Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: May 2015

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 30 May 2015

Posted 04 June 2015

MARINElife/Lundy Wildlife Officer: Steve McAusland

Weather:  Wind: Light westerly, good visibility.

Summary of species seen:

Cetaceans
Common Dolphin 7
Grey Seal 3

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

Terrestrial birds
Swift
Meadow Pipit
Wheatear
Starling
Raven
Carrion Crow
Jackdaw
House Sparrow
Wood Pigeon
Feral Pigeon
Swallow
Linnet
Blackbird
Dunnock
Oystercatcher
Skylark
Goldfinch
Mallard
Graylag Goose
Robin
Pied Wagtail

This month's Wildlife Officer Trip to Lundy Island began, once again, in Ilfracombe, the sun was shining and the recent high winds had dropped to a westerly breeze.

Gannet Steve McAusland 03
Gannet (Steve McAusland)

As I boarded the MS Oldenburg I made my way up to the bridge to meet Jerry the Captain and Brian the first mate. After a brief chat before the ship left its berth, I started my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to as many passengers I could.

Leaving Ilfracombe we soon had many views of Herring Gull, Fulmar and as the ship passed Morte Point, three Gannet came in very close to the port side. After exactly one hour at sea we were treated to four Common Dolphin off the same side. Other birds of note were Manx Shearwater, Razorbill and Guillemot. During the voyage I met one couple who, since their last Lundy trip, now support MARINElife. Also on board was a fellow MARINElife member and surveyor with his family, we were soon locked in conversation as we exchanged our survey experiences.

As the Oldenburg approached the Lundy landing bay the first of three Grey Seal was seen. The walk up to the top of the island gave up a Spotted Flycatcher and a few Goldcrest. During lunch at Jenny's Cove I spotted ten Puffin amongst the many Razorbill and Guillemot. As I made my way back for the return voyage, birds seen included Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Wheatear.

Kittiwake Steve McAusland 01
Kittiwake (Steve McAusland)

The crossing back from Lundy provided a further two Grey Seal and three more Common Dolphin sightings. On the bird front the same birds seen earlier were again noted. Once docked back in Ilfracombe I thanked Jerry and his crew for another successful day on behalf of MARINElife and I look forward to my next WLO trip in June.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 23 May 2015

Posted 25 May 2015

MARINElife/WLO: Ruth Griffith

Weather: Sunny some mist, wind WSW, sea state 2-3

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals:
Common Dolphin 1
Grey Seal 2

Seabirds:
Manx Shearwater
Fulmar
Gannet
Shag
Greater Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Common Tern
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin

On arrival at Ilfracombe, there was a heavy sea mist engulfing the harbour. I boarded the ship and after greeting Jerry and the crew, made my way round the decks introducing myself and distributing leaflets to the 200+ passengers. Sightings were slow to begin with due to poor visibility, but about 30 minutes into the journey the mist lifted to reveal blue skies and sightings of seabirds such as Guillemot, Razorbill, Gannet and Herring Gull. As we neared Lundy I also sighted Manx Shearwater, Shag and Common Tern.

Guillemot Ruth Griffith 02
Guillemot (Ruth Griffith)

We arrived at Lundy and I stepped off the boat to see a Grey Seal popping up around Mouse Island and as I made the ascent to the village I saw Great Black-backed Gull. I made my way to Jenny's Cove where I enjoyed watching Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill and Fulmar busying themselves on the cliffside whilst I had lunch. Down in the water I spotted a lone Grey Seal swimming about in the shallows.

Before heading back down to the landing stage I went to see the Antony Gormley scuplture which was erected earlier in May on the south of the Island, and marks the 50th anniversary of the Landmark Trust.

The return journey saw many of the same seabird species. I also heard that a few passengers and crew saw a brief glimpse of a Common Dolphin about 30 minutes into the journey.

Antony Gormley Lundy statue Ruth Griffith 2015
Antony Gormley's 'Land' sculpture (Ruth Griffith)

It turned out to be a lovely sunny, warm day with good conditions for sightings but unfortunately fairly quiet in terms of cetaceans, but an enjoyable day all the same.

Many thanks to Jerry and the crew of the Oldenburg for their kindness and support.

MARINElife Survey Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy survey 16 May 2015

Posted 20 May 2015

Nick Adams and Ali Quinney, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Out - WNW force 4, sea state 5 but generally clear skies. Return - WNW 3 and sea state 3, clear skies.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Seabirds
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 5
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 19
Gannet Morus bassanus 14
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Great Black-Backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 28
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 6
Guillemot Uria aalge 15
Razorbill Alca torda 28
Auk sp.  3

We arrived at the harbour in the lovely town of Ilfracombe and having introduced ourselves to the crew we were on the bridge of the Oldenburg with the Captain, Jerry.

Storm Petrel Peter Howlett 02a
Storm Petrel (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The sea conditions were a little too rough for cetacean spotting, but we did see a good number of seabirds including Manx Shearwater and the highlight of the outward trip a Storm Petrel, a species that was only proven to breed successfully on Lundy last year when a fledged chick was found.

We arrived on Lundy and headed straight for Jenny's Cove where we ate our lunch watching 1000s of seabirds coming and going to their nesting ledges. We could see several Puffin sat around as well as Kittiwake, Razorbill, Guillemot and Fulmar. There was also a female Peregrine zooming up and down the colony.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 11a
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Once we were back under way, we were running with the wind and tide which made for a smoother trip. We picked up more Manx Shearwater as well as good numbers of Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Herring Gull but sadly no cetaceans. The best sighting on the way back were two massive barrel jellyfish very close to the ship.

