorious bird-man eccentricity. Teams of people in fancy dress and various props leaping seawards off the harbour attempting to achieve flight. None of them flew as well as a Manx Shearwater and a vertical but heroic plunge was the norm. Once again our thanks go to the Landmark Trust and the Captain and crew of the Oldenburg for enabling us to continue this survey.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 11 August 2018

Posted 16 August 2018

Nicola Simpson MARINElife WLO

Summary of sightings

Marine mammals:
Grey seal 2

Seabirds:
Manx Shearwater
Fulmar
Gannet
Shag
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake

I arrived at Ilfracombe harbour at 9.15am, ready to check in and board the Oldenburg for our journey to Lundy. I met the two MARINElife surveyors, Maggie and Amanda, onboard for our trip. Ilfracombe was very busy as people were setting up for a festival starting later that day.

We boarded and set off at around 10am, the weather was cloudy with a gentle breeze. Heading out into the channel I made my way around the decks greeting people, whilst keeping an eye out for any sightings.

We saw plenty of gulls as we left the harbour and as we headed out into the channel. A little further out we spotted Gannet and Manx Shearwater. I spoke to many passengers and families who were looking forward to their visit to Lundy and spotting wildlife once on the island. As we arrived into Lundy seabird numbers started to increase once again and we saw many gulls.

Grey Seal Nicola Simpson 01
Grey Seal off Lundy (Nicola Simpson)

We disembarked onto Lundy, although it was overcast, I had a lovely walk around the island stopping and chatting to passengers I had met on our outward journey.

As we waited to re-board the boat for our return journey I spotted two Grey Seals popping out of the water to wave us off. On our return journey we had additional sightings of Kittiwake, Fulmar and Shag. We returned to Ilfracombe in good time, with the festival now in full swing and people jumping off the pier in front of a panel of judges.

I disembarked thanking the Captain and his crew for the wonderful journey and their assistance.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 4 August 2018

Posted 05 August 2018

Wildlife Officer: Hazel Pittwood

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin 5
Unidentified dolphins 9 (seen from the Island)
Minke Whale (probable, seen by passenger/crew member)

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

After travelling down to Ilfracombe the evening before and being met with thick fog I was relieved to see the air had cleared on the morning of the sailing! With good visibility and a lovely, calm sea state 1 I was excited for my first time volunteering as a Wildlife Officer on this journey.

After introducing myself to the friendly crew I waited until the ship departed the dock and then headed out onto deck to talk with the passengers. Wearing a MARINElife high-vis jacket to be easily identifiable, I explained my role on the journey as a volunteer present to help spot and identify wildlife as an added element to this crossing.

Lundy west coast Hazel Pittwood 01
West coast of Lundy (Hazel Pittwood)

We were accompanied out of port by a flock of Herring Gull, consisting mainly of juveniles. The crew had reported seeing large numbers of Manx Shearwater over the past few days and sure enough it wasn't long before we started seeing these magnificent birds. Sightings of Gannet, Fulmar, Cormorant and Guillemot followed. We also had a fantastic view of an Ocean Sunfish as it passed close by the ship on the starboard side!

We then had our first cetacean sighting of the journey, I spotted fins breaking the surface in the middle distance on the port side and I called out to let passengers know and explained to them where to look to see these animals. As we kept watch it became clear they were Common Dolphin and their behaviour suggested they were feeding.

Passengers were thrilled to see the occasional solitary Puffin along the way and it was a delight to see numerous Kittiwake. As we came into dock a passenger shouted that they had seen a whale, a crew member also confirmed that they had seen the animal, which he believed was a Minke Whale (this is indeed the most likely, as the most common whale dwelling in shallow waters around the UK). Sadly I didn't see it!

Grey Seal Hazel Pittwood 01
Grey Seal in Landing Bay, Lundy (Hazel Pittwood)

The sight of at least six Grey Seals bobbing inquisitively around the island near the jetty provided great excitement as we left the ship. I sat and watched them on the shore as a huge male seal drifted lazily, allowing the tide to carry him to and fro. I walked up to the top of the island and sat in the long grass. As I ate my lunch I watched as a pod of dolphins moved across the sea in the distance.

