Sarah Hodgson & Julie Hatcher, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Sunny, good visibility with some glare at times, E-NE wind, sea state 2-5
Summary of sightings:
Gannet Morus bassanus 205
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 25
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 5
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 9
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Gull sp. 32
Poole was bathed in autumn sunshine as we arrived at the port ready for our crossing to Jersey. As we boarded Condor Liberation, there was time for a quick cup of tea on the outer deck, whilst we made our way out of the harbour. We were soon invited onto the bridge by Captain Steve Ainscow so we could begin our survey.
The viewing conditions were favourable, with calm seas, few whitecaps and not too much glare. Leaving the Dorset coast behind us we started to record individual Gannet, both adults and juveniles. Midway across the Channel we came across a few small groups of migrating terrestrial birds making their journey south for the winter and the dark silhouettes of Great Skua appeared high in the sky.
Great Skua (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)
As we neared the Channel Islands, Captain Steve Ainscow informed us that due to the low tide we would be making a slightly different approach into Guernsey, a route that took us between the islands of Herm and Sark.
Following a brief stop at Guernsey, which allowed us to sample some of the delicious food on offer from the on-board bistro, we continued our journey to Jersey. More gulls, Gannet and Shag were present, but we were still to spot any cetaceans.
The return journey was similar with the sun still shining and a fresh north-easterly breeze. At times the sea state picked up with more whitecaps making viewing a little trickier. A single Guillemot in winter plumage was the only auk of the day and we also spotted a lone Manx Shearwater flying low and fast just above the surface of the water.
The sun was setting just as the Dorset coast came back into view and the fading light marked the end of our survey. Thanks to Condor Ferries, Captain Steve Ainscow and the crew of the Condor Liberation for their support and assistance throughout the crossing.