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