MARINElife Wildlife Officers: Terry & Donna Bridgwood
Weather: wind NE 2-4, sea state slight, fair with good visibility and some mist.
Summary of sightings:
Great Black-backed Gull
We set of from home for the trip down to Poole. The journey was pleasant enough with slightly more traffic than usual as it was a later crossing.
Upon arrival at the ferry terminal we checked in and boarded. Once on board we found our seats and grabbed a delicious cheese and bacon roll, washed down with a cup of tea. We went a saw the cabin manager, handed over the passenger announcement, collected the WLO tabards and headed up on deck. We took our usual positions on the upper deck, starboard side just aft of the bridge. This position gives good visibility with a bit of shelter from the wind.
From the berth, past Brownsea Island to Old Harry Rocks we were able to identify some Black-headed and Great Black-backed Gulls and the usual Cormorants drying their wings. A Crow flew past and we saw 2 bumble bees. Passing the chain ferry, around Studland we were lucky enough to spot a Roseate Tern and passing Old Harry Rocks a Gannet.
During the passage to Guernsey we met a couple of people that were going to Jersey to write a feature about Scuba diving in Jersey for Diver magazine. We had a good old chat with them and then I asked if they could take a picture of the lady talking to Donna and looking for wildlife. Hopefully it might make it into the feature.
We saw some Razorbills rafting and a couple of Swifts flew by.
Ortac rock was covered with Gannet as usual, they were getting up to all sorts: flying, diving, rafting, resting and feeding - there is always something to see at Ortac.
We arrived at Guernsey and disembarked. Our few hours ashore were spent window shopping and wandering to the Terrace Garden Café where we had lunch. Sitting outside on the terrace we had a good view of the marina.
All to soon it was time to board the ferry for the journey back to Poole. There were fewer people on deck on the return, everyone seemed to be snoozing. As we were a later sailing we didn't have as much daylight and so were able to take our seats for a rest ourselves.
Disembarking at Poole we retrieved our car and drove home.
Steve McAusland, Rachel Keay and Donna Bridgwood; Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)
Weather: Sunny, SW winds with a sea state of 1-4 during the sailings.
Summary of sightings:
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 2
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 13
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 140
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 13
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Gull sp. 97
Tern sp. 19
Auk sp. 2
This was my first training survey as a team leader, we are very grateful for Condor Ferries' support for these as it enables us to have a team leader and two trainees on board rather than the usual team of two.
We met at the ferry terminal in Poole and were joined by Terry Bridgwood (Donna's husband) who was onboard as MARINElife Wildlife Officer for the day. Once on board I made contact with the crew and we all awaited access to the bridge and Terry to the decks.
Donna and Rachel surveying (Steve McAusland)
As we set up on the ship's starboard wing I ran through the bridge protocols and instruments before commencing the survey. The weather was great with superb visibility and plenty of birds were seen throughout the survey.
Our first leg of the survey was from Poole to Guernsey where we stopped for a short while as some of the passengers disembarked. We were soon leaving Guernsey and heading towards Jersey.
Puffin (Library photo: Steve McAusland)
We remained on board in Jersey and were soon surveying as we left St Helier harbour. An hour later we arrived back at Guernsey and then it was on to Poole for the final part of the survey. As the ship maneuvered its way through Poole harbour we saw Glynis Northwood-Long a fellow MARINElife surveyor following the ship in a small but speedy vessel.
Highlights during the day were Great Skua, Puffin, Manx Shearwater and Storm Petrel.
We thanked Captain Giles and his crew for supporting our ongoing training and for making us welcome.
MARINElife Wildlife Officer: Terry Bridgwood
Weather: Wind NNW, sea state slight to smooth, fair with good visibility.
Summary of sightings:
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
We travelled to Poole the night before, to catch the Condor Liberation and stayed with a friend. I was the WLO for the trip whilst the very knowledgeable Steve McAusland was the survey trainer with Rachel Keays and Donna Bridgwood the trainees.
Boarding passes were shown and we took our seats on the slinky bus to the ship. Once on-board introductions were made to the cabin manager. I handed over my passenger announcement and in exchange took the MARINElife tabard. We all had breakfast and a cuppa before I went out on deck. The rest of the team had to wait until we were out of the red zone before they were allowed on the bridge to carry out the survey.
On the way through the navigation channel we passed Brownsea Island and the chain ferry at Sandbanks. To our right was Studland bay, one of the most important sites for seahorses in the British Isles. I spotted a tern diving repeatedly trying to ingest a fish that seemed a bit too large for it, however it persevered and it paid off. You could hear the Oystercatchers on the shore and see the Cormorants in their "Batman" like stance on the marker buoys.
En-route to Guernsey I saw some Swallows passing by, strangely heading towards England rather than south. Gannet, Shag, Cormorant, Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also seen (I'm sure I saw a Puffin) but that could be wishful thinking. There was also the lovely sight of Manx Shearwater gliding over the surface of the sea.
For me it's not always about the wildlife you see, or don't see. Once you don the MARINElife tabard people seem to have an excuse to talk to you and it is interacting with the passengers that can be the best part of the trip.
On this occasion I met a lovely gentleman. He was covered head to toe. Long trousers, long sleeved coat, sunglasses, gloves and a floppy hat to top it off. We got talking and he told me he was from Ontario, Canada. An octogenarian (his words), still a practicing physician who cycled to and from work every day and took the 18 flights of stairs to his office. He explained that he was covered up because he had had skin cancer a couple of times in the past. There was I short sleeves and no sunscreen - take heed and take care folks. He explained that he had been born during the 50s and had seen the rise of plastic and the damage that it is doing to our planet, he'd also served on destroyers in the Navy. It was fascinating and a privilege to be able to talk to this gentleman.
It might be that I was so engrossed in talking to passengers that I missed lots of wildlife!
We waved goodbye to the passengers that disembarked at Guernsey and stayed on the Liberation hoping to see some dolphins nearer Jersey, sadly this was not the case. The crew always say to us: 'Did you see the dolphins?' to which we always reply: 'No', then they say: 'you should have been here yesterday'. Perhaps we should leave the day before in future.
The journey back to Poole was quiet with much of the same seabirds being seen on the way back. I think everyone was tired by this time. We docked, disembarked, said our farewells and headed home.
Another thoroughly enjoyable, if not tiring day.