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:

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.