Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: October 2013

MARINElife Survey Report: Ilfracombe-Lundy 'MS Oldenburg' 12th October 2013

Posted 21 October 2013

Maggie Gamble and Ruth Griffith, MARINElife Research Surveyors
Weather: Sunny, wind east-northeast, sea state 3-5

Cetaceans:
Harbour Porpoise  Phocoena phocoena  4
Common Dolphin  Delphinus delphis  7

Seabirds:
Common Scoter   Melanitta nigra 2
Gannet  Morus bassanus 70
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 4
Skua sp. 1
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus   1
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 4
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 7
Black-headed Gull  Chroicocephalus ridibundus 3
Kittiwake   Rissa tridactyla      5
Guillemot  Uria aalge   33
Razorbill  Alca torda  5
Auk Sp.   20

Harbour PorpoiseWe received our usual warm welcome aboard the Oldenburg in somewhat blustery conditions to commence this month's survey to Lundy Island and sailed promptly at 10am. Most of the passengers were people going out to stay on the Island plus a few hardy day trippers. After a fairly quiet trip out sightings wise we had a pair of Harbour Porpoise just in front of the boat as we neared Lundy.

After landing at Lundy (the crew made it look easy in somewhat challenging conditions) we tackled the "north face" of the Old Light which is guaranteed to warm you up. The reward is a stupendous view over the Island and all of a sudden the sky cleared and the sun appeared. Then it was down to the Marisco Tavern for a light lunch with the added bonus of live music as it was the end of the Lundy Folk week and they were returning on the Oldenburg with us.

Harbour Porpoise (Tom Brereton)

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 04After this musical interlude we returned to the Oldenburg for the second leg of the survey. Also on board for the return trip were some bird ringers who had spent ten days on the Island.  The return leg conditions were much improved and a few more birds were visible. About an hour out from Lundy we received a brief but very welcome visit by a small group of Common Dolphins.

Approaching the Devon Coast feeding Gannets were seen over a large area along with some more sightings of Harbour Porpoise.

Common Dolphin (Pete Howlett)

The Oldenburg is a wonderful vessel for surveying, a big thank you to all for allowing us aboard.

Maggie Gamble and Ruth Griffith; MARINElife Research Surveyors

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy-Bideford 19th October 2013

Posted 21 October 2013

MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer (WLO) Rick Morris

Marine Mammals:
Grey Seal 3

Seabirds:
Gannet
Herring Gull
Kittiwake
Razorbill
Guillemot
Shag
Cormorant
Oystercatcher

Terrestrial Birds:
Fieldfare

I was privileged to have the company of MARINElife's patron Maya Plass for today's WLO trip and after meeting at Ilfracombe Harbour, we boarded the islands very own charismatic ship, the MS Oldenburg. Jerry (captain) invited us onto the bridge and after organising ourselves, made our way onto the outer decks to meet the passengers.

Bottling Grey Seal (R.Morris)The outward crossing was quiet with no cetaceans seen, mostly due to the challenging 4 to 5 sea state whipped up by a stiff southerly wind. Gannet was the dominant seabird seen with the odd Kittiwake and a few Auks punctuating the crossing. Nearing Lundy, we observed a distant group of c60 Gannet feeding and we watched intently underneath them in the hope of cetaceans, but alas, none was seen. Shortly after this, a lone bull Grey Seal appeared down the port side, then another shortly after, off the starboard side.

Stepping onto the island, we watched some seals in the landing bay, before making our way upwards and reaching the access to the landing bay beach, met Beccy (Lundy's warden) who joined us for the rest of the way up. Arriving at the Marisco Tavern we all went in for a welcoming cuppa (thanks Beccy). Not having too much time to explore, we headed up past the farm and stopped for lunch with sheep and pigs for company whilst looking out to views across the Bristol Channel. We had arranged for Maya to meet Derek Green, Lundy's General Manager back at the Tavern for 2.30pm, but still had time for a quick visit to the 'Old Light' on route.

Grey Seal (Rick Morris)

Derek kindly offered us a lift back down to the landing bay in the fire truck and reaching the beach, pointed out a seal pup, so we said our farewells and spent a short while watching the pup (from the track) before making our way back to the jetty.

Bideford Sandbar (R.Morris)The increased swell made for an interesting return crossing, but this gave way as we headed into the estuary of the rivers Torridge and Tor on route to Bideford. Here a lone Grey Seal was seen in mid channel with c20 Oystercatcher flying overhead.

