MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 21 August 2018

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Christine Arnold

Weather: Cloudy with sunny spells, sea state 2 outward and return 2/3

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin 6

Seabirds
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Great black-backed Gull

Terrestrial birds
Greylag Goose
Spoonbill
Little Egret
Oystercatcher
Feral Pigeon
House Sparrow
Carrion Crow

I boarded Condor Liberation and went on deck where the passengers who were on the MARINElife day trip made themselves known to me. We watched the Barfleur slowly edge away from its berth before we were able to depart. Many of the passengers were on holiday travelling to the Channel islands or St Malo and were interested to have a leaflet and hear about the local area. This sailing was also being used to train MARINElife surveyors and team leader Steve made himself known to me and introduced me to the two trainees accompanying him.

As we passed Brownsea Lagoon we were able to see 3 Spoonbill on the tamarisk island. The passengers were interested to know the history of when Bonham Christie owned the island years ago. There were Cormorant perched on Stoney Island and the various marker buoys. There was a lovely low light on Studland beach and the surrounding areas this morning.

Ortac Gannet colony was particularly splendid and sparked great interest from passengers who always ask about the small islets surrounding the Channel Islands. The Gannets were circling the top and fishing nearby giving great photo opportunities.

As we made the turn into Guernsey harbour a young boy shouted that he had seen the dolphins, quickly many passengers came to look. There were three in the distance and two came nearer with one swimming right alongside the vessel . Passengers could clearly see its grey back with the water lapping around the majestic animal.

Little Egret Peter Howlett 03
Little Egret on Guernsey (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

I was joined by several of the passengers from the Liberation for the bus journey round the island. The flower baskets were spectacular with many bees pollinating them. We saw a flock of Greylag Geese feeding in a field alongside a herd of Guernsey cows. There were Little Egret and Carrion Crow on the beaches and the tide was low exposing the terrific rock formations.

After the bus trip I gained some local information from one of the shop owners and bought a souvenir in the shop. I saw House Sparrow and Rock Pipit on the walk to the terminal and heard and saw the Feral Pigeons on the terminal roof.

BND Christine Arnold 02
Bottlenose Dolphin outside St Peter Port (Christine Arnold)

After reboarding Condor we saw dolphins in the distance. As we left the harbour we saw a pod of six Bottlenose Dolphin playing around a pleasure boat, 5 were in a long line in front and one was right by its side.  Many passengers including young children were overjoyed at the experience. Outside the harbour wall was a large flock of 100 or so Herring Gull.

After passing Ortac rock I made the most of the lovely food and treated myself to a honeycomb ice cream. The passengers told me how wildlife rich Alderney is too. Some of the passengers told me they had seen many jellyfish in the Jersey/St Malo area although they were unsure of the species.

There was a low, late summer sunset behind Brownsea island where an Oystercatcher flew past and there were loads of Cormorant resting within the lagoon. Small sailing boats were yet again enjoying the calm harbour waters and a drone also flew over us, presumably filming our approach into Poole harbour.

Thanks to the staff for their help and support during this crossing.