MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 8 April 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny and dry, wind SE, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise 1

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

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

The weather was forecast to be glorious and I wandered down to Ilfracombe harbour in the warm sunshine, when I arrived I saw that it was already busy as nearly 200 passenger had booked for the trip over to Lundy Island.

I boarded the Oldenburg and went up to the bridge to get my hi-viz jacket and say hello to Jason, the Captain, before I went back onto the deck to position myself so the passengers could see where I was.

We left on time and sailed along the North Devon coast passing Capstone, Tunnels Beaches, Lee Bay and Morte Point but all I saw was a solitary Fulmar.

Many of the passengers were staying on Lundy so I gave advice about the wildlife, walks on the island and where to go to see the Puffins. I was chatting to the Reverend Brenda Jacobs, Vicar of St Helens Church, who was going over for a meeting when I was alerted to a dolphin sighting but sadly I didn't see it. However, Vernon, the First Mate saw it and thought it was the Risso's Dolphin he had seen on a previous trip.

The sea was lovely and calm but void of cetaceans and seabirds as we glided towards Lundy.  As we got nearer I saw a several Shag, Razorbill, Guillemot and a couple of Barrel Jellyfish floating by.

We arrived at the Landing Bay and I was disappointed that there were no Shag along the top of Mouse Island and also no Grey Seals on the rocks or in the water.

I left the Oldenburg and walked up to the village then along the main track where I was followed by swirling and noisy Skylarks. I reached Halfway Wall and crossed over to Jenny's Cove and was surprised to see how few birds were on the ledges compared to my visit last week. There were no auks rafting on the sea below but after a short while I spotted a couple of Puffins bobbing about in the sea. I also saw my first Swallow and Wheatear as I sat in the lovely sunshine.

Wheatear Annette Dutton 02
Wheatear (Annette Dutton)

I walked back to the village along the lower path passing the Battery and then over to the Old Lighthouse before walking down to the Landing Stage for the return journey.

Back on the Oldenburg I sat on the starboard side in the sun and chatted to Grant Sherman from the Marisco Tavern who was traveling back to the mainland. We saw lots of Barrel Jellyfish as we cruised along and after 20 minutes into the journey I spotted a Harbour Porpoise but it was gone before I could alert the passengers.

As we neared the coast I started to see more seabirds such as Razorbill, Guillemot, Kittiwake, Fulmar and Manx Shearwater but a noticeable lack of Gannet around Bull Point.

We arrived back in Ilfracombe and I returned to the bridge to collect my belongings and to say goodbye to Jason and to thank him for an enjoyable trip.