MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 6 May 2017

Jo Collins and Steve Boswell, Research Surveyors MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: wind NE force 4-5 decreasing 3 later. Significant swell for the first two hours, easing as we neared Guernsey. Heavy rain nearly all day with reduced visibility.

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 3
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 15
Gannet Morus bassanus  77
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 13
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 3
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 24
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 80
Guillemot Uria aalge 12
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 22
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 2
Gull sp.  1

Terrestrial Birds
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 25
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 5
Swallow Hirundo rustica 23
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 1
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 6
Jackdaw Corvus monedula 1

On embarkation we were escorted straight onto the bridge and were introduced to Captain Stephen Ainscow and his crew. He very kindly allowed us to start our survey from departure so we had the advantage of viewing Brownsea Island and Sandbanks before heading out passed Old Harry Rocks.

There was a brisk north-easterly wind blowing and heavy rain began to reduce visibility, it was amazing to see good numbers of Swallows battling against the elements to head north on their migration. The weather on this part of the trip put paid to any chances of seeing cetaceans.

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The only immature Gannet of the trip (Jo Collins)

As we travelled between Guernsey and Jersey we had good views of nine Manx Shearwaters which flew alongside the ship for a while.  We were surprised to see just one non-adult Gannet on this trip - a 3rd year bird, presumably most of the young birds were still further south. As we approached Jersey we saw a Gannet diving into the water and beside it we then saw the distinctive roll and fin of a Harbour Porpoise.

We left Jersey fifteen minutes early and soon after leaving the harbour we saw three Bottlenose Dolphins, a fairly brief encounter but a memorable sighting. The sea state reduced more on our return journey and it wasn't long before we had a good view of another Harbour Porpoise.

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Bottlenose Dolphin near St Helier, Jersey (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Travelling close to the Gannet colony on Ortac we were able to see good numbers sat on the ledges and many swirling around the summit, an impressive sight.  By the time we got closer to Poole at the end of the trip the weather had improved quite considerably.

Our thanks go to Captain Ainscow and his crew for helping to make this a very enjoyable trip.