MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 9 October 2019

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Christine Arnold

Weather: Sunny and strong breeze with occasional rain showers.

Summary of sightings

Seabirds:
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Gannet
Cormorant
Tern sp.

Terrestrial birds:
Gadwall
Shoveler
Spoonbill
Grey Heron
Oystercatcher
Turnstone
Little Egret
Carrion Crow
Pied Wagtail
Feral Pigeon
Canada Goose
Woodpigeon
Rock Pipit

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.

NKT Victoria Christine Arnold
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 01
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.