Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: April 2019

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 20 April 2019

Posted 22 April 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Judith Tatem

Weather: Sunny, warm and dry, wind very light SSE, sea state calm.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey seal 2

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

Other wildlife
Barrel Jellyfish

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay sheep
Lundy pony
Highland cattle
Swallow
House Martin
Skylark
Meadow Pipit
Goldfinch
Chaffinch
Wheatear
Starling
House Sparrow
Chiffchaff
Blackcap
Crow

This was my first trip to Lundy this year and I was really looking forward to my first season of volunteering as a Wildlife Officer and regularly visiting the island.

It was a beautifully warm and sunny morning and I joined a very happy group of people on Ilfracombe quay.  By 9.30am we were boarding and I went to introduce myself to the captain and crew on the bridge.  Donning my blue and white MARINElife hi-viz jacket I headed back out on to the deck as we were departing the harbourside watched by a group of Herring Gulls and a pair of Cormorant.

All of the tickets had been sold so the Oldenburg was at full capacity.  I walked around the decks talking about the wildlife that could be seen at sea and on Lundy.  Also explaining about MARINElife and their environmental role.

The early part of the journey was quiet on the wildlife front with just the occasional gull and Fulmar. However, as we approached Lundy small rafts of Guillemot floated past regularly past, there were also more distant views of Razorbills, Kittiwake, Manx Shearwater and various gulls.  About the same time, we found that the boat was sailing through a bloom of spectacular large Barrel Jellyfish.  A first for myself and many of the passengers.  After docking alongside we were able to get good views of a Barrel Jellyfish floating near the jetty.

Barrel Jellyfish Judith Tatem 01
Barrel Jellyfish by landing jetty on Lundy Judith Tatem

I decided to walk to Jenny's cove in search of the Puffins, so headed straight up the hill, stopping only to investigate a tree with a couple of Chiffchaff.  I took the path along the southwest coast and  Immediately the serenade of the Skylarks filled the air and I found a few clumps of Thrift bursting into flower. Along the cliff top on the boulders Wheatear were standing a and flashing their white rumps has they flew ahead.

Lundy Thrift Judith Tatem 01
Thrift on Lundy Judith Tatem

Lunchtime found me along with several others watching a small group of Puffins near a larger group of Guillemot on the cliffs below.  A few Kittiwake were also nesting on nearby rocks. Certainly, a picnic spot to remember.

I walked across the island and picked up the track into the Village and down towards the jetty.  Two seals could be seen bottling in the landing bay.

Just after departure there was a particularly good view of a Shag with it's crest held high.  The sea had a slight swell and slowly people were forced to get their jumpers out of their bags, however rarely can there have been such a warm trip on an Easter weekend.  I saw the same sea birds that I had seen on the way over.

We sailed along the North Devon coast until we arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour and I went up to the bridge to thank the crew for their kindness and hospitality.

MARINElife Survey Report: MS Oldenburg Ilfracombe-Lundy 13 April 2019

Posted 18 April 2019

Jenny Ball and Mallory Warrington, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Outward: wind SE 4, Return: wind SE 4

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 1

Seabirds
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 20
Gannet  Morus bassanus 8
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 3
Guillemot  Uria aalge 43
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 7
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 25
Manx Shearwater  Puffinus puffinus 28
Razorbill  Alca torda 38
Shag  Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5

This was to be MARINElife's first Ilfracombe-Lundy survey of the year, and Mallory and I met up with Annette, on Wildlife Officer duty, aboard the MS Oldenburg, also for the first time this year.  We were all welcomed by Captain Jason Mugford and his crew, and we were soon organised and starting our survey as the ship got onto course for Lundy, a few minutes after leaving the harbour.

common dolphin Peter Howlett 22
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The forecast had been for a fairly stiff breeze, so we were relieved to find that the south easterly force 4 was blowing with the tide, and our outward passage was quite smooth and comfortable.  The crew said that they hadn't seen any dolphins since they started sailing at the beginning of April, so Mallory did well to spot one on our return journey, off Bull Point.  Bird life on the way to Lundy was fairly sparse, with Fulmar, Guillemot and Razorbill being the most frequently recorded species.  Closer to the island we started to see a number Manx Shearwater, a few on the water but mostly cruising over the waves.

