Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: May 2014

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 31 May 2014

Posted 04 June 2014

Steve McAusland; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer

Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin 20
Harbour Porpoise 3
Grey Seal 21

Seabirds:
Black Guillemot
Manx Shearwater
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Kittiwake
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Fulmar
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin
Cormorant
Shag
Gannet

Terrestrial birds:
Woodchat Shrike
Water Pipit
Rock Pipit
Meadow Pipit
Wheatear
Starling
Raven
House Sparrow
Wood Pigeon
House Martin
Swallow
Linnet
Robin
Blackbird
Dunnock
Oystercatcher
Chiffchaff
Skylark
Wren

Common Dolphin Adrian Shephard 01aArriving in Bideford at 07.15am it already felt warm and I was optimistic for a fabulous day of weather and the day didn't disappoint as the sun shone all day with the temperature in the 70's. After boarding the MS Oldenburg I made my way up on to the bridge to meet Jerry the captain and after collecting the essential items for the trip (MARINElife leaflets, binoculars and my camera) I started my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to the passengers. Many of them were very interested in the work of MARINElife and took a leaflet with a view to visiting the website and to hopefully support the charity in the future.

Common Dolphin (Adrian Shephard)

The outward passage gave me an opportunity to point out three Harbour Porpoise off the starboard side, quickly followed by four Common Dolphin off the port side; these were followed later by a pod of a further 12 Common Dolphin. Birds of note were Manx Shearwater gliding effortlessly over the water, a diving Gannet and many Guillemot and Razorbill rafting as the ship passed them by. The usual gulls were seen along with Kittiwake and Fulmar.

Guillemot Peter Howlett 01As the Oldenburg made its way slowly towards the landing bay I had sight of a distant black and white bird resting on the rocks, the binoculars soon confirmed it was a Black Guillemot and a great start to the island's bird list. Soon everyone disembarked and began to make their way up to the higher levels. My planned route was to take in the southern coastal footpaths along and past the old battery and then on towards halfway wall and lunch overlooking Jenny's cove. Here I met assistant warden Chloe who was helping many of the visitors with locating the Puffins. After lunch; I made my way back to the jetty in time for the around the island trip aboard the Oldenburg.

Guillemots (Pete Howlett)

Whilst walking back the island's Sika Deer were running around in many directions. Other animals seen were the usual sheep - some obviously posing for 'Aah' photo's, Lundy ponies, wild goats and a single rabbit which is in fact the first rabbit I've ever seen on Lundy.

Grey Seal Steve McAusland 01The around the island tour was made even more interesting as we had a commentary by local guide Simon. Many of the ledges were covered in Guillemot, Razorbill and a few Puffin, the rocks had Kittiwake and Shag and all the usual gulls were observed. Grey Seals were sighted both in the water and on the rocks, as we approached Jenny's Cove the whole area had a good number of Guillemot and Razorbill rafting and to everyone's delight I soon had some of the passengers along with some of the ships company on to Lundy's famous Puffins. These small birds are always a pleasure to see either on the water or on land. Sadly all my photos were either too far away or blurred!

Grey Seals (Steve McAusland)

The crossing back to Bideford was calm again with the same birds being seen along the way.

Steve McAusland; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 24 May 2014

Posted 28 May 2014

Annette Dutton; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer
Weather - wind light to variable, sea state calm

Summary of sightings
Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin 2
Harbour Porpoise 1
Grey Seal 1

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Kittiwake
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Fulmar
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin
Cormorant
Gannet
Manx Shearwater

Terrestrial birds:
Wheatear
House Martin
Swallow
Rock Pipit

Soay Sheep Annette Dutton 02We departed from Ilfracombe Harbour on a calm sea in sunshine with a light breeze. I popped up to the Bridge to collect my jacket and to say hello to Jerry, the Captain who told me that there were 216 passengers on board. I found out later that over 100 of them were members of the Arthur Ransome Society on a day trip. After the safety information was broadcast I went around the decks and introduced myself to the passengers, explaining what  MARINElife do and handed out leaflets.

The good conditions stayed with us during the voyage and I saw a couple of Gannet and several auk then as we passed Hartland Point I spotted a Harbour Porpoise in the distance.

Soay Sheep (Annette Dutton)

As we approached Lundy we sailed past a raft of about 40 Manx Shearwater and on arrival at there was a solitary Grey Seal near the rocks and a couple of Oystercathcher flew past.

On the Island it was sunny and warm making the walk up to the village very pleasant. I walked over to the coast path, passing the lighthouse and stopped for lunch overlooking the old Battery before heading over to Jenny's Cove.

The coastal path was littered with Sea Thrift, Bluebells and the air filled with the sound of Skylark and in the fields was a group of Soay Sheep with several young amongst them.

