Glynis Northwood-Long; Wildlife Officer for MARINElife
Weather: Sunny with good visibility, sea smooth to slight, wind NW 1-3
Black headed gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Although the weather was forecast to be cloudy all day, it was a nice surprise to arrive at the ferry terminal with the sun shining and a clear blue sky for the final MARINElife wildlife day trip for this year. I met up with Gill, Martin, Peter, Richard, Alan, Howard and Dave, all members of the Poole unit of the Maritime Volunteer service (MVS) who had booked on this special day trip and soon we were boarding the Liberation.
Condor Liberation (Glynis Northwood-Long)
I made my way up to the viewing deck and as we sailed through Poole Harbour, I introduced myself to other passengers taking advantage of such a glorious morning. We chatted about the variety of birds on Brownsea Island lagoon, where Avocet, Spoonbill and Black tailed Godwit can be found at this time of year. I was also on the lookout for deer that I had seen earlier on the nature reserve's webcam.
We left Poole Harbour, passing Old Harry Rocks and I met with Karen and her young son Jim as I had been in contact with them by email. We chatted about the marine wildlife because on my last trip, I had seen pods of both Bottlenose and Common Dolphin. Although it was a perfect day for sighting, even the sea birds were scarce until we approached Alderney.
Getting closer to Ortac Rock, we could see the Gannet colony with many birds flying around the rock. Several of the Gannet treated the passengers to an aerobatic display as they soared very close to the ship.
We arrived in Guernsey just in time to hear the midday cannon. Whilst the group from MVS decided to catch the bus for a tour of the island or treat themselves to a meal, I opted to stay in the sunshine. I walked along South Esplanade and to the lighthouse at the end of Castle Pier. As I was eating my picnic lunch, I saw a big splash in the water and I thought I caught a glimpse of what might have been a fin. Although I kept watching for several minutes, it didn't reappear.
MVS Volunteers (Glynis Northwood-Long)
Back on the Liberation, many passengers were up on the viewing deck because it was more like summer than early October as the sun shone for most of the day, with higher temperatures than expected for this time of year. I met up with the MVS group on the viewing deck and took a photo of them for their newsletter. I continued to chat with my fellow passengers, who were hopeful of seeing dolphins. One passenger, James, was on the day trip celebrating his birthday, so I treated him to a slice of delicious fruit cake from the Casquets Bistro (I can highly recommend it!).
Once more, approaching Ortac Rock, the Gannet put on another aerial display, with one flying effortlessly just above the viewing deck. One passenger recorded its speed as 34 mph by using an app on his mobile phone! However, for the remainder of the journey, further sea bird sightings were scarce and no cetaceans were seen.
Even the crew had told me that the 'resident' pod of Dolphin had not been seen since the recent storms. Later, as we approached the mainland, those passengers out on deck were treated to a spectacular sight of the sun setting behind Anvil Point.
Sunset (Glynis Northwood-Long)
Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for making us welcome on board and for their support to MARINElife. I look forward to our next Wildlife trips with Condor Ferries next year!
Christine Arnold, MARINElife Wildlife Officer (WLO)
Weather: Cloud and sun, sea state 2-3
Summary of Sightings
Bottlenose Dolphin (possible)
It was a lovely autumnal day as I boarded Liberation. I was joined on deck by many passengers and we watched Barfleur leave for Cherbourg.
As we passed Brownsea we were able to view many Avocet on the lagoon along with Oystercatcher and Cormorant and some Little Egret.
The tide was very low, this meant that we were able to view stony island. There were about 10 Carrion Crow and some Herring Gull. I chatted to passengers, many of whom were on a coach holiday travelling to Jersey for 5 days. They were keen to obtain more information about the crossing and the anticipated wildlife and surrounding Purbeck area. There was a European Shag sitting on the buoy drying its wings.
The ship gained speed after we had passed Studland bay area. After a while when we were right in the Channel I thought I heard a Pied Wagtail calling overhead although didn't see it.
Gannet (JoJo Southgate)
Later on, the first Gannet started to fly past. I was able to hand out leaflets and tell passengers including some young families about the wildlife in the English Channel.
Just before the Gannet colony at les Etacs many people re-joined us on deck for the marvellous spectacle.
Several aeroplanes flew overheard and some people commented on the brilliant view of vapour trails that were all in the sky at once. The moon was also seen from the ship above us, obviously not illuminated but still visible.
After disembarking on Guernsey I decided to explore Candie gardens. This was extremely beautiful and I was told that flowers are planted so that it remains in flower all year round. There were two pretty little, French style ponds with goldfish in and it was all very well kept.
I even found a large statue of Victor Hugo and there was art in the gardens. The views over the Channel from here were quite spectacular. The garden was on a slight incline so as the gardens went down the slope you could see some of the other islands in the distance. I would thoroughly recommend it.
Victor Hugo Statue (Christine Arnold)
I watched the boats moving around in the harbour, especially Travel trident and then watched Huelin Dispatch unload its cargo.
I bought a stuffed Guernsey cow toy as a souvenir. I re-boarded Condor Liberation and spoke with some very happy passengers about their holidays including the man who lives near the New Forest who was very excited to tell me that during his holiday in Jersey he had purchased an old vintage Austin and was having to make arrangements to have it transported back in a big container on a ship. We had excellent view of Herm, Sark, Jettou, Berhuoi islands.
I thought I saw a very distant Bottlenose Dolphin jump out of the water and a splash but no one else saw it so I couldn't be sure.
We saw Ortac rock Gannet colony and they were flying round the top again and perched on it. After a while passengers came out to take photos of the glorious sunset which sent the sky gold, yellow, brown, pink and purple - it was incredible.
Soon after darkness descended, we saw Durlston light house working and all the other pretty twinkly lights over Purbeck.
Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for the support and assistance.
MARINElife WLO; Christine Arnold