MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 17 June 2019

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Amanda Jones

Weather: Outward - sunny and dry, wind SSW 15mph, good visibility.
Return - sunny and dry wind SW 7mph and a spectacular sunset.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Gannet
Cormorant
Sandwich Tern
Storm Petrel

Island Birds:
House Sparrow
Woodpigeon
Feral Pigeon
Pied Wagtail
Swallow

Upon arrival at Poole Harbour I made my way to check-in and introduced myself as the Wildlife Officer. It was a very busy crossing and I chatted briefly to the queueing passengers (many on a day trip) before boarding. Then I met the crew at the information desk, put on my high-vis and they kindly read out the MARINElife Wildlife Officer announcement once we had set sail.

Many people were on the outer decks for the first hour and I introduced myself and MARINElife, talking about conservation and learning many interesting stories of their travels. A few Herring Gull, Sandwich Tern, Great Black-backed Gull and Cormorant were seen as we left the harbour. Sandbanks and many boats dominated the harbour edge whilst the lagoon on Brownsea Island was brimming with birdlife.

Plastic pollution was noticeable on the crossing with a few plastic bottles, a balloon and more plastic in the harbour when we arrived at Guernsey. It was reassuring how many people cared about this when speaking to them.

Ortac rock, which is home to the Gannet colony, was busy with most of the birds sitting on the water. We approached Guernsey from east of the islands of Herm and Jethou and close to Sark. The light, which was spectacular today with the sunshine, highlighted all of the coves and crags and a passionate gentleman talked about sailing and exploring around the Channel Islands. A Storm Petrel flitted past before we got closer to Guernsey.

Herring Gull Amanda Jones 01
Herring Gull in St Peter Port (Amanda Jones)

Once in St Peter Port there were many gulls, mainly Herring, scattered around the harbour. We all disembarked and I enjoyed a round trip of the island on the 92 bus. It was my first visit to Guernsey and the glorious day presented it at its best, inspiring me to come back on holiday one day. The forts, light, sandy beaches, craggy rocks, quaint cottages and interesting gardens with palms, chickens, ponies, livestock and fields full of crops were all visible on the journey.

A flock of Woodpigeon were noticeable over Cobo Bay and a few gulls flew or perched en-route. An odd Great Black-backed Gull sat in a crop field with Herring Gulls. One Swallow darted across catching insects and a couple of Pied Wagtail quickly dipped past once back in the harbour. House Sparrows had made their home in the harbour too and as I wandered along to the terminal I approached a gentleman and we engaged in conversation. He suddenly rushed inside a hut and brought out a box which contained a baby hedgehog which was being transported home to Sark as he shared his passion for wildlife.

As we set sail for Poole the crew kindly read out the Wildlife Officer announcement again and people spoke to me on the outer decks. They shared their wildlife experiences from all around the UK; from Anglesey in the northwest of Wales, Aberdeen in the north of Scotland and Norfolk in eastern England and we related on how rich the British coastline is with spectacular wildlife which we must conserve.

Channel sunset Amanda Jones 01
Channel sunset (Amanda Jones)

The Gannets at Ortac were settled on the rock with a few flying but one chose to fly right alongside us whilst the sun set on the opposite side of the boat. I didn't see any cetaceans but as I made my way back to the car I joined with the Condor Ferries Assistance due to my disability and one lady related how a pod of dolphins had been alongside us just before we reached Old Harry Rocks.

Thank you to the Captain and Crew for being most welcoming and helpful.