Julie Hatcher and Mike Leonard Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Weather: Outbound overcast with sunny intervals
and showers and a brisk westerly breeze.
Inbound mostly sunny with occasional showers and a westerly breeze.
Summary of sightings:
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 16
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 43
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 5
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 13
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 47
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 10
Razorbill Alca torda 18
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 7
Gull sp. 54
Auk sp. 4
Swallow Hirundo rustica 2
We boarded the ferry as it was coming light and made ourselves comfortable for our departure through Poole Harbour and out past Studland Bay and Old Harry Rock. Once clear of land we were welcomed to the bridge by Captain Stephen Crowe and his crew to begin our survey.
The weather was dry but fairly overcast with a westerly breeze blowing. Conditions were challenging for wildlife spotting and bird sightings were few and far between. However, we soon recorded a Gannet and further on some Manx Shearwater crossed just in front of the ship and the odd Razorbill was seen sitting on the water, diving when we got close.
Razorbill (Library photo: Peter Howlett)
The cloud broke up as we sailed south and the sun was shining as we departed from Guernsey towards Jersey. The glare on the water ahead made surveying tricky but we saw various gulls and a few Cormorant as we approached Jersey. A couple of Swallow were flying close to the entrance of the port.
As we left Jersey for our return voyage the sun was shining in between the odd heavy shower and we were treated to a wonderful display of rainbows above the islands. Following a brief stop at Guernsey we headed north again past Alderney and the Gannet colony at Ortac, although there were surprisingly few Gannet to be seen there. As we approached the mid-Channel we started to spot lots of seabirds, both flying and sitting on the water. We scoured the surface for dolphins but did not spot any fins on this occasion. However we recorded quite a number of Kittiwake, including juveniles, a few Gannet and plenty of Razorbill. These kept us busy for about an hour as we sailed on past a stream of birds, some flying in small groups but mostly resting on the water.
Kittiwake (Library photo: Peter Howlett)
After an enjoyable day but with evening approaching, we ended our survey at the entrance to Poole Harbour. Many thanks to the Captain and crew of the Condor Liberation for their hospitality.
MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Christine Arnold
Weather: Sunny and strong breeze with occasional rain showers.
Summary of sightings
Great Black-backed Gull
This trip departed earlier than scheduled so we were able to see The Barfleur all illuminated tied up nearby Condor Liberation. Unusually there were two of us on board as I had been joined by WLO co-ordinator Glynis Northwood-Long. It was lovely to have her for company and hear her all her wildlife stories and explore Guernsey with her. There was good visibility and we went on deck handing out the MARINElife leaflets and chatting to the passengers. One man was telling Glynis about his wildlife encounters on board and they also discussed the recent news of the Humpback Whale making its way into the Thames River.
Several young and adult Great Black-backed gulls were circling along with a winter plumage Sandwich Tern this side of Brownsea Island. On the lagoon we saw Grey Heron, Great Black-backed Gull, Cormorant, Gadwall, Shoveler along with one Spoonbill fishing in the middle. The duck numbers are really increasing now ready for the winter. As we entered the Swanage bay area the ship gained speed and I heard a wagtail calling overhead.
As we entered the English Channel we saw a good number of Gannets. There were still many juveniles in their all dark plumage along with adults. The highlight of the trip was a rainbow, one end of which ended directly above Casquettes lighthouse. It was such a wonderful sight like something out of a dream or a fairy-tale. We saw several rainbows throughout this trip.
The NKT Victoria (Christine Arnold)
As we approached Guernsey we passed the NKT Victoria anchored off shore, she had just finished laying a new electricity cable between Jersey and Guernsey.
Once alongside in St Peter Port harbour we disembarked walked around the harbour and out along the breakwater to the lighthouse and looked out to sea. We lost track of time and were startled when we heard the bang from the noon day cannon and laughed at ourselves when we realised what it was!
Castle Cornet breakwater (Christine Arnold)
On our return walk along the breakwater we heard a Rock Pipit and saw a well camouflaged Turnstone amongst the seaweed and stones. We were also surprised to see several people swimming. We noticed that the bathing pools seem to have been upgraded and there was some machinery doing some work on the beach.
We wandered down through the arcade and went into an eatery called The Terrace which boasts wonderful views of Herm, Jethou and Sark and we marvelled at the many small sculptures of varying themes within the garden. We collected our boarding cards and then watched Condor make her way back in.
On the return journey we went around the back of Alderney which was very picturesque and a first for me to see it from a different perspective. We chatted to passengers and enjoyed the food from Casquettes bistro. The Dorset coast looked very welcoming as we approached and coming back into the harbour it was evident that there was a lot less boat traffic than before on my July WLO trip. Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for the support and assistance.