MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 14 September 2016

Alan Altoft: Wildlife Officer for MARINElife

Sunny patches, dry with fair winds. Fair visibility, sea state ranging from 3-5 throughout day

Summary of Sightings
Marine Mammals:
None seen

Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
European Shag


Perfectly on schedule the Liberation smoothly slipped away from its moorings and began what always feels like a leisurely crossing of Poole harbour.

After we had all watched a safety briefing film the crew opened up the top deck.  No one had specifically joined the boat on a MARINElife ticket but a couple came up saying they had intended to and would next time.  Another couple of keen ornithologists also came along to introduce themselves. They all lived locally so I had a good chance to learn more about the wild life around the harbour and along the coast from Old Harry to Swanage.  It is always encouraging to see such enthusiasm.

The morning weather and light were good, though once out into the open water the waves were cresting.  Even with several people watching out for signs of marine mammals no sightings were made.  Unfortunately, this was true of the return journey as well.

The Liberation took a broader route around the islands approaching Guernsey at low tide, which gave a chance to see new headlands and scenery.

GBB Gull Peter Howlett 02

Great Black-backed Gull (Peter Howlett)

The time in Guernsey was spent pleasantly on the north bay watching the tide roll in and the activity of the local birds as the waters stirred up the sand and pool life.  It was unusual to be able to sit so close to three Little Egret going about their feeding.

The return journey was again blessed with good weather, although the waves were white-capped and the winds fairly strong.  There was quite a lot of interest in looking for wildlife from those of us on the top deck, and a local islander gave several accounts of the seal and Bottlenose Dolphin activity around the island.

Gannet Rick Morris 07

Gannet (Rick Morris)

The Gannet activity at Ortac was entrancing and one of the highlights of the trip was an adult Gannet slip-streaming behind the bridge, this for several minutes with this giant of a bird only feet from us.  We could see every slight flexing of feathers and wing line, every adjustment of the head angle and the keen eye of the bird.  All the bird's grace and power that lay behind the apparent ease of the flight and spectacular soaring were evident as it edged in to the prevailing wind.

Overall an enjoyable mix of wildlife, the elements and people sharing knowledge and discussing 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 at What's more, Condor Ferries will kindly donate £5 of the cost of your ticket to MARINElife!