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

MARINElife WLO Jenny Ball

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

Summary of sightings:

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

Terrestrial birds:
Canada Goose
Shelduck
Little Egret
Oystercatcher
Swift

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.