MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 1 June 2016

MARINElife Guernsey WLO: Christine Arnold

Weather: Outward - cloudy but dry and calm, visibility good.
Return - dry with slightly stronger wind, visibility good.

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans: None

Seabirds
Herring Gull
Black-headed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Gannet
Shag
Cormorant
Manx Shearwater

Terrestrial birds
Oystercatcher
Feral Pigeon
Grey Wagtail

I joined fellow passengers on deck for the journey from Poole to Guernsey. People were very interested in the wildlife they were likely to see during the crossing along with finding out more about the surrounding geography of the Poole and Weymouth area.

Condor Liberation Christine Arnold 2016-06
Passengers enjoying the view of Poole Harbour (Christine Arnold)

I spoke with many passengers informing them about the wildlife and about MARINElife whilst handing out leaflets. It was very interesting to speak with the passengers and find out some of their reasons for travelling. One family had arranged a MARINElife day trip for the father's 50th birthday present, some were going on holiday whilst some were travelling to the Channel Islands to meet up with relatives.

As we passed Brownsea Island we saw several Cormorant and Shag along with Great Black-backed and Herring Gull. After passing the chain ferry and travelling past Studland beach we saw several Sandwich Tern fishing. Later we saw the first Gannet soaring above the waves in the majestic, calm way that they always adopt.

As we were travelling through the English Channel we passed several large freighters carrying hundreds of containers, they really are quite a sight. We also added to the seabird tally sighting a number of Manx Shearwaters.

Ortac Christine Arnold 2016-06
Ortac with the webcam solar panels visible on the left (Christine Arnold)

Soon we were approaching Les Ortac rock off the coast of Alderney where we were rewarded by a spectacular display of Gannet with both adult and  immature birds swirling around the rock. The birds were fishing in the area near the rock and many hundreds were perched on it. Behind this were Les Etacs which were also covered with Gannets. During my last trip I photographed Les Ortac and on enlarging this image found I could see the solar panels which power the webcams the Alderney Wildlife Trust have placed on the rock. The webcams can be seen at the Teaching Through Nature website.

On approach to St Peter Port we passed the large cruise ship 'Crystal Symphony' anchored just off shore and could see a tender ready to take passengers ashore. When we entered St Peter Port there were many gulls circling around along with Feral Pigeons and Oystercatchers.

Crystal Symphony Christine Arnold 2016-06
Crystal Symphony anchored off St Peter Port (Christine Arnold)

The return journey was uneventful with few sightings until we were in Poole Harbour where we saw many Common and Sandwich Tern fishing and a Grey wagtail flew over the ship.

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