Weymouth or Poole-Channel Islands

Sightings Archives: June 2018

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 26 June 2018

Posted 30 June 2018

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Sarah Hodgson

Weather: Sunny, wind ENE force 3, sea state 2-4, good visibility

Summary of sightings:

Sandwich Tern
Common Tern
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull

It was a glorious, sunny morning in Poole as I arrived at the port for my WLO trip to Guernsey on Condor Liberation. The crossing was going to be busy with lots of passengers heading to the Channel Islands for short breaks or day trips, however the check in procedure was quick and easy. After introducing myself to Tony, the passenger service manager on board, I had time for a coffee and to apply the factor 50 before heading onto the outside viewing deck.

Brownsea Lagoon Sarah Hodgson 01
Brownsea Lagoon (Sarah Hodgson)

On leaving the harbour, both Common and Sandwich Terns were busy trying to find the next meal for their hungry chicks and other passengers enjoyed watching them plunge headfirst into the water. A few Gannet and Guillemot were spotted as the vessel picked up speed and headed into the Channel. A bright object, glinting in the sunlight caught my eye and as we drew closer I realised that it was a foil balloon floating on the surface.  Sadly I spotted a further 8 of these balloons during the day, it is depressing to see them when they can be so hazardous to marine wildlife.

The bird numbers petered out mid-Channel but I was able to add a Kittiwake and a Fulmar to the day's sightings. As we passed Alderney, the Gannet colony on Ortac was a hive of activity.

On Guernsey, I was eager to make the most of the sunshine so headed to Clarence Battery, just a short walk from the town centre with its wonderful views across to Herm and Sark, for a picnic lunch.  From there I continued along the coast path through Bluebell Woods to Fermain Bay.  I was back at the ferry terminal with plenty of time to spare for a well-earned ice-cold drink.

Fermain Bay Sarah Hodgson 01
Fermain Bay, Guernsey (Sarah Hodgson)

I met up with fellow day trip passengers to hear about their time on the island, before the watch resumed and all eyes were on the water in the hope of glimpsing dolphins. However, the wind had picked up and there was a lot of white water making viewing conditions a little trickier, but this soon calmed and returned to a sea state 2.

On the return leg, there were further sightings of gulls, Guillemot and Gannet; these large, powerful seabirds showing their incredible flight skills, some even appearing to keep up with the high-speed ferry for a short while.  As we arrived back into Poole, the terns were still busy fishing making the most of the long daylight hours at this time of year.

Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for their warm welcome and assistance throughout the day.

MARINElife Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 11 June 2018

Posted 15 June 2018

Wildlife Officer Christine Arnold

Weather: Outbound - Overcast, light winds, sea state 2. Return - Sunny, sea state 2, visibility moderate with sea mist

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Bottlenose Dolphin approx. 6

Black-headed Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Common Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull

Birds on Guernsey and terrestrial birds
Feral Pigeon
Little Egret
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow

As we left Poole harbour for Guernsey I was joined on deck by a family on the MARINElife day trip as well as other day trippers and holiday makers bound for the Channel Islands. On passing Brownsea Island we saw several Sandwich and Common Terns, Cormorant and Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls. The Sandwich Terns were feeding, flying up then diving at high speeds into the calm waters below. The sea mist gave a calm atmosphere as it surrounded and engulfed the nearby Portland Bill and Isle of Wight.

Out in the Channel we were greeted by a small number of Gannet, with some looking like first summer birds alongside the adults gliding low.

BND Peter Howlett 14
Bottlenose Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Just outside the harbour entrance at St Peter Port I spotted a splash belonging to a surfacing Bottlenose Dolphin and was delighted to be able to inform others. We were then able to make out splashes from about 6 playing. It was great to see so many people with their cameras becoming so excited about this much anticipated spectacle.

I later found out from the lady in the gift shop that this particular group are known as the 'Guernsey pets' because they are so commonly seen throughout the summer months.

On the island I caught the bus and were stunned by the white golden sands and turquoise waters boasting many rockpools being enjoyed by Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Carrion Crows and gulls.

Fort Grey Christine Arnold 01
Fort Grey (Christine Arnold)

Whilst waiting for Liberation's return I watched the dolphins playing in the water and swimming alongside the small pleasure craft in the bay. There were also some pairs of Feral pigeon resting and performing mating rituals on the roof of the ferry terminal making their lovely cooing noise.

