MARINElife Survey Report: Ilfracombe-Lundy 'MS Oldenburg' 14th September 2013

Rick Morris and Peter Jones, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Wind 4, sea state 4

Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 4
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2

Seabirds:
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 10
Gannet Morus bassanus 103
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 6
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Arctic (Parasitic) Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 9
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Guillemot Uria aalge 35
Large Gull Sp. 2

After meeting at the shore office in Ilfracombe, we were joined by Luke Sutton who was going to be MARINElife's Wildlife Officer on the 'Oldenburg' for this trip and together we made our way on board.

Setting off from Ilfracombe, we were all in good spirits and hopeful of seeing some cetaceans, but with a sea state of four we knew this would be a little challenging, especially for seeing our smallest cetacean - the Harbour Porpoise.

Common Dolphin Tom Brereton 01Seabird sightings were of mostly Gannet with the odd Guillemot and gull. We were around the halfway point when, observing a group of feeding Gannet, Peter spotted the dorsal fin of a dolphin, this was one of a group of four Common Dolphin that quickly came into the bow before disappearing down the side of the ship.

On reaching Lundy, a heavily pregnant female Grey Seal was seen in the water by Rat Island. Once ashore we made our way up the track that leads up onto the island, we hadn't got very far when Jonny pulled up in the Landrover and offered us a lift - we accepted, well it would be rude not to! It has to be said that the staff on Lundy are brilliant.

Common Dolphin (Tom Brereton)

Bird sightings on our walk-about included Snipe, Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher, White and Pied Wagtail, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Kestrel, Raven, Linnet and Rock and Meadow Pipit.

We stopped off at the Marisco Tavern for a welcome cup of tea and met up with Beccy the island warden before heading down for the return leg.

Arctic Skua Mike Bamford 02a
Arctic Skua (Mike Bamford)

Leaving Lundy behind us, we began recording small numbers of Gannet, Guillemot and Manx Shearwater. With an hour to go before reaching Ilfracombe, 2 Great Skua flew down the starboard side, but the bird highlight was the sightings of Arctic Skua - 3 at first followed by another 6 ten minutes later, all of these were light phase birds.

With just over 10 minutes of survey time remaining, we finished off with an excellent sighting of 2 Harbour Porpoise, thanks to the eagle eye of Brian.

We were welcomed back at Ilfracombe by the funfair on the harbour car park, which was in full swing. As ever, our thanks go to Jerry, Brian, the crew of the 'Oldenburg' and the shore office team for their help and assistance.

Rick Morris and Peter Jone; Research Surveyors for MARINElife