Compass Jellyfish Hazel Pittwood 01
Compass Jellyfish (Hazel Pittwood)

Whilst waiting to board the ship I joined passengers in spotting jellyfish moving slowly in the shallows. On this return journey we were treated to more of the same in terms of seabird sightings, but no more cetaceans. Flocks of Manx Shearwater, a few hundred strong, were an impressive sight. Lots of passengers approached me to ask what they were, captivated by their graceful, gliding flight.

Thank you as always to the crew of the MS Oldenburg for their kind assistance.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 28 July 2018

Posted 03 August 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Terry Bridgwood

Weather: Cloudy on the way out and sunny on the way back, wind speed 5-6, sea state 6.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Grey Seal

Seabirds
Storm Petrel
Fulmar
Manx Shearwater
Gannet
Shag
Oystercatcher
Lesser Black-backed Gull

This was my first trip as the WLO to Lundy Island. My wife and a couple of friends were joining me for the day. We arrived in Ilfracombe on Friday night and found somewhere to camp for the night.

Next morning we went for breakfast at the highly recommended Adele's café. The young staff were covering for the owners who were away for a wedding. The service was prompt and the food excellent, piping hot. The staff were lovely. After breakfast we picked up our tickets from the ticket office and waited to board. Boarding started and I waited until we were underway before I introduced myself to the Captain. Donning my WLO tabard I positioned myself on the upper deck.

Lundy coastguard rescue
Coastguard helicopter approaching the Oldenburg (Terry Bridgwood)

The wind had picked up a bit and it made the crossing a bit lively. The Oldenburg ploughed on through the sea riding the waves, the bow lifting and then dropping. Just over halfway into the crossing one of the passengers fell ill, their condition such that the Coastguard was called. As we neared Lundy Island the Captain slowed the vessel and changed course so that  the Coastguard helicopter could land the winchman on board to ready the patient for airlifting off. Once ready the helicopter returned and the patient whisked off to hospital. The Coastguard and crew of the Oldenburg handled the situation with professionalism and efficiency. It is comforting to realise that the Coastguard are there when you need them.

We continued on to Lundy and disembarked. There were a group of about 8 Grey Seals resting on the rocks at Mouse and Rat islands. We walked up the hill to grab a cuppa and snack in the Marisco Tavern.

My group took a walk to Jenny's Cove as our friends had never seen a Puffin before. We stopped to say hello to the pigs and give them a scratch and it was lovely to see the foal that had been born only days before our previous week-long visit.

Lundy Terry Bridgewood 01-18
Squall approaching Lundy (Terry Bridgwood)

When we reached Jenny's Cove we had to lie down to look through our binoculars as we were nearly blown off our feet. After about 15 minutes I suggested that we headed back as I could see the rain heading towards us. Too late, we were drenched by the time we arrived back at the tavern.

By the time we had boarded the Oldenburg the weather had calmed down a bit, the wind dropped and the sun came out. It didn't take long for our wet clothes to dry. As we left dock the seals were still there bottling and bobbing up and down in the water and the Oystercatchers were calling on the shore. On the journey back we were able to see, Gannet, Fulmar, Shag, guillemot and a variety of gulls, Shag and Guillemot. It was a treat to see Manx Shearwaters gliding just above the waves, rising up and down between the troughs.

Lundy Terry Bridgewood 02-18
Oldenburg alongside at Lundy (Terry Bridgwood)

The return journey was much calmer and everyone seemed to enjoy the sun. The Island's Head Ranger (Dean) travelled back with us for a well-earned holiday. If you live on Lundy where would you go? Dean travelled back on the bridge and was lucky to see a Storm Petrel. Once back in Ilfracombe we all had to disembark swiftly as the crew had to take the Oldenburg to Bideford.

We stayed the night in Ilfracombe and headed home on the Sunday - after another excellent breakfast at Adele's café. They only shut one day a year and are open from 07:30am.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 21 July 2018

Posted 27 July 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny and Dry with a light breeze, Sea State slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey seal 7
Common Dolphin 8+
Harbour Porpoise 3

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Lundy pony
Soay sheep
Swallow
House Martin
Meadow Pipit

It was another glorious day for my WLO trip to Lundy and on arrival at Ilfracombe Harbour, I collected my ticket and joined the long queue to board the Oldenburg. I went up to the bridge to collect my hi-viz jacket and after a quick chat to Jason the Captain, I returned to the upper deck.

The Oldenburg was full and as we sailed out of the harbour towards Lundy, I began chatting to the passengers while keeping an eye out for anything interesting. My first sighting was a Gannet bobbing about and as we sailed along the coast I saw a Kittiwake, Manx Shearwater and several auks before going into the Channel.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 58
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

I was positioned on the starboard side when about halfway through the journey, a passenger alerted me to a Porpoise in the distance and I also spotted 2 Common Dolphins heading towards the coast then I heard a commotion on the port side so went over to investigate and a small group of Common Dolphins had approached us but they soon disappeared.

Further on I saw a Guillemot with its young then a raft of mixed auks amongst which I could make out a couple of Puffins then as we got closer to Lundy I could see a group of seabirds in the distance but they were pretty inactive and there were no cetaceans around.

Lundy west coast 2018 Annette Dutton
The west coast from the Battery (Annette Dutton)

We arrived and as I followed everyone along the landing stage I could see a Grey Seal in the Devil's Kitchen. I got a lift from Dean in the Land Rover to save my knee and as he loaded up supplies for the shop from the Oldenburg so I was surrounded by milk and ice creams.

After eating my lunch by the shop, I walked up the main track and crossed over to the west side passing the Old Light and taking the lower path to sit on the rocks above the Old Battery. This is a good spot for checking the open sea for cetaceans and just when I thought I wasn't going to see anything, I saw a couple of Gannets in the distance with 2 Porpoises feeding below.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 14
Grey Seal (Annette Dutton)

I returned to the village and back to the landing bay to wait in the queue to board the Oldenburg. As we left the Island I saw 5 Grey Seals below the Shags on Mouse Island but after that there were very few sightings apart from the odd Guillemot, Razorbill and gull species and we soon arrived in Ilfracombe where I collected my belongings, said goodbye to Jason and the crew and thanked them for their hospitality.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 7 July 2018

Posted 10 July 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny and dry with a light breeze, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey seal 3
Common Dolphin 7/8
Bottlenose Dolphin 1
Harbour Porpoise 2

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Lundy pony
Skylark
Swallow
House Martin
Meadow Pipit

Once again the weather was glorious for my trip to Lundy and I wandered down to Ilfracombe harbour to join the long queue to board the MS Oldenburg. There were over 250 passengers onboard and after saying hello to Jason the Captain, I wondered where I was going to position myself in order to be able to look out for marine wildlife as the top deck was pretty busy.

Luckily, I managed to get my usual spot and as we left the harbour I was soon approached by passengers, many of whom were interested in how I had become involved with MARINElife and about the work of the orgnisation.

My first sighting was of a Gannet to the starboard side then a single Manx Shearwater and  as we approached Morte Point, a group of 4 Manx Shearwaters flew by. Still looking to the starboard side I caught a brief glimpse of a cetacean which looked like a Common Dolphin then another glimpse of 2 cetaceans over on the port side as we got into the channel.

Common dolphin Peter Howlett 44
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Moving towards Lundy, a Mediterranean Gull flew past heading north then we passed a large group of rafting Manx Shearwaters and other gull species, as we neared Lundy there were more seabirds further out to sea with several Gannets flying above them.

We arrived at the Landing Bay and after saying hello to Dean the Warden and his Assistant Sian, I walked up to the village, taking the left turn along the road then up the grassy path to Hanmers and my favourite bench. I ate my lunch and enjoyed the view, there were lots of butterflies, moths and, notably, lots of Six-spot Burnet moths. It  was incredibly hot and I went over to Castle Keep where I could see 3 Grey Seals in the Devil's Kitchen below then walked to the village stopping off in the Church to cool down and look at the new displays about the Island.

6Spot Burnet Annette Dutton 01
6-spot Burnet on thistle (Annette Dutton)

After taking a few photos of the Lundy foal, I made my way back to the Landing Bay and back on board the Oldenburg to start the return journey. We passed the same groups of seabirds, including Razorbills and Guillemots and the sea was rich with various jellyfish - Moon, Compass and Blue.

As we moved further away from Lundy I spotted a cetacean in the distance on the starboard side which I identified as a Harbour Porpoise then a passenger told me he had seen 2 Harbour Porpoise on the port side. Soon afterwards I saw another cetacean in the distance which was recogniseable as a Bottlenose Dolphin then as we neared the mainland we were approached by a small group of Common Dolphins who stayed with the boat briefly before we outran them. One of the passengers had photographs of the cetaceans we had seen which confirmed my identification of them.

There were still lots of jellyfish in the sea as we cruised nearer to Ilfracombe but no more seabirds or cetaceans. After we arrived in the harbour I collected my belongings, said goodbye to Jason and the crew and thanked them for their hospitality.

MARINElife WLO Report: MS Oldenburg Bideford-Lundy 30 June 2018

Posted 03 July 2018

Steve McAusland MARINElife/Lundy WLO

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 3

Estuary birds
Peregrine
Redshank
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Curlew
Oystercatcher
Cormorant

Birds at sea:
Puffin
Manx Shearwater
Black Headed Gull
Herring Gull
Kittiwake
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Fulmar
Cormorant
Shag
Gannet

Lundy terrestrial birds:
House Sparrow
Meadow Pipit
Wheatear
Starling
Raven
Carrion Crow
Wood Pigeon
House Martin
Swallow
Linnet
Oystercatcher
Skylark
Whitethroat
Pied Wagtail

Arriving in Bideford at 07:30am I collected my ticket from the Landmark office and joined the passengers on the quay ready for boarding MS Oldenburg. The ship was full with 256 passengers and 8 crew, upon making my way up to the bridge; I readied myself for the sailing while chatting the Jason the Captain. As the ship sailed along the estuary I caught sight of a Peregrine leaving the A39 road bridge. I soon proceeded to start my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to the passengers.

Puffin Steve McAusland 03
Puffin (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

Whilst Oldenburg made its way through a reasonably calm sea we soon caught sight of Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag, plus many gulls. Sadly, this trip did not produce any Cetaceans.

Upon disembarking the Oldenburg, I made my way up to catch up with Rick Morris (MARINElife Chairman of Trustees) and Maya Plass (MARINElife Patron) who were running another MARINElife Lundy Adventures break. After that I spent the rest of my time on the Island birding.

Wheatear Steve McAusland 02
Juvenile Wheatear (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

The crossing back to Bideford was very calm and warm as the sun continued to shine all day. Pretty much the same birds were seen along the way as on the journey out.

As we arrived back in Bideford, I thanked Jason and the crew for supporting MARINElife and I look forward to my next trip in August.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 23 June 2018

Posted 25 June 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Rick Morris
Weather: blue skies all day with very light winds, sea state: 1-2

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals:
Harbour Porpoise 5
Bottlenose Dolphin 5
Common Dolphin c30
Grey Seal 3

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

I arrived in Ilfracombe under blue skies and so I was full of hope of some cetacean sightings. After collecting my ticket and a quick catch up with Jacqui and Kate in the shore office I boarded the grand old lady, the 'MS Oldenburg'. A brief visit to the bridge to say hello to Jason (the Captain) and then I made way around the outer decks introducing myself and the charity to all those onboard.

