MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 1 April 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny with showers, Wind NW, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 2

Seabirds
Red-throated Diver
Manx Shearwater
Gannet
Shag
Cormorant
Herring Gull
Oystercatcher
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake
Sandwich Tern
Guillemot
Puffin

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay Sheep
Sika Deer
Lundy Pony
Highland Cattle
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Skylark
House Martin

This was the first WLO trip of 2017 and I was looking forward to going back to Lundy Island, this time with my husband for company. The sun was shining as we walked from the car park to the Oldenburg and Julian greeted us as we boarded then I made my way over to the bridge to have a quick chat with Jason, the Captain before returning to the deck.We departed from Bideford Quay on time and as we cruised along the Estuary, I started my tour of the decks introducing myself to the passengers and talking about the work of MARINElife and what wildlife we were likely to see on the journey and on the Island.

I didn't notice anything as we made our way towards the channel but spotted a Cormorant as we passed Westward Ho! There were few seabirds about until we got about halfway across when I saw diver, identified as a Red-throated Diver by one of the passengers who is a regular visitor to Lundy and who then spotted a Sandwich Tern on a piece of wood.

The weather stayed reasonably fine although we did get a couple of showers which produced a lovely rainbow and provided some of the passengers with a photo opportunity.

As we got nearer Lundy I saw a lone Manx Shearwater then started to pick up the odd Gannet, Guillemot, Fulmar and several Oystercatchers. As we arrived at the landing stage it was nice to see the usual line up of Shag along the top of Mouse Island.

We left the Oldenburg and walked up towards the village, turning to follow the road and onto the path leading up past Hanmers holiday cottage to my favourite bench and viewpoint. The sound of Skylarks filled the air and House Martins flew by and I saw a seal in the bay below while we ate our lunch in the sunshine.

First stop after lunch was a stop at the Castle to scan the sea to see if any cetaceans were about but sadly saw none so we carried on walking back to the village and along the main track where we saw the Sika Deer in a field next to the Highland Cattle then we passed the Lundy Ponies before crossing over to Jenny's Cove.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 06
Grey Seal (Annette Dutton)

It was nice to sit at Jenny's Cove in the sun especially as it was not too windy. There were already quite a few Guillemots on the ledges along with a some Kittiwakes and Herring Gulls. There were groups of auk rafting on the sea below and amongst them I could just about make out a Puffin or two.

We started to walk back towards the Old Light, stopping to look in the Lamp Room then across to the Marisco Tavern for a drink and a chat to regular birders who told me that they had seen over 30 Puffin in Jenny's Cove earlier on in the day. Walking down towards the Landing Bay I saw a seal swimming about and a group of Oystercatchers flying past.

The return journey started off with sightings of small groups of Manx Shearwater, Guillemot and Razorbill which continued until we reached the estuary then, as we neared the North Devon coast, we were treated to a lovely sunset.

Bristol Channel sunset Annette Dutton 01
Photo: Annette Dutton

We arrived back in Bideford and I returned to the bridge to collect my belongings and to say goodbye to Jason, Vernon and Julian and to thank them for an enjoyable trip.