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

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Rick Morris

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

Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
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)