MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 2 May 2017

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Christine Arnold

Weather: Out - cloudy and breezy, reasonable visibility. Return - dry and sunny, visibility good.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds:
Fulmar
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Common Tern
Sandwich Tern

Terrestrial birds:
Shelduck
Canada Goose
Oystercatcher
Marsh Harrier
Kestrel
Woodpigeon
Rock Pipit
Swallow

I joined fellow passengers on deck for the journey from Poole to Guernsey. Many people were interested by the MARINElife tee shirt and vest and came over to ask about what I was doing on deck. I also went around to others to hand out leaflets and explain to them which species they were likely to see during the crossing.

I met some interesting people, some were on a coach trip from Manchester and were delighted to be out in open waters and this was a quite unique experience for them as they live so far inland.

People were interested in the surrounding areas, typically Studland beach, Swanage bay and the surrounding areas. I was able to tell them how amazing Studland Bay is for biodiversity, especially its seahorses.

As we passed Brownsea Island we saw several Cormorant and European Shag along with Herring Gull.  Travelling past Studland beach we saw Sandwich Tern fishing and once out into the Channel and reaching good speeds we saw the first Gannet soaring above the waves in the majestic, calm way that they typically adopt.

Just north of Alderney we saw a Herring Gull carrying what looked like seaweed in its beak to line its nest with. We also had good views of a Fulmar as it flew over reasonable level with the vessel.

Soon we were approaching Les Ortac rock off the coast of Alderney where we were rewarded by a spectacular display of Gannet. The Gannets were fishing in the area near the rock and many hundreds were perched on it. Behind and closer to Alderney we could see Les Étacs rocks also covered by numerous Gannet.

Carribean Princess Christine Arnold 01

As we approached St Peter Port we had a great view of the cruise ship Caribbean Princess, one of the many which visit the island during the summer.

During our time on Guernsey we went on a bus trip right around the island and were lucky enough to see many Swallows flying over the houses and fields, We also saw Shelduck, 2 Kestrel, Oystercatcher, Canada Geese and a Marsh Harrier soaring reasonably low over a marshland area.

As Guernsey is so small the trip doesn't take too long and on returning to St Peter Port we had time to walk out along the breakwater to Castle Cornet, where we heard a Rock Pipit.

Just before we departed Condor's slow ferry, the Commodore Clipper, came in to berth which was an interesting sight for passengers.

During the return journey we saw several Woodpigeons flying north that appeared to have just taken flight from Guernsey. For much of the return trip sightings were similar to the outward leg and alas no cetaceans were seen. Approaching the entrance to Poole Harbour we saw several Common and Sandwich Terns flying low over the water and it was easy to hear their screechy calls.

Poole Harbour Christine Arnold 02

To complete the journey there was a beautiful sunset which several people commented on and took photos of, the atmosphere was very jovial as people told of their experiences of their holidays or day trips on Guernsey. A lovely day was had by all concerned.

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