MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 2 September 2017

MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer WLO Rick Morris

Weather:
West: Cloudy, wind S-SW 2-3, sea state 3
East: Cloudy with sunny spells, wind WSW 3, sea state 3

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals:
none seen at sea

Seabirds:
Great Skua
Gannet
Shag
Guillemot
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Manx Shearwater
Fulmar

Terrestrial birds seen at sea:
Swallow

Lundy terrestrial birds:
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Starling
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow
Swallow
Robin
Blackbird
Sotted Flycatcher
Linnet

Arriving at the long stay car park opposite the harbour, I could see the MS Oldenburg berthed on the outer wall as it was now low tide. It was a rather cloudy morning with a couple of large black clouds threatening to spill their contents on us, fortunately, they did not.

After a brief visit to the shore office to collect my ticket from Kate and a quick hello to Jacqui, I made my way to join the passengers waiting to board.

We departed Ilfracombe on schedule with a full boat and after a tour around the decks to enlighten everyone why I was there I began my search for wildlife, now with lots of eager eyes to assist.

I have to say, this trip was probably the quietest one I have ever done, with a fair sea state of 3, light winds and good visibility, no cetaceans were seen throughout. I expected seabird numbers to be low, but on the way out, all I saw was a few Gannet, 3 Fulmar and a sighting of a solitary smart looking Guillemot in winter plumage followed by 6 Swallow heading south, presumably having just left Lundy.

Grey Seal Rick Morris 12
Grey Seal (Rick Morris)

Arriving at Lundy, 6 Grey seal were on the rocks on Mouse Island and some of the island's Shag were busily fishing in the Landing Bay. Looking past Mouse Island, in the tidal race, Gannet were circling with some diving in to feed, my hope was that there may be cetacean activity as well, but no fins were seen.

I had arranged prior to this trip to meet up with Dean, Lundy's Warden, and after a casual walk up to the village, we met up in the Marisco's garden for a welcome mug of tea whilst discussing plans for the 2018 Lundy Adventures.

Looking at the time, I decided that as the southwesterly wind was picking up a little, I would spend an hour at the 'Ugly' overlooking the waters of the east side. Here I observed Herring and Great Black-back Gull and Gannet over the sea with a dozen or so Carrion Crow patrolling the cliffs, Swallow, Meadow and Rock Pipit and a Spotted Flycatcher were also seen.

Great Skua Rick Morris 01a
Great Skua (Library photo: Rick Morris)

Back at the Landing Jetty, a couple of curious Grey seal were keeping an eye on us, with 6 more seen in the Devil's Kitchen. The return back to Ilfracombe was again very quiet with just a couple of Gannet, a few Fulmar and a solitary Manx Shearwater. We did see one bird of note, a Great Skua around half an hour out.

Back at Ilfracombe, I collected my bag from the bridge and said farewell to Jason and Vernon, as this was my last trip of the season.

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