MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 22 April 2015

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Julia Benson

Weather: Sunny, strong winds. Sea state 2-7

Summay of sightings:

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Sandwich Tern
Black-headed Gull
Guillemot
Cormorant
Shag
Gannet
Fulmar
Great Skua
Kittiwake
Oystercatcher

It was a beautiful sunny morning though rather breezy when I arrived in Poole. Soon after checking in I was boarding the Condor Ferries ship Liberation. After meeting the service manager on board I made my way to the outside top deck as we waited for the ship to depart where I joined several other passengers. As we made our way down Poole harbour we saw a number of gulls, a Cormorant flying low over the water, a Sandwich Tern and Brownsea Castle sitting proudly among the trees.

Brownsea House Julia Benson 2015
Brownsea Castle (Julia Benson)

As we left the harbour the wind grew stronger and the sea became a little choppy with many whitecaps, not the best conditions for spotting cetaceans. Despite the wind and the sea conditions the sun was shining and visibility was good. Bird sightings were few and far between but as we approached the gannetry on Ortac Rock Gannet numbers increased and as we got closer to the rock we could see a large number of them flying above it. Shortly afterwards, a lone fulmar was also spotted gliding gracefully low to the water.

As we arrived in Guernsey more gulls species were seen flying close by. After disembarking I had a few hours to walk around St Peter Port and do some window shopping followed by a pot of tea at a café overlooking the port.

It was soon time to board the ship for the return journey. I made my way on to the top deck as we headed out to sea but the wind had picked up considerably since the morning and I was unable to fight against it to get on to the deck so had to retreat inside. I was allowed to go into the lounge and observe from the window at the front of the ship. The sea conditions had changed considerably and were not conducive to spotting cetaceans and seabirds, except for Gannet which were easy to spot. A few auk and gull species were seen but they were not close enough to fully identify, as well as a Great Skua.

Great Skua Peter Howlett 02
Great Skua (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Whilst observing from the lounge I spoke to a number of passengers about what I was looking for and about MARINElife and heard about some of their own encounters with whales and dolphins.

We were soon back in Poole Harbour and it was time to drive back home. Despite the wind and sea conditions it was a very enjoyable trip.

Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for the support and assistance.