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:
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 8
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.
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.