Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: April 2018

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 28 April 2018

Posted 04 May 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny and dry, wind NNE, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise 5
Grey seal 2

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Guillemot
Razorbill
Common Tern
Oystercatcher
Shag
Kittiwake
Gannet
Cormorant
Fulmar
Manx Shearwater

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay Sheep
Sika Deer
Lundy Pony
Skylark
Swallow
Swift
House Martin

It was pretty cold and dull as I walked down to Ilfracombe harbour but there was no sign of rain so I was hoping for a good crossing to Lundy. I boarded the Oldenburg and went up to the bridge to get my hi-viz jacket and to say hello to Jason, the Captain before returning to the top deck to talk to the passengers.

The sea state was calm and we began our cruise to Lundy in a leisurely fashion. I didn't see anything of note until a Gannet as we passed Lee Bay and as we travelled further out towards the channel, the clouds parted and we were bathed in sunshine. I saw a Fulmar and a Swallow pass by then the first Manx Shearwater, the seabird numbers picked up and a Common Tern flew by as we neared Lundy. We approached the island in glorious sunshine and I noticed a Grey Seal swimming about by the rocks and the line of Shags on Mouse Island as we reached the landing stage and disembarked.

Soay Sheep Annette Dutton 2018-01
Soay Sheep (Annette Dutton)

I walked up to the village passing Oystercatchers on the rocks below, it was getting warmer and I removed layers as I went along. In the village I got supplies from the shop and ate some of my lunch on the nearby bench enjoying the chatter of the Swallows and House Martins before plodding up the main track towards the halfway wall.

The track was difficult to negotiate due to deep ruts full of water and boggy ground but it should dry out as the weather warms up. I was surprised to see a Swift fly past in front of me then I saw a group Sika deer by the old hospital buildings, several Lundy ponies and Soay sheep and their young by the half way wall.

I arrived at Jenny's Cove and sat down to finish my lunch and look for the Puffins, I saw the Guillemots on the rocky ledges then I spotted two Puffins above them by a burrow and another one higher up. I knew there were more around and presumed the rest were out at sea. I spotted several more Puffins amongst the other auks in the water below and heard the cry  of a Peregrine Falcon but didn't see it.

Lundy Annette Dutton 10
Lundy west coast at Jenny's Cove (Annette Dutton)

I walked back to the village and down to the Oldenburg, the sea was now very calm and I was hoping to see cetaceans on the way back. As we left Lundy we passed a Grey Seal diving down, several Barrel Jellyfish and then further out we passed a large group of seabirds feeding with 2 Harbour Porpoise amongst them. They were easy to spot and the passengers crowded round to see them. Then shortly afterwards I saw another 2 Harbour Porpoise then a single one slightly further on. A large group of Manx Shearwater flew past and I also saw Guillemot, Razorbill and Gannet.

I didn't see anything else as we cruised along the coast towards Ilfracombe and on arrival, I returned to the bridge to collect my belongings and to say thank you and goodbye to Jason, Mike and Julian.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 21 April 2018

Posted 25 April 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Steve McAusland

Weather: Sunny, sea state 2, northwesterly breeze.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 3

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater
Fulmar
Gannet
Shag
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake
Guillemot
Razorbill

Terrestrial birds
Merlin
Sparrowhawk
Common Tern
Stonechat
Tree Pipit
Meadow Pipit
Wheatear
Starling
Raven
Carrion Crow
Jackdaw
House Sparrow
Wood Pigeon
Feral Pigeon
Swallow
Linnet
Blackbird
Dunnock
House Martin
Swallow
Skylark
Goldfinch
Mallard
Pied Wagtail
Chiffchaff
Willow Warbler
Whimbrel
Oystercatcher

This was my first Wildlife Officer Trip to Lundy Island for 2018, it began in Ilfracombe, the sun was shining and there was already a large number of passengers waiting on the quayside all eager to board MS Oldenburg for their visit to Lundy.

As I boarded the ship I made my way up on to the bridge to meet Jason the ship's Captain. After a brief chat and before the ship left its berth, I began to start my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to as many passengers I could.

