Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: October 2017

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 14 October 2017

Posted 19 October 2017

Steve McAusland; MARINElife Wildlife Officer
Weather: Weather: Outward - partially overcast, good visibility: light south westerly breeze force 2 - 3

Summary of sightings:
Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise 1
Common Dolphin 2
Grey Seal 8

Arctic Skua
Great Skua (Bonxie)
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull

Terrestrial Birds
Pied Wagtail
Meadow Pipit

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Great Northern Diver
Spotted Flycatcher
Meadow Pipit
Wood Pigeon
Carrion Crow

This was my last trip of 2017 as MARINElife Wildlife Officer and I was very much looking forward to being out on the sea aboard MS Oldenburg for the last time this season. I was welcomed on-board by Captain Jason and got ready to enjoy the crossing with the hope of cetaceans and sea birds. Leaving Ilfracombe harbour, I spotted a Harbour Porpoise under the Landmark Theatre.

The crossing produced Gannet, Guillemot, Kittiwake and as we approached the Island many Shag were sighted as usual, plus a very special sighting of an Arctic Skua and Great Northern Diver!As we came towards the Lundy jetty, 3 Grey Seal were providing great amusement to the passengers as they appeared to being playing to their crowd!

GN Diver Steve McAusland

Great Northern Diver (Steve McAusland)

I disembarked and chatted to Dean Jones the Lundy Warden and pointed out the Great Northern Diver which was about 500 metres away. I proceeded to walk up to the wooded area around Milcombe house where I stayed for the time I was on the Island. At this time of year, you never know what might drop in and today was no different as a single Hawfinch was seen along with Water Rail heard in the walled garden area.

Grey Seals Steve McAusland

Grey Seals (Steve McAusland)

It was also good to meet Tim Jones the bird recorder for Lundy who also had a very successful visit.As I walked back to the jetty for the return sailing I chatted to a couple from my home town who were in Devon on holiday. On the return journey, a Great Skua was spotted along with the Arctic Skua seen earlier.

The last trip did produce 2 Common Dolphin which went down really well with the passengers.

Common Dolphin Steve McAusland 03

Common Dolphin (Steve McAusland)

Before leaving the ship, I thanked Jason the Captain and his crew for their hospitality this year and for supporting MARINElife.

Steve McAusland; MARINElife Wildlife Officer

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 7 October 2017

Posted 12 October 2017

Annette Dutton; MARINElife/Lundy WLO
Weather: Cloudy with Rain, Wind South Westerly, Sea State Moderate to Rough

Summary of sightings:
Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 18 +

Arctic Skua
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull

dlife seen on Lundy
House Martin

The weather forecast wasn't good and it was raining when I arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour to make the crossing with the other 89 passengers booked on the trip - the rain meant that many of them were huddled in the waiting room.

It didn't take long for everyone to board and settle on the lower decks, I collected my hi-viz jacket and after a quick chat with Jason the Captain I went and stood by the steps on the middle deck. I also had a quick chat to fellow MARINElife volunteer James McCarthy who was on board for the monthly survey.

We left the confines of the Harbour and were soon in fairly roughs seas, but the Oldenburg soldered through but needless to say I saw nothing during this part of the crossing. As we passed the half way mark I saw a couple of Guillemot and a Lesser Black-back Gull followed us for a short while.

Arriving at Lundy, I saw several Grey Seal hauled out on the rocks along the coast and a then couple more on Rat Island.

The rain had stopped by the time we unloaded and I walked up to the Village turning to follow the road and then onto the track past Hanmers Cottage to sit on the nearby bench for lunch.

As I was watching a Border Force vessel going to each of the Yachts harboured in the bay and noticed a seal swimming along and then some Swallow and House Martin flew around me for a while.

Patrol Boat_Annette Dutton

Patrol Boat (Annette Dutton)

I walked over to the Castle and could see several seals on the rocks by Rat Island and a couple more hauling out as the tide receded.

I walked back to the village and sat on the bench by the shop for a while chatting to people before moving on and back down to the beach for a spot of rock-pooling.

The conditions were much improved for the return trip and shortly after leaving I saw 2 Arctic Skua flying past on the Starboard side and I went up to the Bridge to check with James who had also seen them. The rest of the journey was quiet until I spotted a few Guillemot, a lone Razorbill and a Gannet as we reached the Devon coast.

Arctic Skua Peter Howlett 15

Arctic Skua (Peter Howlett)

I went to the Bow of the Oldenburg and was chatting to James when we saw a Grey Seal bobbing about as we passed Lee Bay. It was a bit lumpy as we turned into Ilfracombe Harbour and after the crew had moored up, I went to the Bridge to say goodbye and thanks to Jason and the crew before leaving the Oldenburg.

Annette Dutton; MARINElife Wildlife Officer

MARINElife Survey Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 7 October 2017

Posted 08 October 2017

James McCarthy; Research Surveyor for MARINElife

Summary of sightings:
Guillemot Uria aalge 17
Gannet Morus bassanus 2
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 1
Razorbill Alca torda      4
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 2

Terrestrial Birds:
Swallow Hirundo rustica 4
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 3

The Oldenburg left a rainy Ilfracombe at 10am sharp and turned the corner into some windy conditions with a surface chop. 2 hours and just a single Gannet, Kittiwake and Storm Petrel seen as we crept into the lee of Lundy.

Storm Petrel Peter Howlett 04

Storm Petrel (Peter Howlett)

The conditions certainly impacted sightings with Captain Jason and the crew worked hard and waves touching the bridge windows - many of the passengers took shelter below decks.

The homeward trip was a record run with waves, wind and tide pushing the boat over 16 knots!  Continued surface chop made cetacean searching hard and we failed to even see a porpoise.

Birds were also tricky to spot with 2 Arctic Skua being the highlight and the dearth of life made us wonder if there was just a simple lack of fish in the area or the migration was taking place elsewhere.

Razorbill John Little 01

Razorbill (John Little)

Thanks as always to the captain and crew and the Landmark Trust and looking forward to returning again next year.

James McCarthy; Research Surveyor for MARINElife