Manx Shearwater Rick Morris 08
Manx Shearwaters (Rick Morris)

We left the now busy harbour and made our way along the stunning North Devon coast in flat calm conditions, if any cetaceans were about today, we would be sure to see them! From the moment of our departure we were seeing Herring Gull and Fulmar followed by Manx Shearwater and auks. I thought we might pick up one or two Harbour Porpoise as we headed along towards Morte Point, but this stretch was very quiet, probably due to a few leisure boats whizzing around!

We were just over an hour into the trip when a passenger said she thought she had seen a Harbour Porpoise, further observation confirmed this with not one but two animals around 300m away. Whilst continuing to look at these, I noticed some very strange 'waves' in the flat calm water some 200m to the right of the porpoise. These 'waves' turned out to be 5 Bottlenose Dolphin swimming with a purpose, but not showing much back, just surfacing enough to take a breath of air.

Bird sightings remained constant all the way to Lundy, with many Manx Shearwater, Guillemot, Razorbill and Puffin resting on the sea and Fulmar, Kittiwake, Gannet and gulls in the air.

Horse and Foal Rick Morris 2018
Lundy pony with new born foal (Rick Morris)

On the island I only had a short walk about as I needed to finalise our MARINElife/Lundy 6 day workshop with Dean (the Warden) which takes place from 28 June-3 July. However, I was delighted to see that one of the Ponies had given birth to a beautiful foal that wasn't yet a week old.

The return home was very much like the outbound trip with very calm seas and the same seabirds. We left the Landing Jetty under the watchful eyes of a couple of Grey Seal. Another Grey Seal was spotted shortly after leaving. As we neared the hallway point Common Dolphin were seen in the distance. They were a large group of around 30 animals spread over a large area with many feeding together with Manx Shearwater, but a few individuals thrilled the passengers by coming into the bow for a play.

Common Dolphin Rick Morris 11
Common Dolphin feeding (Rick Morris)

As we neared the North Devon Coast, Harbour Porpoise were seen with more Manx Shearwater present - I always make a point to inform passengers to keep an eye on the birds as the feed on the same prey fish!

Back into the harbour and safely tied off, I said goodbye to Jason and the crew. This was a truly fantastic trip today with great wildlife sightings for the passengers to see and enjoy.

A huge thanks to the crew of the 'Oldenburg' for their brilliant help and assistance. I would also like to thank Jacqui and Kate in the shore office and all those on Lundy who are always so helpful.

MARINElife Survey Report: MS Oldenburg Bideford-Lundy 16 June 2018

Posted 19 June 2018

Ruth Crundwell  Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather Outward - overcast, good visibility. Return - overcast becoming brighter nearer the mainland

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 2

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 50
Gannet  Morus bassanus 2
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Oystercatcher  Haematopus ostralegus 10
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 19
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 23
Puffin  Fratercula arctica 2
Black-backed Gull sp. Larus sp. 9

Boarding the Oldenburg I was greeted by Captain Jason and 2nd officer Mike and made comfortable on the bridge of this vintage vessel. Our smooth journey down the estuary was a good start to the day. On leaving the estuary mouth the swell picked up but visibility was good despite cloud cover. A relatively quiet crossing was made more exciting by the sighting of Common Dolphin who raced over to bow-ride as we headed toward Lundy.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 31
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

After disembarking at the Lundy quay I made my way up to the village and enjoyed some refreshments at the Marisco Tavern. Later I walked over to Jenny's Cove to take a look at the Puffin, Guillemot and Razorbills which nest there at this time of year.

Time went quickly on the return journey as I could hardly keep up with the many seabirds I observed. Entering the Taw-Torridge estuary we were greeted with a flyby from a flock of Oystercatcher which looked magnificent with the Braunton sand dunes behind them. A sighting of the resident Little Egret perched in the trees on the river bank made a nice end to the day.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 9 June 2018

Posted 15 June 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

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

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey seal 3
Common Dolphin 5-6

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay Sheep
Lundy pony
Skylark
Goldfinch
Swallow
House Martin
Wheatear
Meadow Pipit
Stonechat

I had spent a few days on Lundy the previous weekend returning on Tuesday and here I was walking down to Ilfracombe Harbour go back as WLO for the day. Again, the weather was sunny and dry and the sea conditions were ideal for cetacean spotting.

