MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 29 July 2015

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Christine Arnold

Weather: Sunny and breezy

Summary of sightings:

Manx Shearwater
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Black-headed Gull
Common Tern
Sandwich Tern

On Guernsey:
Herring Gull
Black-headed Gull

I excitedly boarded the Condor Liberation through the car terminal with my bike and was joined by many other interested voyagers on deck. One man who had specifically booked on to a Marine Life trip mentioned that the approaching clouds looked ominous.

As we set sail it rained briefly but that did not put the passengers off. People graciously accepted the MARINElife leaflets and other people came over to see what they were too. Many people were on their holidays or just making the day trip and asked interesting questions about what wildlife they might see and also about the surrounding Poole and Purbeck areas.

As we sailed past the Brownsea lagoon I was able to point out various bird species which were present there. We saw Common and Sandwich Terns, Great Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls, Cormorant, Little Egret, and a Grey Heron. The Liberation increased speed as we journeyed out of Poole Bay, where we saw Cormorant, Sandwich and Common Terns fishing. Just after we had passed the Studland Bay area we saw the first majestic Gannet swooping low over the water. It was quickly joined by another.

Guernsey rock beach Christine Arnold 2015-07
Rocky beach near St Peter Port, Guernsey (Christine Arnold)

I continued to talk with fellow passengers about MARINELife and give out the leaflets. I felt that an unusually high percentage of passengers on this trip showed an interest and more seemed to be on board specifically for the day to see the wildlife.

On approaching Alderney we were lucky enough to see some Manx Shearwaters flying quickly and quite low over the surface of the water. As always I became very enthusiastic telling onlookers about the Gannet colony near Alderney. People thought it was great and today there seemed to be even more Gannets circling than ever before!

We left the ship at Guernsey and I cycled to the beach where there were many interesting rock pools to look in. I was serenaded by a flock of Goldfinches singing overhead. On the journey the many container and freight ships crossing the Channel were of interest to lots of passengers and myself. There was also a cruise ship anchored off Guernsey with little tenders taking the passengers to and from the island.

Guernsey ships Christine Arnold 2015-07
The cruise ship Mein Schiff 1 with Alderney's cargo vessel Valiant which transports goods between Alderney, Guernsey and Poole. (Christine Arnold)

On the return journey we saw the Gannet colony again and I was able to talk to a few families about it. One family with two youngsters were particularly interested in the pictures in the leaflet and went outside to see if they could glimpse anything. We spotted several more Manx Shearwater on the way back and as the Liberation slowed up on approaching Poole Bay we were treated to a lovely sunset. Again the terns were fishing in the waters near Brownsea and on Brownsea lagoon and the Cormorant were beginning to congregate in their roosts as they do each evening. Two Shelduck and some Great Black-backed Gulls flew over also. Just as the ship was about to berth in Poole we saw a graceful Barrel Jellyfish in the water right near the ferry ramp which completed our journey brilliantly.

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