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

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Lucy Grable

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 1

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

Terrestrial Birds
Peregrine Falcon
House Sparrow
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit

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.