During our return Ortac rock was bathed in sunshine and the white colour from the birds resting on top and flying nearby was spectacular. After this I made the most of Condor's cafe and chatted with the friendly and informative staff who by now recognise me when I board the ship.

Several Gannet flew behind the ship for a while near the wake and as we re-entered Studland bay numbers of Cormorant and Shag were perched on top of buoys.

The Sandwich and Common Terns were still fishing near the vessel and 2 Grey Heron flew across the top of the boat silhouetted against the sky behind.

Many thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for the support and assistance given.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 9 June 2018

Posted 13 June 2018

Julie Hatcher &  Kevin Waterfall Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Wind light E-ENE throughout the day but dropping towards early evening, sea state 2-3 decreasing to mirror calm as we approached Poole, variable cloud cover

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
None recorded

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 18
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 34
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 9
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 7
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 108
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 13
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 40
Sandwich Tern  Sterna sandvicensis 10
Guillemot  Uria aalge 5
Razorbill  Alca torda 1
Gull Sp. Larus 2

Terrestrial birds
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 19
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 36
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 1

We met at 08:15 at the Poole foot passenger terminal where we joined fellow passengers in going aboard the Condor Liberation. Captain John Dowds and his officers soon welcomed us to the bridge from where we were able to see the birds of Brownsea Island Lagoon as we passed. The large number of birds there were mostly just that bit too far away to ID other than the obvious ones.

As we approached the chain ferry and the entrance to Poole Harbour we saw quite a lot of Sandwich Tern and a few Cormorants before dropping off the pilot and heading off into light seas with good visibility.

Sandwich Tern Peter Howlett 06
Sandwich Tern (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Once clear of land we saw few birds with most likely close to their breeding colonies, this kept us on our toes not to miss any. After a very smooth crossing we started to record Gannet 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.

We had a short stop in Guernsey with St. Peter Port looking spectacular in the sunshine and being a weekend there were a lot of small yachts making the most of the fine weather. It was a short crossing to Jersey and members of the crew reported that they had seen pods of about 10 dolphins in the last few days, as had the MARINElife survey team on the Portsmouth-Jersey survey 3 days ago but they didn't show themselves this time.

In Jersey we had time to scan the harbour area, where a few Swift were flying around the ship plus some 100 Oystercatcher on the beach below Elizabeth Castle, before we sailed on time back towards Guernsey and Poole. Around the islands we saw a few Shag and lots of gulls, especially a large group having a feeding frenzy just outside St. Peter Port harbour.

Guillemot Rick Morris 01a
Guillemot (Library photo: Rick Morris)

After the islands the visibility closed in and we had fog for part of the return journey but when it cleared we had mirror smooth sea as we approached Poole and several Guillemot and a Razorbill to welcome us back towards the Dorset coast.

As we approached Poole we thanked Captain Dowds and his crew for looking after us and upon arrival we were swiftly taken to the terminal.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 7 June 2018

Posted 10 June 2018

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Annalisa Renee

Weather: Outbound - Overcast, light NE wind, sea state 2, good visibility
Return - Overcast with occ. rain, moderate NE wind, sea state 3, good visibility

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise 3

Black-headed Gull
Common Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Yellow legged Gull
Great Black-backed Gull

As we left Poole Harbour for Guernsey many Shag and Cormorant were spotted within the harbour and a male Goosander was seen at the wetland nature reserve on Brownsea Island. Out past the harbour a young Gannet flew alongside the boat for a while giving passengers a fairly close look at a 3 yr old bird.

Goosander Peter Howlett 01
Goosander (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Out in the Channel we came across a few Guillemot resting on the water and also several groups of between a dozen and 20 Black-headed Gull were seen flying or in rafts. A large raft of about 50 mixed gulls came into view well out to sea, it included Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed, Herring, Common and Yellow-legged Gull!

Gannet Peter Howlett 32
3rd year Gannet (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

On leaving Guernsey 3 Harbour porpoise were sighted surfacing just outside the harbour - our only cetacean sighting on this trip. A solitary Swift was seen flying south on the return journey and a Fulmar glided past in the ferry's wake on its fine straight wings. On passing Ortac, the rocks white with guano from the Gannet breeding colony, many hundreds of Gannet were visible. Throughout the crossing many more Gannets, of all ages, were seen flying, along with groups of gulls.

Many thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for the support and assistance given.