MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 19 August 2017

Annette Dutton MARINElife/Lundy WLO

Weather: Sunny/cloudy, wind westerly 4, sea state moderate

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 15+
Common Dolphin 30+

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
House Martin

Other wildlife
Ocean Sunfish 3

As I walked down to Ilfracombe Harbour, I could see that the sea looked rough and although it was quite windy, it was warm and sunny. I boarded the Oldenburg and popped up to the bridge to sort myself out and had a chat to Jason the Captain and the two MARINElife surveyors, Maggie and Tony who were onboard to conduct the monthly survey.

I took up position on the upper deck and was joined by regular visitor to Lundy, Martin who was hoping to spot some of the more unusual species. As soon as we left the harbour, Martin alerted me to a raptor on the starboard side flying towards us and it turned out to be a juvenile Osprey, I also saw a couple of Gannets in the distance too.

Osprey Peter Howlett 01
Osprey (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

As we approached Morte Point I spotted something silvery to the starboard side next to a seabird. This turned out to be something Martin and I had been discussing earlier - an Ocean Sunfish being 'cleaned' by a Fulmar. Shortly afterwards another Sunfish, fin waving away, was seen off the port side followed by another.

I saw nothing after that until we neared Lundy when 2 Manx Shearwater, a Fulmar and a couple of Gannets put in an appearance. As we arrived at the landing stage there were the usual Shag and Grey Seals on Rat Island plus a couple of Grey Seals in the bay.

Dean, the Warden kindly transported me to the village where I sat by the shop and had my lunch. I then walked up the main track, accompanied by lots of House Martins before taking the path over to the eastern side of the island and down to the Quarry Pond and the Quarry Timekeepers hut where I made use of the bench for a while before continuing back up.

I rejoined the main track where there were flocks of House Sparrows and Wheatear flitting about and I saw a solitary Swallow amongst the House Martins as I headed back towards the village, stopping to admire a Lundy Pony on the way.

Back at the landing stage I met up with Maggie and Tony for a chat before boarding the Oldenburg. There were 2 Grey Seals bobbing about giving passengers in the queue a good photo opportunity.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 10
Grey Seal (Annette Dutton)

The return crossing was much smoother and apart from a few seabirds I didn't see much until we approached the Devon coast where a large group of Gannets were feeding and as we passed through them about 30 Common Dolphins suddenly surrounded us which caused a lot of excitement amongst the passengers.

I saw a few more Gannets along the coast by Bull Point but nothing else and we arrived back in Ilfracombe after a pleasant journey. Back on the bridge, I had another chat with Maggie and Tony then thanked Jason, Vernon and Julian before leaving the Oldenburg.