MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 15 October 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Steve McAusland


Weather: partially overcast, good visibility, light westerly breeze force 1 or 2

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 9

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

Terrestrial Birds
Pied Wagtail
Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit
Wood Pigeon
Great Tit
Carrion Crow

This was my last trip of 2016 as MARINElife Wildlife Officer and I was so looking forward to being out on the sea as the August and September trips were cancelled due to storms!

I arrived at the quay early and before collecting my ticket I had a walk around the area checking out the sea and any birds that might be around. Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail and the usual gulls were seen. A Sparrowhawk caught my eye gracefully hugging the contours of the car park before flying over towards the trees on the other side of Ilfracombe harbour.

Gannet Steve McAusland 03
Gannet (Steve McAusland)

Soon after, I boarded MS Oldenburg in bright autumnal weather conditions bound for Lundy. Jason the Captain and First Mate Vernon welcomed me aboard and I was soon amongst the passengers chatting and assisting some with bird identifications. As with all trips you always get to meet people from different parts of the world and today was no exception. I had a really interesting conversation with a gentleman from South Africa who told tales of his great trips that produced cetaceans that I have yet to see.

During the crossing Gannets were observed diving not too far from Morte Point, also on the crossing were Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, the usual gulls and Guillemot. Sadly no cetaceans were seen, however, a passenger did tell me that he had seen five Harbour Porpoise.

Grey Seal Steve McAusland 09
Grey Seal (Steve McAusland)

As we came towards the Lundy jetty five Grey Seal were observed both in the sea and hauled up on the rocks of Mouse Island.

I disembarked and proceeded to walk up to the wooded area around Milcombe house and finally stopping off at the 'Ugly' - a stone shelter with a corrugated iron roof and an excellent view out to sea - for lunch. I was joined here by a party of five people who had been staying on the Island, we were soon chatting about their time over the last few days and my trips and experiences of Lundy. The weather rapidly turned from bright sunshine and clouds to what could be described as a monsoon storm, heavy rain and wind battered the Island for three hours and we were all glad that the Ugly was there to keep us from the elements!

As I walked back to the jetty for the return sailing the weather changed for the better again and the sun was soon out and the wind had dropped to a slight breeze. Sadly my last trip didn't produce any cetaceans, but I look forward to next year and hopefully the opportunity to volunteer for more Lundy trips?

Before leaving the ship I thanked Jason the Captain and his crew for their hospitality this year and for supporting MARINElife.