MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 18 August 2018

Wildlife Officer: Steve McAusland

Weather: Strong westerly winds, sea state 4-5, light rain showers.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Common Dolphin 7
Harbour Porpoise 2 (Brief glimpse)
Grey Seal 24

Seabirds:
Manx Shearwater
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Kittiwake
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Fulmar
Shag
Gannet

Terrestrial birds:
Meadow Pipit
Wheatear
Starling
Raven
House Sparrow
Wood Pigeon
Swallow
Robin
Blackbird
Dunnock
Oystercatcher
Wren
Cormorant
Carrion Crow
Goldfinch
Jackdaw
Pied Wagtail
Willow Warbler
Firecrest

I arrived in Ilfracombe at 9:00am for my last Lundy trip of 2018 where the weather was windy and there was a good chance of rain during the crossing. The crossing was rather bumpy with the expected rain making an appearance after we were underway.

As the MS Oldenburg started out of the harbour the ships motion made it difficult to chat to as many passengers as I would normally. The ones I did speak to were very interested in the work of MARINElife and took a leaflet with a view to logging on to the website and to hopefully support the charity in the future.

Firecrest Peter Howlett 01
Firecrest (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The count of birds at sea was very low as was the number of species which was a first for this usually plentiful crossing. Birds of note were Manx Shearwater and Gannet along with the usual common gulls, plus Kittiwake and Fulmar. What was very surprising was no Guillemots and Razorbills were seen all day.

As the Oldenburg made its way slowly towards the landing bay there were a few Grey Seals on the rocks and a few Shag on the water. A wet afternoon ensued and the highlight was a Firecrest in the woodland next to the walled garden.

As we left to return to Ilfracombe the weather changed to give a more pleasant sailing back. Here we enjoyed 7 Common Dolphins and 2 Harbour Porpoises.

Common Dolphin Steve McAusland 01a
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

Before disembarking I thanked the Captain for his and his crews' continued support for MARINElife.