Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: July 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Ilfracombe-Lundy 'MS Oldenburg' 14th July 2012

Posted 17 July 2012

Maggie Gamble and Sue Lakeman, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Cloudy, sunny spells Wind: NNW 3-4

Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 3

Fulmar Fulmaras glacialis 23
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 226
Gannet Morus bassanus 71
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 82
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 9
Puffin Fratercula arctica 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 39
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Unidentified gull sp 1
Unidentified auk sp 10

Sue on LundyIt was drizzling as we arrived at the Lundy Ferry terminal in Ilfracombe, after a week of rain, so the weather was not looking promising, but you can always be sure of a warm welcome from Captain Gerry and his crew aboard the MS Oldenburg. As we cleared the harbour, however, the rain stopped and we were treated to a warm, sunny day on the beautiful island of Lundy.

On the outward journey, we were entertained by numerous Manx Shearwaters riding the wind gracefully across the waves, accompanied by plenty of gannets. This raised our hopes that there were plenty of fish to attract the dolphins and porpoises regularly seen on this route. When we were about half way to Lundy, Maggie spotted a single common dolphin dashing in to the bow, but it remained elusive and did not show itself again.

On arrival at Lundy, we disembarked and climbed the hill to the Marisco Tavern to enjoy a cup of tea before exploring the island. We walked northwards listening to the numerous skylarks singing as they soared, and crossed to Jenny's Cove, where we enjoyed our sandwiches while watching a juvenile Peregrine falcon annoying a pair of Ravens and the numerous Kittiwakes and auks that were perching on the cliffs. We continued north, spotting various wildlife and plants on our way, such as Wheatear, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Soay Sheep, Sheep's Bit Scabious, Wild Carrot and Centaury.

We then crossed back across to the east of the island and explored the ruin of the old hospital while watching a yacht sail into the harbour. Nearby a pair of kestrel were quartering the heath, frequently dropping down and snatching some unsuspecting creature, returning to a nearby rock to devour it. We walked back down the island, with the mainland just discernible through the haze. As we could see the MS Oldenburg approaching, we descended to the harbour and watched the grey seals as we waited to embark for the return journey, although it was not clear who was watching who with more interest.

Common Dolphin 1The sun was shining as we sailed back to Ilfracombe and we were soon recording more Manx Shearwater, Gannet, various auks and also increasing numbers of Fulmar. We were delighted to spot another two Common Dolphins on the return trip and are sure there were more in the area, as a passenger reported spotting another dolphin to us as we disembarked.

Our thanks, as ever, go to Captain Gerry and his crew and the helpful shore staff at Ilfracombe for making our trip to Lundy a very enjoyable one.

Maggie Gamble and Sue Lakeman, Research Surveyors for MARINElife