Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: June 2018

MARINElife WLO Report: MS Oldenburg Bideford-Lundy 30 June 2018

Posted 03 July 2018

Steve McAusland MARINElife/Lundy WLO

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey Seal 3

Estuary birds
Peregrine
Redshank
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Curlew
Oystercatcher
Cormorant

Birds at sea:
Puffin
Manx Shearwater
Black Headed Gull
Herring Gull
Kittiwake
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Fulmar
Cormorant
Shag
Gannet

Lundy terrestrial birds:
House Sparrow
Meadow Pipit
Wheatear
Starling
Raven
Carrion Crow
Wood Pigeon
House Martin
Swallow
Linnet
Oystercatcher
Skylark
Whitethroat
Pied Wagtail

Arriving in Bideford at 07:30am I collected my ticket from the Landmark office and joined the passengers on the quay ready for boarding MS Oldenburg. The ship was full with 256 passengers and 8 crew, upon making my way up to the bridge; I readied myself for the sailing while chatting the Jason the Captain. As the ship sailed along the estuary I caught sight of a Peregrine leaving the A39 road bridge. I soon proceeded to start my tour around the upper and lower decks introducing myself to the passengers.

Puffin Steve McAusland 03
Puffin (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

Whilst Oldenburg made its way through a reasonably calm sea we soon caught sight of Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag, plus many gulls. Sadly, this trip did not produce any Cetaceans.

Upon disembarking the Oldenburg, I made my way up to catch up with Rick Morris (MARINElife Chairman of Trustees) and Maya Plass (MARINElife Patron) who were running another MARINElife Lundy Adventures break. After that I spent the rest of my time on the Island birding.

Wheatear Steve McAusland 02
Juvenile Wheatear (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

The crossing back to Bideford was very calm and warm as the sun continued to shine all day. Pretty much the same birds were seen along the way as on the journey out.

As we arrived back in Bideford, I thanked Jason and the crew for supporting MARINElife and I look forward to my next trip in August.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 23 June 2018

Posted 25 June 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Rick Morris
Weather: blue skies all day with very light winds, sea state: 1-2

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals:
Harbour Porpoise 5
Bottlenose Dolphin 5
Common Dolphin c30
Grey Seal 3

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

I arrived in Ilfracombe under blue skies and so I was full of hope of some cetacean sightings. After collecting my ticket and a quick catch up with Jacqui and Kate in the shore office I boarded the grand old lady, the 'MS Oldenburg'. A brief visit to the bridge to say hello to Jason (the Captain) and then I made way around the outer decks introducing myself and the charity to all those onboard.

Manx Shearwater Rick Morris 08
Manx Shearwaters (Rick Morris)

We left the now busy harbour and made our way along the stunning North Devon coast in flat calm conditions, if any cetaceans were about today, we would be sure to see them! From the moment of our departure we were seeing Herring Gull and Fulmar followed by Manx Shearwater and auks. I thought we might pick up one or two Harbour Porpoise as we headed along towards Morte Point, but this stretch was very quiet, probably due to a few leisure boats whizzing around!

We were just over an hour into the trip when a passenger said she thought she had seen a Harbour Porpoise, further observation confirmed this with not one but two animals around 300m away. Whilst continuing to look at these, I noticed some very strange 'waves' in the flat calm water some 200m to the right of the porpoise. These 'waves' turned out to be 5 Bottlenose Dolphin swimming with a purpose, but not showing much back, just surfacing enough to take a breath of air.

Bird sightings remained constant all the way to Lundy, with many Manx Shearwater, Guillemot, Razorbill and Puffin resting on the sea and Fulmar, Kittiwake, Gannet and gulls in the air.

Horse and Foal Rick Morris 2018
Lundy pony with new born foal (Rick Morris)

On the island I only had a short walk about as I needed to finalise our MARINElife/Lundy 6 day workshop with Dean (the Warden) which takes place from 28 June-3 July. However, I was delighted to see that one of the Ponies had given birth to a beautiful foal that wasn't yet a week old.

The return home was very much like the outbound trip with very calm seas and the same seabirds. We left the Landing Jetty under the watchful eyes of a couple of Grey Seal. Another Grey Seal was spotted shortly after leaving. As we neared the hallway point Common Dolphin were seen in the distance. They were a large group of around 30 animals spread over a large area with many feeding together with Manx Shearwater, but a few individuals thrilled the passengers by coming into the bow for a play.

Common Dolphin Rick Morris 11
Common Dolphin feeding (Rick Morris)

As we neared the North Devon Coast, Harbour Porpoise were seen with more Manx Shearwater present - I always make a point to inform passengers to keep an eye on the birds as the feed on the same prey fish!

Back into the harbour and safely tied off, I said goodbye to Jason and the crew. This was a truly fantastic trip today with great wildlife sightings for the passengers to see and enjoy.

A huge thanks to the crew of the 'Oldenburg' for their brilliant help and assistance. I would also like to thank Jacqui and Kate in the shore office and all those on Lundy who are always so helpful.

MARINElife Survey Report: MS Oldenburg Bideford-Lundy 16 June 2018

Posted 19 June 2018

Ruth Crundwell  Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather Outward - overcast, good visibility. Return - overcast becoming brighter nearer the mainland

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 2

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 50
Gannet  Morus bassanus 2
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Oystercatcher  Haematopus ostralegus 10
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 19
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 23
Puffin  Fratercula arctica 2
Black-backed Gull sp. Larus sp. 9

Boarding the Oldenburg I was greeted by Captain Jason and 2nd officer Mike and made comfortable on the bridge of this vintage vessel. Our smooth journey down the estuary was a good start to the day. On leaving the estuary mouth the swell picked up but visibility was good despite cloud cover. A relatively quiet crossing was made more exciting by the sighting of Common Dolphin who raced over to bow-ride as we headed toward Lundy.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 31
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

After disembarking at the Lundy quay I made my way up to the village and enjoyed some refreshments at the Marisco Tavern. Later I walked over to Jenny's Cove to take a look at the Puffin, Guillemot and Razorbills which nest there at this time of year.

