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