Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: July 2018

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 28 July 2018

Posted 03 August 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Terry Bridgwood

Weather: Cloudy on the way out and sunny on the way back, wind speed 5-6, sea state 6.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Grey Seal

Seabirds
Storm Petrel
Fulmar
Manx Shearwater
Gannet
Shag
Oystercatcher
Lesser Black-backed Gull

This was my first trip as the WLO to Lundy Island. My wife and a couple of friends were joining me for the day. We arrived in Ilfracombe on Friday night and found somewhere to camp for the night.

Next morning we went for breakfast at the highly recommended Adele's café. The young staff were covering for the owners who were away for a wedding. The service was prompt and the food excellent, piping hot. The staff were lovely. After breakfast we picked up our tickets from the ticket office and waited to board. Boarding started and I waited until we were underway before I introduced myself to the Captain. Donning my WLO tabard I positioned myself on the upper deck.

Lundy coastguard rescue
Coastguard helicopter approaching the Oldenburg (Terry Bridgwood)

The wind had picked up a bit and it made the crossing a bit lively. The Oldenburg ploughed on through the sea riding the waves, the bow lifting and then dropping. Just over halfway into the crossing one of the passengers fell ill, their condition such that the Coastguard was called. As we neared Lundy Island the Captain slowed the vessel and changed course so that  the Coastguard helicopter could land the winchman on board to ready the patient for airlifting off. Once ready the helicopter returned and the patient whisked off to hospital. The Coastguard and crew of the Oldenburg handled the situation with professionalism and efficiency. It is comforting to realise that the Coastguard are there when you need them.

We continued on to Lundy and disembarked. There were a group of about 8 Grey Seals resting on the rocks at Mouse and Rat islands. We walked up the hill to grab a cuppa and snack in the Marisco Tavern.

My group took a walk to Jenny's Cove as our friends had never seen a Puffin before. We stopped to say hello to the pigs and give them a scratch and it was lovely to see the foal that had been born only days before our previous week-long visit.

Lundy Terry Bridgewood 01-18
Squall approaching Lundy (Terry Bridgwood)

When we reached Jenny's Cove we had to lie down to look through our binoculars as we were nearly blown off our feet. After about 15 minutes I suggested that we headed back as I could see the rain heading towards us. Too late, we were drenched by the time we arrived back at the tavern.

By the time we had boarded the Oldenburg the weather had calmed down a bit, the wind dropped and the sun came out. It didn't take long for our wet clothes to dry. As we left dock the seals were still there bottling and bobbing up and down in the water and the Oystercatchers were calling on the shore. On the journey back we were able to see, Gannet, Fulmar, Shag, guillemot and a variety of gulls, Shag and Guillemot. It was a treat to see Manx Shearwaters gliding just above the waves, rising up and down between the troughs.

Lundy Terry Bridgewood 02-18
Oldenburg alongside at Lundy (Terry Bridgwood)

The return journey was much calmer and everyone seemed to enjoy the sun. The Island's Head Ranger (Dean) travelled back with us for a well-earned holiday. If you live on Lundy where would you go? Dean travelled back on the bridge and was lucky to see a Storm Petrel. Once back in Ilfracombe we all had to disembark swiftly as the crew had to take the Oldenburg to Bideford.

We stayed the night in Ilfracombe and headed home on the Sunday - after another excellent breakfast at Adele's café. They only shut one day a year and are open from 07:30am.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 21 July 2018

Posted 27 July 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny and Dry with a light breeze, Sea State slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey seal 7
Common Dolphin 8+
Harbour Porpoise 3

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Lundy pony
Soay sheep
Swallow
House Martin
Meadow Pipit

It was another glorious day for my WLO trip to Lundy and on arrival at Ilfracombe Harbour, I collected my ticket and joined the long queue to board the Oldenburg. I went up to the bridge to collect my hi-viz jacket and after a quick chat to Jason the Captain, I returned to the upper deck.

The Oldenburg was full and as we sailed out of the harbour towards Lundy, I began chatting to the passengers while keeping an eye out for anything interesting. My first sighting was a Gannet bobbing about and as we sailed along the coast I saw a Kittiwake, Manx Shearwater and several auks before going into the Channel.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 58
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

I was positioned on the starboard side when about halfway through the journey, a passenger alerted me to a Porpoise in the distance and I also spotted 2 Common Dolphins heading towards the coast then I heard a commotion on the port side so went over to investigate and a small group of Common Dolphins had approached us but they soon disappeared.

