MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 9 September 2015

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Glynis Northwood-Long

Outward: Overcast until past Old Harry Rocks and then sunny with strong easterly winds
Return: Sunny with strong east to northeasterly winds decreasing towards Poole Bay

Summary of species seen:

Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Little Egret

On arriving in Poole Harbour, although it was overcast, I was hopeful that the weather would improve during the day. The check-in at the ferry terminal was busy but the friendly staff quickly got me on board the Liberation, so I was able to enjoy a delicious breakfast from the Casquets Bistro. Then it was up to the viewing deck for our departure out of Poole Harbour, passing Brownsea Island we were able to see a variety of wading birds on the lagoon, including Spoonbill, Oystercatcher and Avocet. As we approached Old Harry Rocks, the clouds started to disperse and as we got further out into the Channel, it was sun and blue skies all the way.

Several passengers heard the announcement that there was a MARINElife Wildlife Officer onboard and came to join me on the viewing deck. As we chatted, we kept an eye out for dolphins as they had been seen along the coast but unfortunately we had no such luck. However, I did tell them to make sure they were on deck as we approached Ortac Rock, west of Alderney.

St Peter Port Glynis Northwood-Long 01
St Peter Port harbour (Glynis Northwood-Long)

We weren't disappointed as there was plenty of activity at the Gannetry on the rock. No matter how many times, I make this journey, I am still in awe of such a magnificent sight, with the rock covered in Gannet and many more circling overhead, then diving into the sea below.

I disembarked at St Peter Port and, having a few hours ashore, I wandered around the harbour watching several Cormorant sitting on the moored boats, majestically drying out their wings. I then wandered along the breakwater by Castle Cornet and had my lunch sitting by the lighthouse whilst watching terns diving for theirs.

On the return journey, I was joined on the viewing deck by people hopeful for sightings of marine mammals and seabirds. I exchanged details with someone from a Channel Islands TV company with a view to a possible interview with one of our Trustees, which would be great publicity for the MARINElife charity. Another person was particularly interested in volunteering for MARINElife and becoming a Wildlife Officer and gave her my contact details. We spent the rest of the trip on the viewing deck, chatting about recent cetacean sighting reports, whilst relaxing in the sunshine.

Dorset Coast Glynis Northwood-Long
Late afternoon over the Dorset coast (Glynis Northwood-Long)

As we sailed back towards Poole, the sun started to set over Old Harry Rocks and Poole Harbour where we watched a variety of birds including Common Tern and Cormorant diving for their supper.

Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for making me so welcome onboard and the passengers who joined me on the viewing deck.