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

Seabirds
Arctic Skua
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake
Razorbill
Guillemot
Shag
Cormorant
Gannet

Wil
dlife seen on Lundy
Oystercatcher
House Martin
Swallow

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