Portsmouth-Jersey

Recent Sightings

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey 3rd October 2018

Posted 16 October 2018

Stephen Hedley and Kim Roll-Baldwin, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Wind W Force 4, Sea State 3-4, visibility - good

Seabirds
Auk sp. Alcidae 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 6
Gannet  Morus bassanus 125
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 8
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 6
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 7
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 1
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 2
Tern sp. Sternidae 6
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 2
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 10

Terrestrial Birds
Passerine sp. Passeriformes 8

Our overnight crossing southbound was smooth and then there was a short turnaround in Jersey. This allowed us to have a nice breakfast in St. Helier and watch the sunrise. We were permitted on the bridge in the harbour and whilst preparing for the survey proper we spotted Little Egret, Oystercatcher and Curlew flying nearby.

Departure was prompt and we began the survey on leaving the harbour. Our first sighting was a pair of Sandwich Tern, followed by Herring Gull, Cormorant and a Great Black-backed Gull. After a few minutes we spotted our first Gannet, the first of many on the survey. Several Guillemot were spotted, before our first Manx Shearwater. A few minutes after this sighting, two Balearic Shearwater flew across the bow.

Cormorant Ruth Griffith 01

Cormorant (Ruth Griffith)

The conditions were mainly light, and the wind direction was such that it was possible to stand outside on the bridge wing in shelter. This meant that occasional calls were heard of birds on migration and one group of eight passerines heading south were spotted. Individual Great Skua were subsequently spotted several times in the mid Channel area.

Throughout the survey regular Gannet were observed, including occasional juveniles. However, no Gannet were spotted diving and it was only when crossing Sandown Bay in the late afternoon that Gannet were spotted circling.  One crew member also advised that Harbour Porpoise had been seen in this area a day or so before. Despite the reasonable conditions none were spotted during the survey.

Guillemot Peter Howlett 07

Guillemots (Peter Howlett)

Our thanks go to Captain Wojciech Pielich and crew of the Commodore Goodwill who made this a very enjoyable crossing.

Stephen Hedley and Kim Roll-Baldwin

 

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey September 2018

Posted 16 September 2018

Survey cancelled for logistical reasons

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey August 2018

Posted 09 September 2018

Survey cancelled for logistical reasons

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Clipper’ Portsmouth-Jersey 4 July 2018

Posted 02 September 2018

Steve Boswell, Mike Mackay, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Almost full cloud cover until the Solent was reached, wind slight varying between south west and south east

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 4

Seabirds
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 2
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 5
Gannet Morus bassanus 152
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 29
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 20
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 12
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 9
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 8

Terrestrial Birds
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 1

We arrived at Portsmouth Ferry Port in good time to be escorted on board the Commodore Clipper where after making ourselves know at the information desk, Captain Roger Thomson took us up to the bridge and introduced us to the layout. We then had an evening meal in the crew mess before going back onto the bridge to watch the sunset over the Isle of Wight. We had time to nervously watch England's penalty shootout before retiring ready for an early start.

A sunrise just after 05.00 enabled us to survey from 05.15 in dull and cloudy conditions. Captain Thomson informed us that they had seen dolphins as we departed from Guernsey earlier in the morning. The first bird seen was a Manx Shearwater, followed later by a mixture of gulls and Gannet.

Manx Shearwater Rob Petley Jones 02

Manx Shearwater (Rob Petley-Jones)

On arrival in Jersey we had breakfast before returning to the bridge to continue our survey. As we approached the waters between Alderney and the Cherbourg peninsular, we spotted an adult Guillemot escorting an unfledged youngster, hopefully the first of many. Mike then saw movement ahead which turned out to be four Harbour Porpoise moving slowly together in a tight formation, great close views were had!

Harbour Porpoise Adrian Shephard 09

Harbour Porpoise (Adrian Shephard)

We then moved into the quiet area from mid-Channel before seeing a few Mediterranean Gull as we approached the Portsmouth shipping Channel where we ended our survey.

We thanked Captain Thomson and headed below to be driven off the ship and make our way home in hot sunny conditions.

Steve Boswell, Mike Mackay, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey 6 June 2018

Posted 11 June 2018

Steve Boswell and Kevin Waterfall, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Wind north-east force 5 most of the day swinging round to south-west force 2 late afternoon. Sea state 5 decreasing to 3. Full cloud cover and occasional rain.

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncates 8

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 71
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 9
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 5
Herring Gull Larus argetatus 83
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 6
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 12
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2

We met at 17.45 at the Portsmouth ferry terminal where we were soon taken on board the Commodore Goodwill. Our cabins were allocated and then we enjoyed a three-course meal before going up to the bridge and introducing ourselves to Captain Pielich. We then returned to our cabins to sleep in preparation for our early start.

Sunrise at 05.00 gave us the opportunity to survey for one hour before our arrival in Jersey. No Cetaceans were seen but a lovely view of a Manx Shearwater drifting across the bow was a nice start to the day.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 10

Manx Shearwater (Peter Howlett)

After a large breakfast we had time to scan the harbour area producing amongst the usual sightings a flock of 24 Swift over Elizabeth Castle, a Rock Pipit on the harbour wall plus a Little Egret feeding on the low tide. We watched the Condor Rapide arrive from St Malo before leaving our birth on time for our return sail for Portsmouth.

15 minutes out of port we saw a solitary Gannet circling low over the water and on further investigation saw a Bottlenose Dolphin leaping out of the water. We then watched a total of eight giving excellent views swimming around the bow.

BND Peter Howlett 24

Bottlenose Dolphin (Peter Howlett)

We continued into the Channel where bird numbers decreased as we headed away from the Islands. Best of the sightings were three more Manx Shearwater, Fulmar and Kittiwake.

As we approached Portsmouth we thanked Captain Pielich and his crew for looking after us and upon arrival we were swiftly taken to the terminal.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey 9 May 2018

Posted 16 May 2018

Jenny Ball and Peter Howlett, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Summary of sightings:
Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 10
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 6
Gannet Morus bassanus 298
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 6
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 4
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 5
Gull sp.  1
Auk sp.   1

Terrestrial birds at sea
Swift Apus apus 1
Swallow Hirundo rustica 3

Jenny and I met up at the International Ferry Terminal and were soon on board the Commodore Goodwill. We had a quick chat with Captain Wjociech Pielich who told us we were welcome on the bridge at any time and advised us that as we were due into St Helier at about 05:45 we might see the sunrise behind the port on our approach - the forecast looking good for our survey on the return leg.

I had seen news that there had been 2500 Arctic Tern past Dungeness during the day and as we made our way out of Portsmouth we passed a feeding flock of gulls and terns alongside the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. We had high hopes that there might be some migrant seabirds on the move in the Channel for our survey.

