Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: September 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Ilfracombe-Lundy-Bideford 'MS Oldenburg' 15th September 2012

Posted 03 October 2012

Fiona McNie and James Darke, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Cetacea and other marine mammals
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 5
Risso's Dolphin Grampus griseus 2
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Unidentified dolphin sp. 4
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2

Seabirds
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 2
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 2
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 17
Gannet Morus bassanus 64
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 7
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 100
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 5
Black Headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 13
Lesser Black Backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 15
Greater Black Backed Gull Larus marinus 8
Guillemot Uria aalge 27
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Unidentified Gull sp. 179
Unidentified Auk sp. 6

Other
Sunfish Mola mola 1

The Lundy ferry staff were very welcoming and friendly as usual, this time in the form of the very generous offer of a bacon sandwich from the Captain. The crew are continuously interested in the wildlife and keep their own log of sightings which gives a great insight into the wildlife in the area.

The outbound crossing got off to a good start with a Sunfish just outside Ilfracombe harbour. However, even with excellent visibility and a sea state of 3 there seemed to be very little bird activity for most of the journey out to Lundy with Gannet and Manx Shearwater being the most recorded. No cetaceans were recorded on the first leg. Grey Seals basking on the rocks and swimming around the harbour area as we came into Lundy harbour were a welcome sight to end the first leg.

CD7On Lundy we took the opportunity to go and look in the rock pools at the beach near the harbour. This is a regular survey site for Natural England's intertidal rocky shore monitoring, and is very rich in biodiversity and supports Scarlet and Gold Cup Coral. Unfortunately it's difficult to find them as they can only be seen at the lowest of tides.

The Grey Seals saw us off as we left the island and, with the wind having dropped slightly and the visibility remaining excellent, conditions were ideal for some great sightings of cetaceans throughout the journey. Sightings began soon after leaving Lundy with Common Dolphin right ahead of the ferry, this was followed by further sightings of Harbour Porpoise, more Common and even Risso's Dolphins.

Rissos BrittanyBird activity also picked up significantly and the great visibility allowed us to see some large scale feeding frenzies of gulls and Gannet in the far distance along the coast of Devon, we could even make out the associated cetaceans.

We continued to record birds as we sailed up the estuary and we ended the survey at the bridge just before entering Bideford Harbour. Our thanks go to the Captain and crew of the Oldenberg for their help and support.

Fiona McNie and James Darke,Research Surveyors for MARINElife