Julia Benson and Steve Boswell, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Cloudy with some sunshine and good visibility. South-westerly wind, force 4-6 and sea state 5-6 for the Poole to Guernsey leg and 3-5 between Guernsey and Jersey.
Summary of sightings:
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 1
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 7
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 4
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Gull sp. 3
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 6
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 1
Turnstone Arenaria interpres 4
Unidentified passerine (in flight at sea) 1
It was a very windy morning when we arrived at the ferry terminal in Poole but it was dry and the sun was breaking through a fairly cloudy sky.
Once the ship had left the channel and was out in open water, we were escorted on to the bridge to begin surveying.
Bird sightings throughout the survey were sporadic and spotting was made difficult due to the sea state. However, despite the low numbers of seabirds those we did see made this a particularly enjoyable survey. During the Poole to Guernsey leg, as well as seeing Gannet, Guillemot, Shag, Kittiwake and other gull species, we also saw a Sooty Shearwater and a Great Skua. On the return journey from Jersey to Guernsey a Balearic Shearwater appeared just ahead of the ship, gracefully gliding low to the water. A real treat to see as this species is sadly endangered.
Balearic Shearwater (Archive photo: Tom Brereton)
Whilst waiting at the port in Jersey for the return leg to Guernsey we remained on the bridge casually observing the gulls flying around. We noticed a very small strip of grass in the harbour with clumps of what we believe was Pampas grass. Now this in itself seemed unusual being so close to the docked ships but so too was the animal we saw - two rabbits! That's certainly a first for me when conducting a marine mammal and seabird survey on a ship!
As for marine mammals, unfortunately, there was not a fin to be seen. The swell and sea state were not conducive for spotting cetaceans. By the time the ship was ready to leave Guernsey it was dark so we were unable to survey on the return journey back to Poole.
Thanks to Condor Ferries and the Captain and crew of the Condor Liberation for their continued support and assistance.