Weymouth or Poole-Channel Islands

Sightings Archives: September 2017

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 27 September 2017

Posted 05 October 2017

Christine Arnold; MARINElife Wildlife Officer (WLO)

Summary of sightings:
Cetaceans:
Bottlenose dolphin 1
Unidentified Dolphin Spp. 2

Seabirds:
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Black-headed Gull

Terrestrial birds:
Oystercatcher
Swallow
Rock pipit
Black-tailed godwit
Avocet
Spoonbill

I boarded Condor Liberation and collected the vest and leaflets then went out on deck where I was met by those people who were booked on the MARINElife day and were excited about what they were hoping to see.

I chatted away to them telling them about the local area and the Brownsea lagoon which hosted 7 Spoonbill, many Black-tailed Godwit, Cormorant and Avocet. Suddenly all the birds flew up and circled round probably put up by the Peregrine Falcon which often sits on the sea wall.

Passengers were keen to find out more about Brownsea and the area as well as MARINElife, so I handed out some leaflets. As we left the harbour, we saw several Great Black-backed Gull, Cormorant, Shag and Herring gull.

Herring Gull Graham Ekins 08

Herring Gull - Adult and Juvenile (Graham Ekins)

We passed Portland Bill in the distance and then as we made our way across the Channel we saw many Hirundine species (Martin and Swallow). They looked like Swallow and I was surprised at how many there were, they were flying just above the level of the boat.

After passing Alderney, we saw the Ortac rock with many hundreds of Gannet on, they were circling round the top. During the crossing people often asked what the big dark grey coloured birds were, this caused slight confusion because most people could not work out what they were. I informed them that they were in fact juvenile Gannet which are darker in colour.

On reaching Guernsey, we were just making the turn when people reported seeing 2 separate groups of dolphins, a group of 2 and a single one playing near the smaller boats and in the open water.

Guernsey Harbour_Christine Arnold

Harbour Views (Christine Arnold)

Had a walk round Guernsey seeing Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Rock Pipit and 2 Red Admiral butterflies.

After re-boarding and as the Condor Liberation made the turn out of Guernsey we were delighted to see 2 dolphins jumping out of the water in the distance, too far away to see which species they were, but a closer Bottlenose Dolphin leapt vertically out of the water on several occasions - it was absolutely magical!

BND Adrian Shephard 03

Bottlenose Dolphin (Adrian Shephard)

On the crossing back, we saw several freight vessels which were enormous travelling across the channel. As it got dark I went inside and chatted to the passengers and handed out more leaflets. It is always lovely to hear stories of other people's wildlife sightings, holidays and day trip experiences.

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

Castle Cornet Lighthouse_C Arnold

Castle Cornet Lighthouse (Christine Arnold)

Christine Arnold; MARINElife Wildlife Officer (WLO)

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 18 September 2017

Posted 22 September 2017

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Julie Hatcher

Weather: Fair with light winds and calm sea conditions on the outward journey. Slightly stronger winds on the return.

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans:
Bottlenose Dolphin  11

Seabirds:
Fulmar
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Black-headed Gull

Terrestrial birds:
Oystercatcher
Swallow

The outer deck was packed with people as we sailed through Poole Harbour aboard the Condor Liberation on a calm, sunny morning. A few Swallows swooped overhead feeding up in preparation for their migration south and there were large flocks of Oystercatchers and Cormorant roosting in the lagoon on Brownsea Island. The Jurassic Coast cliffs looked spectacular as we left the Dorset coastline behind and as the ship picked up speed three Bottlenose Dolphins were spotted 100m off the starboard side, breaching and playing.

BND Peter Howlett 15
Bottlenose Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Sea conditions were smooth for the crossing and a good number of people stayed on the outer deck enjoying the fine weather. Although seabirds were few we spotted a number of Gannet, a Fulmar and a Shag as we crossed the Channel, Gannet numbers picking up as we approached Alderney. We passed close to the Gannet colony on Ortac and because of the low tide, took the scenic route between Sark and Herm to reach Guernsey. As we slowed to enter the harbour at St. Peter Port four Bottlenose Dolphin were clearly seen playing in the waves created at the back of the ferry, to the delight of all the passengers.

After a lovely afternoon in St Peter Port we boarded the ferry for the return crossing. As we waited for departure we were once again treated to a dolphin display as a group of eight Bottlenose Dolphin played in full view just outside the harbour wall. As we left the harbour they approached the ship but fell behind as we picked up speed for our return voyage.

Gannet Peter Howlett 30
Sunset Gannets (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

To cap a superb day there was a stunning sunset as we passed Ortac and we watched lines of Gannet heading out low over the sea as the sun dropped below the horizon.

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

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 14 September 2017

Posted 18 September 2017

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Terry Bridgwood

Weather: South: Cloudy, NW 5-6, sea state 2-6 with 2m swell at times.
North: Cloudy with occasional showers, NW 4-5, sea state 5 with 1m swell.

