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

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.