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

Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Manx Shearwater

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay Sheep
Sika Deer
Lundy Pony
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.