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans:
Harbour Porpoise 2
Bottlenose Dolphin  7

Seabirds:
Fulmar
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Black-headed Gull

Terrestrial birds:
Wood Pigeon
Swallow
Carrion Crow

I really looked forward to this training trip with Glynis and Rick. It was my first hands-on training with experienced officers. This was also Donna's first trip as a Wildlife Officer and our first together.

With the traffic light we had an uneventful journey to Poole to catch the Condor Liberation. Having parked we went into disembarkation to meet up with Glynis and Rick.  We all boarded together, collected our tabards  and took our seats. After the obligatory cheese and bacon baguettes we headed out on deck. The sun was shining and there was plenty of blue sky although it was a little bit lively.

Cruising out of Poole harbour we saw some Cormorant, Shag and Herring Gull. Further out to sea some Fulmar and Black-headed and Great Black-backed Gulls graced us with their presence. As we passed by Ortac rock we saw a plethora of Gannets still around the colony.

About half a mile from Guernsey we saw seven Bottlenose Dolphin and also a couple of Harbour Porpoise. Then just outside St Peter Port we were treated to an aerial display from the Guernsey Air show, the Liberation even pausing outside the harbour for a short while so we could watch it.

Stone dolphins Terry Bridgwood
Stone dolphins at the Terrace Cafe - the only dolphin photo I could manage today (Terry Bridgwood)

We docked and disembarked then, heading into the town, we window shopped for a while before deciding a much deserved cup of tea was in order. The Terrace Garden Cafe was ahead of us so we went there. Sitting in the sun and enjoying our cuppas we took in the view. After our repast we strolled down Castle pier and past Castle Cornet (no ice cream though) to the end of the pier and the lighthouse. All too soon it was time to head back to the terminal and board the ferry home.

The homeward crossing was less lively although the sun didn't stay with us for long. As we passed Ortac Rock the rain started and we dived indoors for shelter. However, it did present us with some amazing cloud formations and a beautiful sunset after it passed. We even witnessed a tornado forming but sadly it didn't materialise into a water spout.

Channel sunset Terry Bridgwood 01
Sunset after the rain (Terry Bridgwood)

Our day trip came to an end, we said our farewells to Glynis and Rick and started the hour long journey home.

A thoroughly enjoyable day.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 5 September 2017

Posted 07 September 2017

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Christine Arnold

Weather: Misty at first then sunny spells with slight drizzle

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans:
Dolphin sp. (poss. Bottlenose Dolphin)  7

Seabirds:
Manx Shearwater
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Black-headed Gull

Terrestrial birds:
Little Egret
Oystercatcher
Rock Pipit

I boarded Condor Liberation, went straight to collect my leaflets and MARINElife vest then went to the top deck. After the vessel set sail and the announcement was made that I was on board several people came over to me so I could talk about what I was doing and looking out for. Several people had booked specifically for the MARINElife day and were kitted out with binoculars and waterproofs. Birds seen as we passed Brownsea Lagoon and headed out to see included Shag, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great Black-backed, Herring and Black-headed Gull and I had some interesting conversations about people's background interest in wildlife.

Just after passing Portland in the far distance we saw our first Gannets swooping and soaring low to the water. After crossing the shipping lanes and seeing several cargo vessels and more Gannets I saw a solitary Manx Shearwater flying low over the water.

On approaching Guernsey we went down the Big Russel as the tide was low so we had great views of the surrounding islands; Sark to the east, Herm and Jethou to the west. Just as the boat made its turn towards St Peter Port I spotted a dorsal fin, sadly it was such a quick sighting that I was unable to identify it. Another passenger was also pointing and together we saw a splash as it breached. As we came into St Peter Port the cruise ship Azamara Journey was just setting sail in the direction of Jersey after having been anchored off Guernsey.

Azamara Journey Christine Arnold
The Azamara Journey (Christine Arnold)

I disembarked and went and sat on the beach and looked in a few rockpools for a while before taking a short walk along the coast. As the crossing was later today I was able to enjoy Guernsey in the late afternoon/early evening which was very pleasant as there was a beautiful autumn feel in the air. Wildlife seen included Rock Pipit and many Black-headed Gulls and bees making the most of the season's last nectar.

I reboarded and as we departed the people on the wildlife trip and another couple told me they had seen 7 dolphins leaping out of the water swimming away from the ship back in the direction of Jersey not long before arriving back in St Peter Port. However, I got told they were a different species by both, though the couple that had been on one of the MARINElife-run ID workshops were adamant they were Bottlenose Dolphin. Consequently by this point the public were very excited.

BND Peter Howlett 26
Bottlenose Dolphin - the species likely seen by passengers on board between Jersey and Guernsey
(Library photo: Peter Howlett)

On the return journey north we saw several more large container ships making their way across the Channel along with a magnificent orange and pink sunset. Shortly afterwards a golden-orange moon appeared to the left of the vessel and darkness shortly descended. As it was dark we saw an amazing multitude of different coloured lights on entering Bournemouth bay and Poole Harbour.

Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for the support and assistance and making this another successful wildlife officer trip.