MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘ Condor Rapide’ Jersey-St Malo 24 March 2018

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

Weather: Overcast with light ESE winds with heavy rain later on the return leg.

Summary of sightings:

Gannet Morus bassanus 2
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 14
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 14
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 14
Guillemot Uria aalge 1

Terrestrial birds
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 6
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 1

Vanessa, the cabin manager, greeted us warmly, called the bridge and took us to meet Captain Waldemar Siniecki straight away. The Captain informed us they were seeing dolphins regularly at the moment, particularly around Les Minquiers reef.

We started recording in the open water just outside Elizabeth Castle. With high water at 10:49 the route took us through Les Minquiers reef just past Le Coq beacon. The sea was slight with an ESE F1 wind and the visibility excellent.

Cormorant Peter Howlett 03
Cormorant (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

During the journey bird sightings were steady but not frequent. It was interesting to see signs of spring migration by way of 6 Meadow Pipits. There was a steady trickle of Cormorants and Shags interspersed with a Gannet and several Great Black-backed Gulls. The highlight of the survey was a Guillemot at close quarters as we approached French waters.

It was overcast as we arrived in St Malo a 10:15 GMT.  We enjoyed a stroll along Le Sillon Plage where there were good numbers of Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed Gulls in various stages of plumage, balanced on the old tree trunk sea defence posts waiting to be fed … a great way to practice our id skills!  We took a late lunch at what turned out to be a very popular little bistro on Le Sillon Plage.

The return journey departed from St Malo at 17:05 GMT and the crew remained unchanged. We stayed in the lounge area until the 'red zone' had cleared and were escorted back onto the bridge to recommence our recording at 17:18.  The wind remained light and the sea slight.

GBB Gull Peter Howlett 06
Great Black-backed Gull 9Library photo: Peter Howlett)

As we left the coast of Brittany we had a good number of gull sightings, with a few members of the Phalacrocorax family. Again there was a lone Guillemot - probably the same one as before!

As we approached the last quarter of the journey it started to rain heavily and the light failed considerably. At this stage we stopped our observations.

We would like to thank all the staff aboard the Condor Rapide, who looked after us throughout the day and provided us with most welcome refreshments during the trip.