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