I boarded the Oldenburg, went up to the bridge to say hello to Jason, the Captain and to sort out my belongings before taking up position on the top deck.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 13
Grey Seal (Annette Dutton)

The Oldenburg began its gentle cruise towards Lundy and soon after leaving the harbour I spotted a small group of Manx Shearwaters on the starboard side heading in the same direction. As we headed into the channel I saw Herring Gull, Guillemot, Razorbill and a solitary Gannet as we neared the island. On arrival, we were greeted by 2 Grey Seals in the landing bay and after disembarking began the walk up to the village.

Lundy Annette Dutton 13
The Old Battery (Annette Dutton)

After visiting the shop, I walked through the campsite past the Old Light and over to the lower path and sat on the rocks overlooking the Battery for lunch. There were many seabirds below including the odd Gannet but no sign of cetaceans. I wandered over to the next rocky outcrop and searched again for dolphins and Harbour Porpoises but no joy so I took the path towards the battery to take photos of the sea cave opposite.

I walked back to the landing stage and saw Myra who I had met the previous weekend then we boarded the Oldenburg hoping for good sightings on the return trip. I saw a trickle of Manx Shearwater, Guillemots and Razorbills then the crew alerted me to a small group of Common Dolphins on the port side, I managed to see the tail end of the group as they swam to the rear of the Oldenburg on the starboard side. The passengers were thrilled and a nearby group showed me the photographs taken on their phones.

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

We continued towards the North Devon coast but only saw a Gannet then a Razorbill before arriving at Ilfracombe harbour. I said goodbye to Jason and the crew and thanked them for another amazing trip.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 2 June 2018

Posted 10 June 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Lucy Grable

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise 5
Dolphin sp. 3
Grey Seal 55

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

Other Marine Life:
Moon Jellyfish

As I arrived at Bideford, the quay was buzzing with the excitement with all the passengers waiting to board the MS Oldenberg. The boat was at full capacity and with the sun shining and a very calm sea state I was feeling rather hopeful we were going to catch some glimpses of cetaceans.

Once onboard, Annette Dutton, one of MARINElife's Wildlife Officers introduced herself to me. We follow each other on Twitter so it was lovely finally meeting! Annette was spending four days on Lundy Island and she couldn't have picked better weather for a stay.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 15b
Harbour Porpoise (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

It was a fairly quiet crossing with only small numbers of seabirds observed with the majority dominated by groups of Guillemot and Razorbill. A single Black Guillemot and a few Gannet were also seen. The port side of the boat were fortunate to spot Harbour Porpoise, but unfortunately I missed that encounter. I spoke to many of the passengers who were keen on seeing Puffins, amazingly as we approached Lundy we were treated to a close-up of a puffin flying past the boat. I also spotted two Grey Seal frolicking in the water and was able to point them out to those nearby.

Once we disembarked from the boat, I hit a bottleneck and saw that everyone had stopped to look at a Grey Seal around the Landing Bay. I spent my time on the island doing what I usually do, heading straight to Jenny's Cove to watch the Puffins. This time I was treated to closer encounters of around 20 Puffins. I passed my binoculars around to those who didn't have any and helped in locating the Puffins and distinguishing between Guillemots and Razorbill.

I then made my way to the north of the island where I stopped for lunch watching five Grey Seals. I walked around the whole island and counted a total of 52 Grey Seals along the eastern coast. The seals were particular noisy that day snorting, roaring and wailing with the echoes travelling long distances.

