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

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: wind light northeasterly, sea state calm

Summary of sightings:

Grey Seal 8
Harbour Porpoise 2

Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Manx Shearwater
Herring Gull

Terrestrial birds
Grey Heron
Meadow Pipit
Grey Wagtail
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.