MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 5 August 2015

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Charles McGibney

Weather: Fine day with some sunshine, no precipitation. Sea state 2-3, visibility excellent - 10km plus.

Summary of species seen:

Seabirds
Gannet
Cormorant
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull

It was a fine clear day, with sunshine poking through the clouds as I boarded Condor Liberation. After locating my seat I made my way up to the viewing platform before we set off. The sea state was great for viewing with very little swell and only a few ripples. A number of smaller gulls were circling above and there were a few passengers already gathered on top.

As we made our way past Brownsea Island I spotted a few Cormorant perched on buoys and a Great Black-backed Gull. I kept a sharp look out in the harbour and as we made our way towards Old Harry rocks for seals and cetaceans but despite the excellent viewing conditions none were seen.

Gannet Charles McGibney 04
Gannet (Charles McGibney)

During the crossing we saw a number of Gannet, one of which stayed following the Liberation for some time. I hoped to see them gathered together and diving down but they either seemed to be on a mission to get somewhere, or were just scanning the seas as they effortlessly glided.

After leisurely enjoying a bite to eat on Guernsey and having a stroll around Guernsey's back streets is was almost time to re-board Liberation. The visibility was still excellent and the sun was shining, though the sea state had picked up a little.

Ortac Charles McGibney
Ortac Gannet colony (Charles McGibney)

As we left St Peter Port there were a lot of passengers on the viewing platform who like me, were hopeful of seeing some marine mammals. Although there were some Gannets on the way out, we immediately saw them more frequently and in greater numbers as we left the port and made our way towards Alderney, lifting our spirits. As we passed Ortac there was a huge mass of Gannets covering the rocks and circling above. I doubled effort desperately looking for possible cetaceans below but none were seen then, or before we reached Poole.

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