Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: September 2014

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy Saturday 27 September 2014

Posted 29 September 2014

Unfortunately there was no WLO on this sailing due to illness.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 20 September 2014

Posted 23 September 2014

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: wind light northeasterly, sea state calm

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans
Grey Seal 8
Harbour Porpoise 2

Seabirds
Shag
Gannet
Guillemot
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Fulmar
Oystercatcher
Manx Shearwater
Herring Gull

Terrestrial birds
Grey Heron
Stonechat
Wheatear
Swallow
Kestrel
Meadow Pipit
Grey Wagtail
Robin
House Sparrow

The conditions were good for sea watching when we left Ilfracombe although it looked a bit hazy in the distance. I collected my jacket and leaflets from the bridge, chatted to Jerry and returned to the deck ready to engage with the passengers.

There were fewer passengers aboard than usual so I was able to spend a bit more time talking to them whilst looking seawards for anything of note. About 15 minutes into the journey, whilst on the top deck, several of us spotted a Harbour Porpoise then, after another 10 minutes when I was on the lower deck, one of the passengers alerted those nearby to another one.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 16
Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

There was a noticeable absence of seabirds on this crossing with just a couple of Gannet to point out. Then, as we approached the island, there were 3 Grey Seals hauled out on the rocks of Mouse Island and the usual group of Shag plus a large male Grey Seal in the water near the landing stage.

As I walked past the boat shed I could hear seals in Devil's Kitchen but couldn't see them but did manage to see a Grey Heron flying past before it disappeared between the rocks.

I walked up to towards the village and took the path up over to the south of the island, nearing the top a Kestrel flew over. From the top I could look down into Devils Kitchen and was able to see 2 Grey Seals along with the Grey Heron I'd seen earlier.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 01
Grey Seal (Annette Dutton)

Further along the path I spotted some Lundy Goats then I stopped for a break on the rocks below Castle Hill to have a look for more seals but saw none. I carried on following the path past Seal's Hole and to Shutter Point where I saw several Shag on the rocks below me along with another 2 Grey Seals playing in the water.  I continued along the lower path with further sightings of Gannet then, before taking the path back up to the Old Light, I saw 2 Barrel jellyfish swimming along.

I walked back to the village and headed down past Millbrook House taking a detour up to the stone shelter where I sat for a while before going back down to board the MS Oldenburg.

On the return journey I managed to see 3 Guillemot, 2 Manx Shearwater and the odd Gannet and  we were joined by several Swallows. Then, as we passed by Bull Point, we saw a number of Gannet and one of the passengers alerted us to 2 Harbour Porpoise nearby but I didn't see them.

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

MARINElife Survey Report: 'MS Oldenburg' Bideford-Lundy 13 September 2014

Posted 21 September 2014

Nick Adams and Kevin Bainbridge Research surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: SE2-3 increasing E4 then decreasing to 2, high cloud with the occasional break and a swell of up to 1.5m

Marine Mammals:
Common Dolphin  Delphinus delphis 16

Seabirds:
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 5
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 30
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 9
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 3
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 10
Teal Anas crecca 1

Lundy:
Yellow Wagtail 1
Pied Wagtail
White Wagtail 1
Grey Wagtail 1
Whinchat 2
Wheatear 6
Stonechat
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Chiffchaff 1
Willow Warbler 1
Blackcap 1
Spotted Flycatcher 3
House Sparrow
Raven
Carrion Crow
Jackdaw
Linnet
Greenfinch
Chaffinch
Snipe 1
Lapwing 2
Kestrel
Sparrowhawk
Peregrine 4
Mallard 3
Sand Martin
Swallow
House martin
Robin
Wren
Skylark
Feral pigeon
Oystercatcher
Herring Gull
Great black-backed Gull
Lesser black-backed Gull

Torridge Estuary:
Mediterranean Gull 1
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Great black-backed Gull
Common Sandpiper 4
Curlew c.250
Oystercatcher c.400
Redshank c.50
Kingfisher 3
Little Egret 20

We meet the very friendly crew of the MS Oldenburg on arrival and we were soon on the ship awaiting cast off. The Captain, Jerry Waller, welcomed us onto the bridge and, even though we busied ourselves getting acquainted with the ship's equipment, we managed to see an adult Mediterranean Gull, as well as Kingfisher, Little Egret, Common Sandpiper and high tide roosts of Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatcher.

On the crossing to Lundy we had a brief sighting of a single Common Dolphin. On the seabird front most of the Manx Shearwater have now started their southward migration but we still managed to see a few as well as a couple of Common Tern mixed in with the Herring Gull, Gannet and Guillemot.

Common Dolphin Mike Bailey 01aAs we reached Lundy we bade farewell to the MS Oldenburg for six hours and headed up to the village checking for migrant birds as we went. We were rewarded with views of Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler and a very dapper juvenile Whinchat. We then headed over to the more sheltered west side of the island in the hope of seeing more migrants. Sure enough there was another Spotted Flycatcher and a number of Wheatear. As I scanned the top of a wall for birds I spotted a lot of splashes in the sea behind, it was a pod of c.70 Common Dolphin! This was an excellent spot for lunch and we watched the dolphins for about 15 minutes.

