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

Seabirds
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.