MARINElife survey report: Condor Ferries 'Condor Vitesse' Weymouth-Jersey 27 September 2014

Maggie Gamble and Sarah Faulkener, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Visibility good with no rain, wind 1-3 predominantly from the west.


Summary of sightings:

Gannet Morus bassanus 164
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 6
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 62
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 55
Black-headed Gull  Chroicocephalus ridibundus 32
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis  1
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Unidentified gull sp.  52
Auk sp.  2

Terrestrial birds

Brent Goose  Branta bernicla 2
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 3
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 5
Passerine sp.  206

A very early drive down to Weymouth Harbour for the 7.30am sailing at least has the advantage of very little traffic. Meeting my fellow surveyor Sarah at the check in desk we boarded with the other foot passengers and once the Vitesse had cleared harbour were welcomed onto the bridge to begin surveying.

Condor Vitesse Maggie Gamble

Surveying on the bridge, photo by Maggie Gamble

Bird migration seemed to be well underway with small parties of passerines appearing over much of all legs of the survey. Unfortunately with a closing speed in excess of 30knots we failed to identify most of them apart from the Swallows.  Even averaging 200 miles a day, South Africa (for British Swallows) seems like a long tough trip. Unlike hungry MARINElife surveyors they don't have the option of nipping down to the on-board bistro for a tasty sustaining meal while the Vitesse is in Guernsey and Jersey harbours.

No cetaceans were sighted on this survey - although the large shallow fringing reef off the coast of Guernsey is remarkably (and frustratingly) adept at impersonating distant dolphin splashes!

Gannet Peter Howlett 17

Gannet, Archive Photo by Peter Howlett


Many thanks to the Captain and crew of the Condor Vitesse for welcoming us aboard to carry out this survey.


Maggie Gamble and Sarah Faulkener, Research Surveyors for MARINElife