Sandwich Tern Peter Howlett 05

Sandwich Tern (Peter Howlett)

We were up on the bridge just before we docked in St Helier and, as Captain Pielich predicted, there was a very nice sunrise. We whiled away the two hour stop in St Helier on deck, looking for wildlife. There appeared to be a trickle of Swallow moving north and the odd Swift circled around overhead feeding. There was the usual constant 'kleeping' from the Oystercatcher dotted around Elizabeth Castle and a dozen Common Tern hovering around one of the stacks.

A swift loading saw us depart at 07:50 and we began our survey as soon as we had cleared the Elizabeth Castle breakwater. We kept a sharp eye open for any sign of the Bottlenose Dolphin that can appear around St Helier but there was no sign on this occasion, and the bridge crew hadn't had any recent sightings either.

Swift Peter Howlett

Swift (Peter Howlett)

Conditions were kind and it was a lovely day to be at sea but sadly, apart from the usual rush of Gannet as we passed between Alderney and Cap de la Hague, there were very few birds to be seen. A brief glimpse of a solitary Harbour Porpoise abeam Sark was the only cetacean sighting of the trip too. Although that was an improvement on last month when we didn't have any cetacean sightings at all.

We finished the survey as we turned into the main shipping channel off the SE corner of the Isle of Wight and enjoyed the view from the bridge as we steamed past Southsea and into Portsmouth.

 

Our thanks to Captain Pielich and his crew for making this a very enjoyable trip and to Condor for their continued support of MARINElife's work.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey 3 April 2018

Posted 08 April 2018

Peter Howlett and Helen Swift, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 16
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 6
Gannet Morus bassanus 122
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 7
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 18
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 17
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 10
Auk sp.   20

Peter and I met at Portsmouth & Southsea station in the early afternoon and made our way to the ferry terminal together. With a couple of hours to kill, we grabbed a coffee and exchanged stories of previous wildlife encounters, and I found out about his recent experience conducting the epic Peltic survey for MARINElife. We boarded the Commodore Goodwill in the early evening and shortly afterwards enjoyed a nice meal, kindly provided by Condor Ferries, while waiting for the ship to depart. At this time of year, it is not possible to survey on the outbound journey, so we retired to our cabins early for a good night's sleep.

We awoke to find the ship moored in St Helier port. A quick survey of the area around Elizabeth Castle revealed a flock of 27 Brent Geese and 180 or so Oystercatcher. The latter creating a black and white blizzard when they were spooked by a Peregrine flying overhead. Following breakfast, we headed up to the bridge ready to carry out the survey on the return leg.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 13

Manx Shearwater (Peter Howlett)

Having surveyed this route the previous month, I was interested to see whether there were any changes in birdlife now that Spring had arrived. While species seen were largely the same as the previous month, there were indeed some differences - most notably, the arrival of Manx Shearwater. Remarkably, these seabirds spend the winter far away from the UK, along the coast of South America and around the Falkland Islands.

Lesser Black-backed Gull and Great Skua were also seen in greater numbers on this survey, with some individuals giving us fantastic views as they flew close to the bow. Gannet were, again, seen throughout the journey (albeit in lower numbers this time), with the greatest concentration around the Cherbourg peninsula - as with last month's survey, all of the individuals seen were adults.

Unfortunately, the sea state was not conducive to spotting cetaceans and we didn't see any on this survey. However, the crew of the Goodwill reported that they had seen dolphins around the Minquiers reef in recent weeks and also near St Peter Port, Guernsey from the Commodore Clipper. These are likely to have been the Bottlenose Dolphin, which have been seen in this area on a number of occasions on previous MARINElife surveys.

Great Skua Peter Howlett 23

Great Skua (Peter Howlett)

Once again, we would like to thank Captain Zelazny and the friendly crew of the Commodore Goodwill for their hospitality, and Condor Ferries for kindly providing us with meals and cabins throughout the journey.

Peter Howlett and Helen Swift, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey 6 March 2018

Posted 13 March 2018

Steve Boswell and Helen Swift, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: North-westerly to south-westerly wind force 5-6, sea state 2-4, very good-excellent visibility

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 30
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2

Seabirds
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 7
Gannet Morus bassanus 185
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 11
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 17
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Razorbill Alca torda 8
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5
Auk sp. 11
Gull sp. 43

Terrestrial Birds
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 1

In St Helier before going 'on effort':
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 85
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Curlew Numenius arquata 20
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 1
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 130

We were escorted aboard the Commodore Goodwill in the early evening. At this time of year, it is not possible to survey on the outward crossing due to the shortened day length.  Instead, we spent the evening chatting to other passengers over an enjoyable dinner, before retiring to our cabins early for a good night's sleep.

When we awoke in the morning the ship was docked in Jersey. We headed out to the deck to see what wildlife we could spot in the harbour. There were plenty of birds, including sizeable flocks of Oystercatcher, Curlew and Brent Geese around the Elizabeth Castle islet.  We then proceeded to the bridge, ready to begin the main survey.

The sky was dark with rain clouds as we departed, and we soon headed into a shower.  However, a double rainbow over La Corbière lighthouse provided a great photo opportunity and suggested that the sun would break through shortly.  Sure enough, the cloud soon cleared, and we experienced glorious sunny weather until we reached the coast of England.

Rainbow_Helen Swift

Rainbow (Helen Swift)

We kept our eyes peeled for Bottlenose Dolphin, which are sometimes seen around the Jersey coastline, but did not see them on this occasion. However, we were not disappointed, as we encountered another dolphin species - the Common Dolphin - which has been seen in this area less frequently on MARINElife surveys. We spotted a pair of them surfacing and making a beeline for the ship. These were swiftly followed by further twos and threes, all coming to ride the bow wave produced by the ship. In total, we saw at least 30 individuals over the course of a few minutes.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 12

Common Dolphin (Peter Howlett)

Half an hour later, we encountered another cetacean species, this time a Harbour Porpoise. It surfaced about 300m ahead of the boat and then quickly disappeared. A second individual was seen a few hours later as we approached the Isle of Wight.

Sightings of seabirds were fairly steady throughout the journey. Gannet were the predominant species, with a particularly strong passage around the Cherbourg Peninsula.  We also saw small numbers of auk, Fulmar, a variety of gulls and a single Great Skua.  A highlight was several Red-Throated Diver, flying east from St Catherine's on the Isle of Wight. As well as seabirds, we encountered a Meadow Pipit on migration across the Channel, a sign that Spring was on the way.

We concluded our survey as we turned into the Solent and thanked Captain Zelazny and the crew for their hospitality throughout the journey.

Steve Boswell and Helen Swift; Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey 7 February 2018

Posted 14 February 2018

Steve Boswell, Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Weather: Bright sunshine with a strong northerly wind throughout reaching over 30 knots at times

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncates) 4

Seabirds
Gannet (Morus bassanus) 99
Fulmar (Fulmaris glacialis) 4
Razorbill (Alca torda) 31
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) 1
Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer) 1
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) 4
Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) 2
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) 6
Guillemot (Uria aalge) 60
Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) 51
Auk sp. 26
Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) 1
Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata) 2

I was met at the Portsmouth Ferry Port and escorted on board the Commodore Goodwill where I was allocated my cabin for the overnight sail and after dropping off my bags it was time for a hearty evening meal! At this time of year surveying is only possible on the return section of the route and so after dinner it was time to catch some sleep, ready for an early rise the following day.

After a large breakfast, I went out on deck to check the birds in the harbour before departure.  It was quite a turnout, including 68 Brent Geese, Dunlin, Curlew, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, and Great Crested Grebe as well as the usual gulls.

I made my way to the bridge to commence recording at 9am and as soon as we made progress out of the harbour, I spotted a Great Northern Diver.  Just over an hour into the survey I spotted a group of 15 Gannet feeding up ahead but failed to see any cetaceans.  Five minutes later another group of Gannet appeared, and this time 4 Bottlenose Dolphin were sighted.

BND Adrian Shephard 04

Bottlenose Dolphin (Adrian Shephard)

A good number of Kittiwake, Gannet, Razorbill and Guillemot kept me busy until the Isle of Wight came into view and sightings eased away but a close flyby of 2 Red-throated Diver was a good way to conclude the trip.

 

I thanked Captain Zelazny and left the bridge to await transport back to the Ferry Terminal.

RT Diver Mike Bamford 01

Red-throated Diver (Mike Bamford)

Steve Morgan; Researcher for MARINElife

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey January 2018

Posted 31 January 2018

Survey cancelled for logistical reasosns

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Jersey-Portsmouth 6 December 2017

Posted 08 December 2017

Carol Farmer-Wright; Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Weather: Wind SSW force 5-6. Visibility good, conditions dry but overcast.  Sea state 5-6 decreasing to 4 as we gained shelter from the Isle of Wight.

Summary of Sightings:
Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 1

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 8
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 7
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 10
Guillemot Uria aalge 27

I arrived at Portsmouth Continental Ferry Terminal on Tuesday evening, had my ticket issued and was driven aboard the Commodore Goodwill. Having eaten a substantial dinner, I chatted with the other passengers on board before heading to my cabin for the outward crossing overnight.

Cormorant Peter Howlett 01

Cormorant (Peter Howlett)

We left St. Helier and headed out into the bay and I recorded Cormorant, a small group of Guillemot and a handful of Gannet and Kittiwake.  Sightings were sparse, the wind, a brisk south-south westerly started to create some white water, but the seas stayed at state 5 to 6 throughout the crossing.

An hour and a quarter in provided the only cetacean sighting of the day when I briefly glimpsed a dorsal fin proceeding down the port side of the ship, most likely a Bottlenose Dolphin.

A few more Guillemot were seen and some of the adults had already moulted into their breeding plumage.

Guillemot Peter Howlett 09

Guillemot (Peter Howlett)

With the shorter winter days, I concluded the survey in Sandown Bay and thanked Captain Wojciech Pielich, his officers and crew for their hospitality before heading ashore.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Jersey-Portsmouth November 2017

Posted 15 November 2017

The survey was cancelled for operational reasons

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Jersey-Portsmouth October 2017

Posted 13 October 2017

The survey was cancelled for operational reasons

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Jersey-Portsmouth September 2017

Posted 15 September 2017

The survey was cancelled for operational reasons

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Jersey-Portsmouth 9 August 2017

Posted 15 August 2017

Steve Boswell and Keith Morgan; Research Surveyors for MARINElifeWeather: Sea state 1-4, rain developing at 13:00, an increasing Northerly wind as the day progressed

Summary of Sightings
Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 205
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 22
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 10
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 1
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 3
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Shag Phalacrocorax arisotelis 5
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus graellsii 1
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 72

We boarded the Commodore Goodwill at 6pm for an overnight sail to Jersey and awoke the following morning bright and early for sunrise and a very enjoyable, large English breakfast! After breakfast, we had time to scan the harbour area before heading up on deck where we were greeted by bright sunshine but could see dark clouds and a large rainbow inland. A group of around 160 Oystercatcher were being pushed off the beach by the rising tide and a Sparrowhawk caused a large group of Sandwich Tern to rise from the four rafts they were resting on.

Sandwich Tern Peter Howlett 01

Sandwich Tern (Peter Howlett)

As we left the Jersey harbour the weather out to sea was good with excellent visibility, the rain was on either side of us and we managed to escape it for the first five hours of the sail. Later in the day the sea state increased to a 4, and as the rain started to fall the visibility was considerably reduced.

Despite the rain, our bird sightings were steady throughout the day with Balearic and Manx Shearwater seen together resting on the sea's surface mid Channel. We also spotted a Great Skua sat pecking at a dead fish, totally ignoring the ship as it passed by very closely.

Great Skua Peter Howlett 01

Great Skua (Peter Howlett)

On this occasion, we did not observe any cetaceans and as the rain closed in we concluded our survey ahead of the entrance to Portsmouth harbour.  We thanked Captain Zelazny and his crew before heading down to the lorry deck to await our transport back to the terminal.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Jersey-Portsmouth 5 July 2017

Posted 09 July 2017

Steve Boswell and Keith Morgan, Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Weather: Good visibility and calm seas throughout the survey

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 9
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 7
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 273
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 4
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 11
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 20
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 5
Common Scoter Malanitta nigra 18
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocehalus 2
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 2

We were met at Portsmouth Ferry Port and were escorted on board the Commodore Goodwill where we were allocated our cabins and given a large evening meal before retiring.

Up early the following morning it was possible to survey for one hour before reaching Jersey. Entering the bridge we were rewarded with a beautiful red sunrise and calm seas. A flock of 18 Common Scoter and a Manx Shearwater was seen amongst the usual sightings.

Common Scoter Rick Morris 01

Common Scoter (Rick Morris)

After breakfast we went on deck to view the harbour area before departure. 30 Swift flew around the castle and around 100 Oystercatcher were on the beach along with 2 Curlew and 2 Little Egret. 2 Mediterranean Gull were seen in the flock of other gulls and at least 30 Common Tern were feeding close by.

We made our way back up to the bridge for the 8.00 am return to Portsmouth. We soon began to see good numbers of Gannet which included an impressive sight of 60 flying low in V formation returning from a fishing trip.

Three hours out from Jersey we sighted a group of Shearwaters sat on the water directly ahead of the ship. As we approached they took off and flew with us for a few minutes. Fantastic views of 7 Balearic Shearwater with 1 Manx Shearwater with them giving a great opportunity to see the difference between the two species.

Balearic sw Joe Cockram

Balearic Shearwater (Joe Cockram)

2 Harbour Porpoise gave good close views as they slowly raised their bodies above the water and then slowly dived. Later, 2 Mediterranean Gull were sighted as we concluded our survey on our approach to Portsmouth and thanked Captain Zelazny and his crew before heading ashore at 16.30.

Steve Boswell and Keith Morgan, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Jersey-Portsmouth 7 June 2017

Posted 13 June 2017

Peter Howlett; Research Surveyor from MARINElife
Weather: Scattered clouds, wind W 5-7, backing SW 5-6, sea state 5-6, visibility good

Summary of sightings:
Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 42

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 55
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 8
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 5
Gannet Morus bassanus 169
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 14
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 40
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 4
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 6
Guillemot Uria aalge 3

Terrestrial birds
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 1

I had last undertaken a survey on the Portsmouth-Jersey route last June and on that occasion I had stepped in at the last moment after the scheduled team had to pull out. It was a case of déjà vu as this year the other member of the team for this survey had to pull out at short notice and so I would be doing this one by myself again. Fortunately this route lends itself to solo surveying with the survey only taking place on the north-bound leg which takes just eight hours. On the train from Cardiff to Portsmouth I received a call from Condor to tell me that due to the gales the previous day the Goodwill was going to be running a little late. The delay gave me time to find somewhere to eat in Southsea before heading to the ferry terminal to board the ship and I was soon settled in my cabin and getting an early night ready for a dawn start.

Early morning Brehon tower Peter Howlett

Early morning light over Brehon tower (Peter Howlett)

Dawn saw us approaching St Peter Port in Guernsey, with the sun rising over Herm. The stop in St Peter Port is fairly short and we sailed just before 6:30 and I was able to start surveying as soon as we had cleared the breakwater. There was still a strong westerly breeze blowing so if I was going to see any cetaceans they were going to have to come in close or be very demonstrative - you have to live in hope. There were birds in evidence though and a good number of Manx Shearwater and several Balearic Shearwaters were seen during the short hop to St Helier.

The bridge crew told me they had seen a pod of 40-50 dolphins just off the south coast of Jersey on the sailing the previous day (how many times have I heard that!) and that despite the 40 knot winds at the time. Sadly as we sailed between Corbiere and St Helier there was no sign of them.

The ship spends about two hours in St Helier, however, the raised view from the upper decks of the Commodore Goodwill mean you get a grand view to the south and west of Elizabeth Castle and St Aubin's Bay beyond so there is always something to see to while away the time. On this occasion, due to the delay in the schedule, I got to see the strange amphibious vehicles which take passengers to the castle as well as a couple of the ferries which operate day trips to and from St Malo in France. The most obvious birds were the non-breeding flock of Oystercatchers on the beach by the castle. A few pairs also breed and there was an almost constant background noise from their alarm calls as they defended their nests from marauding Magpies and gulls. The castle is also home to a few pairs of Common Tern and these could be seen flying to and fro a bit further out.

Elizabeth Castle ferry Peter Howlett

The Elizabeth Castle 'ferry' (Peter Howlett)

I was back on the bridge and ready to restart the survey as soon as we had cleared the Elizabeth Castle breakwater, eyes peeled for any sign of yesterday's dolphin pod. This time they didn't disappoint and 20 minutes after leaving St Helier we sailed into a dispersed group of Bottlenose Dolphins. Dispersed that is until they all started powering in towards the ship to bowride, it was difficult to keep track of the animals coming in as they came from all directions ahead of the ship with some putting on a good show with a few acrobatic leaps. They were only with us for a few minutes but there were at least 42 including several calves - what a great start to the return journey - they also happened to be in exactly the same area as the previous day.

BND Peter Howlett 21

Bottlenose Dolphin (Peter Howlett)

Unfortunately, this was to be the only cetacean sighting of the trip, not that I'm complaining when that sighting is 42 bowriding Bottlenose Dolphins. As we made our way north towards Cap de la Hague with Sark off to the west I was kept busy with more sightings of Manx and Balearic Shearwaters. With a global population of c. 4,000 breeding pairs the Balearic Shearwater is Europe's most endangered seabird and has been a target species for MARINElife for some years. The Channel and Bay of St Malo is an important area for them during the summer months so it was good to be recording a few. The Balearics really stand out from  Manx with their duskier underparts - very different to the clean white of the Manx - and their more flappy flight.

Balearic and Manx SW Peter Howlett 01

Balearic (left) and Manx Shearwater (right) Photos: Peter Howlett

I kept my eyes peeled hoping for a sighting of a Storm Petrel - our smallest seabird - I had hoped the strong winds might have pushed a few into the Bay of St Malo but sadly I couldn't find any. The most surprising sighting was of a Little Egret flying west low over the sea, looking very much like it would make landfall on Sark or Guernsey. Ringing recoveries have shown that these birds are not afraid of long sea crossings with sightings of British-bred birds as far afield as the Canaries.

As we passed through the narrow channel between Alderney and Cap de la Hague there was the customary burst of Gannet sightings as birds from the colonies around Alderney fly to and fro from feeding areas further up Channel. After that there were a few more sightings of Manx Shearwater on the southern side of the Channel but once past the traffic separation zone sightings became few and far between - as seems to always be the case.

Another very enjoyable survey on the Commodore Goodwill, the highlight definitely being the large pod of Bottlenose Dolphins but it was also good to see a reasonable number of Balearic Shearwaters. Many thanks to Captain Zelazny and his crew for the customary friendly welcome and to Condor Ferries for supporting the work of MARINElife.

Peter Howlett; Research Surveyor from MARINElife

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Jersey-Portsmouth 19 May 2017

Posted 25 May 2017

Carol Farmer-Wright; Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Sea state 2-4, Winds W to SW force 4-5.  Weather dry and sunny with good visibility

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise  Phocoena phocoena 2

Seabirds
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 6
Manx Shearwater  Puffinus puffinus 4
Gannet  Morus bassanus 205
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 7
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 12
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 3
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 8
Guillemot  Uria aalge 6

It was cloudy as I travelled down to Portsmouth for the monthly survey. I was taken to the Commodore Goodwill by the friendly Condor Ferries staff and enjoyed a lovely dinner before heading to my cabin for the overnight crossing to Jersey.

Elizabeth Castle_Carol Farmer Wright

Elizabeth Castle (Carol Farmer-Wright)

I awoke to a clear and sunny day, had breakfast whilst we were docked in St. Helier and was then invited by Captain Pielich to make my way to the bridge to prepare for the survey. He advised me that a couple of cetaceans had been seen the previous day off Bembridge on the approach to Portsmouth Harbour.  I hoped that they still may be around when we returned to Portsmouth that afternoon.We waited in harbour until the Condor Rapide berthed and headed west towards Corbiere lighthouse. Sightings were slow and steady with a few Gannet, Great Black-backed Gull, Cormorant and Lesser Black-backed Gull. More Cormorant rested on the rocks around the coast taking in the early morning sun.As we headed towards the Cherbourg peninsular I started recording groups of Gannet flying in formation across our path, either leaving to forage or returning to the Gannetry's located on Les Etacs and Ortac rock to the west of Alderney.

Condor Rapide

Condor Rapide (Carol Farmer-Wright)

After lunch I resumed surveying as we entered the shipping lanes. In addition to Gannet, I was delighted to see four Manx Shearwater flying low across the waves and recorded a couple of Fulmar and an occasional Guillemot as we approached the Isle of Wight.

The highlight of the day occurred as we approached Ventnor. A large aggregation of 25 or more Gannet were seen circling and feeding relatively close to the shore. Ten minutes after this 2 Harbour Porpoise were recorded close to the ship, swimming slowly as we passed.

I left the bridge as we approached the busy shipping area of the Solent and prepared to leave the Commodore Goodwill.

My thanks go to Captain Wojciech Pielich, his officers and crew for making me feel so welcome aboard the Commodore Goodwill and the shore crew at Portsmouth for taking care of me whilst negotiating the port area.

Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Jersey-Portsmouth 5 April 2017

Posted 28 April 2017

Steve Boswell and Keith Morgan, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Wind NE force 3 with excellent visibility throughout the trip

Summary of species recorded:

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 8

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 127
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 7
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 7
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 18
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Guillemot Uria aalge 7
Razorbill Alca torda 6
Auk sp.  12

Terrestrial Birds
Swallow Hirundo rustica 2

We were escorted aboard the Commodore Goodwill where we were allocated our cabins and then enjoyed our evening meal before retiring.

After a large cooked breakfast we went on deck to see what birds were present in the harbour. We saw 2 Little Egret, a few Oystercatcher displaying loudly, 2 Great Black-backed Gull and 8 Brent Geese lingering before their journey to their breeding grounds.

BND Adrian Shephard 04a
Bottlenose Dolphin (Archive photo: Adrian Shephard)

We made our way to the bridge and met Captain Zelazny and his crew. The captain informed us that as the ship had entered the harbour at sunrise and he had seen a pod of dolphins. Sure enough 20 minutes after departing we had great views of 8 Bottlenose Dolphin which approached close to the bow.

Gannet were the most numerous bird seen on our route back to Portsmouth, all adults. Two Swallow swept passed the bridge nearly at the end of their long journey. A lovely adult Mediterranean Gull was seen in the entrance to Portsmouth harbour.

Med Gull Martin Gillingham 01a
Mediterranean Gull (Archive photo: Martin Gillingham)

We concluded our survey on arrival back in Portsmouth and thanked the Captain and his crew for their hospitality before heading ashore.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey 8 March 2017

Posted 25 March 2017

Carol Farmer-Wright and Emma Bell, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Wind SW to WSW force 5-6. Visibility poor to moderate. Cloudy with rain or fog. Sea state 5-6 decreasing to 3 as we gained shelter from the Isle of Wight

Seabirds
Gannet  Morus bassanus 36          
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 3            
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 2            
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 4            
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 5            
Guillemot  Uria aalge 3            
Larus sp.              1            
Auk sp   4            

Terrestrial Birds
Passerine sp.       5

Emma and I met at Portsmouth Continental Ferry Terminal on Tuesday evening and were taken to the office to obtain our tickets and driven aboard the Commodore Goodwill. After eating a substantial dinner we chatted with the other passengers on board before heading to our cabins for the outward overnight crossing. This survey was to be slightly different as we headed straight for Jersey and went to Guernsey on the return leg as dawn broke.

LBB Gull Peter Howlett 08

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Peter Howlett)

We headed to the bridge as soon as we left St. Peter Port. It was raining and visibility was poor as we headed out into the English Channel. At first we sighted Cormorant and Lesser Black-backed Gull. Bird sightings owing to reduced visibility were slow. Within an hour we were recording Gannet and Kittiwake as we travelled north. The majority of Gannet were adult birds and had moulted into summer plumage, their golden crown indicating that breeding would soon be taking place.

A solitary two year old Gannet was the only sub adult to be recorded on the survey. A few auk were seen, the visibility reducing our chance of positively recording the species involved. A brief glimpse of five small birds heading north suggested that spring was on its way, the flat light again stopped full identification being ascertained.

Gannet Carol Farmer-Wright 07

Gannet (Carol Farmer-Wright)

We concluded our survey as we approached the Bembridge ledges and thanked Captain Rad Zelazny, his officers and crew for their hospitality before heading ashore.

Carol Farmer-Wright and Emma Bell, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey 8 February 2017

Posted 14 February 2017

Rick Morris and Glynis Northwood-Long, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Overcast with occasional sunny spells, good visibility, sea state 3-5, north easterly wind force 4 then northerly force 3

Seabirds
Gannet  Morus bassanus 191
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Great Skua  Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull  Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Common Gull  Larus canus 1
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 21
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 2
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 2
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 4
Guillemot  Uria aalge 10
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 4
Auk sp. 4

Although I have made many trips with Condor Ferries and MARINElife as a Wildlife Officer, this was my first actual survey, so was a new experience, with Rick as my Team Leader.

On arrival at Portsmouth Ferry Terminal on Tuesday evening, we were greeted by the friendly staff of Condor Ferries and we were escorted aboard. After a delicious 3 course evening meal in the driver's mess, there was time for extra tuition as Rick went through the data entry forms for the survey the following day. We then retired to our respective cabins for the overnight crossing to Jersey.

Rick Surveying_Glynis NL

Surveying (Glynis Northwood-Long)

Next morning after a substantial breakfast, we went onto the bridge and spotted a Great Crested Grebe in the harbour before we departed Jersey. As we sailed away from the island we only saw a few Shag, Herring Gull and Cormorant, so I was broken into my first survey very gently.

However, we soon started to spot squadrons of Gannet, flying between Cap de la Hague and Alderney and over the following 15 minutes, more than 150 Gannet headed towards their gannetries on Ortac and les Etacs for the breeding season. I soon got the hang of filling out the survey forms, under the watchful eye of Rick.

Unfortunately, I missed out on seeing a solitary Great Skua, the pirate of the oceans, as it made an appearance whilst on my lunch break.

Corbiere Lighthouse_Rick Morris

La Corbiere (Rick Morris)

For the remainder of the journey, sightings of Gannet decreased with the occasional glimpse of a few Guillemot and Kittiwake. As we approached the Solent, we encountered various types of gull including Herring, Great Black-Backed, Common and Black Headed Gull.

Sadly we did not see any cetaceans and we concluded our survey on arrival back in Portsmouth. We thanked Captain Rad Zelazny and his crew for their hospitality before heading ashore. We would like to thank Condor Ferries for their support of our surveys.

Rick Morris and Glynis Northwood-Long, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey 25 January 2017

Posted 31 January 2017

Carol Farmer-Wright and Mallory Warrington; Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Sea state 2-3, Winds SSW to SW force 2.  Weather dry with visibility good to moderate

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin  Delphinus delphis 6
Harbour Porpoise  Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet  Morus bassanus 61
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 10
Common Gull  Larus canus 1
Mediterranean Gull  Larus melanocephalus 1
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 10
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 133
Guillemot  Uria aalge 164
Razorbill  Alca torda 4
Gull sp. 89

I met Mallory at Portsmouth International Ferry Terminal and we were taken to the Commodore Goodwill by the friendly Condor Ferries staff and had a lovely dinner as we left Portsmouth before heading to our cabin for the outward crossing overnight.

We woke as the ship was unloading at St. Helier and had a good breakfast before heading to the bridge to begin surveying.

The morning was clear and bright with light winds. As we headed west towards Corbiere lighthouse we recorded a few Great Black-backed Gull, Cormorant and Lesser Black-backed Gull. Many Cormorant rested on the rocks around the coast taking in the early morning sun.

As we headed north, Kittiwake, Guillemot, Gannet and Fulmar were the main species encountered. We passed Sark, 12 miles north of the Jersey coast, and encountered a large aggregation of gulls, Gannet, Kittiwake and Guillemot feeding over a large area. We looked for fins, but were unable to spot any.

Common Dolphin Adrian Shephard 03

Common Dolphin (Adrian Shephard)

It was an hour later that we saw our first cetacean, a solitary Harbour Porpoise five miles from the Cherbourg peninsular.  Our second and final cetacean sighting occurred half an hour later. A gentle disturbance on the water straight ahead drew our attention, this proved to be a small group of Common Dolphin, including one juvenile which on waking, gathered speed to come into the ship to bow ride.

Guillemot Carol Farmer-Wright 02

Guillemot (Carol Farmer-Wright)

Bird sightings of Guillemot, Gannet and Kittiwake remained fairly constant throughout the return survey.

We concluded our survey by the Nab Tower and thanked Captain Pielich, his officers and crew for their hospitality before heading ashore.

Carol Farmer-Wright and Mallory Warrington, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

 

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey 14 December 2016

Posted 18 December 2016

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

Weather: Wind SE 3-4, sea state 3-4, good visibility with a slight swell.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
Fulmar   Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet  Morus bassanus 55
Cormorant   Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Shag   Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Common Gull   Larus canus 16
Mediterranean Gull   Larus melanocephalus 5
Herring Gull   Larus argentatus 4
Great-Black backed Gull   Larus marinus 3
Kittiwake   Rissa tridactyla 73
Guillemot   Uria aalge 23
Razorbill   Alca torda 53
Auk sp.  35
Gull sp.  16

I was escorted aboard at 18.00 for the 19.30 departure to Jersey. I enjoyed a meal in the drivers café before retiring to my cabin.

Due to lack of daylight survey work can only be done on the homeward leg from Jersey. After a cooked breakfast I went on deck to see a large moon setting and the sun rising at the same time which was quite spectacular. It was high tide and there was quite a big wader roost on the rocks below Elizabeth Castle. This included 320 Oystercatchers, 45 Curlew, 63 Dunlin and a few Turnstone. Also 55 Dark-bellied Brent Geese flew in and landed in the harbour area and a Great Crested Grebe was an also seen.

Turnstone Adrian Shephard 03a
Turnstone (Archive photo: Adrian Shephard)

On returning inside the ship I was welcomed by Captain Pielich who said it was ok for me to enter the bridge before departure so I was ready to begin the survey as soon as we left St Helier.

Good numbers of auks were seen with Razorbill outnumbering Guillemot. Kittiwake became numerous as we headed towards open sea. As we travelled north towards Alderney Gannet became a more regular sight, all adult birds.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 10a
Gannet (Archive photo: Adrian Shephard)

Although no cetaceans were seen, I did have one amazing experience. I picked up a Kittiwake sat on the sea beside some food, I was watching it through the binoculars as the ship aproached it when suddenly a large shark surfaced, grabbed the food and swiftly disappeared!  Sadly the view was too brief to work out what sort of shark it was.

I concluded my survey on arrival back in Portsmouth and thanked the Captain and his staff for their hospitality before heading ashore.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries 'Commodore Goodwill' Portsmouth-Jersey 22nd – 23rd November 2016

Posted 01 December 2016

David Doxford adn Steve Boswell; Research Surveyors from MARINElife
Weather NW to E 2-5.

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise  Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet  Morus bassanus 16
Black-headed Gull  Chroicocephalus ridibundus 7
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 30
Mediterranean Gull  Larus melanocephalus 1
Common Gull  Larus canus 13
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 7
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 33
Guillemot  Uria aalge 4
Razorbill  Alca torda 7
Auk sp 13
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 5
Shag  Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5

Terrestrial Birds
Oystercatcher  Haematopus ostralegus 3

In St Helier before going 'on effort':
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 2
Grey Heron  Ardea cinerea 2
Little Egret  Egretta garzetta 1
Rock Pipit  Anthus petrosus 1
Dunlin  Calidris alpina 50+
Great Black Backed Gull  Larus marinus 1

Steve and I boarded the ship early and we left Portsmouth bound for Guernsey at around 7:45pm.  Given the limited daylight at this time of year we could only survey on the return journey.  We watched from the deck as the bright lights of Portsmouth disappeared astern.  After a meal and a chat to the crew we took to our cabins as the ship sailed southwards through the night.  The ship visited Guernsey and then sailed on to Jersey while we slept.

Leaving Portsmouth_David Doxford

Leaving Portsmouth (David Doxford)

This survey fell in the lull between two storms.  Storm Angus had hit the UK on the 21st producing record winds in Guernsey (84mph) and giving rise to widespread flooding and damage across the South of England.  We were to find that it also seemed to have had an impact on the bird populations.

We emerged on deck at 07:30 the next morning, in St Helier, to find a bright and sunny day with almost perfect conditions for surveying.  As the Commodore Goodwill was still loading, Steve and I took advantage of our viewpoint to "get our eye in" spotting a large flock of Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Little Egret, Grey Heron and Great Black-backed Gull.  Steve also found a lone Rock Pipit flitting along the harbour wall.  The rocks around Elizabeth Castle seemed to be especially attractive for waders.

We made our way to the bridge and started the survey immediately on departure at 08:29.  Bird sightings started with a mix of Cormorant, Shag, Herring Gull and auk species.  Fast moving auks were to prove an identification challenge throughout the day.

Elizabeth Castle_David Doxford

Elizabeth Castle (David Doxford)

Forty minutes into the trip, as we approached Guernsey, we had our sole cetacean sighting of the survey.  Steve saw a Harbour Porpoise surface briefly on our bow and then disappear down the port side.  As is often the case with this species, it made a rapid exit.

As we headed into Alderney Race the wind rose and we saw the occasional Gannet crossing between Alderney and the French coast.  Our visits to the open bridge wing (one of my favourite aspects of the Commodore Goodwill) became shorter and less frequent and we conducted most of our survey from the nice warm bridge!  North of the race we had a period of seeing nothing but Kittiwake; these tough little birds seemed to have come through Storm Angus unscathed.  In fact Kittiwake made up a quarter of our bird sightings for the survey.

Sunset Isle of Wight_David Doxford

Sunset off Isle of Wight (David Doxford)

Sightings fell off in mid-Channel but picked up again as we approached the Isle of Wight.  As we passed Sandown Bay we picked up a bevy of Common Gull who slipstreamed the ferry for several miles.

The tide had given us a good push northwards so we arrived slightly early, just as the sun was setting.  We concluded the survey off Gunwharf Quay and thanked Captain Zelazny and his crew for their hospitality before heading ashore.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries 'Commodore Goodwill' Portsmouth-Jersey 25th – 26th October 2016

Posted 27 October 2016

Survey cancelled for operational reasons

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries 'Commodore Goodwill' Portsmouth-Jersey 28th – 29th September 2016

Posted 12 October 2016

Peter Jones, Research Surveyor for MARINElife

Weather: Overcast initially with a strong SW wind and a couple of showers. This later cleared for brighter conditions. Sea state remained at 4-5 throughout the day with a noticeable swell.

Species Recorded

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 6
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 2
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 6
Gannet Morus bassanus 53
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus Fuscus 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 1
Common tern Sterna Hirundo 9
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Petrel Sp. 1

Terrestrial Birds
House Martin Delichon urbica 1
Swallow Hirundo rustica 51
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 3

I was rapidly escorted aboard by the friendly Condor Ferries staff and promptly left Portsmouth for the overnight outward crossing.

After a hearty breakfast whilst in dock in Jersey, I was invited to the bridge, and began the survey in very overcast conditions. I got off to a good start as a Manx Shearwater weaved past the ship for the first bird of the day. This was followed by a steady trickle of single Gannet, and a Sandwich Tern.

Sandwich Tern Rob Petley-Jones 03

Sandwich Tern (Archive photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

A probable Storm Petrel was just too far to confirm, but other birds were passing quite close: a small flock of Common Tern, and a couple of flocks of Swallow heading south, plus a Meadow Pipit.

Swallow Adrian Shephard

Swallow (Archive photo: Adrian Shephard)

Late morning, and 2 Sooty Shearwater were a highlight, and straight after lunch 4 tiny black dots on the sea eventually drifted close enough to identify as Storm Petrel as they took flight.

Sooty Shearwater Peter Howlett 03

Sooty Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

More groups of Swallow flew south with a single House Martin amongst them. The only Guillemot of the day was seen on the sea south of the Isle of Wight, and this was soon followed by two Razorbill flying past. 

Finally on the approach to the Solent, a smart Adult Winter Mediterranean Gull took flight and circled in front of the ship, providing a nice end to the survey. 

After thanking the crew, I left the ship at Portsmouth

Peter Jones, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

(Registered Charity No. 1110884)

 

 

 

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries (Commodore Goodwill) Portsmouth-Jersey (23rd – 24th August 2016)

Posted 01 September 2016

David Doxford; Research Surveyor for MARINElife

Weather: Light north-westerly winds, slight seas and a <1m swell. A slight heat haze built up through the day which reduced the visibility to 11-12km by the afternoon.  Cloud cover was 25-50% and mainly high and thin.

Species Recorded

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 5

Seabirds
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 31
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 33
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 12
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 34
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 9
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Larus sp 25

We left Portsmouth on time at 7:30pm allowing a short survey period before sunset.  Captain Roger Thomson welcomed me to the bridge and I admired the deft ship-handling necessary to thread through the large number of recreational craft criss-crossing the Solent.  I then took to my cabin as we ploughed southwards through the night.

Sunset_David Doxford

Sunset (David Doxford)

The next morning saw us departing Jersey on a bright and sunny day with almost perfect conditions for surveying. Just after we passed Elizabeth Castle there was a large splash off the port bow.  The bridge crew then helped me spot a group of five Bottlenose Dolphin which appeared from three different directions.  They enjoyed a brief bow ride before departing as quickly as they had come.

Interestingly one of them was distinctly spotted in appearance. They also boasted a juvenile amongst their number - always good to see as it shows that they are thriving and able to breed.

BND Adrian Shephard 04

Bottlenose Dolphin (Archive Photo: Adrian Shephard)

This turned out to be the hottest day of the year and I was pleased that the Commodore Goodwill had an open bridge wing so that I could 'take the breeze' whilst surveying.

Bird sightings peaked in the Alderney Race - this is a kind of Gannet M4 with busy groups of birds flying East-West between their fishing grounds off the French coast and their colony on Les Etacs.

Gannet Carol Farmer-Wright 07

Gannet (Archive Photo: Carol Farmer-Wright)

North of the Race there were very few sightings until we approached the Isle of Wight where the usual assemblage of gulls greeted us.

As we neared our destination a Spitfire flew low over the ship before peeling off to head east along the coast.  An unusual addition to the log!

I concluded the survey off Gunwharf Quay and thanked the Captain and his staff for their hospitality before heading ashore.

David Doxford, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries (Commodore Goodwill) Portsmouth-Jersey (19th – 20th July 2016)

Posted 31 July 2016

Julie Hatcher and Jo Collins, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Wind W, sea state 4 decreasing to 3, visibility poor to begin with but clear later.

Species Recorded

Seabirds
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 14
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 7
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 130
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 18
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 4
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 4
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Gull sp. 6

Terrestrial birds
Swift Apus apus 3

Off-survey sightings in St Helier
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 114
Curlew Numenius arquata 29
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 1
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola 1
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 1
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 230
Turnstone Arenaria interpres 34

We were rapidly checked in at Portsmouth International Ferry Terminal and immediately escorted to the Commodore Goodwill by the friendly Condor Ferries staff. We were allocated our cabins and, once settled in, with insufficient time to survey on the outward journey, we watched some of the birdlife in the port whilst departing Portsmouth. We enjoyed our evening meal and then headed to our cabins for the overnight crossing.

Gannet Thomas Fisher 01

Gannet (Archieve Photo: Thomas Fisher)

The vessel arrived at Guernsey in the very early hours. It was a little too early to get up and head to the bridge!  The onward journey took us to Jersey for an arrival just before 06:00. We had a leisurely breakfast and headed to the bridge for the 08:00 departure.  There were many seabirds in the port with Oystercatcher, Swift, terns and gulls already busy looking for food.

After waiting for other vessel traffic to move we headed into the Channel for the return crossing. Once we had passed the islands and headed out to the shipping channel, bird sightings dropped although we did record many sightings of Gannet in groups flying in both directions; to and from their colony.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 12

Manx Shearwater (Archieve Photo: Peter Howlett)

Surprisingly two juvenile gulls were recorded mid-channel. Later on we saw three Swift fly past heading south, which we thought seemed very early. We were happy to be able to record small groups of Fulmar and Manx Shearwater. After that we recorded individual birds rather than groups. As we passed the Isle of Wight, Julie spotted a Gannet on the water feeding on a fish.

Surprisingly two juvenile gulls were recorded mid-channel. Later on we saw three Swift fly past heading south, which we thought seemed very early. We were happy to be able to record small groups of Fulmar and Manx Shearwater. After that we recorded individual birds rather than groups. As we passed the Isle of Wight, Julie spotted a Gannet on the water feeding on a fish.

Herring Gull, Jo Collins

Herring Gull, Jo Collins

We were very surprised to see a lot of insect life including quite a few different butterflies and an occasional bee. Even a ladybird turned up but it could have been on the bridge before we set out to sea. This was a warm and very enjoyable trip with a lot of the surveying being done in the afternoon from the outdoor wing of the bridge.

