Jersey-St Malo

Recent Sightings

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘ Condor Rapide’ St Helier- St Malo 29 October 2016

Posted 07 November 2016

Neil Singleton and Allison Caldeira, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Heavy cloud clearing to sunshine by early afternoon, wind E force 4

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 3
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 4
Great black-backed Gull Larus marinus 8
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Razorbill Alca torda 11

Upon our arrival on Condor Rapide we checked in with Cabin Manager Sabine who very kindly allowed us on to the bridge prior to the 09.05 scheduled departure time. This enabled us to set up before departure, which made a great difference to recording process.

Despite the millpond conditions of the previous few days we now experienced a messy wave with an occasional crest breaking, caused by the easterly wind blowing down the Channel and over Normandy. Captain Stanley Richard-dit-Leshery, whom we hadn't met before, was in charge of the outward leg to St Malo. He told us he knew all about MARINElife as he regularly does the UK to CI route. No sooner had we set off one of the crew organized very welcome drinks for us.

Razorbill Peter Howlett 08
Razorbill (Archive photo:Peter Howlett)

With completely overcast skies and therefore no glare to hinder our vision, we headed for the NE Minquiers buoy. Shag and Cormorant were present and to our delight a single Razorbill flew alongside for several minutes, disappearing across the bow towards the port side of the vessel.

Three Common Scoter and several Great Black-backed Gull completed the sightings for the journey to St Malo.

The quaint city of St Malo was very busy on an unusually warm October afternoon. We enjoyed a quiet lunch within the old city walls, picked up essential provisions from the super marché and headed back to the terminal for our return trip. Sailing time was 17.30, this time we were welcomed aboard by Vanessa and escorted to the bridge by Morgan. We left promptly with Captain Crowe navigating our way between innumerable returning yachts, fishing boats and pleasure craft.

Cormorant Peter Howlett 01
Cormorant (Archive phot: Peter Howlett)

Interestingly there was enough water to take the easterly passage leaving La Conchée to port and therefore passing close to Les Blainvillais and Chausey. In the first 15 minutes all our sightings of the trip were within French waters, Great Black-backed Gull, Cormorant, Black-headed Gull and as expected Gannet and Razorbill. Being the last day of British Summer Time, the light was already fading fast as we approached St Helier harbour, docking at 17.50.

We would like to thank all the staff aboard the Condor Rapide, who made us feel most welcome and helped us throughout the day, with special thanks to Rachael Gifford and the reservations team.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘ Condor Rapide’ St Helier-St Malo 24 September 2016

Posted 01 October 2016

Neil Singleton and Allison Caldeira, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Cloudy with sunny spells, wind SE moderate decreasing to light

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 4
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 6
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 58
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 4
Razorbill Alca torda 2

Terrestrial birds
Swallow Hirundo rustica 2

Andrane, the cabin manager greeted us warmly and instructed us to wait on the upper deck until the red zone was clear. We were soon on the bridge with Captain Waldemar Sinecki and his team  and started recording without delay.

The wind had swung around to the SE overnight which brought choppy seas but very good visibility.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 13
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

During the early stages of the journey bird sightings were extremely sparse and we saw just two Gannets and three Manx Shearwaters in the first half hour. Our records were boosted slightly in the second half of the trip but we still only had a trickle of gulls and a single Cormorant.

We arrived in a pleasantly warm St Malo at 10:25 BST and enjoyed an early lunch at a little bistro in the less fashionable area of the town and whiled the rest of the afternoon away in the sun on the beach beneath the walls.

For the return journey Vanessa was our cabin manager and Captain Mark South had taken over the controls. Once on the bridge we had a short conversation with Captain South who informed us that cetacean sightings had been few and far between this summer. We commenced our recording at 17:25, the wind had now dropped and the sea was much smoother.

Shag Peter Howlett 01
Shag (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

As we left the coast of Brittany we had the good fortune to find a group of 58 Shag resting on a nest of rocks. As per the outward leg, bird sightings were rather sporadic, however we did have a fairly good mix of species, including Razorbill, Manx Shearwater, Cormorant, Gannet and even a couple of migrating Swallows. The survey finished at 18.55 just before sunset.