Further on I saw a Guillemot with its young then a raft of mixed auks amongst which I could make out a couple of Puffins then as we got closer to Lundy I could see a group of seabirds in the distance but they were pretty inactive and there were no cetaceans around.

Lundy west coast 2018 Annette Dutton
The west coast from the Battery (Annette Dutton)

We arrived and as I followed everyone along the landing stage I could see a Grey Seal in the Devil's Kitchen. I got a lift from Dean in the Land Rover to save my knee and as he loaded up supplies for the shop from the Oldenburg so I was surrounded by milk and ice creams.

After eating my lunch by the shop, I walked up the main track and crossed over to the west side passing the Old Light and taking the lower path to sit on the rocks above the Old Battery. This is a good spot for checking the open sea for cetaceans and just when I thought I wasn't going to see anything, I saw a couple of Gannets in the distance with 2 Porpoises feeding below.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 14
Grey Seal (Annette Dutton)

I returned to the village and back to the landing bay to wait in the queue to board the Oldenburg. As we left the Island I saw 5 Grey Seals below the Shags on Mouse Island but after that there were very few sightings apart from the odd Guillemot, Razorbill and gull species and we soon arrived in Ilfracombe where I collected my belongings, said goodbye to Jason and the crew and thanked them for their hospitality.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 7 July 2018

Posted 10 July 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny and dry with a light breeze, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey seal 3
Common Dolphin 7/8
Bottlenose Dolphin 1
Harbour Porpoise 2

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Lundy pony
Skylark
Swallow
House Martin
Meadow Pipit

Once again the weather was glorious for my trip to Lundy and I wandered down to Ilfracombe harbour to join the long queue to board the MS Oldenburg. There were over 250 passengers onboard and after saying hello to Jason the Captain, I wondered where I was going to position myself in order to be able to look out for marine wildlife as the top deck was pretty busy.

Luckily, I managed to get my usual spot and as we left the harbour I was soon approached by passengers, many of whom were interested in how I had become involved with MARINElife and about the work of the orgnisation.

My first sighting was of a Gannet to the starboard side then a single Manx Shearwater and  as we approached Morte Point, a group of 4 Manx Shearwaters flew by. Still looking to the starboard side I caught a brief glimpse of a cetacean which looked like a Common Dolphin then another glimpse of 2 cetaceans over on the port side as we got into the channel.

Common dolphin Peter Howlett 44
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Moving towards Lundy, a Mediterranean Gull flew past heading north then we passed a large group of rafting Manx Shearwaters and other gull species, as we neared Lundy there were more seabirds further out to sea with several Gannets flying above them.

We arrived at the Landing Bay and after saying hello to Dean the Warden and his Assistant Sian, I walked up to the village, taking the left turn along the road then up the grassy path to Hanmers and my favourite bench. I ate my lunch and enjoyed the view, there were lots of butterflies, moths and, notably, lots of Six-spot Burnet moths. It  was incredibly hot and I went over to Castle Keep where I could see 3 Grey Seals in the Devil's Kitchen below then walked to the village stopping off in the Church to cool down and look at the new displays about the Island.

6Spot Burnet Annette Dutton 01
6-spot Burnet on thistle (Annette Dutton)

After taking a few photos of the Lundy foal, I made my way back to the Landing Bay and back on board the Oldenburg to start the return journey. We passed the same groups of seabirds, including Razorbills and Guillemots and the sea was rich with various jellyfish - Moon, Compass and Blue.

As we moved further away from Lundy I spotted a cetacean in the distance on the starboard side which I identified as a Harbour Porpoise then a passenger told me he had seen 2 Harbour Porpoise on the port side. Soon afterwards I saw another cetacean in the distance which was recogniseable as a Bottlenose Dolphin then as we neared the mainland we were approached by a small group of Common Dolphins who stayed with the boat briefly before we outran them. One of the passengers had photographs of the cetaceans we had seen which confirmed my identification of them.

There were still lots of jellyfish in the sea as we cruised nearer to Ilfracombe but no more seabirds or cetaceans. After we arrived in the harbour I collected my belongings, said goodbye to Jason and the crew and thanked them for their hospitality.