Weymouth or Poole-Channel Islands

Sightings Archives: August 2016

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 30 August 2016

Posted 05 September 2016

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Alan Altoft

Weather: Out and return - sunny, light winds, visibility good, sea state calm

Summary of Sightings

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Gannet
Fulmar
Shag

This was my first trip as Wildlife Officer (WLO) which suddenly felt quite a responsibility but I was eager none the less. Having been on a WLO training day on this route earlier in the year I felt well orientated and had an expectation of how the day would go.

The morning weather and light were ideal. Poole harbour a blue mirror. The upper deck filled up with passengers and quite a few were interested and wanted to talk about what they might see during the crossing. The harbour itself and particularly Brownsea Island was very active with bird life.

Fulmar Peter Howlett 19
Fulmar (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

As we left the harbour the sea was calm and visibility extremely good so the chances of spotting any marine mammal activity if they were around was encouraging. The number of people on deck thinned out and I was conscious of fewer eyes watching the waters. As it turned on this day we saw no cetaceans.

Halfway across the Channel we entered a narrow band of seafog, fortunately it only lasted fifteen minutes and gave me a chance to get a cup of tea and a croissant.

The rest of the sailing into Guernsey was smooth and clear. The bird life was abundant and the scenery fascinating.

GBBG Peter Howlett 10
Great Black-backed Gull (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The return journey was again blessed with good weather. The evening light made the Gannet colony on Ortac more beautiful and spectacular than ever. In amongst the adult were quite a few juvenile Gannet.

A lot of the passengers were doing the day trip so there were familiar faces on the return trip and more came up and had longer conversations about MARINELife, research and marine conservation in general.

A good day and thanks to the friendly crew.

If you like the sound of joining one of our trips down to Guernsey, from Poole then you can book online here. What's more, Condor Ferries will kindly donate £5 from the cost of your ticket to MARINElife!

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 24 August 2016

Posted 25 August 2016

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Christine Arnold

Weather: Light winds, cloudy to start but then sunny

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds:
Common Tern
Sandwich Tern
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag

Terrestrial birds:
Swallow
Little Egret
Feral Pigeon
Spoonbill
Oystercatcher
Black-tailed Godwit
Avocet

I boarded the ship on this very hot and muggy day. After collecting my MARINElife folder I went out on deck and began speaking to passengers and handing out leaflets. Many travellers were going on holiday and were interested in the surrounding area.

As Condor Liberation made her way out of the harbour we saw Sandwich and Common Terns along with Cormorant and Shag circling nearby Brownsea lagoon. On Brownsea lagoon we were able to see Spoonbill, Little Egret along with many Black-tailed Godwit and Avocet.

We had brilliant views of Old Harry and Studland bay and more people were out on deck enjoying these than I've ever seen before. One group included people who were on a coach tour visiting Guernsey for the day. Whilst so many people were on deck I took this opportunity to hand out leaflets and talk about the research MARINElife undertakes.

It was a great day for being at sea with light winds and the sea calm. However, the sea was quiet and it was some time before we saw our first Gannets. After an hour or so we passed one of my favourite spots on the trip - the Gannet colony on Ortac, at this time of year there were many dark coloured juvenile birds to be seen.

Sea Cloud 2 Christine Arnold
Sea Cloud II at Anchor off St Peter Port (Christine Arnold)

As we approached St Peter Port we passed Sea Cloud II at anchor, a large and very exclusive sailing cruise ship. There was also a large flock of Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Greater Black-backed Gulls congregating around fishing boats outside the harbour entrance.

For the first time ever I was fortunate enough to be able to witness the firing of the noon-day canon from Castle Cornet, which is quite an experience. The canon is fired by two soldiers dressed in red, the bang is extremely loud and the canon sends out a large plume of smoke.

Ortac Christine Arnold 2015 05
Ortac Gannet colony (Christine Arnold)

Once we docked in Guernsey I cycled to the beach and watched brightly coloured periwinkles in the rock pools. All too soon it was time to board the Liberation for the return trip where we had brilliant views of Jethou, Herm, Sark and Alderney islands. We went close to the Ortac Gannet colony where hundreds of these majestic birds had landed on it or were circling over the surrounding waters.

After this I took the opportunity to make the most of the catering facilities with a meal and returned to the deck for the remaining journey. There was a lovely sunset over Poole Harbour area and we had good views of Brownsea Lagoon where the terns were still searching for fish. We docked in Poole after a busy and interesting trip.

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

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 16 August 2016

Posted 18 August 2016

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Julie Hatcher

Weather: Outward and return - a stiff easterly breeze with wall to wall sunshine and blue skies. The wind died as we approached Poole on the return journey and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset and calm seas.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds:
Gannet
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Fulmar
Cormorant
Shag
Swallow

It was already warm with a brilliant blue sky as we left Poole and sailed through the harbour at a leisurely pace. The outside deck was packed with people enjoying the sunshine and watching the gulls, terns and Cormorants flying around the ferry as we passed Brownsea Island and sailed along the coast. I chatted with the passengers and answered their questions about what we might see on the crossing as we left the Purbeck coast and headed out into the Channel.

Gannet Peter Howlett 24
Adult and juvenile Gannet (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

A strong easterly wind was blowing making the sea surface a bit choppy although not at all rough for the crossing. Several adult and juvenile Gannet, with their dark plumage, were spotted, along with a Fulmar and a single Swallow heading south on migration. We passed the Gannet colony on Ortac just west of Alderney and, as we approached Guernsey, entered smoother waters. We kept our eyes peeled for Harbour Porpoise and Bottlenose Dolphin, which are regularly seen there, but unfortunately didn't see anything on this occasion.

Fulmar Peter Howlett 19
Fulmar (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

We disembarked in St Peter Port at lunch time with the hot sun beating down. A leisurely lunch and saunter around the shops and cobbled streets of the town soon filled the few hours of shore time and before long it was time to head back to the ferry for the return voyage. The glorious weather continued and again the outside decks of the ferry were packed with people enjoying the views as we left the Channel Islands behind. More Gannet soaring over the waves kept us company as we sailed north but otherwise there was little wildlife to be seen. Despite this everyone enjoyed the day, especially the glorious sunshine, blue skies and smooth crossing.

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

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey August 2016

Posted 16 August 2016

This survey was cancelled for logistical reasons

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 10 August 2016

Posted 09 August 2016

This WLO trip was cancelled for operational reasons.

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

Posted 02 August 2016

This trip was cancelled for operational reasons.