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