MARINElife Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 5 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.