Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: July 2014

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 26 July 2014

Posted 01 August 2014

Steve McAusland, MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer

Summary of sightings:
Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 3
Harbour Porpoise 14
Grey Seal 4

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

Terrestrial birds
Oystercatcher
Peregrine Falcon
Wood Pigeon
Meadow Pipit
Starling
Raven
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow
Swallow
Linnet
Goldfinch
Blackbird
Dunnock
Willow Warbler

Steve McAusland WLOToday's Wildlife Officer Trip to Lundy Island began in glorious sunshine from Ilfracombe at 10:00 hours.

Joining the passengers to board MS Oldenburg I chatted to Glyn one of the ship's company and we joked about his brief appearance (the back of his head) in last week's episode of 'Coast' as Lundy was featured on their programme. I soon made my way up to the bridge to meet Jerry the ship's Captain and after gathering my things for the journey I progressed to start my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to as many passengers I could. This interaction and communication really is a great way to let the passengers know all about MARINElife and the work it carries out.

Steve McAusland talking to passengers

The weather was warm and the sea state was almost flat with no wind waves. The outward passage gave sightings of 3 Harbour Porpoise off the starboard side and later 3 Common Dolphin too. At almost half way a single Grey Seal was seen bobbing some 300 metres from the ship. Birds of note were Manx Shearwater (only 3) and many pairs of Guillemot rafting on the water. A few Fulmar also passed the ship going in the opposite direction and the usual gull species were seen as Oldenburg made its way towards Lundy.

Manx Shearwater Steve McAusland 01As the ship approached Lundy we had sight of Grey Seal and Shag on the rocks of Mouse Island. On docking everyone disembarked and began to make their way up to the higher levels to explore the island, I paused on way up to say hello to assistant warden Chloe who was gathering visitors for a guided tour.

This visit I concentrated on the east side for the first hour, enjoying the many butterflies as well as the island's more common birds.

Manx Shearwater (Steve McAusland)

After stopping for lunch in what appeared to be an old shepherd's shelter, I took the short walk across to the west side of the Island to begin an hour and half sea watch. During that time I counted eight Harbour Porpoise, one Grey Seal, Gannet, Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull. Interestingly, I didn't see any auks passing through or rafting on the sea.

The crossing back from Lundy provided further sightings of Harbour Porpoise, seabird sightings were very much the same as the outward crossing apart from Gannet which were not seen on the outward passage.

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

Steve McAusland, MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 19 July 2014

Posted 25 July 2014

Libby Abbott; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer
Weather: Outward - partially overcast, good visibility: light westerly breeze force 1 or 2.  Return - some drizzle, otherwise good visibility and light breeze force 1 or 2.

Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin 14
Harbour Porpoise 16
Grey Seal   3

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

Guillemot summer 1We received our usual warm welcome aboard the Oldenburg in glorious sunshine to commence this week's wildlife officer crossing to Lundy Island and sailed promptly at 10am.

We left Ilfracombe Harbour overcast and a brisk westerly wind, I knew cetacean sightings were going to be a little challenging but remained optimistic that we would see some dolphins and porpoises.

Upon slipping our mooring, I made my customary way around decks to introduce myself to the passengers, explaining the role of the MARINElife wildlife officer.  Many people were interested, enquiring about the wildlife they were hoping to encounter during the crossing to Lundy Island.

Guillemot

We were soon spotting good numbers of Manx Shearwater, Auks and Gulls with sporadic sightings of Kittiwake, Gannet and Fulmar. Around 20 minutes out, I had a fleeting view of 2 Harbour Porpoise off the port side, then 5 minutes after, a brief glimpse of a small triangular dorsal fin off the starboard side, with the animal surfacing once more giving one of the passengers a brief view.

Reaching Lundy, I decided to have little time to myself and went for a walk around the Island where I observed a good variety of birds and seals lazing around in the many coves off the west side of the island.  Came across Jenny's Cove where I discovered the Puffin whilst I stopped for lunch, and then three Sika Deer came into view, but no sooner I tried to grab my camera to take a picture, they scooted off as they do!

During my walk I came across different varieties of Butterflies, Peacock, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Small and Large White, Small Copper and Green-veined White and many more.

As I was waiting to board the MS Oldenburg I noticed something blue near the water's edge and realised they were Blue Jellyfish in abundance.

We sailed back into Ilfracombe with very good visibility, a calm sea and a light wind - conditions were good for observations.  As we approached the headland approaching Ilfracombe, we had already been lucky enough to see numerous Razorbill, Guillemot, Herring Gull, Manx Shearwater and Kittiwake.

Many thanks as ever to the crew of the MS Oldenburg for their warm hospitality and kindness.

Libby Abbott; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer (WLO)

MARINElife Research Survey Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 19 July 2014

Posted 24 July 2014

Gareth Bradbury and James Darke, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Outward - partially overcast, good visibility: light westerly breeze force 1 or 2.  Return - some drizzle, otherwise good visibility and light breeze force 1 or 2

Summary of species recorded
Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 14
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 16
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 3

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 56
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 24
Gannet Morus bassanus 18
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 6
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 40
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 9
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 8
Puffin Fratercula arctica 32
Guillemot Uria aalge 155
Razorbill Alca torda 14
Unidentified auk sp. 22
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 1

Terrestrial Birds
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 8
Unidentified small wader (poss. Curlew Sandpiper) 4

Common Dolphin Carol FarmerWright 02aDespite some pretty spectacular thunderstorms the previous day, Saturday 19 was for the most part a surveyor's dream with a very light breeze, no rain and partial cloud.

We boarded M.S. Oldenburg amidst much excitement as a wedding party was travelling to St. Helen's Church on Lundy for a service and celebrations. With the party safely aboard, or at least all the main players, we departed the harbour under the half gaze of Damien Hurst's 'Verity' and started scanning the flat waters for cetaceans.

Common Dolphin (Carol Farmer-Wright)

Coastal Oystercatcher and Cormorant were quickly replaced by small numbers of Gannet, Guillemot and Fulmar with Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls throughout. From mid-crossing and towards Lundy Manx Shearwater, both skimming the smooth sea and in small rafts, were seen together with increasing numbers of Puffin, Razorbill and Shag. Several proud Guillemot fathers were seen swimming, with their by now quite large, fledged offspring.

Harbour Porpoise Mike Bamford 01aIn the calm, glare-free sea, cetacean spotting was relatively straightforward, with two groups of two Harbour Porpoise and a single animal recorded at some distance on the way out, together with a couple of 'bottling' Grey Seal near the island.

Refreshed by a coffee and a stroll on the beautiful island in perfect conditions we were rewarded with views of several small groups of Common Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise on the return trip -­ besides the regular seabirds already mentioned. The scene was also enjoyed by a Common or Arctic Tern spotted riding on a plank - quite a slow start to its epic migration.

Harbour Porpoise (Mike Bamford)

Once again our thanks go to the staff and crew of the Oldenburg who made this a very enjoyable crossing.

Gareth Bradbury and James Darke, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 12 July 2014

Posted 16 July 2014

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

Summary of sightings
Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin 5
Grey Seal 24
Harbour Porpoise 2

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

Terrestrial birds:
Stonechat
Wheatear
Swallow
Skylark

As we left Ilfracombe harbour I could see the low grey cloud and distinct lack of visibility ahead of us and wondered if I would see much along the way. I called at the bridge to say hello to Jerry, the Captain, and to collect my jacket.

After the safety information had been broadcast I went around the decks and introduced myself to the passengers, explaining what MARINElife do and handed out leaflets which didn't take me too long.

As we cleared the harbour I saw several Gannet and a Manx Shearwater then further into the journey picked up some auks, further Manx Shearwater and a Kittiwake flying alongside for a short while.  I also spotted a Harbour Porpoise briefly on the starboard side fairly close to the ship.

Lundy Annette Dutton 04

Lundy (Annette Dutton)

The North Devon coastline was hidden by the low cloud and I didn't see Lundy until we were almost there with the top half enveloped in the low cloud. As we approached the landing stage I counted 19 Grey Seal hauled out on the rocks and as we alighted could see several jellyfish in the crystal clear water.

I walked over to Castle Keep to have my lunch but as it was getting quite wet I headed over to St Helena's church and ate my sandwiches in the porch. After a quick look around the church I headed along the main path towards Tibbet's passing the Lundy ponies and Highland cattle. I couldn't see far in front of me or behind and it was eerily quiet so I was glad when the mist lifted and Tibbet's was revealed ahead of me. I then walked down onto the coast path and saw 6 Grey Seal bobbing about in the bay.

I walked back to the half way wall and across to Jenny's Cove where I saw the various seabirds on the cliff face and lots of Puffin on the lower grassy area, there was a lot of activity with the Puffin flying in and out of the burrows, presumably feeding their young.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 01I hadn't been able to see the Old Lighthouse all day but as I made my way back across the island towards the landing stage it suddenly appeared through the mist.

Shortly after leaving Lundy I spotted a lone Puffin floating around, the first of several along the way. As well as Cormorant, Guillemot and Manx Shearwater, I saw a Razorbill feeding its chick then about halfway across three Common Dolphins joined us briefly and again after another 20 minutes or so. As we passed Baggy Point there were several Gannet feeding and I spotted a Harbour Porpoise nearby.

Common Dolphin (Pete Howlett)

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

Annette Dutton; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer 

  

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 5 July 2014

Posted 14 July 2014

Ruth Griffith MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer
Weather: Sunny, light winds, sea state 2-3.

Summary of sightings:
Marine mammals:
Grey Seal 6

Seabirds:
Gannet
Fulmar
Herring gull
Lesser Black-backed gull
Razorbill
Guillemot
Manx Shearwater
Oystercatcher
Puffin
Cormorant

Terrestrial birds:
Skylark
Wheatear
Meadow Pipit

Razorbill Ruth Griffith 01We set off from Ilfracombe at 10am in the sunshine with a sea state of 3 and a fair bit of swell. I started my day as WLO by collecting the MARINElife leaflets and hi-vis from Jerry the captain and scouring the upper and lower decks introducing myself to the passengers. The journey was quiet in terms of sightings; as we progressed towards the Island I spotted seabirds such as Gannet, Fulmar, Guillemot, Razorbill and the usual gulls. I had a lot of good questions on wildlife and the work of MARINElife from the public on the journey.

Razobills (Ruth Griffith)

As we arrived into Lundy we were welcomed by 4 curious Grey Seal in the Landing Bay, and I also saw a very large number of purple jellyfish in the water along the shoreline. Whilst on Lundy I ventured up to Jenny's cove to see the Puffin and saw Wheatear and Meadow Pipit along the way, as well as hearing the familiar song of Skylark hovering in the air.

Cormorant Ruth Griffith 01Departing Lundy at 4.30, the sun was shining again and the sea had calmed to sea state two. We were seen off again by a couple of Grey Seal in the Landing Bay. I saw Oystercatcher flying around the rocks as we pulled away from the Island. On the return journey we saw the usual birds again, plus Manx Shearwater and Cormorant as we arrived into Ilfracombe. Whilst on the boat I was approached by a radio presenter for BCFM who interviewed me on what I was doing as MARINElife Wildlife Officer.

A very quiet day for cetacean sightings today, but a lovely day had by all, and a pleasant surprise with the beautiful sunny weather.

Cormorant (Ruth Griffith)

Many thanks to the crew of the MS Oldenburg for their hospitality and kindness and to the MARINElife team for all of their support.

Ruth Griffith MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer