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