Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: May 2018

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 12 May 2018

Posted 17 May 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

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

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 3

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay Sheep
Lundy Goat
Lundy pony
House Martin

I walked down to Ilfracombe Harbour in the sunshine and as I went to join the queue I saw someone in a MARINElife tee shirt sat on the steps, this turned out to be Nicola who was there with Alan to do the monthly survey. We had a chat and boarded the Oldenburg, went up to the bridge to say hello to Jason, the Captain and then I left to take up position on the top deck.

Although the sea was calm there was a fair swell and the Oldenburg rose up and down as we cruised along. My first sighting was a Razorbill followed by 2 Fulmar flying past, as we passed Morte Point and moved into the channel I spotted Gannet and Guillemot. There was nothing else until we neared Lundy when I saw Manx Shearwater, Shag, Oystercatcher and a Grey Seal by the rocks near the landing stage.

Lundy Annette Dutton 11
Lundy coast at Hanmer (Annette Dutton)

Arriving at the village I walked along the track past St Helena's church which was looking like a new pin after the renovation works then along the grassy path leading to the bench by Hanmers holiday cottage where I had lunch. There were lots of Swallows and Martins flying about and I saw another Grey Seal below in the bay past Millcombe and a Kestrel flew by.

I walked over to the Castle and along the path towards Shutter Point passing some Lundy Goats, it was lovely to see the pink of the Sea Thrift in patches along the way. I sat on the rocks at the end and enjoyed the dramatic views down to Shutter Rocks accompanied by  more Swallows and Martins flying about but I saw nothing in the sea below.

I walked back to the village and down Millcombe Valley where I spotted a patch of Lundy Cabbage on the hillside and as I wandered down further I saw a Barrel Jellyfish below the path to the Landing bay. Passengers waiting in the queue were treated to a Grey Seal swimming close to the pier.

Lundy Cabbage Annette Dutton 02
Lundy Cabbage (Annette Dutton)

I met up with Nicola and Alan back on the bridge then I went back out onto the deck, the conditions were ideal for spotting cetaceans but sadly I saw none. The return journey saw the same seabirds as the outward journey and we were soon back in Ilfracombe harbour.

I returned to the bridge to collect my belongings, thanked Jason and the team and left the Oldenburg with Nicola and Alan.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 5 May 2018

Posted 12 May 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Maggie Gamble

Summary of sightings:

None seen

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

I had an enjoyable drive to Ilfracombe in glorious sunshine and the Devonshire banks were studded with Primroses.

The Oldenburg was fairly full including many passengers booked to stay on the Island, some for a few days and others for up to two weeks. Lundy has beguiled many and there are regulars who return every year for a visit. As we left Ilfracombe harbour under the farsighted gaze of Verity, the sunshine persisted and with such a calm sea, I was very optimistic about the chance of some cetacean sightings. The early part of the trip out from Ilfracombe is usually good for Harbour Porpoise and I was sure we would see some but on this occasion they remained elusive. The lack of wind seemed to encourage most birds to swim with just an occasional Gannet and a few Manx Shearwater flying low over the water. A distant floating object caught my attention which at first confused the eye. On closer inspection it resolved into part of a small pallet with a small crew of Guillemots all stood to attention as we cruised past each other.

Wheatear Peter Howlett 02
Wheatear (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

On approaching Lundy it became apparent that the fog which was forecast along part of the coast was settled over the Island. A single Grey Seal was sighted swimming off the port side as we approached the landing stage. A few of the resident Shag were also seen as they commuted to and from their fishing areas.

With the swirling fog concentrated along the west side and patches of sunshine elsewhere, Lundy was all atmosphere and charm. I made my way past the old light where the air was full of recently arrived Swallows with just a few Sand Martins amongst them.  The fog did not deter the resident Skylarks who filled the air with their song and on the ground, my first Wheatear of the year - a very smart  male!  I headed on down to the old battery which was built for conditions such as this! but it's been some years since these old cannons were fired to warn off passing ships in fog. The battery was deserted with just an occasional passing auk or Fulmar but the drifts of Thrift were just coming into full colour.

Lundy Maggie Gamble 2018-01
The Old Battery - Lundy (Maggie Gamble)

At four pm after the usual mug of tea at the Marisco Tavern, it was back to the jetty to board the Oldenburg for the trip back to Ilfracombe.  On this return trip the fog really closed in as we made our way steadily back to the harbour and hampered any efforts to look for wildlife.

As ever, many thanks to the captain the crew of the 'Oldenburg' for having MARINElife on board.