MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 16 August 2018

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Julie Hatcher

Weather: Outbound - wet with a blustery southwesterly wind and poor visibility. Inbound - overcast to start but clearing bright with patchy cloud as we headed north with lighter westerly winds.

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans
Bottlenose Dolphin  Tursiops truncatus 6

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater
Fulmar
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag
Oystercatcher
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Kittiwake
Common Tern

The outer deck was deserted except for a few keen wildlife spotters gathered in the shelter of the upper deck on a wet morning as we left Poole harbour. Most passengers sensibly remained inside with good views through the ship's windows. Some Common Terns, Cormorants and Great Black-backed Gulls were in evidence as we passed Brownsea Island and sailed out into Poole Bay. Wet and misty conditions made wildlife watching challenging but we started to see a few Gannets and a couple of Manx Shearwaters as we reached mid-Channel and travelled on past Alderney to Guernsey. Approaching St. Peter Port we recorded several Shag and a variety of gulls, including Lesser Black-backed, Herring and Black-headed.

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

The weather had brightened up for our return trip to Poole and the upper deck was packed as we departed St. Peter Port. As we departed a group of Bottlenose Dolphin were immediately spotted around a large cruise ship anchored just outside the port. The clouds dispersed and the warm sun emerged on the journey north and with clear visibility we were able to watch a good number of Gannet and Manx Shearwater. As we approached the middle of the Channel we spotted several groups of around 30 birds sitting on the water, including Gannet, Fulmar and terns. We also observed several Kittiwake on the crossing.

Fulmar Julie Hatcher 01
Fulmar (Library photo: Julie Hatcher)

Arriving in Dorset under blue skies, the upper deck became busy with people admiring the stunning coastline of Old Harry Rocks and Studland Bay. The lagoon on Brownsea Island was packed with roosting Cormorants, Little Egrets and Oystercatchers while Common Terns dived for fish in Poole Harbour.

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