Martin Gillingham and Rachael Stilgoe, Research Surveyors for
Sea state 3-5, Wind W-NW 3-5, Swell 0-2, Visibility 4-6, Sunshine and Heavy Showers
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 49
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 19
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 4
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 29
Guillemot Uria aalge 44
Razorbill Alca torda 7
Puffin Fratercula arctica 1
Auk sp 5
The short walk from our B&B in the morning was to set the scene for the day, windy with heavy showers. We had already collected our tickets the previous evening from the helpful staff at the boarding office so we were ready to board the Oldenburg as soon as we arrived at the harbour. Walking past the new Damien Hurst statue called Verity which is set to be installed and dominate the harbour in the coming days, we were welcomed aboard by the crew.
Having set sail promptly at 10am we were invited onto the bridge by the extremely friendly Captain Gerry. It was soon apparent that we were in for a challenging survey as heading against the wind and tide the bridge was often hit by the spray of the large waves. We only managed a few Gannet, Guillemot and Razorbill on the outbound crossing but had a surprise as we approached Lundy. A juvenile Puffin was seen in front of the ship, at this time of year they should be out in the Atlantic Ocean.
After docking we decided to look for migrants around the Island. There were good numbers of common migrants around including Swallow, Goldcrest, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Redwing, Chaffinch and a Coal Tit, which is a rare bird on Lundy. Another nice find was a Yellow-browed Warbler in Millcombe Valley. This scarce migrant from western Russia normally winters in southeast Asia but there have been more than normal in the country this autumn.
All too soon it was time to board the Oldenburg for the return sailing back to Ilfracombe. As we arrived back at the pier a Grey Seal was close inshore fishing. We were hoping to see some pups as the seals are now giving birth around the Island but our luck was out. However, the Captain did have some pictures of one from a trip early in the week.
The return crossing was more comfortable as the tide and wind was behind us. Sadly it was still too rough to pick out any cetaceans. We encountered some feeding flocks of Gannet but were unable to make out if there was anything feeding beneath them.
Arriving back in Ilfracombe we thanked the Captain and crew for welcoming us on board and continuing to support Marinelife. We look forward to repeating the survey again in the future.
Martin Gillingham and Rachael Stilgoe, Research Surveyors for MARINElife