MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 16 September 2015

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Rick Morris

Weather: Cloudy with occasional showers, sea state mostly 5 with easterly winds

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals:
Harbour Porpoise 3

Black-headed Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Manx Shearwater
Balearic Shearwater
European Shag
Sandwich Tern

Terrestrial birds seen at sea:
Peregrine Falcon
Little Egret
Rock Pipit
Carrion Crow
Feral Pigeon
Warbler Sp

I was greeted at the check-in by Condor's friendly and helpful receptionist, issued with my boarding pass and promptly transferred to the smart looking 'Condor Liberation' and after settling in and having a spot of breakfast I made my up to the top deck.

The sun was coming up as we left and I could make out Cormorant in the lagoon with the occasional Herring Gull flying overhead. The wind had picked up as we neared Old Harry Rocks and out into the Channel, so making cetacean sightings a little challenging! Bird numbers were fairly low, but that was to be expected, with Gannet and gulls the most numerous.

Peregrine Rick Morris 01
Peregrine Falcon (Rick Morris)

As we neared Alderney, Gannet numbers increased due to the large colonies on Ortac Rock and Les Etacs. As we travelled between Ortac and the Casquets lighthouse I happened to glance up and saw a dark bird, clearly a raptor in shape and further observation proved it to be a Peregrine Falcon and it had its prey held firmly in its claws. I couldn't identify what it had caught, but it didn't have webbed feet, so I assume it was a terrestrial bird that was on migration as I did see a warbler species fly down the starboard side a little earlier.

Reaching St Peter Port I enjoyed a walk to Castle Cornet and along the breakwater. As I walked back I could hear the chinking sound of pebbles from the shoreline around the castle, which sure enough led me to a small group of Turnstone busily turning over the pebbles looking for food.

Turnstone Rick Morris 01
Turnstone (Rick Morris)

After re-boarding for the return home, I had time to enjoy a lovely meal of pie and mash and then once again made my way up top. Our course leaving Guernsey took us between the islands of Herm and Sark, a first for me and in the calmer water produced a sighting of three Harbour Porpoise to the delight of the passenger standing next to me that I'd been talking to. The rest of the journey was fairly quiet, but I did see a lone Manx Shearwater and, around five miles south of Alderney, I observed two critically endangered Balearic Shearwater. The rest of the trip produced mainly Gannet and gulls with a lone Cormorant flying past Old Harry Rocks.

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