Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: July 2015

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 25 July 2015

Posted 02 August 2015

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Steve McAusland

Weather: Bright sunshine and westerly breeze, sea state 5

Summary of species seen:

Marine Mammals:
Common Dolphin 6
Harbour Porpoise 2
Grey Seal 9

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

Terrestrial birds on Lundy:
Common Scoter
Spotted Flycatcher
Swift
Meadow Pipit
Wheatear
Starling
Raven
Carrion Crow
Jackdaw
House Sparrow
Wood Pigeon
Swallow
Linnet
Oystercatcher
Skylark
Goldfinch
Pied Wagtail
Cormorant

This month's Wildlife Officer Trip to Lundy Island began in Ilfracombe. Arriving at the harbour I was intrigued to see many passengers dressed in Victorian costumes and like most people my curiosity got the better of me! It turned out they were all from a cricket club and were going to Lundy to have a big picnic and to play cricket at the campsite to celebrate a special birthday for one of their party.

Razorbill and Guillemot Steve McAusland 01
Razorbills and Guillemots (Steve McAusland)

After leaving Ilfracombe we had sightings of Gannet within a kilometre of the harbour and as the ship made its way towards Lundy there were good numbers of Manx Shearwater, Guillemot and Razorbill. Also seen were Fulmar, Kittiwake, Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull. An hour into the journey we caught sight of two Harbour Porpoise from the port side and these were our only cetaceans on the outward crossing.

As the Oldenburg approached the Lundy landing stage the first of nine Grey Seal was seen in the area of Rat Island. Taking the short route to the shepherds hut, I stopped for lunch and an hour of sea watching. Sadly nothing to report here, however the surrounding area was a haven for butterflies, bees and other insects.

Grey Seal Steve McAusland 05
Grey Seal (Steve McAusland)

As the time to return to the jetty was getting closer, I made my way to the back of Rat Island to watch the Grey Seals in the small bay. Here nine animals were located and some were making booming noises not too dissimilar to the now retired lighthouse fog horn! As I boarded the ship my eyes were immediately drawn to a large brown bird rafting in the bay, it was a Common Scoter, a welcome tick for my Lundy bird list. Common Scoter are really not that common in the summer months as there are only 38 breeding pairs in the UK, most being in Scotland!

During the return sailing two separate sightings of Common Dolphin made many passengers on the port side extremely happy. The same birds that were seen earlier were again observed. As we arrived in Ilfracombe harbour, I thanked the crew for another successful day on behalf of MARINElife and I look forward to my next Lundy Wildlife Officer trip in August and also the joint Bottlenose Dolphin and Balearic Shearwater survey with the RSPB three days later. You can find out more about this project from this link.

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/marinelife

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 18 July 2015

Posted 24 July 2015

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Maggie Gamble

Weather: Sunshine with fresh SW winds, sea state 3

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 2
Grey Seal 3

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater
Fulmar
Gannet
Cormorant
Oystercatcher
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Guillemot
Razorbill

The trip out to the Island gave two separate brief sightings of Common Dolphin picked up by some sharp-eyed passengers  For the birds there were small groups of Manx Shearwater and Guillemot around the boat.

Common Dolphin Carol FarmerWright 02a
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Carol Farmer-Wright)

An early morning start from Bideford meant there was plenty of time to explore Lundy. The warden was leading a walk from the village to see the remaining Puffins but I decided to take the lower path along the east side of the island as far as the halfway wall and then cut across to Jennie's Cove. Stopping for lunch by the Heligoland Trap we were serenaded by the melancholy sound of a singing seal. It seemed to come from a large male draped over a rock but with the sound reverberating along the cliff it was difficult to be sure. At the cove there were still Puffin and Razorbill to be seen coming and going low down on the cliffs. At this time of year numbers start to drop, as by the middle of July they start to leave their nests and return to the ocean.

Whilst waiting to board the Oldenburg for the return journey we saw a few Blue Jellyfish And Moon Jelly fish from the jetty - it's been a good summer for jellyfish around the coast of the UK.

