Weymouth or Poole-Channel Islands

Sightings Archives: June 2017

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 29 June 2017

Posted 03 July 2017

MARINElife WLOs: Rick Morris, Glynis Northwood-Long and Rachel Davies

Weather: South: cloudy, wind southerly 3-4, sea state 2-4 with 1m swell at times.
North: cloudy with sunny spells, wind NW 1-3, sea state 1-3 with slight swell.

Summary of sightings

Marine mammals:
Dolphin Sp. 4

Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Manx Shearwater
Black-headed Gull
Common Tern
Sandwich Tern

After meeting in the ferry terminal, the three of us proceeded to board the 'Liberation' for what was to be a wildlife trip with a difference! We were joined by a film crew that wanted to film the role of the Wildlife Officer and how MARINElife conduct the monthly survey on this route.

Gannet Rick Morris 12
Gannet (Rick Morris)

After a hearty breakfast, we ventured up to the viewing deck to engage with the eager passengers present, explaining about the wildlife that may be seen throughout the crossing. Once out in the English Channel and with a now quiet deck, we made our way up to the bridge to conduct a survey. Sightings throughout the trip were quiet, with Gannet and auks being the most prevalent.

With Alderney in the distance, Rachel saw 'fins' off the starboard beam, these were of 4 dolphins, possibly Common Dolphin, but without 100% certainty we recorded them as dolphin species.

Noon day gun Rick Morris 01
The Noon day gun on Castle Cornet (Rick Morris)

Nearing Guernsey, we rejoined the passengers on the viewing deck again, answering the many questions folk had about what wildlife we had seen. We arrived at the firing of the mid-day cannon from Castle Cornet and once berthed, we decided to have a look around the marina before heading to the 'Crow's Nest' for a delicious lunch.

Rejoining the ship for the return home, we again made our way up top to join the passengers looking for wildlife. We left Guernsey this time via the 'Big Russel', a channel running between Herm and Sark.

RD and GNL surveying Rick Morris 01
Rachel Davies and Glynis Northwood-Long surveying (Rick Morris)

Leaving Guernsey behind us, Rachel and Glynis went up to the bridge to continue the survey whilst I stayed out on deck with the passengers. Passing Alderney gave great sights of the many Gannet on the breeding colonies of Ortac Rock and Les Etacs. We also watched intently in the surrounding water that was welling up in the tidal race, as here, Harbour Porpoise have been seen to feed. Alas none were seen, just a solitary Shag and a few Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Leaving the Channel Islands in the distance, I rejoined the girls on the bridge for a while before nearing Poole, where once again we joined everyone outside to take in the sights and wildlife of Poole Harbour before disembarking and making our way home.

Our thanks to Condor Ferries for supporting MARINElife's work and to the Captain and crew of the 'Liberation' and not forgetting the friendly and helpful shore staff.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 20 June 2017

Posted 24 June 2017

MARINElife WLO Jenny Ball

Weather: Warm and sunny, wind E 2 inc. 4, vis good with haze later

Summary of sightings:

Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Common Tern
Sandwich Tern
Auk sp.

Terrestrial birds:
Canada Goose
Little Egret

It was a perfect day for a trip to Guernsey: already 25°C and rising as we left the dock just after 9:00, and the breeze on the viewing deck was very welcome. We had blazing sunshine with flat seas all the way across, though a haze built up on the horizon during the day.

The lagoon on Brownsea Island was busy with Sandwich Tern flying and on their breeding platforms, together with good numbers of Canada Goose and a variety of gulls and waders. The terns and Black-headed Gulls stayed with us around into Studland Bay but once we had passed Old Harry rock sightings were fewer and further between. We saw a few Lesser and Great Black-backed Gull, a solitary Fulmar, and of course the wonderful Gannet as we neared Ortac, with a pair following the ship from a distance, turning and swooping in unison.

Castle Cornet Jenny Ball 01
Castle Cornet (Jenny Ball)

A prompt arrival at St Peter Port meant that the day trippers on board could take full advantage of their time on Guernsey. We took our lunch down to a nearby bathing area, for a swim with a brilliant view of Havelet Bay and Castle Cornet.

The return trip was rather breezier but still very warm, so plenty of people were happy to shelter from the wind and enjoy the views during the crossing. I heard from a couple of Jersey residents that there have been a number of recent reports of dolphins in their waters but unfortunately they didn't seem to have strayed in our direction.  Passing Ortac was a popular moment as usual, with the tide swirling and boiling, and the Gannets flashing white in the sunlight above the rock. A group of four Gannet, three adult and one first summer, circled the ship giving us a good view of their very different plumages.

Jenny Ball and passengers
Jenny Ball chatting to passengers on the Liberation

The rest of the crossing was quiet with just a few gulls for company but Brownsea Lagoon was still full of activity, with maybe a dozen Little Egret highlighted by the evening sun. It had been an excellent day spent talking to lots of passengers about MARINElife and hearing their own wildlife stories. Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for their support and assistance in making the trip so worthwhile both for MARINElife and for their own passengers.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 3 June 2017

Posted 20 June 2017

Julie Hatcher & JoJo Southgate, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Mainly sunny out, more cloud on the return leg, winds light, visibility good.

Summary of sightings:

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 152
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 8
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 72
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 3
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 18
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 1
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 21
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 2
Gull sp.   4
Tern sp.   8
Duck sp.   1

After boarding the Liberation we spoke with the cabin manager and cheekily requested if we were able to go onto the bridge slightly earlier than usual because over the last few days a solitary dolphin had been spotted on several occasions in Poole Harbour. Captain Giles Wade allowed us onto the bridge and told us that he had seen the dolphin a couple of days before by Old Harry Rocks.

Fulmar Peter Howlett 16
Fulmar (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

There were plenty of seabirds to record in the harbour but unfortunately, on this occasion, no dolphin. Heading towards Guernsey there were several cargo vessels of different sizes within sight on the calm seas. Bird sightings were sparse with a few Fulmar and Cormorants, a solitary Guillemot and an assortment of gulls and terns recorded.

Between Guernsey and Jersey and vice versa the journey was quiet with only a few sightings of birds.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 13
Manx Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

On our way back to Poole from Guernsey the weather remained dry and the waters were calm.  Towards Alderney and the Gannet colony on Ortac the sightings of Gannets, both adults and immatures, increased. There were approximately 60 Gannets circling the skies above the rock and around 20 resting on the water, plus all the birds nesting on the rock itself. Carrying on towards Poole we sighted two Manx Shearwaters, a Kittiwake and even two ducks, which unfortunately were too far away to identify.

We concluded our survey on coming into Poole Harbour, seeing several terns, gulls and two Oystercatchers to round off the trip. Once we completed our survey we thanked Captain Giles Wade and his staff for their hospitality.