We would like to thank all the staff aboard the Condor Rapide, who made us feel most welcome and helped us throughout the day.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘ Condor Rapide’ Jersey-St Malo 18 June 2016

Posted 30 June 2016

Samantha Blampied and John McLaughlin, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Wind NW 4, sea state 4, mainly sunny, visibility good.

Summary of sightings:

Gannet Morus bassanus 27
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 13
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis 1

I would firstly like to thank the Condor staff and Captains for being so welcoming and accommodating us during the survey and for pointing out dolphins on the opposite side of the ship! Also, thank you to Rachel Gifford for arranging our places onboard.

The day started off lovely and sunny and, with high hopes of seeing dolphins, John and I boarded the Condor Rapide. Once on the bridge we received a warm welcome from the captain and crew and after a quick chat about the survey route we were off. Despite it being a clear sunny day, the wind was quite strong, blowing the sea into a flurry of white horses. However, there was very little swell which made spotting birds sitting on the water much easier, which included the usual Gannets, gulls and Cormorants and also a glimpse of a Guillemot as it flew across the bow.

Gannet Carol Farmer-Wright 04b
Gannet (Archive photo: Carol Farmer-Wright)

The sun was still shining when we arrived in St. Malo and we had a few hours to enjoy the town and cafes before the return journey. The wind had been picking up as the day went on and there were even more white horses on the way back which made spotting cetaceans tricky but there were enough birds to keep us occupied. Unfortunately we did not see cetaceans on either crossing, only the crew spotted one dolphin (thought to be a Bottlenose) on the port side as we were passing the Minquiers, but it was good practice for our bird identification skills.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘ Condor Rapide’ Jersey-St Malo 29 May 2016

Posted 03 June 2016

Neil Singleton and Allison Caldeira, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Wind NE 4, overcast, visibility 2 nautical miles

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 26
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 49
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Razorbill Alca torda 2

Although a Sunday sailing the boat was extremely busy with families heading to France for the half-term holiday. Despite this we left promptly at the scheduled time of 09:05 and Cabin Manager Virginie took us upstairs to wait outside the restricted area until we cleared the red zone. A short time later Ben Bernard led us onto the bridge and Capt. Waldemar Siediecki warmly greeted us.

Gannet Peter Howlett 05
Gannet (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

We were recording by 09:17, conditions were good with a steady NE force 4, little swell and the visibility was much better than expected after the thick fog we had endured the previous day. Interestingly, today's course took us west of Les Minquiers via the SW Minquiers buoy turning SE for the final part of the uneventful voyage to St Malo. The Captain very kindly offered us drinks and mentioned that they had already sighted a dolphin on the earlier trip up from St Malo. Throughout the journey there were an encouraging number of Gannets and Herring Gulls, interspersed with a couple of Razorbills and Shag towards the end of the trip. Sadly, however, no cetaceans were seen.

It was an overcast and cool day in St Malo and after a pleasant lunch we whiled away an hour or so studying our recently acquired and thoroughly recommended book, "Guide to Whale Watching in Britain & Europe" by Mark Carwardine. We reboarded and the ship left promptly at 16:30. Herve, the Cabin Manager was expecting us and asked us to wait for the red zone to clear. Whilst sitting with the other passengers we chatted with two couples who were very interested in what we were doing aboard and so we took the opportunity to promote MARINElife.

Herring Gull Peter Howlett 03
Herring Gull (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Captain Mark South had now taken over the helm. Recording commenced quickly at 16:49 helped by the fact that we had been able to leave our equipment aboard ready to pick up as soon as we returned. Weather conditions were still ideal for the survey although visibility was only 2 nautical miles and it soon became apparent that this leg was also to be dominated by Gannet and Herring Gull. Again there were no cetaceans, but we did have the good fortune to see a pair of Sandwich Terns feeding near a raft of seaweed.

Many thanks to Captain Waldemar Siediecki, Captain Mark South and the crew of the Condor 'Rapide' for welcoming us aboard to carry out this survey.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘ Condor Rapide’ St Helier-St Peter Port-St Malo-St Helier 30 April 2016

Posted 07 May 2016

Neil Singleton and Allison Caldeira, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Wind N force 3 veering NW by evening, air temperature 15C

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 1

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 11
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 14
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 4
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 3
Razorbill Alca torda 2

Terrestrial birds
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 6
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica 20
Swallow Hirundo rustica 1

It was unusual to have a Jersey / Guernsey leg for this survey, however Condor were transporting 250 young sports persons to our sister island to compete for the Junior Siam cup. Good Luck to one and all! It was perfect weather for a game of rugby and also for being aboard the Condor Rapide to complete this month's survey of the local waters.

The boat left St Helier at 08:00 and Cabin Manager Luc escorted us to the bridge as soon as the Red Zone had cleared. Captain Mark South welcomed us aboard and we were soon set up and recording by 08:15. By this time we had already reached Noirmont Point. Corbiere lighthouse was a striking sight in the sunlight as we headed across St Ouen's Bay and towards Guernsey.

Visibility was excellent and bird sightings were quite frequent but in small numbers, with both Cormorant and Shag, then Gannet and Razorbill and we were pleased to identify a few Fulmar during the second part of this one hour trip. After a smooth journey, we arrived in St Peter Port at 09:02. Turnaround time was just an hour and we were lucky to be able to stay on deck and enjoy the sunshine, taking care to shelter from the chilly northerly wind, whilst the changeover happened around us.

Swallow Peter Howlett 02
Swallow (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

We set off to St Malo at 10:00 and were out of Red Zone by 10:05 and recording. Shortly after departure we were delighted to see a Swallow cross the bow. Then, at regular intervals, we saw a good mix of gulls and Gannet, further on we were able to identify a flock of about 20 Bar-tailed Godwit on migration. These were shortly followed by a couple of Sandwich Tern and 8 Shag. We arrived at St Malo at 11:42 BST.

As always we spent a pleasant afternoon in the picturesque walled city and headed back to Le Port for a 17:15 departure back to St Helier. The Cabin Manager took us to the bridge to meet with Captain Walder Siniecri who had taken over from Captain South, for the last leg of today's survey.

Weather conditions were still ideal but the wind direction had swung from due north to a northwesterly direction. Bird sightings were at a premium, with just 2 Shag, a Sandwich Tern, 2 Gannet and 2 Oystercatcher but the day was wholly saved by the glimpse of a Bottlenose Dolphin through the starboard window. Nicky, a crew member who very kindly brought us refreshments, mentioned that she too had seen a single dolphin in these waters just a few days prior.

BND Peter Howlett 03
Bottlenose Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

As we approached St Helier a seaplane flew overhead, looking to land in St Aubin's Bay as part of the Bank Holiday weekend Jersey Boat Show attractions. Many thanks to Captain Mark South and Captain Walder Siniecri and the crew of the Condor 'Rapide' for welcoming us aboard to carry out this survey. We would also like to convey our thanks to all the Condor staff for always going that 'extra mile' to help and support MARINElife and our work.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘ Condor Liberation’ Jersey-St Malo 19 March 2016

Posted 27 March 2016

Neil Singleton and Allison Caldeira, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Overcast, wind NE force 4, air temperature 9C

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 1

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 1
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 51
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 1
Great black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Razorbill Alca torda 2

We would like to say a special thank you to the Condor Ferries reservations team for their help in organising our places for the survey to St Malo. It had been a particularly busy week for Condor and we really appreciate being able to complete the survey as originally planned.

BND Peter Howlett 06
Bottlenose Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The Cabin Manager, James Hyndman greeted us and informed Captain Peter Falla of our arrival on board. We were advised that as soon as 'red zone' was finished we could commence our survey and were invited up to the bridge shortly after leaving St Helier. This was our first outing on the Condor Liberation and we soon familiarised ourselves with the different layout of the instrument panels.

Survey conditions were ideal with good visibility, little glare and only a slight swell. The birdlife on this first leg of the journey was sparse to say the least. Four Cormorants, a Razorbill, a Herring Gull and two Great Black-backed Gulls. However, the sighting of a single Bottlenose Dolphin crossing our bow more than made up for this disappointing count.

