MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 24 July 2019

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Christine Arnold

Weather: Sunny and slight sea breeze, sea state 2

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
Wood Pigeon
House Sparrow

It was a wonderfully warm, sunny day as I boarded Condor Liberation. It was the first day of the school holidays so there were lots of children and families aboard as well as two large scout groups and five coach loads of holiday-makers. As it was so warm and still people were sunbathing on deck enjoying drinks with their friends all set out on picnic blankets - I had never seen so many people on deck - I struggled to get near the outer fence it was so popular out there!

The harbour was alive with pleasure boats and other people enjoying the water and people were already enjoying Shell bay beach. Brownsea lagoon was just waking up with Cormorant, Shelduck, Black-tailed Godwit and seven Spoonbill. The Common Terns were still feeding their young on sand eels with many of the youngsters now fledged.

Common Tern Peter Howlett 12
Common Tern (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Just past Old Harry rock we started seeing the first Gannet and in the main shipping channel there was the usual array of commercial ships to be seen, including several large tankers. I was chatting away to passengers about the wildlife and giving out leaflets and just before Ortac rock a Gannet flew alongside the vessel. It was a fantastic and close sight and perfect for pointing out to passengers. I recognised one man who had been on the day trip before and had enjoyed it so much he was back for another day trip.

On arrival in Guernsey we passed Saga's newest cruise ship ­­- the Spirit Of Discovery - anchored offshore. I disembarked and walked around the harbour. There was lots of the old time music being played outside the restaurants which was rather idyllic, giving the atmosphere a real historic theme.

Spirit of Discovery Christine Arnold
Spirit of Discovery (Christine Arnold)

People were queueing up to embark the little tenders that were ferrying passengers to and from the cruise ship. People genuinely seemed happy to be enjoying the beautiful weather in Guernsey. Lots of people were swimming or sunbathing today.

I was delighted to see several Rock Pipits. One seemed to be calling a lot so I looked more closely and watched the parent bird fly down and feed it which was rather endearing. I found a place to sit in the shade then went up on to the terminal roof to get a better look out over Guernsey and the water whilst watching the Liberation come back in.

Once back on board I chatted with various day trippers about the wildlife and the time they had had in Guernsey. People had some funny and lovely stories to tell. On the journey back Ortac rock was absolutely alive with Gannets with the sun shining down on them showing off their stunning white feathers.

As we were slowing down to berth we could see the 4 yellow boats tied up that had brought passengers to Brownsea Island for the open air theatre evening performance of Shakespeare's Richard III.

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