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

Seabirds:
Gannet
Shag
Guillemot
Razorbill
Puffin
Fulmar
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Manx Shearwater
Oystercatcher
Black-headed Gull
Common Tern
Sandwich Tern
Cormorant

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.