Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: June 2014

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 28 June 2014

Posted 07 July 2014

Maggie Gamble; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer
Outbound Wind NNW 1. Return Wind NNW 2

Marine Mammals:
Grey Seal 3 (observed from Lundy)

Seabirds:
Gannet
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Razorbill
Guillemot
Puffins
Shag

I boarded the Oldenburg for what turned out to be a fairly quiet crossing for wildlife. I made my way around the outer decks and introduced myself to the passengers. Sightings wise I was able to point out a few Manx Shearwater, Guillemot, Razorbill and Gannet as we headed towards Lundy.

Puffin_Adrian ShephardMany of the passengers enjoyed watching the Manx Shearwater with their seemingly effortless flight just above the waves. Like the Puffin, these burrow nesting breeding birds are now undergoing a revival on Lundy.

On the Island I joined the assistant warden on a guided walk to Jennie's Cove to see the small colony of breeding Puffin which are now rapidly increasing since the recent successful eradication of rats
from the island. Jennie's Cove is a beautiful spot anyway but it's a popular destination now with visitors keen to get views of the nesting Puffin and other seabirds.

Puffin (Adrian Shephard)

The islands grazers were showing well and it was nice to have good views of the Highland Cattle, Soay sheep, and Lundy Ponies. An Emperor Moth caterpillar was also seen crossing the track to get to the Heath on the other side.

After a welcome cup of tea at the Marisco Tavern I returned to The Oldenburg for the return to Ifracombe with its spectacular statue on the harbour entrance.

Many thanks to Captain Gerry and the crew of the Oldenburg for their assistance on the day.

Maggie Gamble; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer

MARINElife Research Survey Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 21 June 2014

Posted 30 June 2014

Maggie Gamble & Ali Quinney, Research Surveyors for MARINElife 
Weather: Sunny, wind light, sea state 2 

Summary of sightings
Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 78+
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2

Seabirds:
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 7
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 45
Gannet Morus bassanus 30
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 22
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
CommonTern Sterna hirundo 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 23
Razorbill Alca torda 7

Terrestrial birds at sea:
Feral Pigeon Columba livia  1

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 02

Common Dolphin (Pete Howlett)

I met fellow research surveyor and team leader Maggie Gamble and Wildlife Officer Steve McAusland on the quay in Ilfracombe on the longest day of the year, summer solstice. The glorious sunshine brought the Lundy day trippers out and everyone was in high spirits.  We boarded the MS Oldenburg and were met by the very jolly and welcoming crew on the deck and we set ourselves up on the bridge.

With eyes like hawks (not auks) Jerry and his crew were spotting birds as we left the harbour and headed to Lundy.  As we got closer and closer to the island a small pod of Common Dolphin were seen. Rafting Manx Shearwaters were spotted, Fulmar were soaring and gliding and Guillemot and Puffin were bobbing along on the surface.

Lundy Ali Quinney 01

We arrived at Lundy after a 2 hour crossing and headed along the coast path to the southern tip. Some fields were tinged pink with sorrel and others purple as the grasses were in flower.  The path was busy with juvenile Wheatear and Meadow Pipits. As we headed toward Jenny's Cove, a prime spot to watch Puffin, we were passed by two Peregrine. We lunched with a view that is hard to beat in my book, looking west, watching and listening to all the activity in the seabird colony and sea watching. Maggie spotted a pod of Bottlenose Dolphin out to sea along with more Common Dolphin.

We took the main path down the middle of the island back to the landing stage passing the ponds, home to a family of Mallard with ducklings and through the gardens where there were Linnet and Goldfinch. As we boarded the ship I couldn't resist a quick look in the sea and saw Comb and Moon Jellyfish.

The journey back was a smooth sea state 2 and very exciting. We were lucky enough to encounter many large groups of Common Dolphin, some were jumping, others bow riding and swimming fast in close view.

We passed Gannet sitting on the water, heavy and lazy after a busy day feeding and a Homing Pigeon hitched a free ride on the bow for while. The crew took the boat close to shore on a counter current and we saw two Harbour Porpoise and a very small boat that looked like a bath tub!

A brilliant day out was had by all and it is such a privilege to survey this route as Lundy really has a special way of getting under your skin.

Special thanks to the MARINElife team and MS Oldenburg crew and Lundy wardens for a brilliant day out.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 21 June 2014

Posted 27 June 2014

Steve McAusland; MARINElife Lundy WIldlife Officer

Summary of sightings:
Cetaceans
Common Dolphin 30+
Bottlenose Dolphin 12+ (from Lundy)
Harbour Porpoise 3
Grey Seal 2

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

Terrestrial birds
Peregrine Falcon
Meadow Pipit
Wheatear
Starling
Raven
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow
Wood Pigeon
Feral Pigeon
House Martin
Swallow
Linnet
Blackbird
Dunnock
Oystercatcher
Skylark
Wren
Goldfinch
Mallard with 9 chicks

This week's Wildlife Officer Trip to Lundy began in Ilfracombe, where I met up with Ali and Maggie from MARINElife who were conducting the monthly research survey. After chatting before boarding we agreed to meet up to explore the Island after all the outward survey and Wildlife Officer Duties were completed.

Common Dolphin Steve McAusland 01Once on-board the MS Oldenburg I made my way up to the bridge to meet Jerry the ship's captain and, after collecting the essential items for the trip (MARINElife information leaflets, binoculars and my camera), I proceeded to start my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to as many passengers I could. This interaction really is a great way to learn from people with local knowledge and to also meet passengers that have never been to Lundy before and to offer I.D. assistance and suggestions (when asked) of places to go while on the Island. The passing on of information about MARINElife's work and the opportunities to support the charity went down very well with the visitors on this trip.

Common Dolphin (Steve McAusland)

The outward passage gave me an opportunity to point out two Harbour Porpoise off the port side. Birds of note were Manx Shearwater and Guillemot rafting on the water, a few Gannet and the occasional passing gull and Fulmar.

As the Oldenburg approached Lundy we all had sight of Common Dolphin on each side of the ship which to everyone's delight had the passengers standing up to help each other locate these graceful animals. As the ship slowly approached the jetty a single Grey Seal popped up on the starboard side as if to greet the passengers, many then took time for a photograph or two.

Gannet Steve McAusland 01As we docked everyone disembarked and began to make their way up to the higher levels to explore the Island. I met up with Ali and we took a route towards halfway wall and had our packed lunch overlooking Jenny's Cove. Here we met assistant warden Chloe who was helping visitors locate the Puffin. Over lunch we also caught up with Maggie who quickly had us scanning the sea due to splashing and diving sea birds about a mile and a half off the Island. We could see at least 12 dolphins which we identified as Bottlenose Dolphin due to their colouring and movements.

As we walked back we spotted many birds along the way and our conversation was of course about our wildlife experiences.

Gannet (Steve McAusland)

The crossing back from Lundy provided further Common Dolphin sightings and a single Harbour Porpoise, which one of the passengers kindly pointed out, sea bird sightings were very much the same as the outward crossing. From chatting to Ali once back in Ilfracombe harbour the survey produced a lot more Dolphin numbers than I managed on the decks.

We thanked Jerry the captain and his crew for another successful day on behalf of MARINElife and I personally look forward to my next WLO trip in July.

Steve McAusland; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer

   

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 14 June 2014

Posted 19 June 2014

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

Summary of sightings
Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin 10
Grey Seal 4

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

Terrestrial birds:
Meadow Pipit
Stonechat
Wheatear
Swallow
House Martin
Skylark

We departed from Ilfracombe Harbour in glorious sunshine and the expectation of seeing lots of wildlife on the journey. I called at the bridge to say hello to Jerry, the Captain, and to collect my jacket.

Common Dolphin Mike Bailey 01After the safety information was broadcast I went around the decks and introduced myself to the passengers, explaining what MARINElife do and handed out leaflets.

I soon picked up a small group of Manx Shearwater and then in the distance looking towards Baggy Point I spotted 3 Common Dolphins leaping out of the water. Further into the journey a group of 6 Common Dolphin joined us briefly much to the delight of the passengers. As we got nearer to Lundy Island I saw several auks and around 18-20 Manx Shearwater then spotted the usual 2 Oystercatcher on the rocks and a couple of Grey Seal in the water by the landing stage.

Common Dolphin (Mike Bailey)

I had decided to walk around the southern end of the Island for a change stopping at Castle Keep overlooking South Lighthouse for lunch where I saw Wheatear and Meadow Pipit. The walk along the path was glorious with a heady scent from the wild flowers and a cooling breeze.  I paused at Seal's Hole where I saw a couple of Gannet feeding and a solitary Grey Seal amongst the seaweed then carried on to Shutter Point where I saw another Grey Seal bobbing around the rocks along with rafts of auks and several Shag.

Lundy Annette Dutton 02I reached the Old Light and stopped to sit in the shade for a while then made my way over to Battery Rock. There was nothing of note there so I made my way back along the quarter wall and down to the landing stage, stopping for a quick paddle in the bay.

The return journey was quiet for a while then I saw a number of Gannet, a few auks and a lone Puffin floating around then as we were about halfway through the crossing I spotted a Common Dolphin briefly then a lone Grey Seal swimming along near the boat .

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

Lundy Lighthouse (Annette Dutton)

Annette Dutton; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer 

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 7 June 2014

Posted 16 June 2014

Ruth Griffith; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer

Summary of sightings:
Cetaceans:
Harbour Porpoise  1
Grey Seal  5

Seabirds:
Fulmar
Manx Shearwater
Storm Petrel
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag
Oystercatcher
Herring gull
Kittiwake
Guillemot
Razorbill

Terrestrial birds:
Wheatear
Meadow Pipit

We departed Ilfracombe at 10am on a slight-moderate sea with sunshine and showers on the forecast. After collecting the MARINElife leaflets from Jerry the Captain, I made my way around the decks as well as the inside of the MS Oldenburg introducing myself and distributing leaflets to the passengers, many of whom had gone inside to seek shelter from the first of many rain showers.

Storm Petrel Peter Howlett 01

Storm Petrel (Pete Howlett)

The journey began with passing Fulmar, Gannet and a number of Manx Shearwater. As the journey progressed we also began to see auks such as Guillemot and the occasional Razorbill. More people began to surface on deck as the sun came out, and a few people joined me in time to see a Storm Petrel fly past the boat. Aside from that, Herring Gull and Kittiwake were also seen regularly. As we came in to the landing bay a couple of Puffin flew by and I caught sight of a Cormorant heading past Rat Island.

On arrival at Lundy Island I made my way up to Marisco Tavern for a quick cold drink in the sunshine before heading over to Jenny's Cove. I made it there but not before having been caught in a couple of very heavy thundery showers! At the cove I saw a large number of Puffin, as well as many Guillemot and a couple of Fulmar nesting in the rocky cliffside. On the walk back I caught sight of terrestrial birds such as Wheatear and Meadow Pipit.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 05

Harbour Porpoise (Pete Howlett)

I made my way back down to the landing bay, passing some Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the cliff edge and an Oystercatcher perched on a rock by the shore. As we waited to board the boat we were joined by a few inquisitive Grey Seal who popped up a few times before we set off back to Ilfracombe.

On the homeward journey we had sightings of Shag, Gannet, Guillemot, Fulmar, Razorbill and Manx Shearwater. As we skirted the coast nearing Ilfracombe harbour I spotted a brief glimpse of a Harbour Porpoise from the port side, which brought our sightings to an end.

Arriving back at Ilfracombe I thanked Jerry and the crew for their kindness and assistance.