MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 20 October 2018

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton
Weather: Sunny and Dry, Sea State slight, light breeze

Summary of sightings:
Marine Mammals
Grey seal 6
Harbour Porpoise 3
Common Dolphin 4/5

Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Lundy pony
Meadow Pipit
House Martin

This was my last trip to Lundy as WLO for 2018 and the weather was glorious, so I was looking forward to a lovely sunny day on the island. As it was half term, there were several families waiting to board in addition to the usual selection of passengers. As I was waiting I spotted something in the water, it was 2 Harbour Porpoise which looked like a mother and calf feeding just outside the harbour and I hoped it was a good sign of things to come.

Once onboard, I popped up to the bridge and had a quick chat to Jason, the Captain then went back onto the upper deck to talk to the passengers. There was a bit of a swell as we left the harbour and as we passed Capstone I spotted a single Porpoise but only briefly.

There were few seabirds about then as we got closer to Lundy I noticed a splash further out to sea on the starboard side and saw a small group of 4/5 Common Dolphin and although they were quite away off, some of the passengers could make them out. I began to see a few more seabirds, mainly Gull species before we turned to approach the Landing Bay.

There were a couple of Grey Seal on the rocks plus one swimming around which delighted the children on board.

Hamners Cottage Annette Dutton

Hamners Cottage (Annette Dutton)

I left the Oldenburg and walked up to the village, taking the road to walk over towards Hanmers Cottage but I could see someone had beaten me to my favourite bench, so I carried on to the village to pick up some water from the shop and by the time I walked back, the bench was free.

I sat for some time enjoying the warm sunshine and the view, I could hear the Seals on the rocks below and I noticed a pair jostling in the water, there was another one swimming along. I could see several Gannet and other seabirds in the tidal race, but I couldn't see any cetaceans below them.

South Light & Oldenburg Annette Dutton

South Light and Oldenburg (Annette Dutton)

I wandered over to the Castle to see if I could see anything but the seabirds had gone so I sat for a while leaning against the Castle wall then made my way down to the landing bay where the passengers in the queue were watching a large male seal swimming nearby.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 16

Grey Seal (Annette Dutton)

The return journey was disappointing as there were few seabirds and I saw no cetaceans and we arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour on the high tide. I returned to the bridge to say goodbye to Jason and to the crew as I left the ship.

It had been a lovely day and a fitting end to the 2018 season of volunteering as a Lundy Wildlife Officer and I look forward to doing it all over again in 2019.

Annette Dutton; MARINElife Lundy Wildlife Officer