MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 19 July 2017

MARINElife WLO: Christine Arnold

Weather: Cloudy and breezy southbound, sunny for the return.

Summary of sightings:

Great Black backed Gull
Herring Gull
Sandwich Tern
Common Tern

Terrestrial birds on Guernsey:
Mediterranean Gull
Feral Pigeon
Wood Pigeon
Rock Pipit

I collected the leaflets and went out on the top deck to begin speaking with passengers. It was interesting to hear how far people travelled to come on the trip. Some had come from Shropshire and some were more local. Quite a few people were out on deck to appreciate the views over Brownsea Island and the surrounding Studland bay area.

Sandwich and Common Terns were busy fishing in the harbour and taking their catch back to Brownsea lagoon to feed their young. Passengers were interested in the buildings on Brownsea including John Lewis' Brownsea Castle. They were also interested in the birds on 'Stoney island' which included Cormorant drying their wings and Great Black-backed Gull. I spoke to one lady who was a geography teacher from the Midlands so was completely in her element seeing the various landforms of the area!

Pembroke Christine Arnold
There's time on Guenrsey to explore - here Pembroke beach (Christine Arnold)

We sailed past the chain ferry and, shortly after we had passed Portland Bill in the distance, we saw the first Gannet. Which we then saw sporadically flying low over the Channel in different areas. As we travelled across the Channel we passed various tankers, sitting low in the water laden with their cargos.

Approaching Ortac rock we were blessed with seeing hundreds of Gannet, both adult and last year's immature birds fishing and carrying food back to the rock. This was the busiest I have ever seen this rock, it was absolutely alive with birds.

As we entered St Peter Port Harbour more passengers joined me on deck where we were greeted by the noon day firing of the canon which caused great excitement. There were many Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls circling around in the harbour looking for food in the water churned up by our manoeuvres.

After docking we had enough time to take a bus trip to explore the island. During this we saw Swallows, Woodpigeon, Kestrel, Mediterranean Gull and Oystercatcher along with Clouded Yellow and Red Admiral butterflies.

Cleaning Liberation Christine Arnold
Cleaning the windows for the return trip (Christine Arnold)

After the trip we walked along the harbour edge and saw a Rock Pipit and on returning to the terminal we were fortunate enough to see a Hummingbird Hawk moth which was feeding from one of the decorative planters.

The sun broke through as we departed Guernsey and the crossing was calm and we saw a similar range of species to the outward journey. A Gannet kept us company for a short time flying alongside the boat at a similar speed giving some wonderful views. On returning into Studland bay Old Harry Rock was bathed in sunshine and people were enjoying the beach and sailing in the harbour -  and the terns were still circling around catching their fish.

Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for the support and assistance.