Herring Gull Steve McAusland 01
Herring Gull (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

Leaving Ilfracombe, we soon had many views of Herring gull, Fulmar and as the ship steamed towards Lundy the species of birds increased with Gannet, Razorbill, Guillemot and the amazing Manx Shearwaters!

As the Oldenburg approached the Lundy landing bay my first Whimbrel of the year was seen with two Oystercatchers on the rocks. As I left the ship I had a brief chat with Dean Jones the Lundy Warden to ask about what has been seen recently, he told me that a Minke Whale was seen the day before, this completely changed my plans of going to see the Puffins in Jenny's Cove to scanning the sea on both the eastern side and then the western side of the island. Sadly, no sighting to report of this majestic whale.

Grey Seal Steve McAusland 06a
Grey Seal (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

As I made my way back for the return voyage, notable birds seen included Merlin, Sparrowhawk, Stonechat, Tree Pipit, Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Wheatear.

The crossing back from Lundy provided further sightings of the same sea birds, sadly we did not record any cetaceans on either crossing so I hope my next trip proves more fruitful.

Before disembarkation I thanked Jason the Captain and Derek Green (Lundy's Manager, who was onboard) and the crew for another successful day on behalf of MARINElife and I look forward to my next WLO trip.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 14 April 2018

Posted 19 April 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Lucy Grable

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 1

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater
Fulmar
Gannet
Shag
Oystercatcher
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake
Guillemot
Razorbill

Terrestrial Birds
Swallow
Blackcap
Peregrine Falcon
House Sparrow
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Raven
Linnet

Driving down to Ilfracombe harbour, the fog was quite thick and I was getting a little worried the lovely weather that was forecast was not going to be. However, upon joining the queue to board the Oldenburg, the sun began shining and we were all set for a clear and visible crossing. I briefly met up with Chris and Kevin, this month's MARINElife researchers, before we were welcomed onboard by Captain Paul and the crew. This was my first trip of the year to Lundy so I didn't waste any time heading to the outer decks to begin talking to the passengers.

Puffin Peter Howlett 14
Puffin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Small numbers of Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, Great Black-backed Gull, Kittiwake and Herring Gull were observed on our way to Lundy. Despite excellent visibility, no marine mammals were seen. Many of the passengers were thrilled to hear the Puffins had returned to Lundy and wanted to head over to Jenny's Cove once we arrived on the island. Once we pulled into the Landing Bay, a single Grey Seal was spotted hauled out on the rocks. The seal was a little bit too distant for most to see (and was pretty hidden amongst the rocks) and so my binoculars were passed around to those nearby.

I headed straight to Jenny's Cove and was very pleased to see approximately 50 Puffin both onshore and offshore. I observed them for around two hours before heading along the eastern coast of the island to see if any more seals could be seen. I settled near to Castle Keep and sat in the nice, warm sunshine and kept an eye open for any seals, but only saw butterflies fly by. I also saw a female Peregrine fly over.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 04
Gannet (Library photo: Adrian Shephard)

On the return journey, we were treated to a couple of Gannets putting on wonderful diving displays. Paul the Captain reported seeing a Barrel Jellyfish, however, I missed the sighting. The sea state crept up a little bit on our way back to Ilfracombe, however I still had many helping eyes to spot the marine life. More seabirds were observed on our return journey, particularly large numbers of Guillemot and Razorbill, with many coming close to the boat which was great for pointing out the key identification features of the birds. A lot of the passengers had never been to Lundy before and I was pleased to find out that it won't be the last time either with many already planning their next trip back.

Many thanks as always to Paul, the entire crew of the Oldenberg and everyone on Lundy.

MARINElife Survey Report: Lundy Ferry ‘Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 14 April 2018

Posted 18 April 2018

Kevin Waterfall and Chris Roberts, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Outward: sunny, good visibility with glare at times, wind southerly force 2-3. Return: sunny, but more cloud cover, good visibility with glare at times, wind south-easterly force 3.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey seal  Halichoerus grypus 1

Seabirds
Great Northern Diver  Gavia immer 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 48
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 6
Gannet Morus bassanus 5
Shag  Phalacrocorax aristotelis 12
Common Gull Larus canus 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 63
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 16
Commic Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 34
Razorbill Alca torda 11
Auk sp. 2
Gull sp. 25

The drive down to Ilfracombe was shrouded in thick fog, wondering what this may mean for our survey, we were very thankful when this cleared as we neared our destination. We arrived in Ilfracombe in glorious sunshine.