Common Dolphin Rick Morris 01aAt Jenny's Cove several of the passengers were sat enjoying the sunshine and the spectacle of the seabirds on the cliffs. I saw several Puffin in the water along with Guillemot, Razorbill and other seabirds then I spotted more Puffin on the cliff face amongst the Sea Thrift.

It started to rain as we set off for Ilfracombe and before long I saw about 40 Manx Shearwater, auks, and Gannet then further on in the journey a pair of Common Dolphin joined us briefly at the rear of the Oldenburg which pleased the passengers who had not seen any sea mammals all day.

Common Dolphin (Rick Morris)

We arrived back In Ilfracombe and I thanked Gerry and the crew of the Oldenburg for their help and assistance.

Annette Dutton; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 17 May 2014

Posted 20 May 2014

Carol Farmer-Wright; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer

Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin 50+ (including 8 on the Lundy circumnavigation)
Bottlenose Dolphin 7  (includes 6 on the Lundy round trip)
Harbour Porpoise 3 - two observed from Lundy Island
Grey Seal 20+

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake
Fulmar
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin
Shag
Gannet
Manx Shearwater

I met up with Rick and Annie, who were running the monthly MARINElife survey, on the Quayside at Bideford ready for the 8 a.m. sailing to Lundy.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 06We left Bideford in glorious sunshine and travelled down the river Torridge towards the Bristol Channel. The sea was calm, no more than sea state 2 and a light swell resulting in ideal viewing conditions for any wildlife that might cross our path.

The light winds we were experiencing meant that the crossing to Lundy was relatively quiet. Herring Gull were seen near the estuary and a solitary tern, probably a Sandwich Tern was seen attempting to fish in the bay. A single Manx Shearwater flew low over the water heading west.  Nearing Lundy groups of Razorbill and Guillemot were seen resting on the water.

Manx Shearwater (Pete Howlett)

Cetaceans on the trip to Lundy were few. Twenty minutes after clearing the estuary I spotted a Harbour Porpoise and alerted the passengers on deck.  Shortly afterward as I looked over towards Clovelly, I saw a Bottlenose Dolphin leaping clear of the water, the view was distant but a few of the passengers were able to watch it breach twice more.

Lundy Island is a delightful place. Walking across the plateau to Jenny's Cove we saw Skylark, House Sparrow, Wheatear, Swallow, Meadow Pipit and House Martin.  The cove provided good views of Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag, and Fulmar. A large raft of Kittiwake was on the sea and I saw 2 Harbour Porpoise in close proximity.

Common Dolphin Carol FarmerWright 02aAt certain times of year the Oldenburg makes an additional round the island trip. This offers an ideal opportunity to see the nesting seabirds on the west coast. As we rounded the southern tip of the island the number of seabirds increased. Many were sitting or rafting on the water and it was a good opportunity to show people how to differentiate between Razorbill and Guillemot. Nearing Jenny's Cove we were delighted to see two groups of dolphin. Common Dolphin followed by a smaller group of Bottlenose Dolphin. Both groups were feeding, too intent in following their prey to investigate the ship.  Around the north coast Grey Seal were in evidence, some hauled out on rocks, warming themselves in the sunshine. We returned to the jetty and collected the passengers returning to Bideford.

Common Dolphin (Carol Farmer-Wright)

The return trip was far more eventful. Large groups of Manx Shearwater, smaller groups of Guillemot and Razorbill were seen on the water and within twenty minutes Common Dolphin were heading towards the ship, delighting the passengers by bow-riding and playing on both sides of the vessel.

As we neared the North Devon coast, the cetacean sightings slowed. We moored at the Quay in Bideford and left for the journey home.

My thanks go to the crew of the 'Oldenburg' for their help and assistance and to the Landmark Trust for this opportunity.

Carol Farmer-Wright

MARINElife Research Survey Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 17 May 2014

Posted 20 May 2014

Rick Morris and Annie Jenkin: Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: variable light wind sea state 1-2 occasional glare

Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 56+
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 13
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Seabirds:
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 162
Gannet Morus bassanus 8
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 134
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 2
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 189
Razorbill Alca torda 42
Commic Tern sterna hirundo/paradisaea 4

Terrestrial birds at sea:
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 2
Swallow Hirundo rustica 5

After picking up my co-researcher, we made our way to Bideford for this month's survey, here we met Carol Farmer-wright who had kindly volunteered to cover the wildlife officer role.

Harbour Porpoise Rick Morris 01We boarded the 'Oldenburg' in glorious sunshine and made ourselves ready for the survey. Our expectations for cetaceans were high, but as there was very little wind, seabird numbers were relatively low, we did however record 5 Harbour Porpoise before reaching Lundy.

