MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 24 August 2019

Steve Boswell Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Warm and sunny with light easterly winds and sea state 2-3, strong glare was a problem on the southern leg.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 21
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 8
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 442
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 625
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 7
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 85
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 15
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5

Terrestrial Birds
Swallow Hirundo rustica 3

The 09.15 crossing was fully booked with many passengers in the departure lounge when I arrived an hour before departure. We managed to leave on time and as we passed Old Harrys Rocks at 09.40, I was able to access the bridge and begin surveying.

BND Peter Howlett 04
Bottlenose Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

After one and a half hours into the survey and with only three birds noted during this time expectations were suddenly raised when a group of Common Dolphin appeared ahead and eight swam close by down the starboard side. Fifteen minutes later over 450 Gannet were amassed and feeding and with them 15 Bottlenose Dolphin which were getting involved in the feeding frenzy.  A few Balearic Shearwater were noted as we approached Guernsey.

Balearic Shearwater Tom Brereton 09
Manx and Balearic Shearwaters (Library photo: Tom Brereton)

Hot and sunny now with passengers alighting for a Guernsey day trip, I had my lunch in readiness for the short Jersey leg. As we headed out of the harbour the glare was troublesome. About half-way across I saw a close congregation of birds loafing in front of the ship. As we approached, they reluctantly took off and revealed themselves as 120 Balearic Shearwater, an impressive sight. This area has become an important site between July and October for post breeding birds after heading north from their breeding grounds in the Mediterranean. This was the start of a number of similar loafing groups totalling 442 for the survey. A few Manx Shearwater were also seen with them.

No Auks, Kittiwake and only 2 Fulmar were seen on what can only be described as a survey of all or nothing.

Thanks were given to Captain Steve Ainscow before I headed back home after what was a thoroughly enjoyable survey.