MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 22 October 2016

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Dry and sunny, Sea State slight, Wind Easterly

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 2
Grey Seal 2

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Wheatear
Meadow Pipit
Starling

This was my last trip over to Lundy for 2016, it was dry and sunny and the sea looked calm so I was hoping to see cetaceans. I collected my ticket, boarded the Oldenburg and went up to the bridge to sort out my belongings and collect my Hi-Viz jacket. Paul, the Captain was not around so I went out onto the deck and started chatting to the passengers.

We left Ilfracombe Harbour and I scanned the area around Capstone for Porpoise as I usually see them there but I didn't see any, although a Gannet flew by as we passed Lee Bay. I moved down to the lower deck to speak to the passengers, handing out MARINElife leaflets, explaining what we do and what to see on the journey and on Lundy.

Lundy Annette Dutton 08
Lundy cliffs (Annette Dutton)

I was at the rear of the Oldenburg when I suddenly spotted something dark in the ship's wake and realised it was 2 dolphins, I shouted and several passengers came over to see but they were gone. We passed several Guillemots bobbing about and the odd Razorbill but alas saw no more dolphins.

As we neared Lundy there were masses of feeding seabirds including Gannet, Kittiwake, in vain I searched the area for cetaceans but saw none. There were a couple of regular visitors to Lundy on board so I asked if they had spotted anything but they hadn't either.

We arrived at the Landing stage and I got off the Oldenburg  pretty sharpish as I wanted to walk up to Gannet's Bay to look for seals. I sat on a bench by the shop to eat lunch then headed up the main track to three quarter wall, passing a large flock of Starling, Highland cattle and Lundy ponies, as I approached Tibbets, a flock of Soay sheep ran past.

Lundy cow Annette Dutton 01
Highland calf (Annette Dutton)

I arrived at Gannet's Bay but it was high tide so I couldn't see any seals so I finished my lunch and started to make my way back along the track. There was an easterly wind which had started to pick up so the usually sheltered eastern side of the Island was chilly and by the time I reached the village it was quite windy.

I wandered down to the landing bay and spotted a Grey Seal in the waves, the wind was fairly strong by now and the Oldenburg was rolling about. As I was waiting to board I saw another Grey Seal high up on the rocks and another one swam over and settled below.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 05
Grey Seals in Landing Bay (Annette Dutton)

I said a silent goodbye to Lundy as we left, there were still lots of feeding seabirds and again passed several Guillemots and Razorbills plus the odd Gannet as we made our way towards the North Devon coast.

Arriving at Ilfracombe, I said my goodbyes to Paul, Vernon, Justin and the crew before leaving the Oldenburg for the last time in 2016. This was my third year volunteering for MARINElife and I would like to thank everyone who has made this possible, see you again in 2017.