MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Jersey 19 October 2019

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

Terrestrial birds
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 Peter Howlett 12
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 Peter Howlett 34
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.