Weymouth or Poole-Channel Islands

Sightings Archives: October 2016

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 21 October 2016

Posted 22 October 2016

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Alan Altoft

Summary of sightings:

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

Weather: sunny spells, dry with fair winds, visibility fair, sea state ranging from 3-5 throughout day.

This was the last of the MARINElife day trips for this year and it really felt like the end of the season. The Liberation had a slightly earlier sailing because of the tides and a land mist hung over Poole harbour. Atmospheric and beautiful it may have been but it wasn't great for wildlife watching. Even  Brownsea Island lagoon which is full of a variety of birds was veiled.

Cormorant Peter Howlett 03
Cormorant (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Out into the channel and up on deck after a brief safety film I met with a few local bird enthusiasts, although no one had specifically booked a MARINElife ticket. The mist still hung over the coast and out over the water limiting our sightings to several passing Cormorants heading into the harbour.

It was late October and cold and often I was the only one on the deck. The view cleared enough to make being on lookout for any cetacean activity worthwhile but alas no there were no sightings on either leg of the trip.

Approaching the Channel Islands usually means that Gannets start appearing in ever larger numbers but this did not happen and as we sailed past Ortac the colony seemed deserted. This Gannet colony has been the high point of the trips throughout the summer and early autumn but it looked like they had left now for other waters.

Liberation sunset Alan Altoft 2016
Sunset over the Channel (Alan Altoft)

The sun was setting before we reached Poole on the return leg, bringing observations to a close. It has been an interesting year, let's hope 2017 is as good.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 15 October 2016

Posted 21 October 2016

David Doxford and Christine Arnold, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Slight Breeze, sea state 4-5, visibility mainly good with some cloud and rain.

Summary of sightings:

Gannet Morus bassanus 27
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 6
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 4
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 6
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius 1

Terrestrial Birds
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 4
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 9
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa c200

We boarded the Condor Liberation and waited for her to sail past the chain ferry before beginning our survey. As we sailed past Brownsea Island, we were able to see Shelduck, Spoonbill, Black-tailed Godwit and Oystercatcher on the lagoon.

Christine Arnold surveying David Doxford
Surveying on the Liberation (David Doxford)

After passing the chain ferry we went up to the bridge and began our effort-based survey. The crew were welcoming and friendly as ever. After observing for a while we saw a Grey Phalarope flying quickly in the direction of Portland Bill which was rather exciting. We passed Ortac rock and Gannet colony and began to see more Gannet flying over the water along with several Manx Shearwater. It seemed that the Gannet colony was pretty empty today.

Today's approach to St Peter Port took us between Sark and Herm due to the tides. This enabled us to get good views of these islands. We went off effort and after collecting passengers went back on effort to survey between Guernsey and Jersey. Whilst docked in Jersey, we made the most of the lovely food served from the Casquettes Bistro.

After departing Jersey and travelling past the castle, we recorded Fulmar, Shag and Oystercatcher. We also passed the one of Condor's other ships the Commodore Clipper whilst a beautiful rainbow could be seen over the channel as we made our way back into Guernsey.

Sark rainbow Christine Arnold 2016
Rainbow over Sark (Christine Arnold)

After departing sunny Guernsey, we made our way down the channel between Guernsey and Herm and continued towards Ortac where we saw Great black-backed Gull and more Gannet.

We continued to survey until dark at about 6.30. It was great to see several big container ships all illuminated in the dark. The moon was out also which was picturesque.

We filled in the data recording sheets onto the databased whilst enjoying the comfort of the Ocean Plus lounge. Eventually we viewed land from all the illuminations on the Bournemouth Sea front. We then docked and thanked the crew for their interesting company, friendly hospitality and service.

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

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 12th October

Posted 18 October 2016

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Glynis Northwood-Long

Weather:   Outward- Overcast with showers and Easterly wind 5-6, sea state moderate with good visibility.
Inbound - Sunny spells and showers with Easterly wind 5-6, sea state moderate with good visibility.

Summary of Species seen:

Cetaceans: No sightings

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

Other water birds:
Little Egret

This trip was my last one for this year as a Wildlife Officer on the Liberation and I was forever hopeful that the cetaceans would be kind to me and make an appearance.

After checking in at the ferry terminal, I boarded the Liberation and as it was early, I decided to have a tasty breakfast from Casquettes Bistro. However, as the Liberation departed ahead of schedule, following the announcement that a Wildlife Officer was on board, I quickly had to dash up to the viewing deck.

As we sailed through Poole Harbour, Cormorant and varieties of Gull could be seen on the buoys in the main channel. Several passengers approached me as they had heard the announcement and were interested in spotting local wildlife. I pointed out Brownsea Island and its lagoon to them where we were able to see different wading birds including Avocet, Spoonbill, Little Egret and Oystercatcher.  

After passing the spectacular sight of Old Harry Rocks, bird sightings decreased and as the passengers had gone inside, I took a break for coffee. Later, back on the viewing deck, we approached Alderney, but at this time of year most of the Gannet had departed the colony on Ortac.

Old Harry Rocks Rick Morris









Old Harry Rocks (Archive photo: Rick Morris)

On arriving at St Peters Port, it was such a lovely sunny day for mid-October. Guernsey was still in bloom with the colourful floral displays along the esplanade. I walked along to the Castle breakwater where I had a great view of the Liberation departing for Jersey.

Floral display Guernsey Glynis Northwood-Long

Liberation Glynis Northwood-Long

Flowers (Photo: GNL)                                         Condor Liberation (Photo: Glynis Northwood-Long)

I continued to the lighthouse at the end of the breakwater where I had my lunch, watched by a cheeky Black-headed Gull. I stayed there until it was time to return to the ferry terminal, watching the comings and goings in the harbour and being entertained by the antics of a juvenile shag diving for it's lunch.

BH Gull Glynis Northwood-LongJuv Shag Glynis Northwood-Long

Black-headed Gull (Photo: Glynis Northwood-Long)      Shag (Photo: Glynis Northwood-Long)

Back on the Liberation on the return journey, whilst it was still sunny, several people remained on the viewing deck and we chatted about MARINElife. Unfortunately, the swell and white caps on the sea made it difficult to spot any cetaceans and we didn't see any on this trip.

As we sailed back into Poole, we were treated to a lovely sunset over the harbour, silhouetting several deer along the edge of lagoon.

Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for making me welcome on board and for their support to MARINElife.

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Glynis Northwood-Long