MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 30 June 2015

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO  Andy Gilbert

Weather: Sunny, clear visibility, wind ENE, sea state 2-3.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin 5

Seabirds
Sandwich Tern
Common Tern
Herring Gull
Black Headed Gull
Lesser Black Back Gull
Great Black Back Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Guillemot
Cormorant
Kittiwake
Gannet
Manx Shearwater

Other
Little Egret
Canada Goose
Spoonbill
Oystercatcher

The Condor Liberation left Poole Harbour at 10am with predictions of a sunny day but with moderately high easterly winds expected. As we passed Brownsea Island lagoon the large number of passengers out on the viewing deck had sightings of good numbers of Oystercatcher, Great Black-backed Gull, Cormorant, Canada Geese plus a few Little Egrets with a Spoonbill feeding amongst them. Huge Barrel jelly fish floated past us. Common Terns were abundant and as we headed towards Old Harry Rocks good numbers of diving Sandwich Terns entertained us with their spectacular feeding. After chatting to passengers in the beautiful morning sunshine about all the possible wildlife encounters that the trip offered, the wind increased as we turned into the Channel and many people sought the comfort of their seats, leaving a hardy group on deck.

BND Andy Gilbert 01
Bottlenose Dolphin (Andy Gilbert)

Sightings were initially quiet and consisted mainly of Gannets until we reached the tidal race around Alderney and the Ortac gannetry. The 70 foot high guano covered sandstone rock is an impressive element to this Channel Islands crossing and the spectacular sight of thousands of Gannets using it during breeding season, making it the most southerly Gannetry in the British Isles, makes this trip worth doing on its own.

Some Guillemot and two Mediterranean Gulls appeared off Guernsey and we arrived to a baking hot St Peter Port. The next few hours were spent eating our lunch on the harbour wall and walking the cliffs before re-boarding.

A few Manx Shearwater were in evidence on the return journey and we scanned the turbulent waters around Alderney for Harbour Porpoise or even Minke Whale but to no avail. We cut across the path of an impressive square rigger in full sail in the distance on the return. At around 7.30 pm, as we passed the entrance to Poole Harbour, the highlight of the trip appeared. I spotted five Bottlenose Dolphin some distance from us and was able to direct excited passengers to the sighting.  They headed directly towards us on the port side but unfortunately were turned away by the presence of jet skis alongside the ferry. After that we managed to watch them showing at the rear of the ship for a while and came away extremely happy with this great end to the day's trip.

Sign on Condor Liberation Andy Gilbert
The wonderfully fitting sign Condor have put on the Liberation (Andy Gilbert)

As always, many thanks to the Captain of Liberation and to Condor Ferries for their support of our work.