Red zone was called at 14:05 and we arrived in St Malo at 14:25. Whilst we waited to disembark, we were kept entertained by a female Great-crested Grebe feeding energetically in the harbour area.

On the return journey we were greeted by Virginie Johnson who had been our Cabin Manager on a couple of occasions last year. She announced our arrival to Captain Falla and we were escorted to the bridge at 17:30.

Shag Peter Howlett 02
Shag (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Conditions had improved slightly but to our dismay the seabirds were not very active and we had just four sightings, but that did include a raft of 50+ Shags. As we approached St Helier and soon after recording was finished we were impressed to find two Great Northern Divers resting near the harbour entrance.

We would like to thank all the staff aboard the Condor Liberation who made us feel most welcome and helped us throughout the day.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘ Condor Rapide’ Jersey-St Malo 17 October 2015

Posted 27 October 2015

Neil Singleton and Allison Caldeira, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Cloudy with occasional sunny spells, wind NNE light-moderate, visibility good.

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 2

Seabirds
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 1
Razorbill Alca torda 16
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 6
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1

The cabin staff, Andrane and Luc greeted us warmly and called the bridge straight away to inform Captain Ben Roper of our arrival. We were taken to the bridge to meet the Captain who ran through the protocol for the trip covering both the outward and return journeys. We set up our paperwork and returned to the passenger deck whilst red-zone was enforced.

Back on the bridge we commenced surveying and recording at 09:00. Initially the sea was very calm but as we progressed it became a little choppy, however the visibility remained excellent throughout despite the near 100% cloud cover.

During this leg of the journey there were few bird sightings, just a single Herring Gull, a couple of Gannet and Cormorant plus a flock of 8 Razorbill. This disappointment was made up by a clear view of two Bottlenose Dolphin appearing on the starboard side of the ship.

BND Peter Howlett 04
Bottlenose Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

It was a rather cool but dry day in St Malo and we sheltered from the NNE wind and continued to bird watch for a while and then set off to a more unfashionable area in search for lunch. The aptly named ' Le Pie qui Boit' turned out to be a quaint and value for money little bistro and a place to remember for future visits.

Captain Roper welcomed us back and very kindly fetched us coffees. We set up and waited on deck until red-zone was cleared at 17:50 when we started recording straight away.

Again the smooth seas developed into rougher waters, as a weak, southerly-moving front passed over. The bird sightings picked up slightly during the second part of the trip, with predominantly Gannet and Razorbill and a great view of a Manx Shearwater as it flew off the bow of the vessel for a good few minutes. There was a distinct lack of gulls and alas no cetacean sightings this time.

We would like to thank all the staff aboard the Condor Rapide, who made us feel most welcome and helped us throughout the day.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Rapide’ Jersey-St Malo September 2015

Posted 19 September 2015

This survey was cancelled for logistical reasons.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Rapide’ Jersey-St Malo 22 August 2015

Posted 16 September 2015

Samantha Blampied and John McLaughlin, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Sunny to start and low winds but with thick fog on the first crossing and then heavy rain and a less favourable sea state on the return journey.

Summary of sightings:

Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 2
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 7
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Lesser black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Tern sp. 1

I would firstly like to thank the Condor staff and captains for being so welcoming and accommodating us during the survey. Also, thank you to Rachel Gifford for arranging our places on the boat, especially during the particularly busy summer holiday period.

The day started off lovely and sunny and, with high hopes of seeing dolphins, John and I boarded the Condor Rapide. Once on the bridge the captain informed us that there was thick fog out to sea and about 20 minutes into the crossing we encountered a fog bank that didn't clear until we were a few miles off the coast of St. Malo. While the fog meant a nice smooth crossing, it also meant we could not see much for the majority of the journey, although during clear patches we did manage to see Gannet, Shag, a few gulls, two Sooty Shearwater and a lone Storm Petrel. The latter two being a cause for excitement.

