MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 15 June 2015

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Rick Morris

Weather:
Southbound: Overcast with light to moderate winds. Northbound: Sunny with cold NE wind with mostly good visibility both ways.

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans:
Harbour Porpoise 2

Seabirds:
Arctic Tern
Common Tern
Sandwich Tern
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Black-headed Gull
European Shag
Cormorant
Fulmar
Manx Shearwater
Gannet
Guillemot
Razorbill
Oystercatcher

Other Birds:
Shelduck
Carrion Crow
Little Egret
Canada Goose
Mallard
Gadwall

I was joined on today's wildlife trip by Karrie Langdon, Karrie has taken over as the Guernsey WLO coordinator and as such, came along to see what is involved!

We arrived at the busy check-in and were handed our boarding cards by the ever helpful desk staff and made our way to catch the bus that would take us to the impressive 'Condor Liberation'. Upon boarding we introduced ourselves as the Wildlife Officers at the information desk before making our way up to the outside viewing deck.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 15b
Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Leaving Poole we soon began picking up good numbers of Common and Sandwich Tern as well as the odd Arctic Tern with many seen fishing and flying with their catch. Passing Brownsea Island there were Cormorant, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Little Egret, Canada Geese, Herring, Lesser, Greater and Black-headed Gull to be seen.

As we headed out into the Channel bird numbers decreased, with Gannet being mostly observed in ones and twos. That is until we neared Ortac and Les Etacs, off Alderney, where hundreds could be seen on and around the rocks.

Leaving Alderney behind us and with Guernsey in sight we were ever hopeful of seeing some cetaceans and as we approached the island of Herm a lone Harbour Porpoise provided the only mammal to be seen on this leg.

Queen Elizabeth Rick Morris 2015
Queen Elizabeth (Rick Morris)

As we made our way towards the harbour we were greeted with great views of the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship that was on a stopover, allowing her passengers to go sightseeing in St Peter Port. Once on Guernsey we decided on a walk along the harbour front and up to the breakwater by Castle Cornet. We were identifying the different gulls when Karrie spotted a Yellow-legged Gull which I confirmed. A stop at the refreshments hut for a cuppa and then it was time to make our way back for the return home.

Back aboard, we enjoyed an excellent meal of piri piri chicken and rice before heading outside ready for the return to Poole. The northeast wind had increased somewhat and once we passed Ortac we ventured down to the forward observation lounge where we engaged several of the passengers in conversation on the wildlife that can be encountered on this route.

YL Gull Peter Howlett 04
Yellow-legged Gull (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Another lone Harbour Porpoise was seen by Karrie of which I just had a fleeting glimpse of the tiny triangular dorsal fin before it disappeared below the surface. The sea flattened out to sea state 2 as we neared the Dorset coast and we thought this may give us more cetacean sightings, but alas, none were to be seen. The calm conditions did provide us with good views of Guillemot and Razorbill that were sat on the surface.

Reaching our berth in Poole, we said thanks and farewells to the onboard service team and made our way ashore.

We would like to thank Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for the friendly and helpful support and assistance.