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

Maggie Gamble and Amanda Jones, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Outward - mostly overcast, wind WSW force 4-5, good visibility.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
None seen

Gannet Morus bassanus 125

Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 41
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 7
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 10
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 4
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 224
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 19
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 9

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 5
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 9
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/Sterna paradisaea 1
Larus sp. Larus sp. 7
Gull sp. Laridae 65
Tern sp. 8

We accessed the bridge as we passed Old Harry Rocks to commence our survey. Conditions were quite good but rather overcast.  We had enough marine birds to keep us occupied and passing Alderney the number of Gannets increased due to the breeding colony on Ortac.

Approaching Guernsey the bridge crew told us about the great views they'd had recently of the Bottlenose Dolphin feeding on the shoals of fish around the entrance to the harbour. Apparently they particularly seemed to enjoy the powerful water jets that the Liberation uses to manoeuvre into tight spaces. Unfortunately, on our survey the fish had gone and so had the dolphins! The brief turnaround in Guernsey gave chance to head down for a very welcome lunch before heading on our way to Jersey.

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

The leg to Jersey was enlivened by sightings of 'Manx Shearwaters' which we soon realised were slightly too large, slower in flight and somewhat pot-bellied in appearance and were in fact Europe's most vulnerable seabird - Balearic Shearwaters. After breeding most of the population moves up into the waters off southwest Britain to feed in mid to late summer.

Castle Cornet Maggie Gamble 01
Castle Cornet (Maggie Gamble)

Approaching Guernsey Harbour on the return leg we bought the sunshine with us and we were hopeful that the slacker state of the tide might bring the fish and the dolphins in. No such luck and even the chance of a jacuzzi wasn't enough to tempt them in. From the bridge we had good views of Castle Cornet, the 800 year old castle standing at the mouth of the harbour. Leaving Guernsey after another quick turn-around we shortly passed the Condor ferry Commodore Clipper heading in the opposite direction. This time as we approached Alderney the Gannet colony on Ortac was illuminated with sunlight and the white frosting of Gannets and guano was brightly visible. It was a good run back to Poole but no cetaceans were sighted on this survey.

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