Weymouth or Poole-Channel Islands

Sightings Archives: July 2018

MARINElife Wildlife officer report Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 24 July 2018

Posted 26 July 2018

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Christine Arnold

Weather: Sunny in Guernsey and throughout whole trip, wind ENE force 2, sea state 1 outward and 2 return.

Summary of sightings:

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

Terrestrial birds:
Grey Heron
Wood Pigeon
Feral Pigeon
House Sparrow

It was a sunny morning in Poole and when I boarded to collect my MARINElife vest at the information point I was told that every seat was full for the outbound journey. This included 5 coaches . This time the holiday makers were from Lancashire and were very excited for their journey and people were asking lots of questions about the wildlife. I had many interesting conversations with people both on day trips and going on holiday, one family had come all the way from New Zealand. The Condor staff were also keen to report their wildlife sightings. I believe that lots of people were specifically on the Guernsey day trip this time.

Gannet Peter Howlett 33
Gannet (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

We left promptly and it was lovely to see so many people out on deck. It was really warm and the sun shone throughout the crossing giving great views. As usual the Gannets performed well, sometimes gliding alongside the Liberation. The white of their wings gave a fantastic contrast to the blue sky behind. People were very interested to hear about these awe inspiring beauties.

On approaching Guernsey there were 2 cruise ships anchored outside the harbour entrance, Aegean Odyssey and Europa 2. In the surrounding area were many Great Black-backed Gull which were taking advantage of the nearby fishing vessels.

Aegean Oyssey Christine Arnold
Aegean Odyssey (Christine Arnold)

I couldn't believe the intensity of the heat as we disembarked in St Peter Port and there were loads of insects taking the pollen and nectar from the myriad of beautiful coloured flowers that had been planted all along the harbour walls.

Whilst on Guernsey I caught the bus around the island where the views of the landscapes were quite phenomenal. I had an excellent view of a Buzzard soaring over the bus and it was lovely to see the Swifts catching insects over the fields where the wild flowers had grown tall with the fine weather. The fine weather had also brought out the people and the beaches were packed with people cooling down in the sea. One ubiquitous sight as we travelled around the island was all the Herring Gull perched on the roofs and chimney pots of the houses.

On the return journey we were bathed in glorious sunshine throughout and had amazing views of the Gannet colony at Ortac. Also this time we could see Gannets had also congregated on the smaller rocks nearby.

Many small boats were out making the most of the beautiful weather and the jet skiers were playing in Liberation's wash. The multitude of small yachts with their multicoloured sails made Poole harbour look particularly colourful in the sunshine.

Poole Harbour yachts Christine Arnold
Yachts in Poole harbour (Christine Arnold)

Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for their welcome and assistance during the crossing.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 19 July 2018

Posted 20 July 2018

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Julie Hatcher

Weather: Fair with light winds and calm sea conditions throughout the day.

Summary of sightings:

Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 5
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2

Manx Shearwater
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Black-headed Gull
Common Tern
Sandwich Tern

The outer deck was busy with people enjoying the morning sunshine as we sailed through Poole harbour aboard the Condor Liberation. Common and Sandwich Terns were busy flying in and out of the harbour and diving for fish as we passed Brownsea Island and the harbour entrance. The sea was flat calm, the winds light and the sun was shining and as we left Old Harry Rocks behind we started to spot a few solitary Gannets.

BND Peter Howlett 18
Bottlenose Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Sea conditions were smooth for the crossing and a good number of people stayed on the outer deck enjoying the fine weather. Lots of people were interested to learn the variety of animals we might see from the ship and we watched a steady stream of Gannets and a few Manx Shearwater fly past as we crossed the Channel. As we neared the Channel Islands we saw several fishing boats, one with a flock of around 50 Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls following it.

After a lovely afternoon in St Peter Port we boarded the ferry for the return crossing. Again the outer deck was packed with people and as we picked up speed and passed the island of Herm we were delighted to spot five Bottlenose Dolphins just off the starboard side.