Reaching our mooring in Bideford, we said our farewells to Jerry, Brian and the crew and made our way to catch the coach back to Ilfracombe.

A very big thank you to the Landmark Trust, the staff in the shore offices and on Lundy and not forgetting the ever helpful crew of the MS Oldenburg for making this, our first years MARINElife Lundy wildlife officer program a great success, here's looking forward to 2014.

Bideford Sandbar (Rick Morris)

MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer (WLO) Rick Morris

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 12th October 2013

Posted 13 October 2013

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Rick Morris

Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin 3
Harbour Porpoise 5
Grey Seal 9 (observed from Lundy)

Seabirds:
Gannet
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake
Razorbill
Guillemot
Shag
Cormorant
Arctic Skua

I enjoyed my journey to Ilfracombe today as a passenger, as MARINElife's survey team would be on board and team leader Maggie Gamble offered me a lift.

We arrived at Ilfracombe on an overcast and blustery morning, parked the car and made our way to check in at the shore office where we met up with Maggie's companion for the survey, Ruth Griffith.

Leaving Ilfracombe Harbour it soon became apparent that cetacean sightings were going to be difficult with a sea state of 4 to 5, but as luck would have it, I still managed to sight 3 Harbour Porpoise around Morte Point. Seabird sightings were a little sporadic with Gannet the dominant species.

Lundy Old Light Rick Morris
I joined Maggie and Ruth for the customary walk up on Lundy and on reaching the top made our way to the 'Old Light', a disused lighthouse that offers fantastic 3600 views. Birds encountered during our short walk about included: Redwing, Fieldfare, Carrion Crow, Raven, Peregrine Falcon, Rock Pipit, and House Sparrow.


We enjoyed lunch and a rest in the Marisco Tavern before heading down to the landing area for the return trip. Here we observed a few Grey Seal in the landing bay, with one individual 'bottling', clearly fast asleep.                                               

The return trip produced an increase in auk sightings, mainly due to the sea state settling down from the halfway point. A small pod of Common Dolphin came into the bow and quickly went down the side. Then, nearing the North Devon coast, I was just explaining to a passenger that we were now entering the Harbour Porpoise 'hotspot', when all of a sudden 2 of them appeared just off the starboard side, offering great views for those that saw them.

Arriving at the Harbour, I re-joined Maggie and Ruth on the bridge where we said our farewells to Jerry and the crew and made our way ashore for an excellent fish and chip tea.

Thanks as always to the crew of the 'Oldenburg' and the shore office for their help and assistance.

Grey Seal Rick Morris 01
Grey Seal (Photo: Rick Morris)

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy-Bideford 5 October 2013

Posted 08 October 2013

MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer (WLO) Steve McAusland

Sightings Summary:
Marine Mammals:
Grey Seal Pup Halichoerus grypus 2 (on Lundy)

Seabirds:
Gannet
Great Skua
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Common Gull
Herring Gull
Fulmar
Kittiwake
Guillemot
Cormorant
Shag

Terrestrial Birds:
Oystercatcher
Goldfinch
Linnet
Swallow
Curlew
Little Egret

Grey Seal Pup (S McAusland)Arriving at the Ilfracombe Shore Office at 09:00hrs, I collected my ticket and soon boarded the MS Oldenburg on a beautiful warm and sunny Autumnal morning. Gulls, Pied Wagtail and a single Green Woodpecker were seen while the crew made ready for leaving.

We slipped our berth from Ilfracombe harbour and were soon out and heading westwards towards Lundy. The sea state was calm with a gentle breeze.

Once the ship was under way, I made my way around the decks introducing myself to many of the passengers and offered assistance on passage for species identification and also possible Lundy wildlife.

Grey Seal Pup (Steve McAusland)

Cormorant Winter (S McAusland)While walking on Lundy up to the half way wall, produced sightings of Swallow, Raven, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Starling, Linnet, Wheatear, Goldfinch, Robin, Spotted Flycatcher, Wren, Pied Wagtail, Goldcrest, Willow Warbler, Dunnock, Wren, Blue Tit, Kittiwake, Cormorant, Meadow Pipit and Skylark.
Animals encountered on the Island were Highland Cattle, wild Goats and Lundy Ponies.

Many thanks to the Captain and crew of MS Oldenburg for their help and assistance while onboard and to the staff of the Ilfracombe shore Office.

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Steve McAusland

Cormorant (Steve McAusland)