Common Dolphin (Mike Bailey)

After lunch we carried on round the island picking up other nice birds including a Snipe, a couple of Lapwing, a Sparrowhawk and a Yellow Wagtail.

The Oldenburg left promptly at 17.45 and on the way back we picked up similar birds to the outward journey, with the addition of Sandwich Tern and Teal. The star sighting was a pod of at least 15 Common Dolphin that passed right down the side of the ship, going by the screams of 'DOLPHINS!' from the passengers they saw them as well!

Many thanks to Captain Waller and his crew and the staff on Lundy for all their enthusiasm and help.

Nick Adams and Kevin Bainbridge Research surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 13 September 2014

Posted 21 September 2014

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Peter Jones

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 3+
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater
Fulmar
Gannet
Shag
Great Black-backed Gull
Sandwich Tern

Lundy Island birds
Kestrel
Peregrine
Skylark
Sand Martin
Swallow
House Martin
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Yellow Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Pied Wagtail
White Wagtail
Robin
Whinchat
Wheatear
Blackcap
Willow Warbler
Goldcrest
Spotted Flycatcher
Raven
House Sparrow
Chaffinch
Linnet
Goldfinch

River Torridge estuary birds
Curlew
Oystercatcher
Common Sandpiper
Mediterranean Gull
Kingfisher
Swallow

I met the MARINElife Survey team, Nick and Kevin, at Bideford quay and stood with them as we sailed down the River Torridge. The estuary made for an interesting start to the journey as we saw Common Sandpiper, Curlew, Mediterranean Gull and Kingfisher. As we neared the mouth of the estuary they went on to the bridge to start their survey and I introduced myself to the passengers.

Once out of the river had very close views of Fulmar and Gannet. Manx Shearwaters were seen but some distance from the boat and a Sandwich Tern added to the variety. Towards the end of the outward crossing I was fortunate to see a Harbour Porpoise break the surface twice, but sadly only one other passenger saw it.

Common Dolphin Rick Morris 01a
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Rick Morris)

On Lundy, I met up with Nick and Kevin and we birdwatched the island seeing a good selection of migrant birds plus a sizeable pod of Common Dolphin off the west side of the island. At the quay prior to the return crossing, a Shag and two Grey Seal showed well.

The return crossing was fairly quiet until I spotted a group of Common Dolphin approaching the ship. I frantically got people's attention, and luckily the dolphins co-operated and passed both sides of the ship before lingering off the stern for a few minutes. By this time everyone on the outer decks had enjoyed excellent views. We headed into port in high spirits after enjoying such breathtaking views.

Huge thanks to the crew of the Oldenburg for their assistance throughout the day.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 6 September 2014

Posted 09 September 2014

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Summary of sightings

Cetaceans:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 80+
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 11

Seabirds:
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus
Gannet Morus bassanus
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Herring Gull Larus argentatus
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
Guillemot Uria aalge
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

Terrestrial birds:
Stonechat Saxicola rubicola
Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Swallow Hirundo rustica
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis
Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus

The sea was glassy and there was a light mist when we left Ilfracombe so I was hopeful of seeing cetaceans along the way. I popped up to the bridge to collect my jacket and say hello to Jerry, the Captain.

I chatted to the passengers until the safety information was broadcast then made my way around the decks introducing myself to everyone, explaining what MARINElife do and handing out leaflets. The passengers were very keen to see cetaceans and they didn't have to wait very long. About 15 minutes into the journey I spotted two Harbour Porpoise which I identified as a mother and calf which had been spotted recently in the area, the passengers around me also managed to see them.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 17
Harbour Porpoise (ARchive photo: Peter Howlett)

I saw very few seabirds during the crossing, those of note were the odd Manx Shearwater, several Gannet and couple of Guillemot.

Approaching the landing stage I counted nine Grey Seals hauled out on Mouse Island but there were probably more as it was fairly misty, there were also several Shag along the top of the rocks. As I made my way past the hut I spotted two more Grey Seals at Devils Kitchen.

I walked up to the village and along the main path towards Tibbets Hill, passing the Lundy Ponies, Highland Cattle and Soay Sheep. I went down onto the coast path and perched on the rocks for lunch enjoying the views back to the landing jetty and keeping an eye out for seals below but there were none.

I followed the lower path to three quarter wall and rejoined the main path and headed back to the village. The Highland Cattle were crossing the path so I got a good look at them and saw Swallows flying about and Wheatear landing on the path in front of me.

Common Dolphin Adrian Shephard 01a
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Adrian Shephard)

I boarded the Oldenburg for the return journey and chatted to the passengers as we set off. After around 15 minutes the crew alerted us that dolphins were approaching and all of a sudden we were surrounded by a huge pod of Common Dolphin. It was impossible to count them as they were moving very fast and then just as suddenly they moved on. Several of the passengers came over to say how thrilled they were at seeing so many dolphins and when I asked the crew on the bridge how many they thought there were they reckoned there were up to 100.

After such a spectacle I saw very little on the way back until we reached Morte Point where several Gannet were feeding but no porpoise this time.

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