MARINElife Survey Report: Lundy Ferry ‘Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy survey 18 May 2019

Maggie Gamble and Mary wood, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Westbound: Cloudy, wind slight, sea state 1-2, with long low swell
Eastbound: Some cloud, wind slight, sea state 2-3

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 6

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 17
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 60
Guillemot Uria aalge 189
Razorbill Alca torda 21
Puffin  Fratercula arctica 4
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Auk sp. 19

Terrestrial birds at sea:
Swallow  Hirundo rustica 5

It was yet another lovely spring day as we drove to Ilfracombe for a 10am departure on the Oldenburg.  As we left and made our way along the headland, we looked hopefully for Harbour Porpoise who frequent this area, the conditions were perfect for spotting this small often shy cetacean but frustratingly we failed to spot any! Perhaps they were feeding elsewhere.

Oldenburg Lundy Maggie Gamble 01
Oldenburg at Lundy (Maggie Gamble)

The Oldenburg made excellent time to the Island in some very pleasant sailing conditions. Birds were fairly sparse but there were quite a few Guillemots and as we neared the island there was a small group of Puffin and an occasional Manx Shearwater who were still somehow managing to get enough lift from the sea surface. The few Fulmar seen were having to work harder than they prefer as a good force seven is perfect conditions for these great travellers.  Since Lundy Island was cleared of its rat population the Puffins and Manx shearwater are nesting in increasing numbers. Many Lundy visitors make Jenny's Cove on the west side of the island their favourite destination to watch the Puffin colony there.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 31
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Halfway to the island we could see some rafting auks and a small group of Common Dolphin who appeared to be feeding in that area. Later as we were just approaching the landing stage on Lundy and I was about to halt the survey the bridge crew alerted us to three common Dolphin who appeared from the landing stage area and raced towards the bow of the ship. Unfortunately for both species - dolphin and human - they didn't have enough time or space to indulge in a spot of bow riding.

More birds were evident on the way back Including Razorbill which we had failed to spot on the way over to Lundy. We again made excellent time back to Ilfracombe and our thanks go to the Captain and crew of the Oldenburg for allowing us on board to continue this survey.