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