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

Herring Gull
Manx Shearwater

Other wildlife:
Barrel Jellyfish
Meadow Brown

Wildlife seen on Lundy:
Lundy pony
House Sparrow

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.