Weymouth or Poole-Channel Islands

Sightings Archives: April 2017

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Liberation’ Poole–Jersey 22nd April 2017

Posted 26 April 2017

Rick Morris and Glynis Northwood-Long, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Overcast with sunny periods, wind northerly 2, sea state 1-3

Summary of species recorded

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3

Gannet Morus bassanus 358
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 22
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 45
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 14
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 11
CormorantPhalacrocorax carbo 3
Larus gull Sp. 150
Auk Sp. 3

Terrestrial Birds
Swallow Hirundo rustica 9
Swift Apus apus 1
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 1
House Martin Delichon urbicum 1

Arriving at Condor Ferries check-in, we were greeted by the ever helpful and friendly shore staff who issued us with our boarding cards. We then made our way over to the departure gate for the bus transfer to our survey vessel 'Condor Liberation'.

Onboard, we had time for breakfast before heading up to the bridge to commence our survey just as we were exiting the 'red zone' near Old Harry Rocks. It was a quiet start with little in the way of bird sightings, although a number of single Swallow were observed heading inland.

Ortac Rick Morris 04
Ortac Gannetry (Rick Morris)

Nearing Alderney, Gannet numbers increased as we neared their nesting site on Ortac Rock and Les Etacs and our first Swift was spotted on its way to the UK presumably from Africa! It was also near Alderney that 3 Harbour Porpoise were sighted in the calm sea.

Reaching Guernsey, the cruise ship 'Azura' was anchored outside the Harbour with her tenders ferrying passengers ashore. We went up top for a break before continuing on to Jersey, again this leg and the whole of the return remained quiet throughout, although now on the return, Ortac Rock was on our side of the bridge, giving great views of the many hundreds of Gannet, some returning from foraging trips for nesting material.

Gannet Rick Morris 10
Gannet with nesting material (Rick Morris)

The sea state at times dropped to nearly flat calm and we were ever hopeful of spotting dorsal fins, but frustratingly in these near perfect conditions, none were seen, although it did provide us with the odd sighting of Guillemot on the surface.

Reaching the entrance into the Swash Channel in Poole Harbour, we concluded our survey and made our way to join the foot passengers waiting to get off.

We thank Captain Giles Wade, the bridge crew and cabin crew for all the help and a special thanks to Condor Ferries for supporting MARINElife's work.