We spent a happy few hours on Lundy: Mallory was looking forward to some solitary birding and I was introducing a friend to my favourite island.  We climbed up the Old Light for an overall view, walked through a field of new lambs with their mothers, and up towards the Halfway Wall with Wheatears and Skylarks singing and displaying as we went.  We watched several Fulmar, flying in and out of cracks in the cliffs below us, some gulls sitting in the sun (just like us!) and could just about identify a couple of distant Puffin on the water.

Manx Shearwater Steve McAusland 01
Manx Shearwater (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

The conditions for our return survey were a little more challenging, to start with at least, before the sea state dropped and we could hold onto our binoculars rather than the furniture!  However, there were not many birds to be seen, a few Shag and Fulmar soon after our departure, a scattering of Guillemot, Razorbill and Manx Shearwater during the crossing, and some gulls as we approached Ilfracombe.

This was a quiet but enjoyable survey to start the season - we very much appreciate the Landmark Trust's support and the friendly welcome from the captain and crew of MS Oldenburg.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 13 April 2019

Posted 16 April 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

Weather: Sunny and dry, wind SE, sea state moderate

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey seal 1

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

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay sheep
Sika deer
Lundy pony
Highland cattle
Swallow
Skylark
Goldfinch
House Martin
Wheatear

This was my first trip for 2019 and I was really looking forward to another season of volunteering as a Wildlife Officer and going back to Lundy.

It was a bright morning and the reports of a strong easterly wind had me wondering about the sea conditions but it didn't look too bad as I arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour. I spotted several familiar faces in the queue and I also met Jenny who was accompanied by Mallory to do the monthly MARINElife survey.

I boarded the Oldenburg and went up to the bridge to say hello to Jason, the Captain, before donning my hi-viz jacket and going onto the upper deck to talk to the passengers. There were over 140 passengers onboard and I soon got chatting about the wildlife that could be seen on the journey and on the island and about MARINElife and the work they do.

The sea was quite choppy with a fair swell but we sailed along without too much movement and my first sighting was of a small group of Fulmar followed by a Curlew which I spotted as I was chatting to a passenger.

As we passed Morte Point and headed into the channel, I saw a Gannet and a pair of Razorbills then the numbers of seabirds picked up as we got nearer to Lundy with the group of Fulmar still with us and more sightings of Gannet, Kittiwake, Manx Shearwater and various gulls.

Oldenburg Annette Dutton 02
Oldenburg alongside at Lundy (Annette Dutton)

The easterly wind was blowing directly onto the east coast of Lundy and the Oldenburg started to roll about as we approached the landing stage but after making a couple of runs in order to land, the passengers were led off one by one as the swell subsided.

I said a quick hello to Lundy Warden Dean and his assistant Sian who were helping the passengers off the Oldenburg and walked up to the village and sat by the Barn to have some lunch before taking the main track towards Jenny's Cove.

I stopped a couple of times to take photos of the Lambs, Highland cattle and Lundy ponies and as I walked from the halfway wall across the island to Jenny's Cove, I saw some Sika deer running out of sight.

I was the only person at Jenny's Cove and I sat in my usual spot to finish my sandwiches whilst scanning the ledges for Puffins but I only saw 2 and they flew away before I had chance to take a photograph. There were several pairs of Kittiwakes on the rocky ledges and I heard the cry of a Peregrine but didn't see it.

I walked back along the lower track towards the village, it was beginning to cloud over and the wind was getting colder. There were lots of Wheatear along the way and more sheep with their lambs in the paddock behind the campsite. I continued walking down to the landing bay and met up with Mallory who was already in the queue and we boarded the Oldenburg for the return trip. The conditions didn't seem as bad as we left the island although the easterly wind was getting colder.

Grey Seal Annette Dutton 02
Grey Seal (Library photo: Annette Dutton)

I saw the same sea birds that I saw on the way over and didn't see anything of note except a huge male Grey seal who was battling with it's meal of a Skate.

We sailed along the North Devon coast until we arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour and I went up to the bridge to have a quick chat and to say goodbye to Jenny and Mallory before collecting my belonging and bidding farewell to Jason and the crew, thanking them for their kindness and hospitality.