Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: August 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Ilfracombe-Lundy 'MS Oldenburg' 18th August 2012

Posted 21 August 2012

Rick Morris and Emma Bateman; Researcher Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Westbound: SW 4 Eastbound: Variable 3

Cetaceans and Seals
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 8
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmaras glacialis 3
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 816+
Gannet Morus bassanus 38
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 7
Great Black-back Gull Larus marinus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla
Puffin Fratercula arctica
Guillemot Uria aalge 5
Razorbill Alca torda
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 1
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 3
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisea 23
Unidentified gull sp 4
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 2

Manx SWWe were joined on our survey to Lundy Island by marine and coastal ecology expert Maya Plass. Some of you may have seen Maya on BBC's Springwatch and Autumnwatch. Maya will be speaking at this year's WhaleFest in Brighton and asked MARINElife if she could join us on one of our research trips to get some 'hands on' experience on how we conduct our monthly surveys.

We all met at Ilfracombe harbour and after letting Jacqui in the shore office know we were here, we proceeded to board our vessel, the 'MS Oldenburg' where we were greeted by the ever helpful crew.

Conditions leaving Ilfracombe were a little challenging for cetacean observation but we were soon recording good numbers of Manx Shearwater, showing us how skilfully they use the waves to gracefully 'shear' across the sea.

Grey SealReaching Lundy, we were greeted by the resident Grey Seal and made our way to the beach for a questions and answers session with Maya, giving us the opportunity to give an account of MARINElife's work from a researcher's perspective.

As we had plenty of time until the return crossing, we decided to make our way up and head north to reach the far end. We stopped near the end at 'long roost' where we had lunch, admiring the views  and watching the various birds coming and going including a Peregrine Falcon, before continuing down the steps to reach the North lighthouse overlooking the 'Hen and Chickens'.

We boarded the 'Oldenburg' for the trip back to Ilfracombe and were hopeful of some cetaceans, as on the three O'clock sailing they had thirty plus Common Dolphin come in to bow ride.

OldenburgAgain we were recording good numbers of Manx Shearwater together with sporadic sightings of Gannet and the odd Fulmar. We passed the point of where the last dolphins were sighted and were beginning to think we wouldn't see any, then around half an hour before we were due into port Maya announced that she saw dorsal fins at 2 O'clock, at last, eight Common Dolphin including a mother with calf showed nicely as they went down the starboard side around three hundred meters out, a fantastic end to our survey.

Our thanks as ever go to the shore office team and to the crew of the 'Oldenburg' for their help and hospitality, and to the staff on Lundy.

A special thanks to Maya Plass for the interest in MARINElife and our work

Rick Morris and Emma Bateman, Research Surveyors for MARINElife