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

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 16 May 2015

Posted 18 May 2015

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Andy Gilbert

Weather:  Wind: Northwesterly outbound sea state 4-5, return sea state 3. Good visibility.

Summary of species seen:

Marine Mammals:
Grey Seal

Seabirds:
Manx Shearwater
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag
Great Black-back Gull
Herring Gull
Kittiwake
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin

Terrestrial birds:
Peregrine Falcon
Wheatear
Meadow Pipit
Skylark
Goldfinch
Linnet
Swallow
Mallard
Teal

It was a very busy Oldenburg today with it being The Landmark Trust's 50th anniversary "Golden Weekend". Despite the sea conditions on the outward journey the visibility was clear and we were treated to good sightings of Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Kittiwake, Guillemot and Razorbill. Two passengers were rewarded for their persistence by a very brief sighting of a Harbour Porpoise and our spirits were kept high by an Exmoor Sea Shanty group called Shake A Leg whose folks songs from the lower deck resonated to the windy upper deck and beyond.

Meadow Pipit Andrew Gilbert 01
Meadow Pipit (Andrew Gilbert)

When we reached Lundy I teamed up with MARINElife surveyors Ali and Nick, who had managed to spot a Storm Petrel from the bridge on the way over, and we headed off onto the Island. On the way up from the landing beach many passengers stopped to visit Millcombe House which the Lundy Field Society were opening as part of the weekend celebrations. We carried on and  walked across the island enjoying great views of Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, and Skylark before settling down at Jenny's Cove  to eat lunch and watch Peregrines cruising above their wild larder.

On our return we sought out the impressive new Anthony Gormley sculpture that will be standing above South West Point for the next year. It is certainly worth a visit! To celebrate the Landmark Trust's anniversary there are five installations by him at Landmark Trust properties across the country from Scotland's Mull of Kintyre to Lundy.

The sea state on the return leg was much better and despite no more cetaceans we enjoyed great views of huge barrel jellyfish and a bottling Grey Seal off the north Devon coast.

Manx Shearwater Andrw Gilbert 01
Manx Shearwater (Andrew Gilbert)

Thanks to the Captain and crew of the Oldenburg for their cheerful and continued assistance.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 9 May 2015

Posted 14 May 2015

MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny, wind WSW-W, sea state 3-5

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise 3
Grey Seal 2
Unidentified Dolphin species 2 - probable Bottlenose

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Shag
Oystercatcher
Black Guillemot
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin
Kittiwake
Fulmar
Gannet
Manx Shearwater

Terrestrial Birds seen at sea
Swallow
Sand Martin
House Martin
Goldfinch

Wildlife seen on Lundy:
Peregrine Falcon
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Skylark
Wheatear
Raven
Carrion Crow
Wood Pigeon
Swallow
Sand Martin
House Martin
Robin
Blackbird
Mallard
Pied Wagtail
House Sparrow
Sheep
Soay Sheep
Feral Goat
Lundy Pony
Highland Cattle
Sika Deer

The morning started off dull and windy but as I arrived at Ilfracombe harbour it was beginning to brighten up. Rick Morris MARINElife's Wildlife Officer coordinator was joining me along with several Lundy Island staff who were returning to Lundy from their holidays.

We boarded the Oldenburg and popped up to the bridge to say hello to Jerry and the others and to collect our Hi-Viz jackets. The sea was looking rough but it was sunny as we left Ilfracombe and following the tannoy announcements I started my tour of the ship, introducing myself to the passengers and telling them about MARINElife and what we hoped to see on the crossing and on the Island.

Black Guillemot Rick Morris 02
Black Guillemot (Rick Morris)

Despite the lumpy conditions I spotted a Harbour Porpoise not long after we left Ilfracombe and one of the passengers saw another shortly afterwards. Swallows and martins flew overhead as we passed Morte Point then, as we headed towards Lundy, we picked up plenty of Manx Shearwater along with various gulls, Guillemot and a lone Shag. Rick spotted 2 dolphin fins in the distance towards Hartland Point which were probably Bottlenose because of their size. A Goldfinch flying past as we neared Lundy surprising the passengers who saw it.

As we approached the Landing Stage there was the usual array of Shag along the top of Mouse Island and a Grey Seal bobbing about near the rocks.

We alighted and walked up to the village stopping to look at a Barrel Jellyfish and the gulls on the rocks when we spotted an auk on the water below which was immediately identified as a Black Guillemot, a rare visitor to Lundy.

Rick went over to the south of the island and I carried on up to the village. I walked past the Old Light to the west side, there were many Swallows and martins flying above and the sound of Skylark. The sky was clear and the wind had dropped so I sat on the rocks overlooking the Battery to have lunch. As I carried on towards Jenny's Cove I met up with Rick and we soon spotted a couple of Puffin amongst the many auks and other seabirds on the cliffs.

Soay Sheep Annette Dutton 2015-02
Soay Sheep (Annette Dutton)

Crossing the island we returned along the main track where we saw Soay sheep, Lundy Ponies and Sika deer.

The return journey was enjoyable as the swell had dropped and it was now sunny and warm. We had sightings of Razorbill, Manx Shearwater and Gannet but unfortunately we didn't see the Harbour Porpoise again.

We arrived back in Ilfracombe and returned to the bridge to collect our belongings and to say goodbye to Jerry and thank him and the crew of the MS Oldenburg for their help and assistance.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: Ilfracombe-Lundy 2 May 2015

Posted 03 May 2015

This trip was cancelled due to bad weather.