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