Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: July 2019

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 27 July 2019

Posted 30 July 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Amanda Jones

Weather: Sunny, warm and dry, moderate NW, sea state moderate with some swell

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise
Common Dolphin
Grey seal

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Manx Shearwater
Guillemot
Cormorant
Kittiwake
Oystercatcher
Gannet

Other wildlife:
Barrel Jellyfish
Meadow Brown

Wildlife seen on Lundy:
Lundy pony
Swallow
Skylark
Starling
House Sparrow
Crow
Raven

Ilfracombe was buzzing with activity as I arrived in the warm sunshine. Herring Gulls joined in with the excitement with their young in the harbour. Boarding at low tide I introduced myself to the captain and crew and soon we were on our way to Lundy.

Some Harbour Porpoise were seen as we left the harbour then about halfway some Common Dolphin delighted the passengers as they breached from port to starboard in front of the bow. I made my way around the deck chatting to the passengers and describing my role and MARINElife's work. Some flotsam was seen and the genuine care shown by the people about conservation and plastic pollution was very apparent.

House Sparrow Amanda Jones 01
House Sparrow (Amanda Jones)

The mixture of younger and older people on board sharing an interest in conservation was inspiring. A Kittiwake was seen as we neared Lundy and Grey Seals were bottling as we entered the harbour.

Then a most surprising thing happened as I travelled up in the Landrover thanks to the warden and staff. I found myself amongst bell-ringers, here, then at lunch and on the way back to Ilfracombe. The church bells rang out on the island, new ropes were transported and being a handbell ringer myself we agreed that today quite a percentage of visitors were of the bell ringing kind.

On Lundy the House Sparrows were very active with their young. Skylark, Crows, Starlings, a few Herring Gull and some vocal Geese were visible. Herring Gulls have bad press but on Lundy the Warden explained that gulls have been very low in numbers after the Beast from the East last year and they are in decline. Outside the church the Swallows swooped low and close to me over the fields and into the church porch. Two Oystercatchers stood on the far rocks as we waited to board MS Oldenburg and several Grey Seals were bottling with one older pup sunbathing on the beach.

Grey Seal Amanda Jones 01
Grey Seal (Amanda Jones)

The return trip to Ilfracombe saw more seabirds, Manx Shearwater in greater numbers and a few Guillemot with the young and their fathers rafting in groups. One Barrel Jellyfish floated past and a few Gannets were spotted. Then back in the harbour amongst the Herring Gulls a lone Cormorant was diving for food.

I thanked the crew for their kindness and hospitality and look forward to seeing them again soon.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 20 July 2019

Posted 22 July 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Judith Tatem

Weather
Outward: mainly overcast at first, becoming sunny, wind NW 5/6, sea state moderate
Return: sunny, warm and dry, wind NW 2/3, sea state slight.

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals
Grey seal 2

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Gannet
Guillemot
Razorbill
Shag
Kittiwake
Manx Shearwater
Oystercatcher

River/Estuary
Mediterranean Gull
Black-headed Gull
Little Egret
Woodpigeon
Carrion Crow
Mallard
Stock Dove
Buzzard
Curlew
Shelduck
Redshank

Wildlife seen on Lundy
Soay sheep
Lundy pony
Highland cattle
Peregrine Falcon
Swallow
Skylark
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Goldfinch
Chaffinch
Wheatear
Starling
House Sparrow
Blackbird
Stonechat
Carrion Crow
Raven
Linnet
Oystercatcher
Woodpigeon
Meadow Brown
Red Admiral
Painted Lady

This was my second trip to Lundy from Bideford this year.  It was rather an overcast morning, however, hints of sun were beginning to show as I joined a happy group of people on the quayside.  By 8.30 we were boarding and I went to introduce myself to Captain Jason and crew on the bridge.  Donning my blue and white MARINElife hi-viz jacket I headed back out on to the deck.  Soon we were slipping under the Torridge bridge and passing the Copse I saw Little Egret sitting in the trees.  Near Appledore Herring, Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls were seen.

Manx Shearwater Rob Petley Jones 01a
Manx Shearwater (Library photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

I walked around the decks talking about the wildlife that could be seen at sea and on Lundy and also explained about MARINElife and their environmental role.  We crossed the Bar which was rather choppy and headed into the wind and out to Lundy.  Small groups of Guillemot and the odd Gannet started to appear.  Manx Shearwater, first in small groups, then after half way in groups of forty plus floated on the water or flew past.

Arriving on Lundy I headed part of the way up the hill and took the quiet path along east side, thereby enjoying the sunshine but missing the wind which was still blowing strongly.  Nearing V.C. Quarry a female Peregrine Falcon flew quickly past me.  Shortly afterwards I discovered the remains of a Manx Shearwater which had presumably been a very recent snack. I was interested to find one of the webbed feet which gave an idea of just how small the birds are.

Lundy Judith Tatem 03
Gannets' Bay, Lundy (Judith Tatem)

At various points along the track which took me along to Gannets' Bay, I could see groups of Grey Seals on the rocks or swimming around below.  A count of over sixty was reached before I left the east coast path.  I then headed to the village for a coffee, before returning to the landing jetty.

The boat departed at 5.30, watched from the bay by two Grey Seals.  The return journey was much calmer and bird sightings were once again dominated by Manx Shearwater.

Approaching Bideford there were several groups of Curlew on the marshes.  Once the Oldenburg was moored up at the quay, I went up to the bridge to thank Captain and crew for their kindness and hospitality.

