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

Cetaceans:
None seen

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Cormorant
Sandwich Tern
Oystercatcher
Gannet

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.