Weymouth or Poole-Channel Islands

Sightings Archives: October 2014

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: Condor Ferries ‘Vitesse’ Weymouth-Guernsey 15 October 2014

Posted 16 October 2014

Ellen Last Wildlife Officer for MARINElife

Outward - dry with quite strong winds. Grey clouds meant visibility reduced.
Return - rain during departure from Guernsey but soon stopped. Quite strong winds.

Summary of sightings

Great Skua Stercorarius skua
Gannet Morus bassanus
Sooty shearwater Puffinus griseus
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Auk sp.

After departing Weymouth a few auks were seen but after this the crossing was fairly quiet with only sightings being some Gannet and Great Skua. The grey clouds meant conditions were quite gloomy, but fortunately it didn't rain! Unfortunately the sea state was slightly too choppy for cetacean spotting as well. On arrival in Guernsey there were only a few Cormorant to be seen around the harbour.

Little Chapel Guernsey Ellen Last
Little Chapel, Guernsey (Ellen Last)

We had 4 hours on Guernsey before the return crossing which meant I had sufficient time to catch a bus out to the Little Chapel. It was built using pieces of broken china and is only 5m long and 3m wide. It has a number of little rooms below the main chapel area so was fascinating to look around! Unfortunately it began raining as soon as I got off the bus and continued for the rest of the afternoon, which meant I got pretty wet waiting for the bus back to St Peter Port!

On the return crossing back to Weymouth it was extremely quiet for birds with only sightings of a few Gannet and a Great Skua. As we crossed the shipping lane in the Channel we went past a number of vessels, so we ended up doing some ship spotting, finding the one of which had 'Greenland' written on it! As we came past Portland the sighting of a Sooty Shearwater provided a little excitement to round off the trip.

Sooty Shearwater Peter Howlett 02
Sooty Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Many thanks to Condor Ferries for welcoming us onboard and to the passengers who joined me for the MARINElife day trip. This was the last trip of the year but we will be continuing the day trips next year, so keep an eye out for information on these on the MARINElife and Condor websites!

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Express’ Poole-Guernsey 6 October 2014

Posted 07 October 2014

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Andy Gilbert

Weather: Strong winds, sea state 6, big swell.

Summary of sightings:


Today's crossing was delayed by two hours due to the stormy weather before I even arrived at Poole ferry terminal. On arrival we were allowed to board the ship but it remained alongside as a south-westerly gale prevented us from sailing. The sea state in the harbour didn't bode well for conditions out in the Channel and I resigned myself to the likelihood of a bumpy crossing with no chance of seeing any wildlife and having to hope for a better return journey. The crew didn't expect us to even be allowed out on deck.

Brownsea lagoon Peter Howlett 02
Brownsea lagoon in slightly kinder conditions (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Eventually the wind eased and changed direction and we got underway. I braved the windy conditions and got out on deck as we passed Brownsea Island to see Canada Geese, Great Black-backed Gulls and Cormorant sheltering in the lagoon in large numbers. But that was the limit of wildlife watching with little life in the air or on the water and we were soon sent inside as they closed the outer decks as we turned into the Channel. Here we met large seas! After half an hour sailing the Captain decided conditions were too bad and we returned to port.

The ferry did make the journey later in the day but after discussion with Condor it was agreed that the Wildlife Officer role was pointless today. The day passengers were being advised to postpone their trips and no one would be allowed out on the outside decks for the outward crossing and because it was running so late the return journey would take place in the dark.  So by midday I was getting in my car and heading back to Devon. That's wildlife watching for you - the wildlife can't be expected to behave for us and neither can the weather. Hopefully we will have better luck next time.

As always thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Express for their support and assistance and for keeping us safe.