MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 24 March 2018

Steve Boswell & JoJo Southgate, Research Surveyors  for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Wind E with full cloud cover throughout, sea state 2 with a moderate swell on the first leg, improving later.

Summary of sightings

Seabirds
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 7
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 2
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 3
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 62
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 5
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 21
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 12
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 121
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 20
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 9
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 32
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 1
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 20
Auk sp. 3

Terrestrial Birds
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 21

After boarding the Condor Liberation we waited in the lounge area until we were out beyond the harbour area when we were given the all clear to access the bridge. We began our survey in bright but cloudy conditions with a moderate swell coming in from a storm in the Bay of Biscay.

Guillemot JoJo Southgate 01
Guillemot (joJo Southgate)

The first birds we encountered were three groups of Meadow Pipit on their northward migration. Two Common Scoter were sighted as we headed into the Channel along with a nice flock of adult Kittiwake. A Great Skua flew powerfully alongside us as we headed towards Guernsey. A Sandwich Tern was the next notable sighting outside Guernsey harbour.

After a quick turnaround we headed towards Jersey with steady seabird sightings in improved weather conditions, mainly Herring Gull but also a few Shag and Guillemot. On the return leg we logged a flock of seven Brent Geese close to the ship just out of St Helier but the highlight was an early Manx Shearwater seen sitting on the water before flying off giving good close views as we approached.

Gannet JoJo Southgate 01
Gannet (JoJo Southgate)

On the last leg of the survey between Guernsey and Poole Gannet was the most numerous bird recorded and as we passed by Ortac we could see there were already large numbers of Gannet back ready for the breeding season. We continued surveying until light and the onset of rain concluded the day. We thanked the Captain Giles Ward before our early arrival in Poole.