Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: September 2011

MARINElife Survey Report: Ilfracombe-Lundy 'MS Oldenburg' 24 September 2011

Posted 27 September 2011

Rick Morris and Sue Lakeman: MARINElife Research Surveyors
Weather: S3, Poor visibility

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 22
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-Headed Gull 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10
Great Black-Backed Gull Larus marinus 7
Guillemot Uria aalge 4
Unidentified Gull Sp 9
Unidentified Auk Sp 2

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 2

We arrived at Ilfracombe harbour on a rather overcast morning and introduced ourselves to the ever friendly staff in the shore office before being greeted onboard the M S Oldenburg by Glyn the information officer, then onto the bridge to meet Gerry the captain and Brian the first mate who recognised us as joining them on the first survey back in May this year.

We left the harbour and headed to Lundy in a sea state 3 with a residual Atlantic swell up to 3 metres which made observation difficult at times. Gerry raised our hopes with the news that between 150 to 200 Common dolphins were seen on the west side of the island last week but unfortunately we encountered no cetaceans, but did have some good views of seabirds.

Arriving at the island we observed the resident grey seals. After a visit to the information building at the landing site we proceeded up the steep track to the top of the island. The weather was now getting steadily worse so it was decided not to venture too far north, instead we walked to the west side passing a small pond that's home to eight Mallard ducks. Other birds that we encountered  on our walk included Swallows, Sparrows, Starlings, Crows, Jackdaws, Wheatears, Warblers, Chaffinch and a Kestrel hovering looking for lunch. Nearer the cliff edge we observed rock Pipits and on the rocks below Cormorants could be seen.

Lundy Church

With rain and a fog bank having moved in, we ventured inside a church on Lundy to look at the interior before continuing on for a much needed cup of tea in the tavern.

The Grey Seals once again greeted us on board and on the return crossing, the sea state remained at a 3 but the swell had all but disappeared, unfortunately visibility wasn't great so apart from the usual seabirds we drew a blank on cetaceans.

We arrived back at Ilfracombe and bid farewell to Gerry and his crew and as we queued to disembark, a conversation with one of the passengers revealed they had observed several dolphins (probably Commons) feeding under Gannets off the NE of the island during their stay.

We would like to say a big thanks to Oldenburg's crew and to the staff in the shore office for being extremely helpful.

Rick Morris and Sue Lakeman; Research Surveyors for MARINElife