MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 30 April 2016

Abby Bruce & Lucy Grable, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Bright sunshine throughout with a scattering of clouds, sea state 2-4

Summary of sightings:

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 8
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 69
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 13
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 31
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 41
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Gull sp.  170
Auk sp.  24

Terrestrial birds at sea
Woodpigeon Columba palumbus 15
Swift Apus apus 3
Jackdaw Corvus monedula 1
Crow sp.  1
Passerine sp.  7
Wader sp.  7

Finding Poole harbour and the parking facilities was easy and with an efficient check in we were on for a prompt start to our sailing. Once on board we were warmly welcomed on to the bridge and encouraged to set up on the starboard side.

It was a glorious sunny day in Poole and the scenery was stunning. We were instantly surrounded by birds and had our pens at the ready when we reached the Channel to start surveying. Particularly numerous were the majestic Gannet. Some other species of note were a group of waders we found tricky to ID in the bright sunshine, but they were most likely a group of Knot, and a few Swift, a sure sign spring has sprung at last.

Ortac Abigail Bruce 01
Ortac Gannet colony (Abby Bruce)

Across the Channel from the white chalky columns of Old Harry rocks off Handfast Point we met another white formation, but this time bird-stained rocks, the mound of Ortac, a Gannet breeding colony. A spectacle to see and fully explained the high numbers we were recording.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 15
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The views of Guernsey and Jersey were equally as stunning and although the return leg of our journey was a little quieter for marine life a Sooty Shearwater, Fulmar and handful of Manx Shearwater kept our senses sharp. We longed for a brief glimpse of a cetacean but alas this time it was not meant to be. The crew inspired us though, with previous tales of whale, dolphin and the odd Basking Shark sightings. All were very interested in our work and keen to contribute to it. All making for a very enjoyable trip, many thanks to everyone involved.