MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 22 September 2016

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Christine Arnold

Weather: Cloudy then sunny, light winds

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Gannet
Cormorant
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull

Terrestrial birds
Brent Goose
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Spoonbill
Oystercatcher
Curlew
Buzzard
Feral pigeon

Excitedly I boarded Condor Liberation and collected the MARINElife leaflets and vest. We departed early as everyone was on board and ready to leave. After we had watched the safety video I joined fellow passengers on deck and began handing out leaflets and talking about MARINElife and the wildlife we were likely to see.

As we passed Stoney island in Poole harbour we saw a Grey Heron and Curlew resting on it and there were Cormorants perched on the various marker buoys. We had great views of Studland and Old Harry rocks. Chatting to the passengers it seemed that many were off on their holidays going to the Channel Islands.

Noonday gun Christine Arnold 02
Preparing the Noonday gun in Castle Cornet (Christine Arnold)

Crossing the Channel we passed several container ships and began to see Gannet as we approached the Ortac Gannet colony. I even saw a Gannet flying with something in its beak being pursued by another Gannet! The sun emerged and cast beautiful light over Alderney and Guernsey. As we arrived in Guernsey much earlier than normal I was able to take photos of the firing of the noon-day cannon from Castle Cornet.

It was a lovely day and I was able to take advantage of the nearby bathing pool where the shrimps nibbled my feet. Oystercatchers and Herring gulls were calling whilst landing out on the rocks and a Buzzard called overhead.

I reboarded Condor Liberation and handed out more leaflets. It was wonderful to hear the passengers talking about their wildlife encounters on their holidays. Fellow passengers were absolutely delighted to see the spectacle of Ortac rock. They were amazed by how many Gannets there were and even borrowed my binoculars to take a better look. As it was such a clear day we were able to view the Gannet colony on Les Étacs rocks off the southwest tip of Alderney too.

Poole Harbour Christine Arnold 01
Late afternoon sun over Dorset (Christine Arnold)

On approaching Studland and Swanage bay there was a beautiful sunset with rays clearly visible. Just before we travelled past the chain ferry I saw three Brent Geese at the end of Shell Bay beach.

On Brownsea Lagoon hundreds of Cormorants were perched and settling for the night along with at least 23 Spoonbills. Some of these were flapping about in the tamarisk bushes and some were standing in the water. Great Black-backedand Herring Gulls circled around Condor as she approached her mooring area. This was the perfect end to another successful trip.

Brownsea Lagoon Christine Arnold 01
Brownsea Lagoon (Christine Arnold)

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