Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: September 2016

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 17 September 2016

Posted 23 September 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Wind SW, dry and sunny, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 10+

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Meadow Pipit
House Martin

The sea looked a bit choppy as I arrived at Ilfracombe but once onboard Jason,  the Captain, assured me it was going to be a good crossing. I left my belongings and went on to the deck and started chatting to some of the passengers, among them was a group from the Lundy Field Society who were going over for a working holiday.

Oldenburg Annette Dutton 01
View from the bridge of the Oldenburg (Annette Dutton)

As we left Ilfracombe I spotted a Manx Shearwater then a Gannet and after Julian had made the tannoy announcement regarding my presence onboard, several passengers came over to ask me lots of questions about the wildlife we might see and the work of MARINElife . It was quite bumpy at first but as we passed Morte Point the crossing became more enjoyable and it remained warm and sunny.

I had seen lots of dolphins and porpoises on my recent trips to Lundy so I had told the passengers to look out for them amongst groups of feeding Gannets but on this occasion there were none to be seen although a couple of passengers told me they had seen cetaceans. However, it was difficult to distinguish between fins and waves as the sea was choppy plus there was the glare of the sun too.

As we had made good time, the Oldenburg headed towards the north of the island and cruised along the coast to the Landing Stage which gave me the opportunity to look for seals and enjoy a close up of the sailing vessel Irene. There were a few seals hauled out on the rocks but I couldn't get an accurate count.

Meadow Pipit Annette Dutton 01
Meadow Pipit (Annette Dutton)

After leaving the Oldenburg I said hello to Becky, the Warden before making my way up to my favourite bench by Hanmers holiday cottage to have lunch and a bit of a seawatch. I was surrounded by Swallows and House Martins flitting about and I was also joined by a cheeky Meadow Pipit.

I could see a couple of seals in the landing bay but I didn't spot anything else so I wandered over to Castle Keep and along the path towards the Devil's Limekiln stopping to enjoy the view back towards the Devon coast before continuing to the Old Light then making my way back to the Oldenburg.

Lundy Annette Dutton 07a
Lundy coast (Annette Dutton)

We departed from Lundy and I was invited to join the crew on the bridge to improve my chances of spotting cetaceans but while I was there I only saw the odd Gannet. Then as we passed Bull Point there were several Gannets flying along the coast but I couldn't see any Harbour Porpoise.

We arrived back at Ilfracombe and I said goodbye to Jason, Vernon and Julian and thanked them for an enjoyable trip.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 10 September 2016

Posted 14 September 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Maggie Gamble

Summary of sightings:

Common Dolphin 5
Harbour Porpoise 1

Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Manx Shearwater
Common Scoter

I drove the down the M5 to Ilfracombe in heavy rain, hoping that the forecast fine day was to become a reality - it did thankfully.

Leaving Ilfracombe with a moderate sea state was not conducive to spotting the diminutive and shy  Harbour Porpoise which are often seen around this part of the coast and so it proved. Farther out from shore we had a few Common Dolphin approach the Oldenburg from behind and then quietly fade away but fortunately quite a few passengers still managed to see them. There is something about spotting a wild cetacean which never fails to make people smile.

Common Dolphin Steve McAusland 03
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Steve McAusland)

For the birds there was a few Fulmar, Gannet, Guillemot, Razorbill, Manx Shearwaters and a variety of gulls throughout the trip. A surprise sighting was a distinctive low flying skein of Common Scoter, a large dark sea duck. Nearer to Lundy one of the passengers picked up the erratically waving fine fin of an Oceanic Sunfish, a unique and fast growing fish, which can grow to three or metres across. The smaller ones seen in UK waters follow the warm water currents to our shores in pursuit of their prey - jelly fish.

From the track leading down to the landing dock I watched an elegant two masted sailing vessel (a ketch) approaching under sail to moor in the bay. Once back on board the Oldenburg for the return to Ilfracombe the captain made a slight detour on departure so as to pass closer to the Irene giving ample opportunity to admire this lovely vessel which was originally built in Bridgwater. It was a fairly quiet trip back but as we approached Ilfracombe a single Harbour Porpoise was spotted by at least one passenger.

Ketch Irene Maggie Gamble 2016
The Irene (Maggie Gamble)

As ever, many thanks to the crew of the 'Oldenburg' for their help and assistance.

MARINElife reports: MS Oldenburg Ilfracombe-Lundy 3 September

Posted 05 September 2016

There was no WLO trip and monthly survey undertaken on the 3rd due to severe weather.