Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: June 2015

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 27 June 2015

Posted 01 July 2015

MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer: Steve McAusland

Weather: Bright sunshine and westerly breeze, sea state 2

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans:
Minke Whale 1 (sighted by Rick Morris & Dr Rachel Davies)
Common Dolphin 6
Harbour Porpoise 1

Mammals:
Grey Seal 4

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
Robin
Pied Wagtail
Cormorant

This month's Wildlife Officer Trip to Lundy Island began in Ilfracombe, the sun was shining and the crew of MS Oldenburg were soon welcoming the many passengers on board. This voyage to Lundy had seventeen additional people that were going to the island for a four day MARINELife experience. Three of the party were the organisers from MARINElife Rick Morris, Dr Rachel Davies and MARINElife Patron Maya Plass.

Common Dolphin Steve McAusland 02b
Common Dolphin (Steve McAusland

After a brief chat on the bridge with Jerry the ship's captain and Brian the first mate, I began my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to as many interested passengers as I could. As usual the conversations were positive and it's always great to hear other likeminded people's wildlife experiences.

As the ship left Ilfracombe harbour, the first birds of note were Gannet, followed by Fulmar and Manx Shearwater. All three species were seen within a mile of the harbour. We soon had many Kittiwake, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and a few distant Great Black-backed Gull.

Whilst touring the aft area, I was put on to two Common Dolphin off the starboard side, the two passengers who spotted them turned out to be Sue and Cheryl who are MARINELife members and fellow surveyors. Close by, birds of note were Razorbill and Guillemot.

Manx Shearwater Steve McAusland 02a
Manx Shearwater (Steve McAusland)

As I was here a solitary Minke whale was seen by Rick and Rachel from the upper starboard side, we sadly missed it! Passengers that go over to Lundy on a regular basis have often told me that these majestic whales are sometimes spotted. Who knows, maybe next time?

As the Oldenburg approached the Lundy landing bay the first of four Grey Seal was seen bobbing effortlessly. My afternoon was spent checking out the new Antony Gormley statue which is very fitting for Lundy. Here is also a good location for a spot of seawatching while having lunch. Looking down to the sea there were many Razorbill, Guillemot, Gannet and the usual gulls. Raven went over as did small flock of Goldfinch. In the surrounding area the beautiful sound of Skylark was heard and I watched many fly very high continuing their song. Linnet, Meadow Pipit and Wheatear were plentiful too.

Skylark Steve McAusland 01b
Skylark (Steve McAusland)

Before the crossing back to Ilfracombe Rat island provided a further three Grey Seal. During the return sailing two separate pairs of Common Dolphin thrilled everyone on board. Watching for birds gave up the same birds that were seen earlier, however a lone Puffin was seen off the port side, much to many peoples delight. A single brief fin of a Porpoise was seen as the ship passed Morte Point on the mainland.

We arrived back in Ilfracombe harbour where the day's trip concluded, I thanked Jerry the captain and his crew for another successful day on behalf of MARINElife and I look forward to my next Lundy Wildlife Officer trip in July.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 20 June 2015

Posted 23 June 2015

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Peter Jones

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Common Dolphin 3
Grey Seal 6

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

Lundy Island birds:
Grey Heron
Peregrine
Skylark
Swallow
House Martin
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Robin
Wheatear
Willow Warbler
Chiffchaff
Raven
House Sparrow
Chaffinch
Linnet
Goldfinch

Torridge Estuary birds:
Curlew
Oystercatcher
Shelduck

I met the MARINElife Survey team, at Bideford quay, and on departing for Lundy, we saw Shelduck, Curlew, and Great Black-backed Gull along the Torridge Estuary. I introduced myself to the passengers and, once out of the river, we had good views of Guillemot, Razorbill, and a few Manx Shearwater on the outward journey. Closer to Lundy a group of 10 Gannet passed the very close to the ship and a juvenile Kittiwake also showed well. The MS Oldenburg detoured slightly to the north of the Island in order to assist in a Peregrine survey taking place. This gave superb views of the eastern side of the Island and I was able to pick out Peregrine and Sika Deer from the boat!

Peregrine Peter Jones 01
Peregrine (Peter Jones)

On Lundy, despite very low cloud, I birdwatched the island seeing a good selection of the regular breeding birds including close views of Peregrine, Raven, Meadow Pipit and Wheatear.

At the quay prior to the return crossing, two Grey Seal showed well plus Shag, Fulmar and a Rock Pipit.The return crossing produced the highlight of the day for many of the passengers when Common Dolphin were announced over the tannoy, and excellent views were obtained from the stern of the ship. More auks including a couple of Puffin were seen to round off a superb day.

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

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

MARINElife Survey Report: MV Oldenburg Bideford-Lundy 20 June 2015

Posted 22 June 2015

Fiona McNie and Kate Jones, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: conditions fair, wind light mainly W-S, sea state 1-3, occasional fog patches.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 2
Grey Seal  Halichoerus grypus 1

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater  Puffinus puffinus 42
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet  Morus bassanus 29
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Shag  Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 6
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 39
Common Gull  Larus canus 1
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 1
Guillemot  Uria aalge 61
Razorbill  Alca torda 14
Puffin  Fratercula arctica 6
Gull sp.  16
Auk sp.  4

The MV Oldenburg left and returned from Bideford rather than Ilfracombe, providing a slightly different route to the usual one. The crew were really welcoming and helpful, and as always it was a pleasure to be on the MV Oldenburg. There was a Wildlife Officer on board this trip, who was on the outer deck so any observations could be relayed to him.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 06
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The survey began as the vessel left the harbour (beyond the bridge) and stopped as the vessel re-entered the harbour (before the bridge). There was a brief sighting of two Common Dolphin on the journey to Lundy and a Grey Seal as we approached the island. A number of birds were seen, in particular Guillemot and Manx Shearwater.

