Ilfracombe or Bideford-Lundy

Sightings Archives: August 2019

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 24 August 2019

Posted 25 August 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Nicola Simpson

Summary of sightings

Marine mammals:
Grey seal 10

Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Manx Shearwater

I arrived at Ilfracombe harbour at 9.15am, ready to check in and board the Oldenburg for our journey to Lundy. It was a beautiful bank holiday weekend and the ship was fully booked with passengers.

We boarded and set off at around 10am, the weather was glorious and very warm out on deck. Heading out into the channel I made my way around the decks greeting people, whilst keeping an eye out for any sightings.

Gannet Peter Howlett 29
Gannet (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

We saw plenty of gulls as we left the harbour and as we headed out into the channel. A little further out we spotted Gannet and Manx Shearwater. A passenger reported sightings of a couple of dolphin a good distance from the boat, she was unsure of the species due to the distance. I spoke to many passengers and families who were looking forward to their visit to Lundy and spotting wildlife once on the island. As we arrived into Lundy seabird numbers started to increase once again and we saw many gulls.

We disembarked onto Lundy with the weather still glorious and headed up into the village for a cold drink before having a walk. I had a lovely walk around the island stopping and chatting to passengers I had met on our outward journey.

Grey Seal Rick Morris 07a
Grey Seals (Library photo: Rick Morris)

As I headed back down to board the ship myself and a couple of passengers spotted a couple of Grey Seal popping their heads out of the water. Further along the walk back to the harbour a juvenile Manx Shearwater was spotted by the side of the cliff looking disorientated. A member of the Lundy team quickly and expertly gathered him up and took him down to a safe spot for the day to be looked after and released later that evening.

As we waited to re-board the boat for our return journey I chatted to several passengers and volunteers from the Cornwall Seal group. We spotted around six Grey Seal lying in the rocks in the harbour, with a couple more in the water. I pointed these out to passengers I knew were keen to see some seals. We then boarded the boat for another glorious return journey. On the return journey we spotted Kittiwake, Gannet and Fulmar.

I disembarked thanking the Captain and his crew for the wonderful day and their assistance.

MARINElife Survey Report: 'MS Oldenburg' Bideford-Lundy 17 August 2019

Posted 20 August 2019

Judith Tatem, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Westbound: Cloudy brightening into sun, wind strong, sea state5-6, with large swell
Eastbound: Sunny then clouding over, wind moderate, sea state 4-5, with moderate swell

Summary of sightings

Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet  Morus bassanus 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 14
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 58
Black-headed Gull  Chroicocephalus ridibundus 7
Greater black-backed gull Larus marinus 5
Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 16
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 13

Estuary birds
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 1
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 2
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 12
Curlew Numenius arquata 15
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 5

It was a mild, windy day with the sun just starting to break through as we left the quay.  A mixed group of Little Egret and a Grey Heron sat on their usual tree in the Copse and a Mute Swan was on the edge of the marshes. Passing Appledore and heading out into the estuary small groups of mixed gulls flew around. Beyond the estuary bird sightings were few and consisted mainly of Guillemot with the odd Gannet and Manx Shearwater.

Manx Shearwater Mike Bailey 01a
Manx Shearwater (Library photo: Mike Bailey)

It was a beautiful day on Lundy. I walked up to the Marisco Tavern for a cup of coffee then around to the Castle for a view over the Lundy races. Shortly after noon I headed back down to the beach behind the information hut where I spent the afternoon happily rock pooling. It was interesting to note the number of very small edible crabs that were hiding under the boulders. On arriving back to the jetty, I noted that once again a Grey Seal was entertaining the waiting queue.

Puffin Peter Howlett 01a
Puffin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The passage back was quiet for bird sightings, although a lone Puffin did add to my list. Just before passing under the Torridge bridge a group of fifteen Curlew sat on the bank watching us go by before taking off with their plaintive calls.

My thanks go to the Captain and crew of the Oldenburg for their support and allowing MARINElife on board to continue this survey.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Bideford-Lundy 3 August 2019

Posted 07 August 2019

Lundy/MARINElife Wildlife Officer: Jenny Ball


Weather: Out: calm seas, warm but overcast
Return: light south easterly breeze, warm and sunny, then rain

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin  5, with another 5-10 reported by passengers
Grey Seal

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

Land Birds
Little Egret
Ringed Plover

There was an eclectic mix of passengers and freight on board for our sailing to Lundy this Saturday: a group of Slope Soaring Model Glider enthusiasts with their crates and strange-shaped bags of models, around 40 bell ringers from Exeter University, looking forward to spending time in St Helen's Church and a dayboat and trailer loaded onto the foredeck.  It's always an interesting journey on the Oldenburg!

A good number of passengers were looking out for dolphins, and though we had a couple of fairly fleeting sightings, I heard later from several people that a pod of between 5 and 10 animals had been seen shortly before we arrived at Lundy.  We saw a quite a few father/chick Guillemot groups and small flocks of Manx Shearwater were swirling round, whether getting ready for their migration or simply spending their day at sea, I'm not sure.

Lundy goats Jenny Ball 01
Lundy goats (Jenny Ball)

Taking advantage of the extra time on Lundy (a day sailing from Bideford gives around 6 hours on the island), I walked up the western side to the Northwest Point, keeping well out of the way of the feisty wild goats.  As the tide went out, some 20 Grey Seals hauled themselves out on the rocky slabs around the North Light to enjoy the sun, their eerie calls echoing round the coves.  Everywhere I went I found Painted Lady butterflies feeding on the heather, thistles and gorse - this summer's influx has clearly reached Lundy.

Grey Seal Jenny Ball 01
Grey Seals (Jenny Ball)

The breeze for the return journey was a little fresher but still warm and I spoke to a number of passengers about their stays on Lundy.  Several told me they had heard the Manx Shearwater calling at night and were interested to see a big flock of the birds swooping around near the ship.  A couple of Common Dolphin made an appearance alongside, just long enough for many of the passengers to see them.

As we turned into the River Torridge the rain started, bringing everyone down to shelter but by the time we disembarked all was clear again and I thanked Captain Paul and his crew for their kind hospitality on board the MS Oldenburg.