MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy-Bideford 7 September 2013

Maggie Gamble; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer (WLO)

Marine Mammals:
Grey Seal c30
Common Dolphin 10
Bottlenose Dolphin c8

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Greater black-backed Gull
Lesser black-backed Gull
Manx Shearwater
Gannet
Fulmar
Shag
Cormorant
Guillemot

After chatting to the MARINElife team who were setting up our stand for the Ilfracombe Harbour Festival, I was welcomed on to the MS Oldenburg for the 1000hrs departure and positioned myself on the back deck. I had some MARINElife leaflets and began dispatching them whilst introducing myself to the passengers before sailing.

Manx_PH1The sea state varied between three and four which was a vast improvement on earlier forecasts and approaching Lundy it became quite sunny. The trip to the Island was fairly quiet, most of the Manx Shearwaters presumably by now having moved further south for the winter. However there were still a few to be seen riding the air currents in their effortless fashion.

Soon after midday we were climbing the hill up to the village. Lunch and mugs of tea at the Marisco Tavern followed and I spent a little time browsing their natural history library.  Just outside the Tavern was a delightful Spotted Flycatcher using the wire fence for its hunting forays, this is a bird I have seldom seen recently.

Manx Shearwaters (Pete Howlett)

Returning to the jetty at 1515hrs I joined the around the Island trip on the Oldenburg, commentated by the Island Warden.  There were quite a few Grey Seals to be seen, either lolling, bottling or basking on the rocks! Also obvious from the boat is the scar left by the excellent clearance of the Rhoddodenrum ponticum, this is so invasive and overruns the native flora which should now have a chance to re-colonize. On the western side of the island I scanned to seaward as this can be a good area for cetaceans, but not on this occasion.

CD_AS1Returning to the Jetty we collected the rest of the passengers for the return trip. About twenty minutes out from Lundy we received a quick but exuberant close encounter with a group of Common Dolphin on both sides of the boat. Some of the passengers in the saloon also had good views out of the windows. On the approach to the coast near Bideford there were small flocks of diving Gannets and passengers at the front of the boat had good sightings of Bottlenose Dolphin.

We arrived back in to Bideford for the coach transfer back to Ilfacombe and the Oldenburg was welcomed back by the Bideford fair "master of ceremonies" over their public address system. Once docked, I thanked the crew for their hospitality and disembarked the ship.

Common Dolphin (Adrian Shephard)

Maggie Gamble, MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer