MARINElife Survey Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 26 June 2016

Rick Morris and Christine Arnold, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Cloudy, wind westerly 4 with sea state 3-4.

Summary of sightings

Marine mammals:
None seen

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 78
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 43
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 19
Guillemot Uria aalge 14
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 50
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 12
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 18
Larus Gull Sp. 101

We were welcomed onto the bridge by the Condor staff, they were very friendly, accommodating as usual. As we entered the Studland bay area we began our survey. We recorded both effort data and wildlife sightings which included flotsam sightings.

After a while surveying we approached Les Ortac rock where the majestic Gannet nests in large numbers. This time of year meant that we were also able to identify some juvenile birds, these being much darker coloured than the adults. We also recorded Guillemot, Manx Shearwater and many Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Manx Shearwater Rick Morris 06
Manx Shearwater (Rick Morris)

Even though we were still near Alderney we were able to make out two huge cruise ships on the horizon anchored off Guernsey. As we sailed down the Little Russel, the channel between Guernsey and Herm, the Liberation slowed down and we were able to count a feeding flock of nearly 100 gulls just outside St Peter Port. We also got a close view of the two cruise ships, the Britannia and Caribbean Princess and could see the passengers being transferred to St Peter Port in the ships' tenders as we passed. Both ships were huge and towered above the Liberation.

Cruise ships Christine Arnold 01
Britannia and Caribbean Princess anchored off St Peter Port (Christine Arnold)

We came off our survey effort for this stretch as the Liberation berthed in Guernsey ready for some passengers to disembark. Once we had docked in Guernsey we saw a very smart  Sunseeker-type motor yacht which even boasted a hot tub! Once passengers had disembarked and new ones had boarded we continued to Jersey and the survey restarted logging more gulls, Manx Shearwater and Guillemot on the short crossing to Jersey.

After a short stop in Jersey we began our journey back towards Guernsey. On leaving St Helier we saw a  large Great Black-backed Gull trying really hard to take flight with a large crab in its beak. It did not succeed, the crab looked far too heavy and large and was putting up quite a fight itself.

GBB Gull Rick Morris 01
Great Black-backed Gull struggling with crab (Rick Morris)

We continued the survey, pausing only whilst we docked in St Peter Port to collect more passengers. For the final leg of the journey we took the Big Russel, the channel around the back of the Herm and Jethou, offering a different view of the islands to the outward journey. On the return journey we were fortunate enough to be on the near side as we passed Les Ortac rock so had a very good view of the hundreds of Gannets on it including many circling the top. Every so often during the return journey a Gannet would soar low to the side of the ship or over the top of it enabling Rick to take some mid-air flight shots.

Many thanks to Condor Ferries, the Captain and crew of the Condor Liberation for their assistance and support throughout this survey.