Julie Hatcher and Christine Roberts, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)
Weather: Warm, bright and sunny but hazy, especially around the coast, with light winds.
Summary of sightings:
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 2
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 138
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 14
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 11
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 37
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 19
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 6
Guillemot Uria aalge 5
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Gull sp. 73
Auk sp. 11
On boarding the ferry we were welcomed to the bridge by Captain John Dowd and his crew and readied ourselves for the survey. As we waited to depart we were surprised to see a couple of Herring Gulls in front of the bridge windows, struggling with a lively pipefish they had caught. A third gull flew by with another pipefish in its beak and landed on the roof. It was a treat to see this interesting behaviour at close quarters.
Herring Gull with Pipefish (Julie Hatcher)
It was a beautiful, calm, sunny day as we travelled out of Poole harbour and through Poole Bay and we could see a crowd of people on the aft deck enjoying the scenery in the warm sunshine. Although quite hazy we spotted a few gulls and Cormorants before we picked up speed and headed out into the Channel. After a very smooth crossing we started to record Gannets and knew we were approaching Alderney with its spectacular Gannet colony, and sure enough the distinctive, white-topped rock of Ortac loomed out of the haze.
Ortac (Library photo: Christine Arnold)
The voyage between the islands to Jersey was equally smooth and we spotted a few Shags flying low over the sea or diving as the ferry approached. We passed several small fishing vessels, some accompanied by gulls, including quite a few Great Black-backed Gulls, both adults and immature birds.
The return trip, via Guernsey was very comfortable and enjoyable, and we added to our tally of Gannets, gulls and Cormorants. We concluded our survey on arrival back in Poole and thanked the Captain and his staff for their hospitality before heading ashore.
Rick Morris, Darren Hughes and Terry Bridgwood, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)
Weather: Mainly cloudy, wind SE 4, sea state 4
Summary of sightings
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 2
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 109
CormorantPhalacrocorax carbo 1
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 9
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Common Gull Larus canus 7
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 38
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 15
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 6
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 9
Guillemot Uria aalge 8
Razorbill Alca torda 3
Auk Sp. 4
This was the first training survey kindly supported by Condor Ferries and the three of us met at the terminal and proceeded directly to the boarding gate, and onward to the bus that would take us to our survey vessel. Once on board I introduced Terry and Darren to the cabins manager and explained the procedure for gaining access to the bridge. As we were in the red zone we decided that this would be the ideal time for a spot of breakfast before going up.
Common Gull (Library photo: Rick Morris)
Once up on the bridge we ran through the bridge protocols and instruments before commencing the survey. The weather was a little unkind for this first training survey, with force 4/5 winds making the sea state a little challenging for spotting cetaceans. Seabirds were fairly low in volume, probably due to many now visiting their nesting sites, however the variety of species did not disappoint with 18 different species recorded, including 7 Common Gull (a first for me on this route) and a couple of Bonxies (Great Skua).
As the weather was a bit lively on the way out we sailed direct to Jersey, calling into Guernsey on the return to home. This meant we travelled between Alderney and the French coast, so missing the views of the Gannet colonies on Ortac Rock and Les Etac's.
We stayed on board in Jersey and commenced surveying immediately we left Saint Helier harbour in the hope we might catch sight of the resident Bottlenose Dolphin population - alas, this was not to be.
Terry and Darren surveying (Rick Morris)
After a stop to Guernsey, we were again surveying as we left port. Still no cetaceans were seen, but a good diversity of seabirds were recorded, if not in high numbers. Passing Ortac Rock, now on our starboard side, gave great views of the nesting Gannet with many feeding in the surrounding sea.
As we passed Old Harry Rocks on the Dorset coast, we reached the start of the red zone and concluded our survey. As we left the bridge we said thanks and farewell to Captain Giles Wade and the bridge crew.
We thank Condor Ferries for supporting the ongoing training and we extend our thanks to Captain Giles Wade and his crew for making us welcome.