MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 14 September 2013

Luke Sutton; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer

Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin 4

Seabirds:
Arctic Skua
Herring Gull
Shag
Great Skua
Gannet
Manx Shearwater

Juv-GannetI was looking forward to my first trip as WLO on the Lundy ferry. I met Rick and Peter in Ilfracombe who would be working on the bridge doing the monthly survey for the route. The forecast for the day was set fair, with a light to moderate Northerly breeze with slight to moderate sea conditions and sunny spells.

As we left Ilfracombe harbour at 1000 hrs I made my way out onto the decks and introduced myself to the passengers and explained the research work that MARINElife does on ferry routes throughout UK waters. As we headed out to sea, small numbers of Gannet were seen, occasionally diving for fish. These were mainly adults but a few immature birds were also present.

Gannet

Herring Gull and 3 auks were spotted, but generally, sightings were few until about halfway through the journey when two Common Dolphin were spotted moving down the starboard side of the ferry. This created a lot of excitement and activity amongst the passengers who had been fairly subdued until then!

Arriving on Lundy, Rick and Peter headed over to Jenny's Cove, picking up a few migrants but no rarities. I headed North up the island and found a pair of Peregrine Falcon on territory. The weather was ideal, sunny but with a cool northerly breeze and visibility was incredible; landmarks on the mainland were clearly visible.

Common Dolphin 5

Common Dolphin (Adrian Shephard)

The return journey was uneventful until about halfway across, when again two Common Dolphin appeared in the ferry's wake off the port quarter. They stayed with us for a few minutes before breaking off and heading North with a few leaps to keep us entertained. A few Manx Shearwater were picked up heading back South for the winter and a Great Skua was also sighted.

As we neared the North Devon coast, two small groups of Arctic Skua were seen but otherwise a quiet steam back along the sea cliffs to Ilfracombe.

As ever, huge thanks to the crew of the 'Oldenburg' for their help and assistance.

Luke Sutton; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer