MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford - Lundy Saturday 29 April 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Steve McAusland

Weather: Warm and sunny to start becoming overcast, warm, sea state 2

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals
Grey seal 2

Birds at sea
Manx Shearwater
Shag
Fulmar
Guillemot
Razorbill
Gannet
Kittiwake
Puffin
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull

Birds on Lundy
Teal
Willow Warbler
Pied Wagtail
Oystercatcher
Linnet
Wheatear
Whitethroat
Buzzard
Peregrine
Kestrel
Raven
Meadow Pipit
Skylark
Robin
Blackbird
Dunnock
Blackcap
Chiffchaff
Goldfinch
House Sparrow
Mallard

Arriving early in Bideford for my first Lundy trip of 2017 as Wildlife Officer I was made very welcome at the shore office and was soon on the quay waiting to board MS Oldenburg along with a great many passengers. Here I also met Simon Dell a well-known professional tour guide who I have met on many occasions, he was going to the Island and we chatted for some time whilst waiting our turn to board. Once on board Jason the Captain also greeted me and I made ready for speaking to passengers that showed an interest in wildlife and discussed MARINElife and what the charity does.

As the ship left the quay, we passed Crow Point on the starboard side and then a few minutes later Northam Burrows to the port side. Once clear of the sand bank, Oldenburg's engine was opened up and we were soon making good speed. Almost half way towards Lundy the engines were cut to an almost stop for quite some time as a mayday message was received from a yacht that had lost engine power. Communication with the Ilfracombe lifeboat made sure that is was soon on its way to assist and we then continued towards Lundy.

Puffin Steve McAusland 02
Puffin in Jenny's Cove (Steve McAusland)

Sadly no cetaceans were seen this trip, however the birds at sea were Gannet, Fulmar, Guillemot, Razorbill and the spectacular Manx Shearwaters that have returned to breed on Lundy following their journey all the way from Patagonia!

As we reached Landing Bay on Lundy the passengers disembarked. Before I made my way up to look for migrant birds, I introduced myself to Dean the new Warden and his assistant. After scanning the wooded areas for possible rare migrants, I made my way see the Lundy Puffins for the first time this year.

At Jenny's Cove, I counted 53 Puffins and caught up again with Simon Dell who had led his party to see the famous sea parrots. Sadly, a carcase of a Porpoise could be seen floating on the sea below - surrounded by gulls 'the circle of life continued'.

Leaving the Island, the journey back gave sightings of the same birds with a few Swallows along the way.

Bristol Channel waves Steve McAusland 01
Surf over the sandbank (Steve McAusland)

As the ship passed through the sand bank on route to Bideford we were treated to some awesome waves crashing through.

When alongside, I thanked Jason, Vernon, and crew for another superb trip and their continued support for MARINElife. I look forward to my next trip to Lundy, which is in July when this time I will be staying on the Island for four days along with some of the other regular MARINElife Wildlife Officers.