MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 11 April 2015

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Steve McAusland

Summary of Sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 2
Harbour Porpoise 1 (Brief glimpse)
Grey Seal 3

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

Terrestrial Birds
Meadow Pipit
House Sparrow
Wood Pigeon
Carrion Crow
Pied Wagtail
Ring Ouzel
Willow Warbler

I arrived in Ilfracombe at 9:30am for my first Lundy trip of 2015 where the weather was dry and sunny. However, the wind was quite strong and was causing wind waves outside the harbour walls which suggested that today's crossing to Lundy might be a bouncy one. I collected my ticket from the Landmark Trust office and proceeded to board the MS Oldenburg where I was greeted by Jerry the ship's Captain. I started my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to the passengers. As the Oldenburg started out of the harbour the ships motion made it difficult to chat to as many passengers as I would normally. The ones I did speak to were very interested in the work of MARINElife and took a leaflet with a view to logging on to the website and to hopefully support the charity in the future.

Common Dolphin Steve McAusland 01
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Steve McAusland)

Halfway into our journey the first Common Dolphin were seen off the starboard side where two came towards the ship in a matter of three leaps and were very quickly gone! Birds of note were Manx Shearwater and Gannet along with Guillemot and Razorbill rafting as the ship passed them by. The usual common gull species were seen along with Kittiwake, Fulmar and Great Skua.

As the Oldenburg made its way slowly towards the landing bay there was no sign of any seals on the rocks, however, I did see three during my time on the island from the higher levels. As the 139 passengers disembarked, they created a slow train of people making their way up to the higher levels. My route this visit was to pass the wooded areas to look out for migrant birds, where I saw Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. Onwards towards halfway wall I spotted my first Ring Ouzel in three years! Arriving at Jenny's Cove, I tried in vain to stand upright in the strong westerly wind to locate at least one of the 30 reported Puffin that have been seen in recent days. My efforts proved fruitless as I couldn't keep still long enough to focus either my binoculars or my camera. Sadly, beaten by the strong gusts, I took shelter in the rocks and settled down for lunch.

Ring Ouzel Steve McAusland 2015-01
Ring Ouzel (Steve McAusland)

After lunch I made my way back to the jetty for the return journey on Oldenburg, along the way were Skylark, Meadow Pipit and many beautiful Wheatear.

On the way back I passed the wreckage of the second World War German bomber that crashed on the island back in the 1940s all that remains now is some rusty fragments of the planes metal components.

Nearby the island's Sika Deer were spotted in a small group, plus the Lundy Ponies were grazing over on the eastern side of the island. Other animals seen were the usual sheep and wild goats. The crossing back to Ilfracombe was a much calmer trip with the same birds being seen along the way.

Before disembarking I thanked Jerry the Captain for his and his crews' continued support for MARINElife. I look forward to my next trip in May, this time I hope to see one of my favourite seabirds, the Puffin which gives the island its name.

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Steve McAusland