MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 12 October 2019

MARINElife/Lundy WLO Steve McAusland

Weather: cloudy, cool and breezy, wind SW, sea state 4

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals
Common Dolphin 2
Grey Seals 33

Seabirds
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Gannet
Razorbill
Cormorant
Shag
Guillemot
Manx Shearwater

Birds on Lundy
Water Rail (heard in Milcombe)
Robin
Wren
Spotted Flycatcher
Blackbird
Goldcrest
Goldfinch
Blackcap
Raven
Greylag Goose
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow
House Martin
Sand Martin
Swallow
Wheatear
Meadow Pipit
Linnet
Starling
Chaffinch

My last Lundy trip of 2019 began in Ilfracombe on a rather dull and breezy morning, having checked in with the staff of the shore office and joined the passengers on the quay to board the MS Oldenburg.

I made my way to the bridge to meet Jason Mugford the Captain and to also meet fellow MARINElife surveyors Nicola Simpson and Alan Sumnall who were doing the monthly Lundy survey.

As the ship left Ilfracombe harbour I noticed that there were plenty of Herring Gulls rafting on the sea. I then started to move around the ship to meet some of the passengers to talk about MARINElife and to tell them what they might see during the crossings to and from the Island.

Common Dolphin Steve McAusland 05
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

The ship was moving at speed in the direction of Lundy and as it passed by the Bull Lighthouse two Common Dolphins passed the port side giving a brief view to myself and a couple of passengers. Moving towards the island the birds seen were limited to just eight species. We arrived at the Landing bay and could see many Grey Seals hauled out on the rocks and a few also swimming around the jetty, much to the delight of the disembarking visitors.

Goldcrest Steve McAusland 01
Goldcrest (Library photo: Steve McAusland)

I spent time in the Milcombe area looking for birds of note, Blackcaps were everywhere as were Goldcrests. Swallows could be seen flying very close over the bracken and I heard a Water Rail near the walled garden! I spent some time there then I walked up the main track and back in search of other notables birds, two Ravens and many Wheatears were seen along with good numbers of mixed hirundines. Before returning to the jetty for the return journey I stopped off in Milcombe and caught sight of three Spotted Flycatchers.

The same birds were seen on route and we arrived back in Ilfracombe where I thanked the Captain and crew for supporting MARINElife and I look forward to hopefully more trips in 2020.