MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 25 June 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Lucy Grable

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 2
Harbour Porpoise 2
Grey Seal 6

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

Terrestrial Birds
House Martin
Common Swift
Meadow Pipit
House Sparrow
Peregrine Falcon
Pied Wagtail

Lundy wildlife
Sika Deer
Highland Cattle
Soay Sheep

After excitedly collecting my ticket from the shore office, I proceeded to board the beautiful MS Oldenburg where I was welcomed aboard by Jason the ship's Captain and his crew. I placed myself on the very popular outer decks to greet the passengers and tell them about the various marine wildlife often seen on the crossing.

Once leaving Bideford, the weather soon brightened up and I was very hopeful for a glimpse of some cetaceans. Unfortunately, the sea state soon crept up to a 4 which made this difficult. I did however spot a couple of Harbour Porpoise fins amongst the white caps, but they were too far away to alert the passengers. The outward journey to Lundy was fairly quiet to begin with. Once in the channel, small numbers of Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Herring Gull, Guillemot and Razorbill were seen, but it was not until we approached the island that the numbers really began to pick up.

Puffin Peter Howlett 02
Puffin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Arriving on Lundy, a large number of passengers that were last to disembark stopped along the jetty and joined me watching a few Grey Seals playing around Landing Bay. It was a beautiful day for a walk so I set off along the west coast of the island for magnificent views all around. I stopped for a quick pit stop at Jenny's Cove where there were large numbers of Puffin, Guillemot and Razorbill. A majority of the passengers were able to see the Puffins here and for many it was the highlight of their day. I then carried on walking along the island until I reached the three quarter wall before taking the central track back. Five Sika Deer were leaping and bounding across the track just ahead which was a delight to see as well as frequent Highland Cattle and Soay Sheep. A huge variety of bird species were spotted on my walk including Skylark, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Pied Wagtail and a single Peregrine Falcon.

Whilst waiting to board the Oldenburg for the return journey, I noticed a huge abundance of Moon Jellyfish and a single Compass Jellyfish floating in the Landing Bay. As we left Lundy behind us, a large number of Gannet were seen feeding which pleased the many photographers on-board. We were also treated to spectacular displays of Manx Shearwater for the majority of the return leg as well as the occasional floating auk.

Common Dolphin Ruth Griffith 02a
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Ruth Griffith)

The cetacean front was looking very quiet and as I was doing the rounds one lovely lady named Sally asked me if I had seen any marine mammals yet. Low and behold at that exact moment two Common Dolphin leapt out of the water 20 metres in front of us. Later, I asked Sally to ask me the same question again, but alas no more cetaceans appeared.

The return leg was much busier with queries from the passengers, however. Questions such as "how do dolphins sleep?" and "how do dolphins talk?" were answered as well as general identification questions.

Oldenburg Lucy Grable 01
Oldenburg in Landing Bay (Lucy Grable)

Just as we were approaching Bideford, I was greeted by Beccy Macdonald, Lundy's resident warden, and we had a quick chat about all things marine before disembarking. I had a fabulous first trip to Lundy and I cannot thank the Landmark Trust, Oldenburg crew and Beccy enough.