MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 9 September 2017

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Steve McAusland

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Common Dolphin 1
Grey Seal 7

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

Estuary Birds:
Little Egret

Birds on Lundy:
Willow Warbler
Meadow Pipit
House Sparrow
Carrion Crow
Spotted Flycatcher

I arrived in Bideford at 07:30 and collected my ticket from the Landmark Trust office, then swiftly boarded the MS Oldenburg where I was welcomed aboard by Paul the ship's Captain. I quickly started my tour around the upper and lower decks while the Oldenburg made its way down the estuary towards the open sea. As I chatted to some of the passengers the rain started and waterproofs were soon being put on!

Grey Seal Steve McAusland 10
Grey Seal pup on Lundy (Steve McAusland)

Once we were out of the estuary the sea state made it impossible to walk around the decks. I had the pleasure of chatting to a group of people and the banter was really good. The one and only cetacean sighting happened as the ship had passed the one hour mark of the voyage, it is always good to see a Common Dolphin. Birds of note were very few due to the weather conditions. Manx Shearwater, Gannet along with Guillemot rafting as the ship passed them by. The usual common gulls were seen along with Kittiwake, Fulmar and my first Great Skua this year.

As the Oldenburg made its way slowly towards the landing bay there were four Grey Seals on the rocks of Rat Island. However, I did see another three during my time on the island from the higher levels, including a pup which was in the rocks. As the passengers disembarked, the sun came out and everyone proceeded to walk up to the higher levels. My route this visit was to walk along the east side of the island looking for birds and at the same time cast an eye out to sea for cetaceans. Unfortunately there were very few migrants visible just the odd Willow Warbler and Goldcrest.

Goldcrest Steve McAusland 01
Goldcrest (Steve McAusland)

The crossing back to Bideford was more or less the same conditions as the outward crossing as the Oldenburg passed over the sand bar before entering the estuary the ship surfed the waves much to the enjoyment of many of the passengers.

Before disembarking I thanked Paul the Captain and Vernon the ship's first mate for his and the crews' continued support for MARINElife. I look forward to my last trip this season in October.