MARINElife Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 11 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.

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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.