MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy Saturday 18 May 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Annette Duttton

Weather:  Sunny and dry, light breeze, sea state slight

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin 5
Common Dolphin 4

Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Manx Shearwater

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

I arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour and noticed 2 large coaches parked by the quayside so I presumed there was a large group going over to the island. I met Lundy Field Society secretary Michael Williams who told me that the Cloud Appreciation group were over for a few days and they had booked the entire Island, we were then joined by former Lundy Warden Beccy MacDonald who was going over with her family for a few days.

I boarded the Oldenburg, collected my Hi-Viz jacket and said hello to Jason the Captain then went back on deck where I was approached by passengers including members of the Cloud group for information about the wildlife we would see on the journey and on Lundy.

The weather was ideal, it was warm and sunny with calm seas and my first sighting was of a Gannet as we sailed out of the harbour. We journeyed towards the channel and I saw the odd Guillemot, Razorbill and other seabirds as I toured the upper and lower decks. Then with Lundy in sight, one of the passengers alerted me to something in the distance - dolphins! I struggled to focus on them as there were a lot of people on the deck but  managed to see a group of animals which looked too big to be Common Dolphins and looked more like Bottlenose Dolphins.

Cuckoo Annette Dutton 01
Cuckoo (Annette Dutton)

We continued towards Lundy and I went towards the bridge to look for seals on the rocks, I spotted a couple of auks in the water but they suddenly dived before I could identify them. I then saw that MARINElife surveyors Maggie and Mary were onboard for the monthly survey and they told me that they were Puffins.

As we approached the landing stage, Mary alerted me to some Common Dolphins in the bay but they  swam away after briefly swimming around the Oldenburg - much to the joy of the passengers.

I left the Oldenburg and walked towards the village and took the track past Bramble Villas and stopped for lunch on the steps by the shop. I walked to the Old Light and had a quick look inside, then, as I came out I heard a Cuckoo nearby and managed to spot it on the wall by the graveyard so I took several photos before moving on.

I continued my walk to the sound of Skylarks with Swallows, Martins, Wheatear and pipits flying around me and I passed carpets of Bluebells and Sea Thrift on the rocks. Arriving at Jenny's cove I saw that many of the passengers were already there and took up position to look for Puffins. I heard one of the nearby passengers pointing out a Peregrine and saw it flying towards us then down and back over to rest on one of the stacks. There were many Guillemots with the Puffins and the usual nesting seabirds.

It was time to walk back to the village and I took the main track passing the Soay sheep, Lundy ponies and Highland cattle then continued through the village and down into Millcombe where I saw the Lundy Cabbage on the way.

Lundy cabbage Annette Dutton 03
Lundy Cabbage (Annette Dutton)

I boarded the Oldenburg and had a quick sit down before touring the decks, a group of about 12 - 15 Manx Shearwater passed by and I saw a Gannet and 2 Puffins with regular sightings of Guillemot and Razorbill as we sailed along. I also spotted a Barrel Jellyfish but not the numbers previously seen.

The Oldenburg arrived at Ilfracombe Harbour on the high tide and I went up to the bridge to chat to Maggie and Mary before saying goodbye and thanks to Jason and the crew.