Sooty Shearwater Peter Howlett 01
Sooty Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The sun was still shining when we arrived in St. Malo but it quickly turned to cloud and rain. The weather slowly deteriorated throughout the day and unfortunately didn't clear up in time for the return journey. Heavy rain accompanied us for the majority of the sailing, the plus side being we could at least  see for a few kilometres this time. With the windscreen wipers on we were able to continue the survey and logged a small number of seabird species. Just before we arrived in Jersey we saw a Grey Heron flying towards the coast line. Unfortunately we did not see cetaceans on either crossing, but it was good practice for our bird identification skills and also for training a keen eye in unfavourable conditions.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘ Condor Rapide’ St Helier-St Malo 18-19 July 2015

Posted 21 July 2015

Neil Singleton and Allison Caldeira, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: A slow moving area of low pressure affected our journeys over the 2 days, with a blanket of low cloud and wet conditions. Wind: NE 3 or less, sea state 3 or less. Air temperature: 18C

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 17
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 9
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10
Lesser black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 4
Great black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9

We would like to say a special thank you to Rachael Geddes, Condor Ferries reservations manager, for her help in providing our places for the survey to St Malo, as it was a particularly busy weekend due to the school holidays and Jersey's regular arrival and departure of STS students from Scandinavia.

Whilst waiting for boarding we were delighted to see about 40 Swift flying over the harbour, many of which were visiting nest holes in the harbour wall.

We were warmly greeted by Dorothee Thomas, Cabin Manager, who checked with Captain Peter Aldous straight away that it would be alright to join him on the bridge and set up for the survey before we set sail. Captain Aldous mentioned that they had seen a pod of dolphins on the outward journey that morning.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 11a
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Our departure was slightly delayed due to the arrival of Condor Ferries' Commodore Clipper which berthed beside us.

We set off at 19:10 and Able Seaman Christopher offered to bring us refreshments, which was most welcome. Light rain at the start increased to a persistent heavy drizzle but thanks to Able Seaman Julien, who showed us how to use the windscreen wipers, we were able to proceed without hindrance from the deteriorating weather conditions.

Julien was keen to inform us a single dolphin had been seen earlier that day, in the approaches to St Malo harbour, which he presumed was either an elderly or sick individual. He also added that 2 Orcas had been seen recently in the St Brieuc area.

During the first half of the trip we had regularly sightings of Gannet with the occasional gull but the highlight was a single Manx Shearwater. The latter half included a Shag plus Lesser and Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls. Sadly, no cetaceans. We arrived in the port of St Malo at 20:20 and on this occasion the trip entailed a very enjoyable stopover at the Hotel Cartier in St Malo.

The return journey departed St Malo at 17:20 with the crew remained unchanged from the day before. Captain Aldous reported further cetacean sightings, both on the early morning departure and the arrival from Jersey that evening, including a pod of 8!

Great Skua Peter Howlett 05
Great Skua (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

We were soon installed on the bridge and ready to survey. Unfortunately it rained continuously during the trip back, with visibility reducing to less than one kilometre at times. The usual suspects were seen throughout the journey with the highlight most definitely being a Great Skua east of the Minquiers reef. Sadly, despite the recent sightings, no cetaceans were seen during the return trip.

We would like to thank all the staff aboard the Condor Rapide who made us feel most welcome and helped us throughout the survey.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘ Condor Rapide’ Jersey-St Malo 27 June 2015

Posted 02 July 2015

Neil Singleton and Allison Caldeira, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: A lovely day throughout. Mostly sunny with occasional cloud, wind 1-2. Sea state, slight. Sea temperature 14C, air temperature 20C

Summary of sightings

Seabirds:
Gannet Morus bassanus 13
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 5
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 81
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 6
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 12
Razorbill Alca torda 4

We arrived at a very busy Elizabeth Ferry Terminal, St Helier at 08:00 on a beautiful summer's morning. Today's trip coincided with the arrival of a number of competitors for the 2015 NatWest Island Games, which runs from 27 June-3 July 2015.

GBB Gull Peter Howlett 07
Great Black-backed Gull (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

We met Cabin Manager Sarah Honebon at 08:50, who took us straight to the bridge to meet Captain Mark South and his team. Mark welcomed us aboard and we soon settled into our positions on the starboard side of the bridge. Mark always shows a great deal of interest in our work and keeps a look out for cetaceans on all his trips. He advised that there had been very few cetacean sightings recently. We briefly spoke with the Chief Officer (Dave) who was also very interested in the work we are doing. Sarah very kindly brought us much appreciated coffees and water.

We left St Helier on schedule at 09:00 for St Malo. We had a slight glare from the morning sunshine, but only on the port side, which made no impact on our viewing. There was very little wind with just a few wavelets forming at times, with blue skies and some cloud developing towards the end of the journey.

We saw a continuous stream of birdlife throughout the trip, mostly gulls and Gannet plus a single Razorbill. Approaching the French coast we were pleased to see a good number of gulls feeding alongside  a small fishing boat. Although conditions were good, we saw no cetaceans. The port of St Malo and surrounding area was extremely busy with pleasure crafts of all types, which is quite normal for this time of year. We disembarked at 11:30 (French time) and whiled away a pleasant few hours in the bustling walled city of St Malo.

Herring Gull Peter Howlett 04
Herring Gull (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

On the return journey we were taken to the bridge by Cabin Manager Albane Le Troudec and were again welcomed by Captain Mark South. We departed the French port at 17:10 local time. There was a prime sailing breeze at St Malo port but that soon dwindled to slack seas for the majority of the trip. Visibility was good throughout  but did not produce any cetacean sightings.

Again there was a steady trickle of seabirds, comprising gulls and gannets, plus a few cormorants this time. We arrived back in St Helier, Jersey promptly at 17:15.

We would like to thank all the staff aboard the Condor Rapide, who helped us throughout the day.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Rapide’ Jersey-St Malo 27 May 2015

Posted 02 June 2015

Jill and Bob Tompkins, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather
Out: wind - very slight southwesterly breeze, visibility fair with occasional fog
Return: wind - very light westerly breeze, visibility good

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 5

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 29
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 11
Common Gull Larus canus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 24
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2

On a stunningly blue, warm morning Jill and I boarded Condor Rapide, called at the Pursers desk to present ourselves and were whisked up to the bridge to be warmly greeted by Peter Aldous, our skipper for our morning journey to St Malo. Ten minutes into our trip and barely set up and observing, we sighted a small pod of Bottlenose dolphins crossing our bow, heading southeast. The group passed so quickly that neither of us gave a thought to grabbing the camera as we recorded position, heading, speed etc. Five minutes later a bank of fog appeared and quickly enveloped us. Almost just as quickly it began to thin and we were able to recommence recording. Sadly no more dolphins, though there were a number of adult Herring Gulls with the occasional adult Gannet travelling around us right up to our arrival in St Malo.

BND Peter Howlett 05
Bottlenose Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Fully restored after a leisurely lunch we boarded the Rapide and once again were taken straight up to the bridge having been met at the pursers desk by Mark South, our skipper for the return journey.  On this journey it was immediately obvious that there were more seabirds flying about in a business-like manner. The closer we came to the Minquiers Reef the more feeding activity was recorded, culminating in plunging Gannets scattered across our bow. So quick it could have been missed and very close to the morning sightings a single Bottlenose Dolphin appeared right in front of the bow before back flipping and heading away to the west.

A lesson learnt: be ready with the camera as things happen quickly at 36 knots!

As we neared Jersey the feeding activity subsided and normal service was resumed till the end of the survey and our arrival home.

We feel that the variation in sightings comparing morning and afternoon sailings can partially be accounted for by changes in tidal flow and the movement of fish stocks within the tidal streams.

At the start it was immediately clear to us that the Condor personnel knew what our requirements, aims and objectives as MARINElife surveyors were and could not have been more helpful or professional. The whole survey was a rewarding experience.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘ Condor Rapide’ Jersey-Guernsey-St Malo-Jersey survey 21 March 2015

Posted 24 March 2015

Neil Singleton and Allison Caldeira, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Early morning mist soon clearing to good visibility with sunny spells. Occasional fog patches to the west. Wind NE 2 increasing 4 through day. Sea temperature 8C, air temperature 10C.

