MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 8 May 2017

WLO's Glynis Northwood-Long, Maggie Gamble and Jenny Ball

Weather: Sunny with northerly wind 3-4, sea state smooth to moderate with good visibility

Summary of sightings:

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

Terrestrial birds:
Canada Goose
Oystercatcher
Swallow

I met with Maggie and Jenny at the ferry terminal as they were joining me for a refresher/training day. After a quick check-in, we were soon boarding the Liberation. We found our seats but, as it was a sunny morning, headed straight up onto the upper viewing deck to take advantage of the journey through Poole harbour.

As we set off through the harbour we began spotting different varieties of gull, terns along with Cormorants. As we sailed past Brownsea Island lagoon we could see Sandwich Tern diving at speed into the water and could hear the distinctive call of the Oystercatcher.

We left Poole Harbour and after passing the impressive sight of Old Harry Rocks, most of the passengers went back inside. We used this as a chance go inside ourselves and enjoy refreshments from the Casquets Bistro on board before heading back on deck.

Jenny Ball and Maggie Gamble Glynis Northwood-Long
Jenny Ball and Maggie Gamble chatting to passengers (Glynis Northwood-Long)

We were soon were chatting to passengers about the wildlife that we may encounter. One couple had been together for 60 years and another were on the MARINElife Wildlife day trip as a birthday present. Unfortunately, sightings were scarce apart from a few Shag, until we approached Ortac rock when the Gannet sightings increased dramatically. We were able to point out the Gannet colony to the passengers on deck with us.

On arrival in Guernsey, we walked round St Peter Port harbour, passed the marinas and strolled along the sand at Havelet Bay as the tide was out. We then continued round to La Valette bathing pools admiring the Sea Thrift and Mesembryanthemum. Then up the steps to the Clarence Battery, where we had a superb view across St Peter Port and Castle Cornet, along with the Castle Breakwater. Here we enjoyed a late picnic lunch watching the Herring Gull soaring above us and swoop underneath us, and listening to noisy Oystercatcher.

Havelet beach Glynis Northwood-Long
Havelet Bay (Glynis Northwood-Long)

Back on the Liberation on the return journey, we headed back up to the viewing deck and were joined by more interested passengers. Again we enjoyed seeing the Gannet nesting and circling Ortac rock, highlighted in the sunshine.

As we sailed back into Poole, the sun set behind the clouds and the light faded. The three of us were vigilant throughout the return journey, watching and forever hopeful of spotting a cetacean or two but sadly they remained elusive to us.

Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for making us welcome on board and for their support to MARINElife and a big thank you to Maggie and Jenny for joining me.