Upon our arrival, Annie and I made our way up to the Marisco Tavern where we met Carol and enjoyed a nice 'cuppa' before heading up to Jenny's cove to see the Puffins. During our walkabout we encountered Skylark, Meadow and Rock Pipit, Redstart, Wren, Wheatear, Raven, Sedge Warbler, Pied Wagtail, Swift and also saw the Lundy ponies and Highland Cattle.

Harbour Porpoise (Rick Morris)

Guilllemot Line_Rick MorrisThere was a 'round the island' boat trip planned for 2.45pm, so we headed down to the landing bay via the Tavern for another 'cuppa'. The trip proved to be the best one yet with plenty of Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake and Puffin, but the highlight was two pods of dolphins in close proximity of each
other clearly feeding, the first pod were Common Dolphin and the second were Bottlenose Dolphin, unfortunately these are not recorded as the round the island trip is not part of the monthly transect line we follow!

Guillemot (Rick Morris)

Feeling quite content with the sightings we had already seen, we headed back to the landing stage to pick up the rest of the passengers and made our way back to Bideford. It wasn't long before we were recording greater numbers of seabirds and then to our delight, 56+ Common Dolphin from a few groups were seen over many minutes followed by some frequent Harbour Porpoise sightings.

Common Mother & Calf_Rick MorrisWe reached the sand bar at the mouth of the Torridge and Taw estuary and had to wait for the tide to come in enough for us to proceed up the river to reach our birth, so we ended our survey and went out on deck for a chat with Carol and some of the passengers to re-cap about the wonderful days sightings.

Reaching the mooring in Bideford, we said our thanks to Jerry and his crew and made our way home.

Our thanks to Jerry, the crew and staff on Lundy and the shore office for the continued help and support.

Common Dolphin (Rick Morris)

Rick Morris and Annie Jenkin: Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 3 May 2014

Posted 07 May 2014

Rick Morris MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer (WLO)

Summary of sightings
Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise 3
Common Dolphin 2
Grey Seal 25

Seabirds:
Common Tern
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-back Gull
Great Black-back Gull
Great Skua
Kittiwake
Manx Shearwater
Puffin
Guillemot
Razorbill
Gannet
Fulmar
Shag
Oystercatcher

Other birds seen at sea:
Black-tailed Godwit
Swallow

Island
Wildlife sightings:
Soay Sheep
Highland Cattle
Sika Deer
Feral Goat
Lundy Pony
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Skylark
Wheatear
Linnet
Raven
Merlin 

MARINElife's Conservation Science Manager, Rachel Davies, accompanied me on the journey to Bideford where we met up with Jo Stewart-Smith. Jo is a film producer in the process of making six short documentary films about those whose lives revolve around fishing and working boats in North Devon and wanted to do a piece on marine wildlife and Lundy.

After a quick bridge visit to say hello to Jerry and Brian, I made my way round the decks to greet the passengers.

Greys_Rick MorrisThe journey down the river Torridge was quiet until we got to the sandbar, here a couple of Common Tern were seen as well as mixed gulls. Around half an hour out in the Channel a passenger alerted us to a 'fin' and this turned out to be a Harbour Porpoise. Bird numbers were fairly low, probably due to the light easterly wind, although I did note 7 Black-tailed Godwit heading south toward land around the halfway point.

We were met at the landing stage on Lundy by Beccy (the island warden), who walked with us up to Marisco's tavern. We sat outside for lunch and this gave Jo a chance to talk to Beccy about the island. We decided to walk up to Jenny's cove to see if the Puffin were there and we were not disappointed, as we could see a raft of 40+ below us on the sea as well as Guillemot, Razorbill and Kittiwake. Also seen on the steep slopes that fall into the bay were Soay Sheep and feral Goat.

Grey Seals (Rick Morris)

We made our way down to join the 'Oldenburg' for a round the island trip, seeing Lundy Pony, Highland Cattle and Sika Deer on the way. The trip around the island produced excellent views of Grey Seal and a sighting of 2 Common Dolphin. Oystercatcher, Puffin, Razorbill, Guillemot, Shag, Kittiwake, Manx Shearwater, Fulmar and gulls were also seen. After coming round the North end, we were watching the high rocks on the east side for Peregrine Falcon, when I spotted a Merlin.

Razors_Rick Morris

Razorbill (Rick Morris)

After returning to the landing bay to pick up the passengers going home, we made our way back to Bideford. Seabird numbers were much higher with notably high numbers of Razorbill, but the highlight for me was of a lone Great Skua. We also had two separate brief sightings of individual Harbour Porpoise around mid-channel.

A quiet run up river soon found us moored up where we said our thanks and farewells to Jerry and the crew.

My thanks to the 'Oldenburg' crew, shore staff and all on Lundy for the continued help and support.

Rick Morris MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer (WLO)