Guillemot Mike Bailey 01a
Guillemot (Archive photo: Mike Bailey)

On the return trip a few more Gannet were sighted but seabirds numbers were fairly low and, unfortunately, there were no more cetaceans to be seen.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 11 July 2015

Posted 16 July 2015

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Keith Morgan

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans
(one unconfirmed dolphin sighting from a passenger on the return journey)

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Fulmar
Guillemot
Gannet
Manx Shearwater
Cormorant
Oystercatcher

Along with close to 240 passengers I set out from Ilfracombe on a rather cloudy Saturday on what seemed to be a relatively calm sea. However, appearances from the shore can be deceptive and towards the middle of the two hour trip some of the passengers found the sea to be a little too lively. At least the weather got better, with some signs of the sun.

Manx Shearwater Steve McAusland 01
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Steve McAusland)

I made my way around decks to introduce myself, finding a mix of first-time voyagers and a healthy number of repeat passengers, including many who were looking forward to a further stay in the Landmark Trust accommodation on the island.

Seabird sightings were few and far between (there were a lot more in the harbour!) so many of the conversations that I had were along the lines of what might be seen and hearing about what people had enjoyed seeing elsewhere - the wildlife enthusiasts were a well-travelled bunch.

Approaching Lundy the sea was calmer and everyone enjoyed getting ashore, with those who had felt unwell quickly recovering. Although the climb up from the jetty was a challenge for some, I was struck by how quickly people dispersed, with one attraction being the trip with a warden to see the Puffins and a visit to the Marisco Tavern another. It is surprising how without wandering far you can soon find yourself away from your fellow travellers. The emerging Five-spot Burnet were a pleasure to see, as was the Thyme and the Thrift.

Waiting to board for the return journey we were treated to the appearance of two Grey Seals - one either side of the jetty.

Grey Seal Peter Howlett 02
Grey Seal (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The return to Ilfracombe was again quiet with sporadic sightings of gulls, Guillemot and Gannet and at least one passenger can now tell juvenile from adult Gannet with confidence! Despite the lack of wildlife the journey was enjoyed by all as the sun came out and the sea felt calmer.

Many thanks to the crew of the 'Oldenburg' for their help and assistance.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 4 July 2015

Posted 05 July 2015

MARINElife Wildlife Officer: Ruth Griffith

Weather: Sunshine with fresh SW winds, sea state 3-5

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals:
Common Dolphin 17+
Grey Seal 6

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

We departed Bideford quay at 8am with fresh southwesterly winds and a fair bit of swell. I greeted Jerry and the crew then made my way around the decks introducing myself to passengers as the Wildlife Officer and explained which marine species we might see on the journey. I met a number of people who were very interested in the work of MARINElife, including a few supporters and some who had met other MARINElife WLOs on the boat on previous occasions.

Grey Seal Ruth Griffith 05
Grey Seal (Ruth Griffith)

The journey started off with a shower but once the skies cleared and we headed up the estuary I began spotting Herring Gull and Kittiwake. After we crossed the bar I began seeing auks such as Guillemot and Razorbill. As the journey continued I sighted numerous small groups of Manx Shearwater flying by and a few Gannet. I also saw a large shearwater which I concluded to be a Great Shearwater after discussing with a keen birdwatcher on board.

On arrival at Lundy Island, an inquisitive Grey Seal greeted us in the landing bay and during the ascent up to the village I saw Great Black-backed Gull around the cliffs. I made my way along the east coast of the Island and came to Brazen Ward where I saw two more Grey Seal swimming around in the bay. After having lunch and stopping off at the Marisco tavern for a drink, I made my way back down to the landing bay. Whilst waiting to board, I was kept entertained by an Oystercatcher down on the rocks, a Peregrine Falcon flying up on the cliffs and a number of Grey seal popping up in the landing bay, a couple of whom were juveniles.

Common Dolphin Ruth Griffith 03
Common Dolphin (Ruth Griffith)

As we departed Lundy at 4.30pm I was optimistic for the return journey to be busier for cetacean sightings - I was not disappointed. Within about 10 minutes a group of Gannet circling caught my eye and I could see a pod of 10+ Common Dolphin foraging and surfacing occasionally. As the journey continued I sighted many more Manx Shearwater and Gannet, Guillemot and Razorbill, Fulmar and Puffin. About an hour into the journey I caught sight of another large group of Gannet and knowing this can be a tell-tale sign for cetaceans I was on high alert and signalled to some nearby passengers. Before long a group of about 7 Common Dolphins began surfacing and making a bee-line toward the boat, leaping gracefully out of the water, until they came right up close to the port side, before swimming under the boat and off the stern.

On arrival at Bideford I thanked Jerry and the crew and said my farewells.