Razorbill and Guillemot Steve McAusland 01
Razorbills and Guillemots (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

I returned to the Landing Bay at 4pm to join many of the passengers in the round the Island boat trip on the MS Oldenberg. We were able to see a large number of auks rafting close-by which was great for pointing out the difference to the passengers. The commentary from Steve was very informative and I would highly recommend going on the boat trip if you have time. I also spotted some very distance dolphins towards the mainland with the help of a passenger, which I was hoping we would approach on our return journey.

Whilst waiting for the rest of the passengers to board the Oldenberg for return to Bideford, I spotted a large number of Moon Jellyfish within the Landing Bay. The return trip made for perfect cetacean spotting. We didn't come across the dolphins I observed from distance earlier in the day, but we were fortunate in having two encounters with Harbour Porpoise. However, both were pretty quick encounters, but many of the passengers were able to see the individuals.

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

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 26 May 2018

Posted 28 May 2018

MARINElife WLO Jenny Ball

Weather: Misty on outward journey, with light NE wind and slight sea. Some drizzle and otherwise calm conditions on the return.

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals:
Grey Seal 1
Common Dolphin 5
Bottlenose Dolphin 10

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

Terrestrial birds:
Carrion Crow
Chiffchaff
House Martin
House Sparrow
Linnet
Raven
Rock Pipit
Skylark
Starling
Swallow
Wheatear

This was to be my first visit to Lundy, so I joined the large crowd of Bank Holidaymakers on board the MS Oldenburg for the 2 hour crossing. The forecast windy conditions had not materialised, and instead we set off on a calm but misty trip on the Bristol Channel. I could see a couple of nesting Fulmar on the cliffs outside the harbour, together with a number of gulls and swooping hirundines, and once on our way we came across a few Guillemot, Manx Shearwater and Gannet. I enjoyed talking to the passengers, all eagerly anticipating their visit to Lundy: a group of children knew all about cetaceans, having found a corpse and a skull on a previous holiday, a couple of ladies had a new I-Spy Birds book and were keen to tick a few of them off, and there was lots of interest in wildlife in general.

The Captain, Jason, told me that several pods of Harbour Porpoise had been seen on recent crossings, along with a 2km-long stream of cuttlefish bones. There were quite a number of cuttlefish bones, sadly caught up with a lot of plastic and other rubbish, but we saw no cetaceans on the way out…

Lundy west coast Jenny Ball 01
Glorious display of Thrift on the Lundy cliffs (Jenny Ball)

Once on the island, I walked through increasingly murky conditions to Jenny's Cove to see the Puffins - there are apparently around 25 pairs, all on one of the six or so available nesting areas.  Although very distant, it was lovely to see them, a regular stream flying in and out, and others walking around amongst the thrift. The mist lifted as it was time to head back, so I could appreciate a little more of the island I was walking through. A Grey Seal came along to see us off Lundy, and a good few passengers waiting to board the MS Oldenburg borrowed my binoculars to get a better view.

Oldenburg Jenny Ball 01
Oldenburg alongside at Lundy (Jenny Ball)

The large number of Razorbill seen on the water on the way in were no longer there but again we had intermittent views of Gannet, Guillemot, Manx Shearwater and various gulls during the crossing.  We also had a really great experience: a group of around five Common Dolphin approached the boat, leaping clear of the water and giving passengers a brilliant view, and at the same time a larger group of what I think were Bottlenose Dolphin cruised by in the other direction. This group included at least two juveniles, and was swimming purposefully towards Lundy. A passenger reported seeing a Sunfish, which they said was unusually early in this area, and another passenger told me an extraordinary story of seeing dolphin corralling their prey, from a view point at the extreme north end of the island.

Many thanks to the captain and crew of the MS Oldenburg, and to the Landmark Trust for their generous cooperation - what an interesting first WLO trip to Lundy!

