Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: June 2017

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 24 June 2017

Posted 28 June 2017


MARINElife/Lundy WLO: Rick Morris

West: Cloudy, wind WSW 3-4, ea state 3-4 with 1m swell at times.
East: Cloudy with sunny spells, wind SW 3, sea state 2-3 with slight swell.

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals:
Harbour Porpoise 2
Grey Seal 2

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

Lundy terrestrial birds:
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow

Upon arriving at the long stay car park in Ilfracombe, I made my way to the shore office to let Jacqui and Kate know I was here before joining the passengers to board.

It was a cooler morning than the recent mini heatwave, with grey skies, drizzly rain and breezy. This, however, didn't dampen mine or the passengers spirits as we made our way on board, greeted as always by the friendly crew of the 'Oldenburg'. After a brief visit to the bridge to say hello to Jason, the Captain, I made my way around the very busy outer decks, informing folk onboard why I was here and what MARINElife do.

Kittiwake Rick Morris 01
Kittiwake (Rick Morris)

Leaving our mooring the rain ceased and we were soon heading along the North Devon coast and as we were passing Lee Bay, a solitary Harbour Porpoise was seen in the challenging sea state. Seabird numbers were again quite low with solitary encounters of Gannet, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Fulmar and Kittiwake. Manx Shearwater were also seen in small groups from just off shore of Bull Point and continued to show all the way to around a kilometer off Lundy. Shag were seen feeding in the Landing Bay and Oystercatcher could be heard and seen as they flew along the shoreline.

Puffin Rick Morris 05
Puffin with a Razorbill in Jenny's Cove (Rick Morris)

On landing, I made my way up to Jenny's Cove via the central path, joined by my son-in-law and granddaughter who together with other family members were visiting Lundy for the day. Here we stopped for a while to look at the Puffin and other seabirds on the breeding slopes before heading back.

Raven Rick Morris 04
Raven (Rick Morris)

Although I only walked the central path to and from Jenny's, I did manage to see a good variety of land birds with the most entertaining being this Raven playing in the updraught. The walk down to the Landing Bay from the village via Millcombe Valley gave sightings of Goldfinch, Chiffchaff and Blackbird.

Upon rejoining the 'Oldenburg', we left the jetty under the watchful eyes of a solitary female Grey Seal 'bottling' just off Rat Island and Lesser Black-back Gull circling overhead.

LBB Gull Rick Morris 01
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Rick Morris)

Sea conditions on the return were better, with occasional sunny spells. Sightings were of the same mix of seabirds with the addition of a Grey seal and Harbour Porpoise around half way back.

Back in Ilfracombe, I said my farewells to Jason and his crew and headed straight to the Lynbay fish and chip shop for an excellent portion of locally sourced fish and chips!

My thanks to Jason, Vernon and the crew of the 'Oldenburg' and to all on Lundy and the shore offices.

MARINElife Survey Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 17 June 2017

Posted 20 June 2017

Rick Morris and Peter Merry, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Out: clear, wind NW 1-2, sea state 1-2. Return: clear, wind NW 1-2, sea state 1-2

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 12
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 6
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 18
Gannet Morus bassanus 4
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 9
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 4
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 46
Razorbill Alca torda 13
Auk species 3

After a pleasant drive down to Ilfracombe, we arrived under blue skies and not a cloud in sight. Joining the queue to collect our tickets, we met up with Ruth who was today's MARINElife WLO.

Upon boarding the MS Oldenburg, we made our way straight to the bridge and were welcomed on board by Jason the captain. We left just after 10 am and headed out into a calm sea with a light northwesterly wind.

After around half an hour into the survey, we had our first Common Dolphin sighting, a small group of four animals with another five separate sightings consisting of Common Dolphin, Harbour Porpoise and Grey Seal before reaching Lundy.

Guillemot Rick Morris 04
Guillemot (Rick Morris)

Seabird sightings were low with auks being the most prominent species seen, especially as they stood out on the surface of the calm sea.

On arrival at the landing stage we stopped briefly for a catch up with Dean Lundy's Warden before making our way up top. We decided to walk along the central path as far as the Halfway Wall. Here we turned left and headed to Jenny's Cove where we stopped to have lunch and watch the charismatic Puffin coming and going from the breeding ledges.

We left Lundy at 4.30pm and settled in to start the return leg of the survey. Again, seabird numbers were low with most sightings being of single birds.

Common Dolphin Rick Morris 07
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Rick Morris)

We did not have to wait too long for the dolphins to make an appearance, with four adults and a juvenile visiting the bow, (Ruth informed us that more were at the stern, but we could not include these on the survey). The next half hour produced two Harbour Porpoise from two sightings.

We ended the survey nearing Ilfracombe and upon our arrival alongside the harbour wall we said our farewells to Jason and his crew.

Our thanks to Jason, the Oldenburg's crew, shore staff, and all on Lundy for all the help and support.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 17 June 2017

Posted 19 June 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Ruth Griffith

Weather: Sunny, sea state calm

Summary of Sightings:

Marine mammals
Common Dolphin 17
Harbour Porpoise 6
Grey Seal 8
Herring Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Manx Shearwater

I arrived at Ilfracombe harbour on a lovely sunny day and as I collected my ticket from the shore office, I met up with Rick and Peter who were conducting the monthly survey. We boarded the MS Oldenburg and greeted Jason the Captain before I headed out onto the decks to introduce myself as Wildlife Officer to a full boat of passengers.

