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

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Sarah Hodgson

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

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds:
Sandwich Tern
Common Tern
Shag
Cormorant
Gannet
Kittiwake
Guillemot
Fulmar
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Swift

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.