MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: Condor ‘Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 4 July 2017

MARINElife WLO: Stephie Millin

Weather: Outward - Cloudy but bright and dry with light winds. Good visibility.
Return - sunny and dry. Good visibility but some glare.

Summary of Sightings

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

Terrestrial Birds
Canada Goose
Shelduck
Oystercatcher
Little Egret
Carrion Crow

With talk of recent cetacean sightings I was straight up to the viewing deck to get my tired early morning eyes accustomed to the bright light of the day. While waiting to leave Poole harbour a few birds helped me warm up my ID skills with their occasional fly-overs. Plenty of Herring and Black-headed Gulls made an appearance along with a couple of Common and Sandwich Tern and the usual Cormorant sat on the buoy. Conditions were very promising.

Being a bright and almost sunny morning there were plenty of passengers on the viewing deck for our passage through Poole Harbour. The islands of Poole Harbour gave us plenty to see with Oystercatcher, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Little Egret and many species of gulls. Visibility was excellent giving great views over to Old Harry Rocks and speculation was high among passengers for possible dolphin sightings.

Gannet Stephie Millin 01
GAnnet (Stephie Millin)

As our eyes tired and the glare picked up, the prospect of a sighting waned and conversation moved towards what passengers had sighted at other various locations across the UK. I enjoyed listening to the back and forward of sightings one-upmanship but unfortunately had nothing to impress this group of keen eyed spotters.

As our speed increased and the winds picked up it was time for a rest to prepare for sightings on the approach to Guernsey. As Gannet started flying by the windows in ever increasing frequency I headed back up to the viewing deck for the passage past Ortac, Alderney and the Casquets. Despite not being fortunate to spot any cetaceans the Gannet colony put on a wonderful display with several groups flying alongside the ferry for several minutes at a time. A great photo opportunity for the photographers on deck. Guernsey greeted us with beautiful sunshine (as always!) and I disembarked for a wander around the coast.

The return leg was bright and sunny with plenty of glare on the port side so I positioned myself on the other side to have the best chance of some good sightings. The Gannet colony around Ortac was again very impressive with even better light now to view them and photograph them. A couple of immature Gannet with their speckled makings also flew past the ferry. A little further along we were treated to 6 Manx Shearwater as a nice change from Gannet and various gulls.

Old Harry Rocks Stephie Millin 01
Old Harry Rocks (Stephie Millin)

Although no cetaceans were spotted, the wonderful weather coming back into Poole gave us some beautiful photos of Old Harry Rocks and great performances by adrenaline seekers on Jet Skis and two motor powered paragliders overhead.

Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for making me welcome on board and for their support to MARINElife.