Ortac Rick Morris 04
Ortac Gannet colony (Library photo: Rick Morris)

We were treated to a spectacular sight as we passed the Gannet colony near Alderney with large numbers of birds both in the air and on the water. Several birds, including some juveniles with their darker plumage, flew close alongside the ship giving us good views. The sea grew calmer and glassy as we headed north and as the Dorset coast came into view we spotted a couple of Harbour Porpoise as they surfaced several times behind us.

Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for their interest, support and assistance.

MARINElife Training Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 18 July 2018

Posted 18 July 2018

Glynis Northwood-Long; MARINElife Wildlife Officer joined by WLO's Darren Hughes, Christine Roberts and Donna Bridgwood
Weather: Outward - sunny intervals with good visibility and wind SW 3 or 4.  Return - mainly sunny with slightly less wind W 1-3 and good visibility.

Marine Mammals:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 18-20 including at least 3 calves
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 6

Manx Shearwater
Mediterranean Gull
Common Tern
Sandwich Tern
Black Headed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
European Shag

I met with Darren, Christine and Donna at the ferry terminal as they were joining me for a refresher/training day.

After a quick check-in, we were soon boarding the Liberation and headed up to the upper viewing deck to take advantage of the journey through Poole harbour.

As we sailed passed Brownsea Island lagoon we were able to point out a variety of seabirds and terrestrial birds. We left Poole Harbour, passing Old Harry Rocks and chatted to passengers about the wildlife that we may encounter.

Old Harry Rocks_Glynis NL

Old Harry Rocks (Glynis Northwood-Long)

Just north of Alderney, a shout of 'Dolphins!' went out and we pointed out a pod of Common Dolphin in the wake. From their varying sizes, we were able to identify 3 calves amongst the pod. As they disappeared from view, there was a buzz of excitement from the passengers on deck and nearer to Guernsey, their enthusiasm was rewarded once again when another smaller pod was spotted, this time they were Bottlenose Dolphin!

We arrived in Guernsey on time and in glorious sunshine. In fact, the weather was so good that in our time ashore we decided to explore the sea pools of La Valette, just a short walk away from the port. Christine enjoyed a swim just offshore, whilst we paddled in the sea pools themselves. What a treat! The water was warm and so clear with an abundance of marine life to see, even a lone blue jellyfish in one of the pools. Lunch followed in a cafe overlooking the pools and the harbour, then shopping and a relaxed stroll to the ship to begin the return leg of our journey.

La Valette Pools_Glynis NL

La Valette Pools (Glynis Northwood-Long)

Back on the Liberation, the Captain informed us that a pod of dolphin had been sighted as they approached from Jersey and because tidal conditions allowed, we would be departing from Guernsey back along the channel called Big Russell (Grand Roussell) in the hope of seeing them again. So, we headed back up to the viewing deck and were joined by more interested passengers. Unfortunately, the pod of dolphin proved elusive on this leg of the journey, but we did get some more spectacular views of the Gannet colony highlighted by the sun.

WLOs on Deck Glynis Northwood Long

Wildlife Officers (Glynis Northwood-Long)

The four of us remained hopeful of spotting more cetaceans on our return journey but as we sailed back passed Old Harry Rocks towards Poole, the sun set behind the clouds and the light faded.

Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for making us welcome on board and for their support to MARINElife and also thanks to Darren, Christine and Donna for joining me.

MARINElife Training Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 9 July 2018

Posted 11 July 2018

Rachel Davies, Tim Bradley and Kate Bradley, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Clear sky with few clouds, wind SE 3/4, sea state 2.

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Gannet Morus bassanus 126
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
CormorantPhalacrocorax carbo 11
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 92
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 38
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 17
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 16
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 5
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/Sterna paradisaea 2
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 36
Razorbill  Alca torda 1
Larus sp. Larus sp. 7
Gull sp. Laridae 65
Tern sp. 8

Terrestrial Birds
Crow Corvus corone 1
Feral pigeon  Columba livia 1

The three of us met at the terminal for this training survey, kindly supported by Condor Ferries, and proceeded to the boarding gate to take the short bus trip on to our survey vessel, the Liberation.  Once on board we introduced ourselves to the service manager and I explained the procedure for gaining access to the bridge. We also met up with the MARINElife Wildlife Officers for the day, Terry and Donna Bridgewood, on their way up to the decks. While waiting for the vessel to depart and later within the red zone, we took the opportunity for a cup of coffee and to run through our plan for the day in a full team briefing. This included health and safety, bridge protocols and also our roles and protocols for the survey.

Bradleys surveying Rachel Davies
Tim & Kate Bradly on the bridge surveying (Rachel Davies)

Once up on the bridge we ran through the bridge protocols once again along with the instruments used for recording, to ensure all were clear and confident before commencing the survey. While clear skies, with very few clouds made for a lovely sunny day, it did mean a certain amount of glare on the water, making conditions a little trickier, but with no swell and sea state averaging 2, we were feeling confident that if there were cetaceans to be seen on route, we'd see them. Seabirds were fairly low in volume with a large number of those recorded resting on the surface, likely contributed to by the little wind for a helping uplift. However, the variety of species did not disappoint with 17 different species recorded, including Black-headed and Mediterranean Gull, terns and a pretty light phase Fulmar. Sadly, but worth note, of the 12 items of flotsam recorded on this survey, 8 were discarded balloons.

BH Gull Peter Howlett 04
Black-headed Gull (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Despite feeling hopeful, we unfortunately did not encounter the resident Bottlenose Dolphin population, of which a pod of around 30 had been observed by the crew and passengers the day before just off the coast of Guernsey.  But we were treated to excellent views of the Gannet colonies on Ortac Rock and Les Etacs.

We stayed on board for a spot of lunch in Jersey and re-commenced the survey immediately as we left Saint Helier harbour. It wasn't too long before we were rewarded with a lovely sighting of a Harbour Porpoise feeding, before disappearing under the water as the vessel approached.

After the brief stop on Guernsey, we again re-commenced the survey as we left port. While no further cetaceans were seen on this survey, we continued to record a diversity of seabirds, the most frequent being Gannets, particularly in the area surrounding Ortac Rock.

Poole Harbour Rachel Davies
Poole harbour (Rachel Davies)

We enjoyed sightings of terns, as well as Kittiwake and Black-headed Gull as we passed Old Harry Rocks. Approaching the start of the red zone, we concluded our survey, giving thanks to the crew, and enjoyed a beautiful evening view as we travelled through Poole harbour to port.

We thank Condor Ferries for supporting the ongoing training and we extend our thanks to the Captain and crew for making us welcome.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 7 July 2018

Posted 10 July 2018

Steve Boswell and Darren Hughes, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Wind N-NE 1-3 throughout the survey.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 11

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 14
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 21
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 227
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 14
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 215
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 20
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 3
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 20
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 1
Puffin Fratercula arctica 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 19
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Auk sp. Alcidae 1

After boarding the Condor Liberation we introduced ourselves to the staff at the information desk who swiftly escorted us onto the bridge. We could enjoy the sail past Brownsea Island before starting our survey as we exited Poole Harbour.

A couple of Manx Shearwater was a good early sighting along with the usual Gannet and gulls. Our first Harbour Porpoise was seen after two hours. As we approached Guernsey we were asked to leave the bridge due to the many craft in the area plus tenders toing and froing from a large cruise ship anchored in the bay. Bottlenose Dolphin had been seen by the crew earlier in the week but this morning with all the traffic none were sighted.

