Weymouth or Poole-Channel Islands

Sightings Archives: April 2019

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 26 April 2019

Posted 29 April 2019

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Glynis Northwood-Long

Weather: Sunny spells and showers, wind SW 4 to 5 in the morning, increasing to 5 or 6 mid afternoon, visibility good to moderate

Summary of sightings:

None seen

Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Sandwich Tern

Although it was a rather blustery morning, I joined fellow passengers on deck as we departed for the journey to Guernsey. On hearing the announcement that there was a Wildlife Officer on board, a few people came over to ask what I was looking for. So I happily chatted with them and explained which species they might see during the crossing. It was however, rather quiet on Brownsea Island lagoon with only a few different gull species, Oystercatcher and Cormorant to be seen as we departed the harbour.

Travelling past Old Harry Rocks and then out into the Channel, we saw our first Gannet, soaring above the waves, not yet in full adult plumage.  After that, sea bird sightings were scarce and I went inside to chat to passengers. I met a group from Royal Hospital Chelsea, who were going to the Channel Islands for a bowling match and they looked resplendent in their bright red coats, adorned with medals.

St Peter Port Peter Howlett 01
Harbour front in St Peter Port (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Arriving at St Peter Port, I had a few hours to explore the area and indulge in a bit of retail therapy in the shops in the town.

Once back on board for the return journey, I met up again with the passengers I had been chatting to before and we swapped stories about the wildlife we had seen in the area on previous occasions.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 04
Diving Gannet (Library photo: Adrian Shephard)

Out on deck as we were approaching Alderney, the afternoon sunshine highlighted the Gannet colony on Ortac Rock and we could see Gannet soaring round and diving spectacularly into the sea. Although we were ever hopeful, on this trip we didn't spot any cetaceans although they had been seen the week before around Poole Bay.

Thanks to Condor Ferries, Captain Giles Wade and the crew of the Condor Liberation for their support and assistance.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 13 April 2019

Posted 15 April 2019

Rick Morris, Terry Bridgwood and Donna Bridgwood, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Wind 4-5 E-ENE, sea state: 3-5, cloudy with sunny periods

Summary of sightings

Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 113
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 181
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 23
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 34
Razorbill  Alca torda 3
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 8
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Larus gull Sp. 5
Auk Sp. 1

Terrestrial birds seen at sea
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 2
Carrion Crow  Corvus corone 2

This was a three surveyor team today and we were also joined by Glynis Northwood-Long who came along to gather some photos for future training etc. We arrived at the terminal in good time and after a friendly and quick check-in, were onto the bus and aboard the ship.

Once on board, some time was spent up top looking out to Brownsea Island where there were a few different species of birds in low numbers and a few Sandwich Tern were seen flying. We enjoyed breakfast before heading up to the bridge where we were welcomed by Captain Giles Wade. After setting up on the starboard bridge wing, we commenced our survey just as we were exiting the 'red zone' near Old Harry Rocks. We logged our first effort entry at 09:55 and it was not long after at 10:06 that we recorded our first bird sighting, 2 Whimbrel heading off shore. Throughout the survey, seabird species and numbers remained low, not helped by the cold easterly winds!

Terry-Donna Bridgwood surveying
Terry and Donna Bridgwood surveying (Rick Morris)

Nearing Alderney, Ortac Rock could be seen at distance off the port side, now being circled by the many breeding Gannet that return to colonise this each year. As we approached Guernsey, many gulls were seen on the surface with some flying and actively feeding.

After a short turn-around in saint Peter Port we continued onward to Jersey and just outside of the port we took on the pilot to take us in. Once in St Helier, Jersey we enjoyed the fresh air up on deck before heading down for lunch. It was then back to the bridge ready for the return. We were hoping to catch sight of the resident Bottlenose Dolphin that often make an appearance just outside the port of St Helier, but alas, none was seen.

After another quick turn-around at Guernsey we were soon on our way back to Poole. The remainder of the crossing was much like that of the outbound section, fairly quiet with very little in the way of sightings, although we did have a better view of Ortac Rock and the Gannets as we passed by with it on our starboard side. We also had a close sighting of a Great Skua that came down the starboard side of us.

Ortac Rick Morris 2019-04
Ortac (Rick Morris)

As we entered into the red zone at the entrance to Poole Harbour, we concluded our survey and thanked Captain Giles Wade, the bridge crew and cabin crew for all their help and a special thanks to Condor Ferries for supporting MARINElife's work. Although it was a relatively quiet survey in quantity terms, we still managed 10 species of seabirds as well as 2 species of terrestrial birds.

MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 12 April 2019

Posted 14 April 2019

MARINElife WLO Christine Roberts

Weather: Sunny with occasional cloud, wind easterly force 4, gusting 5 on the return

Summary of sightings:

Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Brent Geese
Sandwich Tern
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull

Boarding pass swiftly collected and a quick bus transit to the ship and we were soon on our way to the Channel Islands. We enjoyed a beautiful sunny start to the day. Although the easterly wind was quite chilly it was good to see lots of people up on the top viewing deck enjoying the stunning views of Poole Harbour as we departed. Passing Brownsea lagoon we saw increasing bird numbers and enjoyed seeing some diving terns plus Shag, Cormorant, Herring Gull and Black-headed Gull all on the wing.

Sandwich Tern Peter Howlett 05
Sandwich Tern (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Picking up speed as we left the harbour, we enjoyed the glorious vista of the Jurassic coast. Sadly, we weren't lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the pod of 40 dolphins seen the previous week. However, before long we were seeing increasing numbers of Gannets. As we came closer to Ortac Rock we could see Gannets sitting on the water, flying close to the ship and a mass swirling around the top of the rock - wonderful sight.  As we approached Guernsey, a local fishing boat was proving very popular with the local Herring Gull population.

Disembarking in Guernsey, I took advantage of the free time to walk along the small beaches close by, then walked up to Clarence Battery which offers great views of the islands. A Kestrel was hovering close by and the sound of birdsong was wonderful. Following a quick coffee in a café overlooking the harbour, it was soon time to board the ship.

Kestrel Peter Howlett 01
Kestrel (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The wind was keener for our return journey which limited the wildlife spotting opportunities, but it was lovely talking to fellow passengers about their wildlife experiences and seeing their passion for nature. A beautiful sunset accompanied our return to Poole harbour and I was soon on my way home.

Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for the support and assistance.