Summary of species recorded:

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 2
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 8
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 11
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Razorbill Alca torda 7
Guillemot Uria aalge 2

Terrestrial birds
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 26

Our early morning departure coincided with another of this year's 'supertides'. High tide was at 07:00 and reached a spectacular 39.5 feet (12.1 metres) above datum. Departure time was scheduled for 08:30, this was delayed slightly due to the large number of local VIPs travelling across to Guernsey to board the brand new Condor Liberation in St Peter Port and travel back to St Helier later in the day.

Shag Peter Howlett 01
Shag (archive photo: Peter Howlett)

We were welcomed aboard by Cabin Manager Virginie, who took us to the bridge to meet Captain Mark South after we had left port. He informed us that he would be with for all three legs of the journey and also raised expectations by telling us there had been cetacean sightings on the previous two days.

The trip to St Peter Port only takes about an hour. The sea was smooth and visibility good. No cetaceans were seen but we did see several species of seabirds, including Kittiwake, Gannet and Razorbill.

On arrival in St Peter Port we had a clear view of the new Condor Liberation, awaiting her VIP guests. We departed on schedule and headed for St Malo and turned south into the morning sunshine, which made the viewing rather challenging. As the trip progressed it clouded over completely, allowing us full view of the ocean ahead of us. The two hour journey again held no cetaceans and the bird life was sparse. The majority of the sightings were gulls plus a couple of Guillemot.

It was approaching low water when we arrived in St Malo. A very low tide had encouraged the locals out in large numbers. The extended beaches were covered in bait diggers and families gathering shellfish buried in the exposed sand. As always we had a very pleasant stop in the quaint, walled-city of St Malo.

Razorbill Peter Howlett 02
Razorbill (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The wind had picked up to a force 4-5 for the return journey and unfortunately, once again, there were no cetaceans but we did see a good number of Shag throughout the journey plus a nice group of Oystercatchers at the outset.

We were greeted by fireworks as we approached St Helier, this clearly wasn't for us but for the arrival of Condor Liberation and her esteemed guests! It seemed the whole Condor fleet had arrived in Jersey waters at the same time, with the Commodore Goodwill at anchor, the Commodore Clipper approaching from the direction of Noirmont and the Condor Vitesse about depart from her birth alongside the new Condor Liberation.

We would like to thank all the staff aboard the Condor Rapide, who helped us throughout the day.

MARINElife survey report: Jersey-St Malo November 2014 - February 2015

Posted 13 December 2014

Due to timings of the winter sailing schedule, there are no surveys for November, December, January and February.

Surveys will resume in March 2015.

MARINElife survey report: Condor Ferries 'Condor Rapide' Guernsey/Jersey-St Malo 25 October 2014

Posted 29 October 2014

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

Weather: Visibility good, wind 3-4 predominantly from the southwest

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds:
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra c80
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 1
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 3
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 21
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 1

Terrestrial Birds:
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 4
Passerine Sp. 6

For this month's survey the route was slightly different in that it would run Guernsey-St Malo-Jersey rather than the usual Jersey-St Malo-Jersey. So I first had to travel from Weymouth to Guernsey, where I enjoyed a few hours looking around the island before boarding the Condor Rapide for its sailing to St Malo. Once on board I met up with Allison, MARINElife's latest volunteer surveyor from Jersey and we were escorted straight to the bridge by the very helpful service manager. We were welcomed onto the bridge by Captain Simon Bagshot and shortly after leaving our berth, we commenced our survey.

Balearic Shearwater Tom Brereton 07
Balearic Shearwater (Archive photo: Tom Brereton)

The first half hour out was very quiet but then we had our first sighting - 4 endangered Balearic Shearwater, which obligingly flew straight though the 'box'. Then followed a solitary adult Gannet and a single Manx Shearwater tracking down the starboard side. The rest of the trip to St Malo was punctuated with Herring Gull and Shag sightings. We did not see any cetaceans throughout the survey, mostly due to a sea state of four!

