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