MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 16 May 2015

Sarah Hodgson & James McCarthy, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Outward - mainly sunny with some cloud coverage, good visibility: NW wind, sea state 2-3
Return - sunny, good visibility with glare at times: WNW wind, sea state 2-3

Summary of species recorded:

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 6
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 11
Gannet Morus bassanus 67
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 147
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 17
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 17
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 5
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 4
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 28
Razorbill Alca torda 4
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Gull sp. 100
Auk sp. 1

Terrestrial Birds
Swallow Hirundo rustica 7

As we made our way to the port in Poole the sun was shining, there was a cool breeze and conditions looked favourable for our survey.  After an efficient check in by the helpful Condor staff, we boarded Condor Liberation and made our way to the outside viewing deck to await departure.  We had good views of gulls, terns and waders as the ferry passed Brownsea lagoon, before being invited onto the bridge by Captain Ben Roper and crew to begin our survey.

Arctic Tern Rob Petley-Jones 01
Arctic Tern (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

The conditions were good, with slight seas and a bit of cloud coverage providing great visibility.  As we left the Dorset coastline behind us, we started to record individual Gannet, Fulmar and the occasional Swallow, as well as 3 Arctic Tern overhead.  Sightings of Gannet remained fairly constant, increasing as we neared the colony on Ortac Rock.  We also started to pick up several auks before slowing for our approach to Guernsey.  Coming into St. Peter Port, we made out a large flock of around 120 Shag feeding just outside the harbour and a group of gulls sitting on the water in the distance.

After a brief stop, we carried on to Jersey in glorious sunshine.  The return journey was much the same, with clear skies and a fresh northwesterly breeze.  On leaving Jersey, the visibility was slightly affected by the glare from the bright sunshine, but the viewing conditions soon improved.  We continued to record gulls, Gannet, Fulmar and Guillemot, along with a couple of solitary Puffin and Razorbill.  Mid-Channel several Manx shearwater caught our eye, flying fast and low over the surface of the water.  After a smooth crossing, the familiar sight of Old Harry Rocks came into view and we were soon entering Poole Harbour which marked the end of our survey.

Manx Shearwater Tim Balmer 01
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Tim Balmer)

Thanks to Condor Ferries, Captain Ben Roper and the crew of the Condor Liberation for their support and assistance.