MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: Condor Ferries ‘Express’ Poole-Guernsey 22 September 2014

Carol Farmer-Wright Wildlife Officer for MARINElife

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:

Herring Gull
Great Skua
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Common Tern

Terrestrial birds:
Meadow Pipit

It was a sunny morning as we drove down to Poole to board the 10.30 a.m. ferry to Guernsey. We negotiated the narrow channel that enables larger vessels to enter Poole Harbour, past the harbour entrance at Sandbanks and increased speed as we entered the calm waters of the English Channel. Many birds had started their migration. Small groups of Swallow and Meadow Pipit were seen heading south, the latter could be heard calling on the breeze. As we headed further into the channel we started recording Gannet and the occasional Fulmar. We passed close by a few fishing vessels, one of which was being followed by Lesser and Great Black-backed Gull. As we headed further south sightings became more sporadic. This was to change as we approached the Channel Islands.

Carol FW Andy Farmer-Wright
Carol talking to passengers (Andy Farmer-Wright)

To the west of Alderney the Gannetry on Ortac rock was still busy. Many birds, both adult and juvenile, were seen fishing or resting on the sea in the area. As we approached Guernsey Black-headed Gull were observed on the water while in the air there were adult and juvenile Common Tern.

We disembarked in Guernsey and headed to a restaurant area for lunch. We then walked around the harbour and watched further vessels from the Condor Ferries fleet enter and leave port. Black-head and Herring Gull adults, now in winter plumage, were dotted around the harbour with their young also in attendance.

We returned to the ferry terminal for the 17.50 return sailing. It was a little windier on the journey home through the Channel Islands, the seas were running higher which made looking for cetaceans more difficult. At one point, just out of Guernsey, I spotted some seabird activity but I was unable to spot any fins in the water. As we left the Channel Islands behind, the seas calmed and I was able to record more Gannet and a solitary Great Skua before sunset halted observations for the day.

Common Tern Andy Farmer-Wright 01
Common Terns (Andy Farmer-Wright)

My thanks go to Condor Ferries, the crew of the Condor Express for their support, the passengers for their interest in our work and my husband Andy for taking the majority of the photographs.