Time went quickly on the return journey as I could hardly keep up with the many seabirds I observed. Entering the Taw-Torridge estuary we were greeted with a flyby from a flock of Oystercatcher which looked magnificent with the Braunton sand dunes behind them. A sighting of the resident Little Egret perched in the trees on the river bank made a nice end to the day.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 9 June 2018

Posted 15 June 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

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

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey seal 3
Common Dolphin 5-6

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay Sheep
Lundy pony
Skylark
Goldfinch
Swallow
House Martin
Wheatear
Meadow Pipit
Stonechat

I had spent a few days on Lundy the previous weekend returning on Tuesday and here I was walking down to Ilfracombe Harbour go back as WLO for the day. Again, the weather was sunny and dry and the sea conditions were ideal for cetacean spotting.

I boarded the Oldenburg, went up to the bridge to say hello to Jason, the Captain and to sort out my belongings before taking up position on the top deck.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 13
Grey Seal (Annette Dutton)

The Oldenburg began its gentle cruise towards Lundy and soon after leaving the harbour I spotted a small group of Manx Shearwaters on the starboard side heading in the same direction. As we headed into the channel I saw Herring Gull, Guillemot, Razorbill and a solitary Gannet as we neared the island. On arrival, we were greeted by 2 Grey Seals in the landing bay and after disembarking began the walk up to the village.

Lundy Annette Dutton 13
The Old Battery (Annette Dutton)

After visiting the shop, I walked through the campsite past the Old Light and over to the lower path and sat on the rocks overlooking the Battery for lunch. There were many seabirds below including the odd Gannet but no sign of cetaceans. I wandered over to the next rocky outcrop and searched again for dolphins and Harbour Porpoises but no joy so I took the path towards the battery to take photos of the sea cave opposite.

I walked back to the landing stage and saw Myra who I had met the previous weekend then we boarded the Oldenburg hoping for good sightings on the return trip. I saw a trickle of Manx Shearwater, Guillemots and Razorbills then the crew alerted me to a small group of Common Dolphins on the port side, I managed to see the tail end of the group as they swam to the rear of the Oldenburg on the starboard side. The passengers were thrilled and a nearby group showed me the photographs taken on their phones.

Common Dolphin Steve McAusland 03
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

We continued towards the North Devon coast but only saw a Gannet then a Razorbill before arriving at Ilfracombe harbour. I said goodbye to Jason and the crew and thanked them for another amazing trip.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 2 June 2018

Posted 10 June 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Lucy Grable

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise 5
Dolphin sp. 3
Grey Seal 55

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Fulmar
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin
Shag
Gannet
Black Guillemot
Oystercatcher

Other Marine Life:
Moon Jellyfish

As I arrived at Bideford, the quay was buzzing with the excitement with all the passengers waiting to board the MS Oldenberg. The boat was at full capacity and with the sun shining and a very calm sea state I was feeling rather hopeful we were going to catch some glimpses of cetaceans.

Once onboard, Annette Dutton, one of MARINElife's Wildlife Officers introduced herself to me. We follow each other on Twitter so it was lovely finally meeting! Annette was spending four days on Lundy Island and she couldn't have picked better weather for a stay.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 15b
Harbour Porpoise (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

It was a fairly quiet crossing with only small numbers of seabirds observed with the majority dominated by groups of Guillemot and Razorbill. A single Black Guillemot and a few Gannet were also seen. The port side of the boat were fortunate to spot Harbour Porpoise, but unfortunately I missed that encounter. I spoke to many of the passengers who were keen on seeing Puffins, amazingly as we approached Lundy we were treated to a close-up of a puffin flying past the boat. I also spotted two Grey Seal frolicking in the water and was able to point them out to those nearby.

Once we disembarked from the boat, I hit a bottleneck and saw that everyone had stopped to look at a Grey Seal around the Landing Bay. I spent my time on the island doing what I usually do, heading straight to Jenny's Cove to watch the Puffins. This time I was treated to closer encounters of around 20 Puffins. I passed my binoculars around to those who didn't have any and helped in locating the Puffins and distinguishing between Guillemots and Razorbill.

I then made my way to the north of the island where I stopped for lunch watching five Grey Seals. I walked around the whole island and counted a total of 52 Grey Seals along the eastern coast. The seals were particular noisy that day snorting, roaring and wailing with the echoes travelling long distances.

Razorbill and Guillemot Steve McAusland 01
Razorbills and Guillemots (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

I returned to the Landing Bay at 4pm to join many of the passengers in the round the Island boat trip on the MS Oldenberg. We were able to see a large number of auks rafting close-by which was great for pointing out the difference to the passengers. The commentary from Steve was very informative and I would highly recommend going on the boat trip if you have time. I also spotted some very distance dolphins towards the mainland with the help of a passenger, which I was hoping we would approach on our return journey.

Whilst waiting for the rest of the passengers to board the Oldenberg for return to Bideford, I spotted a large number of Moon Jellyfish within the Landing Bay. The return trip made for perfect cetacean spotting. We didn't come across the dolphins I observed from distance earlier in the day, but we were fortunate in having two encounters with Harbour Porpoise. However, both were pretty quick encounters, but many of the passengers were able to see the individuals.

As ever, huge thanks to the crew of the 'Oldenburg' for their help and assistance.