Sarah Hodgson and Darren Hughes, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Weather: Outward - wind SE 5-6, overcast with
light rain to begin with, good visibility.
Return - wind SE 4-5, overcast with good visibility
Summary of sightings:
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 13
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 10
Gannet Morus bassanus 19
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 12
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 10
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 8
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 7
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 3
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 3
Razorbill Alca torda 7
Auk sp. Alcidae 3
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 47
It was a cloudy and breezy start to the day however we received a warm welcome onboard Condor Liberation from the helpful staff. We were quickly shown up to the bridge where we familiarised ourselves with the equipment and instruments necessary for our survey.
Our survey effort began as we passed Studland Bay with Cormorant, a variety of gulls and a lone Gannet being recorded early on. Despite the light rain we spotted a few Razorbill and Guillemot as well as a couple of unidentified auk which were resting on the water as we approached only to dive below the surface before we drew near enough to identify them.
Bottlenose Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)
Nearing Alderney the usual bustle of Ortac was quieter than during the summer months with the Gannet having already left to forage at sea after raising their young, although a few Gannet were still nearby.
Our first cetacean sighting came just as we approached Jersey with a small group of Bottlenose Dolphin heading straight towards the vessel but quickly disappearing from view. With a short turnaround in Jersey we wondered if we might be lucky to see dolphins on the return leg. Our luck was in and we spotted more Bottlenose Dolphin near La Corbiere Lighthouse, this time they were a bit more active giving us good views as they approached the vessel leaping clear of the water and we were able to make out a juvenile within the group.
La Corbiere lighthouse (Sarah Hodgson)
After leaving St Peter Port on the final leg of the day's crossing we encountered several Brent goose on the wing presumably over-wintering nearby following their epic migration from northern climes. With daylight fading we retired to the passenger lounge to relax and reflect on the day's sightings.
Once again, our thanks go to Captain Giles Wade and the crew of Condor Liberation who made this a very enjoyable crossing.