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

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Dutton

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

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Grey seal 1

Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Manx Shearwater
Curlew - at sea

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay sheep
Sika deer
Lundy pony
Highland cattle
House Martin

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.