MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 2 July 2019

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Christine Arnold

Weather: Sunny with light winds

Summary of sightings:

Sandwich Tern
Common Tern
Black-headed Gull
Cormorant
Shag
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Gannet
Shelduck
Little Egret
Spoonbill
Gadwall
Rock Pipit
Feral Pigeon
Woodpigeon
House Sparrow

It was a beautiful sunny day as I boarded Condor Liberation. There were loads of passengers on the viewing deck several of which were on their way to visit family in Guernsey. The ship left later than I am used to which meant the wildlife was well awake and getting on with their daily life.

We saw many Sandwich and Common Terns flying around the Brownsea lagoon and surrounding areas repeatedly flying back to their nests to feed young. Lots of the chicks are now hatched and are growing well. We also saw Cormorant, Herring Gull, Carrion Crow and Shelduck on the lagoon. The sailing vessel Gallant ws a lovely sight moored in Studland Bay.

SV Gallant Christine Arnold
Sailing vessel Gallant in Studland Bay (Christine Arnold)

I chatted with passengers about the wildlife and was asked many questions and engaged in some good conversations. One chap was even relocating to go and live on Jersey. The sun continued to shine as we sailed along and the English Channel was busy with lots of yachts and cargo vessels. The Ortac Gannet colony was a hive of activity with the majority of birds looking to be in adult plumage at present.

On arrival in Guernsey we docked in a different berth to usual so that put a different perspective in viewing sunny Guernsey. It was very warm and I disembarked and walked round to the bathing pools near the aquarium. The sea looked turquoise and everyone was very happy. Birds seen during my walk included several Herring Gull along with Feral Pigeon, Rock Pipit and Oystercatcher. I was surprised at how quickly the tide came in. I did a walk of about 700 metres along a beach and about 20 mins later the rockpools and beach were completely covered.

It was busy in the marina with many people enjoying going on the pleasure boats to Herm and Sark, as well as people going out in their own small boats. The plant boxes were absolutely full of beautiful different coloured flowers which set the image of an ideal picture postcard scene with the backdrop of turquoise water, it was simply magical.

One of Condor's other ferries, the Commodore Clipper, was in St Peter Port and I watched it load up with lorries and then watched as it manoeuvred out of the harbour which was quite a sight. After this I headed up to the roof terrace on the terminal where I watched the Feral Pigeons and heard the chorus of Herring Gull calling. I was also able to watch as the Condor Liberation returned from Jersey.

Purbeck sunset Christine Arnold 01
Pubeck sunset framed by a window on the Liberation (Christine Arnold)

On the return journey the visibility was fantastic, so clear that buildings on the French coast could be seen and the Casquettes rock lighthouse was also very clear. Passengers happily reminisced about their holidays and were keen to hear about the wildlife. I did see a splash in the water but was unable to determine what had made it. As we came into Poole Harbour Brownsea was still very busy and the terns continued to drop like bullets into the water. To round off the trip we were treated  to a fantastic pink and orange sunset.

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