On this trip the Captain decided to approach the island from the north end which meant the ship steamed down the length of the island. This gave passengers a great view of the island and in particular the cliffs and rocky shore and gave us an opportunity to look for birds nesting on the cliffs.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 10
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The day was spent on the island and the opportunity was taken to walk round to see the Puffin nesting on the cliffs on the west side of the island this time of year. There was some fog on the west side of the island which prevented spotting any more marine life, but seals were seen around the island, and we also spent some time looking at some of the rich intertidal rocky shore habitats.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 13 June 2015

Posted 18 June 2015

MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny, Wind SW-W, sea state 3-4

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 4
Grey Seal 5

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

It was misty and quite cool when I arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour and the visibility out to sea was dismal but I crossed my fingers and hoped it would brighten up. I boarded the MS Oldenburg and went to the bridge to collect my jacket and to say hello to Jerry and the team. The sea looked a bit rough and when jerry announced the conditions over the tannoy I knew we were in for a bumpy ride.

We departed and I began to go round the passengers, explaining who I was, about the work of MARINElife and what we hoped to see on the crossing and on Lundy, conditions permitting.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 01
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

I didn't notice anything as we moved along the coast towards Morte Point then I started to pick up Gannet, Manx Shearwater and several gull species then after around 90 minutes we were joined by Common Dolphin much to everyone's joy, I only saw 2 but a passenger said they saw 4 and then they were gone.

The visibility was still very poor and I only saw Lundy for the first time when we were quite close, I was dismayed to see the Island covered in low mist and realised I would not be able to see much when I arrived.

As we neared the landing stage I could see there were several Shag on Mouse Island and as it was low tide I could make out several Grey Seals hauled out below them.

Everyone alighted and walked up to the village, I took a left turn and went over to Castle Keep but with the lack of visibility and it being so wet I took the main path towards the village instead and came upon the Old Light which I could just see through the mist.

I ate my lunch in the Lighthouse and decided not to go over to Jenny's Cove  so headed back towards the Church. I wandered down towards Millcombe and went up the narrow path to the Shelter which was occupied so I went down to the lower path and looked below at the various gulls in case there was anything of note amongst them. I took some pictures of the lichens and wild flowers before heading back towards the landing stage and on the way down I watched an Oystercatcher with 2 chicks fending off inquisitive gulls.

Lundy flowers Annette Dutton June 2015
Stonecrop (Annette Dutton)

The mist had started to clear and the visibility improving but it was too late for today's day trippers and as I waited on the jetty I saw several Gannet and groups of auks flying past and around Devil's Hole.

The journey back was much calmer and there were regular sightings of Gannet, Razorbill, Guillemot and Manx Shearwater along the way. Then after about an hour, I spotted 2 Common Dolphins in the distance then, a few minutes later, they appeared riding the bow waves much to everyone's delight and a raft of around 20 Manx Shearwater flew off as they appeared. I was hoping for Porpoise as we neared Ilfracombe and although there were several Gannet, I didn't see any.

The MS Oldenburg arrived back in Ilfracombe and I returned to the bridge to collect my belongings and to say goodbye to Jerry and thanked him and the crew for their help and assistance.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 6 June 2015

Posted 09 June 2015

MARINElife/Lundy WLO:Andrew Gilbert

Weather:
Out: wind W, sea state 4-5, swell 3m. Return: wind W, sea state 3-4, visibility good.

Summary of Species Seen:

Marine mammals:
Grey Seal   15

Seabirds:
Manx Shearwater
Fulmar
Gannet
Cormorant
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Kittiwake
Razorbill
Guillemot

Terrestrial birds:
Swallow
Robin
Blackbird
Carrion Crow
Raven
Chaffinch
Goldfinch
Wren
Linnet
Wheatear
Skylark
Meadow Pipit
Lesser Whitethroat
Starling
House Sparrow
Peregrine Falcon
Oystercatcher
Little Egret (Torridge Estuary)
Shelduck (Torridge Estuary)

It was an early start today with the MS Oldenburg leaving Bideford at 8am. With a full complement of passengers we calmly motored up the Torridge Estuary and enjoyed Little Egrets roosting in the trees and Shelduck with chicks by the water's edge.

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

Out in the Bristol Channel we had sunny skies but a large swell and sea state 4-5. We had plenty of sightings of Manx Shearwater, Razorbills and Guillemots, Fulmars, Gannets, and Kittiwakes. When we arrived at the Landing Bay at Lundy we were welcomed by a Grey Seal fishing in the harbour.

It was a beautiful sunny day and on the eastern side, in the lee of the Island, the Lundy Roads were calm. After a quick scan for birds at Millcombe I ambled along the coast path as far as Admiralty Point. Below me I spotted 11 Grey Seals fishing around the rocks or bottling in the sun. On the cliffs the endemic Lundy Cabbage was flowering.  Just before the old quarry I found a Lesser  Whitethroat.  I crossed the island at Tibbets and walked through hundreds of Wheatears on my way back to the village before finishing the day with a sea watch at Castle.

Fulmar Rob Petley-Jones 02
Fulmar (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

Back on board at 5.30, the return journey was a slightly better sea state.  At one point we passed a large group of Kittiwakes and Fulmars feeding but after scanning for cetaceans a single Grey Seal was the only marine mammal associated with them.

Despite the rough crossing it was a beautiful day and the passengers were all in a buoyant mood on their return home to Bideford.  As always, many thanks to Jerry and his crew for their help and to the Landmark Trust for their continued support of our work.