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

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

Terrestrial Birds
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.