Balearic Shearwater Tom Brereton 06a
Balearic Shearwater (Library photo: Tom Brereton)

Beautiful calm conditions continued as we departed for Jersey. Then in a ten minute period we had wonderful views of a total of 21 Balearic Shearwater, quite a few resting on the sea.

After a quick turnaround we were on our return, no more Balearic Shearwater but 12 more Manx Shearwater and a Puffin. The Gannetry of Ortac was an incredible sight in the sunshine with the colony on Les Etacs in the background being equally stunning. Then a loud roar from the crew mess told us England had scored against Sweden!

Ortac Christine Arnold 2015 05
Ortac Gannet colony with Les Etacs in the background (Library photo: Christine Arnold)

The calm seas enabled us to record 10 more Harbour Porpoise in four groups before we approached Poole Harbour.

As the pilot boarded we thanked Captain Dowds and made our way from the bridge to await our arrival on time in Poole.

MARINElife Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 5 July 2018

Posted 09 July 2018

Wildlife Officer Christine Arnold

Weather: Sunny in Guernsey, wind ENE force 3, sea state 2-3, thick sea fog outward, distant sea mist on return.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Bottlenose Dolphin 6

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

Terrestrial birds:
Grey Heron
Grey Wagtail
Wood Pigeon
Feral Pigeon

It was a sunny morning in Poole and this time there were a huge number of foot passengers, over 450 people making the most of their Guernsey trip, including passengers from a grand total of 9 coaches. This meant I had many different people to speak with, some came from as far away as Yorkshire and had never been to the Channel Islands. Many of the coach holiday guests were staying in Bournemouth and had specifically chosen to come to Guernsey to remember family holidays or loved ones, some were going just to explore the beautiful island. The sea mist in the distance gave a rather magical appearance to Old Harry rocks and Portland Bill.

It was lovely to tell people about the area and its wildlife and there was even a lady on board who volunteered on a local nature reserve just like me.

BND Christine Arnold 01
Bottlenose Dolphin (Christine Arnold)

The Gannets flew really close to the boat which was rather spectacular. As we approached Guernsey we were able to see many Herring Gull fishing just outside the Harbour entrance. I looked where I usually look for dolphins and sure enough there they were. These were the best views I have ever had, three were further out and we were able to see their fins clearly and just after this another three played in the wash about ten metres from the back of the Liberation. This gave spectacular views as they were so close. They were clearly Bottlenose Dolphin. I was so pleased that the visitors who live inland were able to enjoy this grand spectacle.

I walked to the bus station and was joined by many of the coach holiday guests. We caught the 92 bus round the island and made the most of the brilliant views over and around the island. Even the cows were out eating the grass in the sunshine. The tide was low which embraced an atmospheric view of the many rockpools and landforms.

Just after we had left Guernsey, we were again able to see about three Bottlenose Dolphin playing in the water although they were further out this time. I was able to spot them because the sun was reflecting off their black, wet backs, glistening in contrast to the flat blue water.

On the return journey a Gannet flew so close alongside the ship, just level with it in the sunshine that we were able to see it moving its feet about before it hastily changed direction and flew over to the other side of the ship towards the Gannet colony.

It was great to hear about the happy times that the holiday makers had had during their time on the Channel Islands. A while after passing Ortac rock I decided to go and have a lovely meal from the Casquettes bistro.

Poole Pilot Christine Arnold 01
Poole pilot boat (Christine Arnold)

On approaching Old Harry rocks someone commented at how eroded parts of it are now looking and it definitely did look smaller. Approaching the harbour we slowed to allow the pilot to board and had great views of the Sandwich Tern busily fishing  to find food for their young and we were bathed in a lovely sunset over the Purbecks. There was a Grey Heron perched on the sea wall and many Shelduck and Cormorants and some Oystercatcher on Brownsea lagoon.  As Condor Liberation turned round in order to berth we saw probably nearing 100 Herring Gull.

Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for their welcome and assistance during the crossing.