MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 21 September 2019

Julie Hatcher and Mallory Warrington Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Outbound - fine and sunny with a brisk E-SE breeze.
Inbound - overcast with intermittent light rain on occasion and a light E breeze.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 127
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 35
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 7
Gannet Morus bassanus 252
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 60
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 6
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 5
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Skua sp. 1
Gull sp. 89
Auk sp. 1

Terrestrial Birds
Swift Apus apus 12

We boarded the ferry in fine, clear conditions and made ourselves comfortable for our departure through Poole Harbour and out past Old Harry Rock and the Purbeck cliffs. On leaving the Dorset coast we were welcomed to the bridge by Captain Stephen Crowe and his crew to begin our survey.

With a brisk easterly breeze blowing and the sun shining, we headed out into the Channel but, apart from the odd auk sightings were thin on the ground until we approached Alderney. There we started recording quite a few Gannet, including a good number of juvenile birds from this year's broods with their characteristic dark plumage.

Balearic SW Peter Howlett 05
Balearic Shearwater (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

After a brief stop at Guernsey we set sail towards Jersey and not far out of St. Peter Port harbour we came across a large flock of seabirds milling around. Among them were over 100 Gannet, Kittiwake and 50 or so Balearic Shearwater. This kind of seabird activity is often a sign of dolphins feeding below but although we scanned the sea we didn't spot any cetaceans on this occasion.

As we left Jersey for our return voyage we were kept busy recording Cormorant both surfacing from dives and flying out on fishing excursions. As we approached Guernsey we came across more Balearic Shearwater, this time not so concentrated but in groups flying across in front of the ship. By the time we left Guernsey behind the breeze had dropped but the sky had become overcast. A large Barrel Jellyfish was spotted drifting close to the ship and more adult and juvenile Gannet were recorded around Alderney and as the ship passed their colony on Ortac.

Cormorant Julie Hatcher 01
Cormorant (Julie Hatcher)

After an enjoyable day but with the cloud and approaching dusk making it quite dark we ended our survey as we neared the Dorset coastline. Many thanks to the Captain and crew of the Condor Liberation for their hospitality.