MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 21 April 2018

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:

Marine Mammals
None recorded

Seabirds
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 Julie Hatcher 01
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 Christine Arnold 2015 05
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.