Sarah Hodgson and Judith Tatem, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Weather: Cloudy, light winds with sea state 2. Fog to start the outward journey and on the return leg some fog just around Guernsey, otherwise clear.
Summary of sightings:
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 5
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 6
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 8
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 10
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 46
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 18
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 17
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 26
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 4
Larus sp. 1
Auk sp. 6
We arrived early at the terminal and were soon on the transfer bus and boarding the Condor Liberation, where we received a very warm welcome onboard from the helpful staff. After a quick cup of coffee, we were shown up to the bridge. The ship had departed ahead of schedule and was slipping past Brownsea Island where we could see a group of Avocets feeding. Our survey effort began after we passed the Sandbanks ferry.
Common Dolphin (Library photo: Rick Morris)
Throughout the day we saw several Guillemot, some in winter plumage, others already in breeding plumage. On the approach to Alderney a pod of five Common Dolphin passed just in front of the ship, followed shortly afterwards by a pair which included a juvenile. The flurry of activity continued with another group of dolphins quickly approaching the vessel which this time turned out to be Bottlenose Dolphin. As we passed we turned to see this group breaching in the waves behind the ship. These few minutes proved to be the highlight of the day. The rest of the crossing was peppered mainly with Gannet, Kittiwake, auks and gulls.
Great Skua (Library photo: Peter Howlett)
Late in the afternoon, following our departure from St Peter Port on the last leg of this journey several small groups of Brent Geese flew past. Nearing the shipping lanes, a single Great Skua was spotted in the distance. Soon afterwards, with the light fading fast, we closed the survey, thanked Captain John Dowds and his crew for looking after us then headed down to the main salon. With an early arrival we were disembarking soon after 7.00pm.
Many thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for the support and assistance given.