MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 07 October 2018

Annette Dutton, Wildlife Officer for MARINElife 
Weather: Sunny and Dry, Sea State slight, light breeze

Summary of sightings:
Marine Mammals
Grey seal 8
Harbour Porpoise 3

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Guillemot
Kittiwake
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Lundy pony
Soay sheep
Highland Cattle
Wheatear
Kestrel
House Martin

Saturday's sailing had been cancelled due to bad weather, so I went over on Sunday with the staying passengers who were eager to get there plus several day trippers. It was quiet on the harbour as there were only 98 passengers going over. I took up position on the top deck after saying hello to Paul, the Captain and collecting my Hi-Viz jacket.

The sea was calm as we left the harbour to proceed along the coast, as we passed Lee Bay I noticed a Gannet feeding with a Porpoise below then a passenger came over and said she had seen a Porpoise on the starboard side. Then as we approached Bull Point I could see several Gannet and spotted another Porpoise below but it was only a fleeting glimpse.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 14

Gannet (Adrian Shephard)

Moving into the channel I noticed a juvenile Guillemot and a juvenile Kittiwake but no other seabirds except the odd Gannet. As we arrived at the Island I could see several Grey Seal hauled out on the rocks of Mouse Island and a few Shag along the top. As we got closer, I could make out a couple of pups amongst the seals too. We moored up and I got a lift to the top in the Land Rover then after a visit to the shop, I started to walk up the main track. I was followed by a group of Goldfinch as I wandered along then I turned left at half way wall to go to Jenny's Cove.

It was very quiet and peaceful as I sat and ate my lunch thinking how different it was compared to the spring and summer months when the ledges are full of nesting seabirds and busy with people. I sat alone enjoying the peace then started to walk back along the coast track towards Battery Point.

Old Battery Annette Dutton

Old Battery (Annette Dutton)

As I wandered along, I saw a Kestrel land on the top of a rock so stopped to take some photos then as I passed the Old Battery I saw 2 Kestrel flying above, possibly juveniles.

Kestrel Annette Dutton

Kestrel (Annette Dutton)

Looking down to the Battery, I could see the newly restored cannon which I plan to visit on my next trip.

I walked back to the village and down to the landing bay where there was a dead seal pup floating on the tide line, I went to inform Sian the Assistant Warden who had arrived in the Land Rover but she was already aware. The pup was probably a casualty from the bad weather the previous day.

The sail back to Ilfracombe was very quiet and I saw nothing until we passed Morte Point when I saw a Gannet flying west then another Gannet as we passed Lee Bay but no Porpoise this time. We arrived at Ilfracombe, moored up and I said thank you and goodbye to Paul, our Captain, and the crew for their support.

Annette Dutton; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer