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

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

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

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 10+

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Wheatear
Meadow Pipit
Linnet
Swallow
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.