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:
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)
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 (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/Lundy WLO Ruth Griffith
Weather: Sunny, sea state calm
Summary of Sightings:
Common Dolphin 17
Harbour Porpoise 6
Grey Seal 8
Greater Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
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)
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)
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/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton
Weather: Sunny with cloud increasing, wind SW, sea state calm
Summary of sightings:
Common Dolphin 12+
Grey Seal 3
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
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)
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)
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.