We departed with fantastic conditions; excellent visibility and a sea state of 1. As we travelled along the coast we picked up Herring Gull, Fulmar, Guillemot and Razorbill. I was explaining to some interested passengers the different wildlife that can potentially be sighted on the crossing, when I noticed a number of passengers gathering on the starboard side and as I went over to investigate I saw 3-4 Common Dolphin surfacing in the wake of the boat. A number of people then approached me to ask me whether they were porpoise or dolphins and how to distinguish the difference between them.

Common Dolphin Ruth Griffith 04
Common Dolphin (Ruth Griffith)

Following this, I had brief sightings of two groups of two Harbour Porpoise off the port side, one after the other. As the journey continued I also picked up Lesser Black-backed Gull, Kittiwake, a number of single Manx Shearwater in flight, auks sat on the water and a couple of Gannet. As we neared Lundy, I spotted another Common Dolphin, this time one on its own. Shag and Oystercatcher were around the landing bay as we docked.

We arrived on Lundy and Rick introduced me to Dean the warden who updated us on the recent bird activity on the Island. When on the Island, I walked the lower path along the east coast of the Island. At various points along the coast I could see individual seals bottling or swimming by the shore, as well as Great Black-backed Gull and juvenile Kittiwake flying past. At Halfway Wall I could see five seals swimming around in the bay below. I crossed over the Island to the west coast to see the Puffins at Jenny's Cove before heading back down to the Landing Bay to dip my feet in the water to cool off before boarding the ship.

Manx Shearwater Ruth Griffith 02
Manx Shearwater (Ruth Griffith)

The return journey began with sightings of Razorbill and Guillemot and the Fulmar. We then came across a large number of Manx Shearwater near the boat and not long after this, Common Dolphin sightings began, with approximately 4 groups of 3-4 individuals sighted sporadically off both sides of the ship and in the wake. As we travelled back along the coast towards Ilfracombe, I sighted two single Harbour Porpoise. On both journeys I noticed a lot of jellyfish; Moon, Compass and Lion's Mane, of which a number of passengers commented on and asked about. As we came into the harbour a couple of the passengers came over to say that they thought MARINElife WLO was a great idea and thanked me for my wildlife guidance and help during the crossing.

On arrival at Ilfracombe we thanked Jason and the crew of the MS Oldenburg for their kindness and assistance.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 3 June 2017

Posted 09 June 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny with cloud increasing, wind SW, sea state calm

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 12+
Grey Seal 3

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

Wildlife on Lundy
Lundy Ponies
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
House Martin

It was sunny with a cloudy patches when I arrived at Ilfracombe harbour, I joined the queue and boarded the Oldenburg saying hello to Julian and the crew who were collecting tickets. I went up to the bridge to have a quick chat to Jason, the Captain, left my belongings and picked up a hi-viz jacket before taking up position on the upper deck before departing.

As we left the harbour, I spoke to passengers about the wildlife I expected to see on the crossing and what to see on Lundy, many of them were interested in MARINElife and the work we do.

Common Dolphin Annette Dutton 03
Common Dolphin (Annette Dutton)

My first sightings were of a Gannet and Razorbill as we passed Lee Bay then I spotted a Manx Shearwater as we approached Bull Point. I continued talking to the passengers and after about an hour I spotted 2 Common Dolphins on the port side then shortly afterwards another group of about 6-8 approached from the starboard side and were swimming alongside the boat and bow riding much to the joy of the passengers. I also noticed a large group of various seabirds feeding nearby.

Shortly after the sea got rather choppy and a heavy shower forced me to move down to the lower deck for about 10 minutes but I was soon back up on the top deck. By now we were approaching Lundy and I spotted several Shag on Mouse Island and a Grey Seal in the landing bay.

I collected my belongings and left the Oldenburg, Dean the Warden was there so I stopped to say hello and he kindly said I could have a lift up to the village in the Land Rover.

Arriving at the village I headed past the Church and over to Hanmers Cottage to sit on the nearby bench for lunch. The clouds had passed over and it was lovely and warm and sunny so I stayed a while, checking the sea below for cetaceans but I only saw a Grey Seal in Devil's kitchen and several Gannet feeding. However, I was rewarded with some lovely butterflies and the ever present sound of the Skylark.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 08
Grey Seal (Annette Dutton)

I wandered around the Castle to scan the sea again and walked along the path for a while before returning to the village to make my way down to the landing stage where a Grey Seal was entertaining the passengers.

As we left Lundy I saw the odd Gannet, Razorbill and a small group of Manx Shearwaters then very little until about half way over when Vernon alerted me to Common Dolphins approaching the Oldenburg on the port side. They were moving quickly and passed the bow of the Oldenburg before heading towards Lundy. I only saw 2 but when I spoke to the passengers there were maybe 3 or 4.

The rest of the journey was quiet as far as sightings were concerned and we cruised along the coast to arrive at Ilfracombe Harbour on time. I returned to the bridge to collect my belongings and thanked Jason and the crew for their help.