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

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Lundy pony
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.