MARINElife Survey Report: 'MS Oldenburg' Ilfracombe-Lundy 13 July 2019

Posted 21 July 2019

Rick Morris and Amanda Jones, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Westbound: Cloudy, wind moderate, sea state 3-4, with slight swell
Eastbound: Cloudy, wind moderate, sea state 3, with slight swell

Summary of sightings

Marine mammals:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 3
Unidentified Dolphin sp. 1

Seabirds:
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 5
Gannet  Morus bassanus 8
Guillemot Uria aalge 60
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 3
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 177
Razorbill Alca torda 11
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2

It was a mild, cloudy day with over 240 visitors boarding MS Oldenburg. As we waited to depart Ilfracombe harbour a Cormorant delighted us, fishing in the calm water, surfacing with a flat fish which soon disappeared as breakfast.

Cormorant Rick Morris 01
Cormorant (Rick Morris)

The crossing was soon underway and it was surprisingly quiet with sightings. One lone dolphin sp. leapt from the sea just once and was too quick to get an identification. Bird sightings were few and consisted mainly of auks with the odd Fulmar and Manx Shearwater.

Once on the island we walked to Jenny's Cove and saw many nesting and feeding Puffins flying back and forth. Amongst the Puffins were Razorbill, Guillemot and some Fulmar sat tightly on their nests. It was a beautiful day on Lundy and upon return to the harbour a young Grey Seal (about 9 months old) was enjoying a rest in a rather problematic position, right by the slipway. Most of the passengers were able to take close-up photos whilst we kept them and the seal safe from close proximity. He indulged in a bit of yawning, scratching and biting of his flippers in-between snoozing then an adult seal (possibly his mum) bobbed up on the opposite side of the harbour. Once we had all boarded MS Oldenburg for our return journey he was gone.

Grey Seal Rick Morris 13
9 month old Grey Seal (Rick Morris)

There were more bird sightings on the return trip with many Guillemots rafting, the fathers looking after their chicks. About halfway across three Common Dolphin were sighted, leaping to the starboard side and travelling in our easterly direction.

A group of over 80 Manx Shearwater were rafting and as we came nearer to Ilfracombe sightings quietened down once more.

Our thanks go to the Captain and crew of the Oldenburg for allowing us on board to continue this survey.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 6 July 2019

Posted 08 July 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Judith Tatem

Weather:  Sunny, warm and dry, wind light NNW, sea state slight.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin 2
Dolphin sp. 2
Grey seal 1

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

Wildlife on the river/estuary:
Mediterranean Gull
Black-headed Gull
Grey Heron
Little Egret
Common Sandpiper
Woodpigeon
Carrion Crow
Pied wagtail
Mallard
Stock Dove
Buzzard
Curlew
Shelduck
Redshank

Wildlife on Lundy:
Greay Seal
Soay sheep
Lundy pony
Highland cattle
Sika Deer
Swallow
Skylark
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Kestrel
Goldfinch
Chaffinch
Wheatear
Starling
House Sparrow
Blackbird
Stonechat
Carrion Crow
Raven
Linnet
Willow Warbler
Pied Wagtail
Whitethroat
Oystercatcher
Woodpigeon
Meadow Brown
Red Admiral
Small Heath
Painted Lady
Common Blue
Silver Y

This was my first trip to Lundy from Bideford this year. It was a warm and sunny morning and I joined a very happy group of people on the quayside. By 8.00am we were boarding and I went to introduce myself to Captain Jason and the crew on the bridge. Donning my blue and white MARINElife hi-viz jacket I headed back out on to the deck. We were soon slipping under the Torridge bridge and passing the Copse there were Little Egret and Grey Heron sitting in the trees. Near Appledore Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls were seen.

I walked around the decks talking about the wildlife that could be seen at sea and on Lundy. Also explaining about the scientific work environmental role of MARINElife.

With the ebbing tide we were soon out of the estuary and passing the Fairway buoy. Small groups of Guillemot and the odd Gannet started to appear. About halfway across two Common Dolphins were seen in the distance. Nearing Lundy the number of Manx Shearwater, Guillemot and Razorbills increased and we were treated to our first sight of the Puffins. A lone Grey Seal watched us go by.

Lundy Judith Tatem 01
Looking south over Lundy from the Castle (Judith Tatem(

Arriving on Lundy I headed up the hill and took the path along the south west coast, stopping to look out over The Race from the Castle.

Further along young Wheatears flew along the path, and the scent the thyme bushes filled the air.

Lunching on the cliff top above Shutter Point there were a group of fourteen Grey Seals on the rocks below. Occasionally the sound of them singing floated up to the top of the cliffs. I then walked to Jenny's Cove and watched the Puffins on the cliffs below. All around the island rather faded Painted Lady butterflies fluttered around. Stopping by the Flagpole Lookout on the way back to the jetty we saw two seals to the north.

Lundy Judith Tatem 02
Thyme and Centuary sp. on Lundy (Judith Tatem)

The boat departed at 6.00pm watched from the rocks by two Oystercatchers.  On the journey back there were similar groups of seabirds including newly fledged young Guillemot at sea with their dads. There were a few very brief sightings of unidentified small cetaceans in the far distance. On two occasions some passengers briefly saw single dolphins closer to the ship but they couldn't be identified.

Approaching Bideford there were three Common Sandpipers on the river's edge. Shortly before arriving at the quay I went up to the bridge to thank Captain and crew for their kindness and hospitality.