Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: November 2011

MARINElife Survey Report: Bideford-Lundy 'MS Oldenburg' 1 November 2011

Posted 13 November 2011

Tom Brereton, MARINElife Research Surveyor
Weather: S 2-4,bright

Cetaceans
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 6
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 36
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Common Gull Larus communis 3
Little Gull Larus minutus 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 34
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 75
Guillemot Uria aalge 72
Razorbill Alca torda 4
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 4
Curlew Numenius arquata 4
Unidentified Auk species 4

Terrestrial Birds
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 1

Kittiwake juv 4We departed from Bideford at 08:30 for the two hour crossing to Lundy.  It was a beautiful sunny morning and thankfully not as windy as expected.  As we made our way out of the estuary, there was a fair swell out in the Bristol Channel but with clear visibility and the sun behind us viewing conditions were as good as can be expected for a November day!

This was our first freight only crossing and there were no more than a handful of crew onboard.  None the less Captain Jerry Waller and his team were extremely welcoming and there was a good atmosphere on the bridge with some lively banter. It was clear that a number of the crew were both knowledgeable and interested in marine wildlife.  The bad news was that dolphins, which are regular through the summer months had not been seen by the crew recently.  Hence it was no surprise to arrive at Lundy without any sightings. However, a variety of other wildlife was seen including Grey Seal, and large numbers of Kittiwakes and auks amongst other seabirds. The light for viewing these birds was fantastic.

The days schedule meant that there was a good four hours to explore Lundy and its' wonderful scenery.  A circuit of the island was highly enjoyable and proved good for birds with Merlin, Peregrine Falcon and Great Spotted Woodpecker the best of the birds on land.  There was an overhead passage of hundreds of finches (mainly Chaffinch) and some late Swallows, whilst t a flock of a hundred or so feeding Kittiwakes offshore attracted both Great and Arctic Skuas.  Other wildlife recorded included Sika Deer and several late Red Admiral butterflies.

Arctic Skua 3By 3pm we were back at sea heading towards Bideford.  Viewing conditions were improved as the sea had moderated. Seabird interest picked up, with quality coming in the form of Arctic Skua and Little Gull.  A Harbour Porpoise late on within a couple  of  miles of Bideford meant that I was able to maintain my record of having seen a cetacean on every planned MARINElife ferry survey completed, going back as far as 1995!  The tides were against us on this trip, so we sailed down to Clovelly at sunset to anchor up and wait for the tide to bring enough water back into the estuary so that we could navigate through without fear of grounding.

By 8pm we were back in Bideford. It had been a long day, but a highly enjoyable one too, that made me keener than ever to return to Lundy.

 Tom Brereton; Research Surveyor for MARINElife