Leaving St Malo behind us, we recommenced the survey to a very smart looking Great Black-backed Gull, more Shag and then c80 Common Scoter. A lone Guillemot flew past the bow followed by a juvenile Great Black-backed Gull. I was talking to Allison about shearwater species that we may encounter when I spotted a lone Sooty Shearwater sat on the surface ahead of us. As we neared, it took flight and very kindly banked off to the right showing its dark all over plumage with contrasting silvery underwing patterning. The last half hour or so of the survey produced a few Shag and a single Gannet. Again we did not see any cetaceans even though the sea state had dropped to 2-3.

Sooty Shearwater Peter Howlett 02
Sooty Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Arriving at St Helier, Jersey, we said our farewells to the bridge crew and left feeling that, although fairly quiet in species and numbers seen, it was still a very enjoyable and informative survey, especially as we had recorded 3 species of shearwater.

Many thanks to Captain Simon Bagshot and crew of the Condor 'Rapide' for welcoming us aboard to carry out this survey. I would also like to convey my thanks to all the Condor staff for always going that 'extra mile' to help and support MARINElife and our work.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Rapide’ Jersey-St Malo 27 September 2014

Posted 02 October 2014

Neil Singleton and Jill Tompkins, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: The sea state was calm and the visibility very good on both journeys. Wind increased marginally on the return trip and backed from east to northeast. Cloud cover also increased on the return journey.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 8

 

Seabirds
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 11
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 8
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 3
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 9
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Skua sp.  1
Tern sp. 1

Jill and I made our way on board Condor Rapide with the day trippers and Channel crossers introducing ourselves to Purser Sarah Honebon who gave us a warm welcome and whisked us away from our noisy fellow passengers straight to the peace and quiet of the bridge where we settled on the starboard side preparing our various forms ready for the voyage. Within a short space of time crew member Christopher appeared and offered us a cup of coffee which was very welcome. Our host, Captain Peter Grounds introduced himself soon after we set sail and it became very clear that we were in the company of a very experienced cetacean watcher.

BND Peter Howlett 02
Bottlenose Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

High Water was at 08.53 (35.4 ft) which meant we would be sailing a more direct course to St Malo around the Minquiers Reef and we had high hopes of seeing cetaceans on this trip.

As it happened the trip was quiet with the expected sightings of gulls, terns, Cormorants, Shags and Gannets although the latter were few and far between. As we approached St Malo a Manx Shearwater crossed right in front of us unexpectedly close to land and we had one unidentified skua.

On the return journey we spotted Bottlenose Dolphin a long way in front of us and were rewarded with closer views shortly after as they leapt out of the water at an angle of 45 deg to our course. One of the officers, Peter Aldous, joined us for a chat and his enthusiasm and encouragement rounded off a very enjoyable trip.

A big thank you to all the Condor personnel for their warm hospitality.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Rapide’ Jersey-St Malo 29 August 2014

Posted 04 September 2014

Jill Tompkins and Sam Blampied, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather
Wind: west force four with no swell. Visibility good with a moderate cloud cover and little glare outward, visibility reduced on the return to Jersey.

Summary of species recorded:

Seabirds
Gannet  Morus bassanus 12
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 11
Sandwich Tern  Sterna sandvicensis 9

This being our inaugural trip, Sam and I were keen to gain access to the bridge as soon as possible and after a short delay on the outward journey we introduced ourselves to the Captain and officers who where most welcoming and assured us that should they sight any cetaceans before us they would pass on the information quickly. In turn we assured them that we were familiar with bridge protocol before settling down on the starboard wing to start the survey.

Gannet Carol Farmer-Wright 05a
Gannet (Archive photo: Carol Farmer-Wright)

Sadly despite the best efforts of all on the bridge, on both the outer and return journeys the seas were bereft of any mammals and few seabirds, other than Gannet, Sandwich Tern and Cormorant, were observed despite good visibility. The fine weather also meant a large number of smaller craft, mostly pleasure boats, were observed on both journeys.

We feel that the variation in sightings compared with our training trip is likely to be most directly influenced by the stage and size of tides, which in turn dictates the vessels course around the Minquiers reef system rather than the time of year and weather.

On the return journey we were introduced to one of Condor's senior captains who was well versed in the work undertaken by MARINElife and was very supportive of our efforts.