After boarding the Oldenburg, we were welcomed by the Captain (Paul) and his crew, who showed us where to find the necessary information to complete our survey. We departed Ilfracombe promptly at 10am and now blessed with sunshine and calm seas, we were hopeful of spotting some interesting wildlife.

Kittiwake Peter Howlett 18
Kittiwake (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Initially on the outward leg of our survey we saw very little. However, as we got closer to the island we were treated to increasing views of Guillemot, Razorbills, Kittiwake and Fulmars and a Great Northern Diver, then a Grey Seal on rocks outside the harbour.

Time ashore was delightful with Lundy Island resonating to a mass of birdsong.  Marine surveyor Kevin walked up to Jenny's cove and saw a total 52 Puffins. There were reports of over 100 birds already on the island from previous days' records.

Manx Shearwater Mike Bailey 01a
Manx Shearwater (Library photo: Mike Bailey)

Although sailing home into the wind and slightly choppier seas, the return trip was much more productive and we recorded a much greater number of sightings. These included Manx Shearwaters, Kittiwakes and Razorbills in some numbers. The Captain also reported seeing a Barrel jellyfish.

Once again our thanks go to the staff and crew of the Oldenburg who made this a very enjoyable crossing.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 07 April 2018

Posted 08 April 2018

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: 'MS Oldenburg'

Ilfracombe-Lundy 07 April 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Hazel Munt

Weather: Sunny and dry, light winds, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 2

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater
Fulmar
Gannet
Shag
Oystercatcher
Herring Gull
Puffin
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake
Guillemot
Razorbill

Terrestrial Birds
Swallow
Wheatear
Peregrine Falcon
House Sparrow
Wood pigeon

I had been staying in Newquay and drove up that morning, the fog wasn't clearing well on the higher land but as I drove into Ilfracombe the fog had cleared. I joined the queue to board the MS Oldenburg and the crew were working hard to get the Easter holiday visitors and their belongings on board. I managed to get hold of Julian and he took me to see the captain, Paul, where we had a quick catch up and then I got myself into position.

Leaving the harbour there was a large number of Herring Gulls and saw a few Guillemot, Swallow, Razorbill, Great Black-backed Gull and Kittiwake. The sea was relatively calm and we were able to see exceptionally far but despite this advantage no cetaceans were seen. Many of the passengers were asking about the Puffins and if they had returned to Lundy and I was able to tell them some were starting to arrive. I chatted away to several passengers giving them tips to tell the difference between the three auk species found at Lundy.

Grey Seal Peter Howlett 04
Grey Seal (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

On arrival I said my hellos to Dean, the warden, and his team and then decided to see how far I could get in the short amount of time I had on the island. Being MARINElife's marathon runner I wanted to get to the other side of the island. I set off but as we were all climbing the hill I spotted a Grey Seal pop his head up right below us and I chatted about seals and their special adaptations and habitats to anyone who would listen. Then I set off again, but not without a quick pit stop in the tavern to get some tea.

The weather was lovely with just a little sea fog rolling over the island and as I walked I saw Wheatears, Swallows, House Sparrows and the Lundy Soay Sheep.  I nearly got to the other end of the island within an hour but had to return quite promptly as I wanted a peek in Jenny's Cove to see if any Puffins were about.  When I got there I searched and searched and finally a single Puffin hanging onto the end of a raft of Guillemots finally became visible.

Puffin Peter Howlett 13
Puffin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

We set off quite promptly, saying my goodbyes to Dean and the team, and we were treated to another Grey Seal sighting. On the return journey I ended up with a gaggle of children and teaching them how to ID seabirds, by the end of the journey they were correctly identifying Guillemots and Razorbills before me. We also saw Gannets, Herring gulls, Kittiwakes and Manx Shearwaters.  It was actually very quiet on the return until getting back to Ilfracombe and finding a hoard of Herring Gulls,  sadly there were no cetaceans to report.

Many thanks as always to Paul, the entire crew of the Oldenburg and everyone on Lundy.