MARINElife Survey Report: MS Oldenburg Ilfracombe-Lundy 12 May 2018

Posted 14 May 2018

Alan Sumnall and Nicola Simpson Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: The weather was clear throughout the survey, around 50% cloud, with sunshine at times. Slightly windy conditions created more challenging surveying conditions on the outward journey.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 54
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 11
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 4
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 11
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 12
Razorbill Alca torda 13
Guillemot Uria aalge 63

We were welcomed on board in Ilfracombe by the friendly crew, then headed up to the bridge to meet the Captain who showed us to our survey location. We set off from Ilfracombe at around 10:00, the weather was clear, although a little windy.

Lundy Alan Sumnall 01
Approaching Lundy (Alan Sumnall)

Seabird sightings began shortly after we set off with numerous Fulmar, Razorbill and Guillemot spotted flying and on the water. As we continued on towards Lundy we also observed Herring Gull and Shag. We arrived at Lundy Island around midday and were greeted with sightings of Grey Seal in the harbour.

We spent several hours walking around Lundy Island, taking in the sights of the stunning coastline and enjoying the glorious weather. As well as observing several more Grey Seal along the coast we also spotted a variety of birds, including Puffin, Wheatear and Whimbrel. We were also lucky to be visiting when the endemic Lundy Cabbage was in flower, and got to see one of the associated endemic insects - the Lundy Cabbage Flea Beetle!

Great Skua Peter Howlett 26
Great Skua (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

We returned to the MS Oldenburg for our return journey and set off at around 16:30. The weather on the way back was once again clear, with a little wind, and sea conditions were excellent. A variety of birds were spotted on our return, including Great Black-backed Gull, Manx Shearwater, Kittiwake and Great Skua. We arrived back in to Ilfracombe at around 18:30 and disembarked the MS Oldenburg.

Once again our thanks go to the Captain and very helpful and friendly staff and crew of the MS Oldenburg who made this a very enjoyable crossing.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 12 May 2018

Posted 13 May 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

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

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 3

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay Sheep
Lundy Goat
Lundy pony
Skylark
Goldfinch
Swallow
House Martin
Wheatear
Kestrel

I walked down to Ilfracombe Harbour in the sunshine and as I went to join the queue I saw someone in a MARINElife tee shirt sat on the steps, this turned out to be Nicola who was there with Alan to do the monthly survey. We had a chat and boarded the Oldenburg, went up to the bridge to say hello to Jason, the Captain and then I left to take up position on the top deck.

Although the sea was calm there was a fair swell and the Oldenburg rose up and down as we cruised along. My first sighting was a Razorbill followed by 2 Fulmar flying past, as we passed Morte Point and moved into the channel I spotted Gannet and Guillemot. There was nothing else until we neared Lundy when I saw Manx Shearwater, Shag, Oystercatcher and a Grey Seal by the rocks near the landing stage.

Lundy Annette Dutton 11
Lundy coast at Hanmer (Annette Dutton)

Arriving at the village I walked along the track past St Helena's church which was looking like a new pin after the renovation works then along the grassy path leading to the bench by Hanmers holiday cottage where I had lunch. There were lots of Swallows and Martins flying about and I saw another Grey Seal below in the bay past Millcombe and a Kestrel flew by.

I walked over to the Castle and along the path towards Shutter Point passing some Lundy Goats, it was lovely to see the pink of the Sea Thrift in patches along the way. I sat on the rocks at the end and enjoyed the dramatic views down to Shutter Rocks accompanied by  more Swallows and Martins flying about but I saw nothing in the sea below.

I walked back to the village and down Millcombe Valley where I spotted a patch of Lundy Cabbage on the hillside and as I wandered down further I saw a Barrel Jellyfish below the path to the Landing bay. Passengers waiting in the queue were treated to a Grey Seal swimming close to the pier.

Lundy Cabbage Annette Dutton 02
Lundy Cabbage (Annette Dutton)

I met up with Nicola and Alan back on the bridge then I went back out onto the deck, the conditions were ideal for spotting cetaceans but sadly I saw none. The return journey saw the same seabirds as the outward journey and we were soon back in Ilfracombe harbour.

I returned to the bridge to collect my belongings, thanked Jason and the team and left the Oldenburg with Nicola and Alan.