We concluded our survey on arrival back in Portsmouth and thanked Captain Wojciech Pielich and his staff for their kind hospitality before heading ashore.

 

Julie Hatcher and Jo Collins, Research Surveyers for Marinelife

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries (Commodore Goodwill) Portsmouth - Jersey (16th-17th June 2016)

Posted 21 June 2016

Peter Howlett, Research Surveyor for MARINElife

Weather: Wind NW-W 3 dec. 2, sea state 3-2, visibility good.

Species Recorded

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 5

Seabirds
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 152
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 8
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 72
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 30
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 19
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 13
Auk sp.  2

Terrestrial Birds
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita 1

The train journey from Cardiff to Portsmouth seemed like a familiar commute as this was my third survey on this route in four months. We departed on time and, after what seemed like a very short time, arrived in St Peter Port in the early hours of the morning. With it being mid-June it was light enough to get on the bridge and begin the survey shortly after departing St Peter Port at 04:45. Recording the steady trickle of Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull and occasional Gannet kept me occupied.

The reward for the early start came at 05:35 when we were just 15 minutes and 6.5km from St Helier. Three Bottlenose Dolphin appeared a few hundred metres dead ahead of the ship and rapidly disappeared out of sight under the bow; a brief but very welcome sight. The officers on the Goodwill tell me they see dolphins near St Helier on a regular basis but this was the first time in five surveys on this route that I had caught up with them.

BND Peter Howlett 09
Bottlenose Dolphin near St Helier harbour (Photo: Peter Howlett)

The ship spends two hours in St Helier and I usually while away some of the time birding from the top deck. In between photographing gulls drifting past I glimpsed a dorsal fin breaking the surface about 500m away near an outer breakwater. Surely the Bottlenose Dolphin could not be in that close? They were indeed and there were two of them! Over the course of the next 10 minutes or so they gradually worked their way in towards the harbour entrance and at one point were in the harbour ahead of the ship. After that they drifted further out and I eventually lost sight of them as they headed off back out to sea.

I returned to the bridge in time for departure and recommenced the survey once we were clear of the outer breakwater. Captain Pielich told me that for a change the route back would take us around the east side of Jersey and closer in to the French coast. Apparently this is a pretty rare event and undertaken to maintain the Captain's familiarity with the easterly route. The route certainly had the potential to be interesting as the shallower waters of the Bay of St Malo can be home to many Balearic Shearwater in the summer months. Unfortunately June must have been too early for them as it turned out to be very quiet with no shearwaters. The only burst of activity came when we passed close to the mass of rocky islets that make up the Écréhous off the northeast corner of Jersey, where there were a few Shag and Cormorant flying to and from the reef.

As we passed Cap de la Hague there was the usual flurry of Gannet as birds from the Alderney colonies on Ortac and Les Etacs fly up to the northeast to feed. A scattered group of 10 Manx Shearwater added momentary interest. Unfortunately, once into the Channel proper, there was very little bird activity, as seems to be usual for this survey.

Chiffchaff Peter Howlett 01
Belgian-ringed Chiffchaff onboard the Commodore Goodwill mid-Channel (Photo: Peter Howlett)

Just over 40km NNE of Cap de la Hague - virtually mid-Channel - my scanning of the empty sea was interrupted by the appearance of a Chiffchaff on the rail outside the bridge window, less than a metre away from me. I barely had time to register the bird and realise it was ringed before it flitted away and down towards the foredeck and out of sight. When a bird weighing in at a mere 10-11g suddenly pitches up on a ship miles from anywhere it really does emphasise the perilous nature of the journey they make between West Africa (most likely the case for this Chiffchaff) and northern Europe. Half an hour later it suddenly appeared again on the bridge wing outside and I managed to rattle off a few photos. On closer scrutiny it seems this bird was ringed in Belgium but, unfortunately, I was unable to get the full ring number. Goodness knows what it was doing flying across the Channel in mid-June, it really should be nesting somewhere.

As we closed in on the Isle of Wight bird sightings increased ever so slightly with a few Gannet and a handful of auks. Amongst the Gannet were a couple of first summer birds looking a bit faded and bleached after spending the winter in southern Biscay or off the coast of West Africa.

Gannet Peter Howlett 24
Adult and 1st summer Gannet (Photos: Peter Howlett)

A fairly quiet but very enjoyable survey enlivened by the Bottlenose Dolphin and the ringed Chiffchaff. Many thanks to Captain Pielich and the crew of the Commodore Goodwill for the customary friendly welcome and to Condor Ferries for supporting the work of MARINElife.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries (Commodore Goodwill) Portsmouth-Jersey (24-25th May 2016)

Posted 31 May 2016

Peter Howlett and Steve Boswell, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Summary of Weather: Excellent visibility, wind NE force 4-5 dec. 2-3, sea state 5 dec. 2-3

Species Recorded

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena  phocoena 1

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 5
Gannet Morus bassanus 98
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 6
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 14
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 6
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 5
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 15

Terrestrial Birds
Swift Apus apus 4

After being escorted aboard the Commodore Goodwill for the 19.30 departure to Jersey, we enjoyed a three-course meal before retiring to our cabins ready for an early start the following morning.

With an early sunrise at this time of year we were on the bridge at 05:00 where we were welcomed by Captain Zelazny and his crew. This early start enabled us to survey part of the journey between Guernsey and Jersey, something we can only do for a few months each year. The approach to Jersey produced sightings of Herring Gull, Shag, Fulmar, Gannet, Manx Shearwater and three Swift that were either late migrants or birds feeding out at sea from Jersey.

Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 16

Manx Shearwater, Photo by Peter Howlett

We enjoyed a cooked breakfast whilst docked in Jersey and whiled away some of the time watching the resident Rock Pipit, Oystercatcher and Shag from the top deck. We returned to the bridge for departure and recommenced the survey as soon as we passed the Elizabeth Castle breakwater.

Sightings were a bit sparse with just the occasional Great Black-backed Gull, Gannet and Shag to record. The only cetacean sighting of the trip happened through chance. Two Herring Gull were sitting on the sea and it was while scrutinizing them to see what age they were that a Harbour Porpoise surfaced right alongside one of the birds. Otherwise the sea conditions were a little choppy for trying to spot cetaceans.

We had the usual rush of Gannet as we passed Cap de la Hague but, as soon as we were into the Channel, bird sightings were few and far between. The highlight as we headed northeast across the Channel was a superb adult Gannet which spent 25 minutes flying effortlessly just in front of the bridge giving us excellent views.

Gannet Peter Howlett 23

Gannet playing in the updraft by the bridge (Photo: Peter Howlett)

As we approached Portsmouth we concluded the survey but nevertheless kept an eye on the birds around us and we were treated to a fly past by a cracking adult Mediterranean Gull.

Thanking Captain Zelazny we then headed ashore on time at 16.30.

Med and BH Gull Peter Howlett

Adult Black-headed Mediterranean Gulls (Photos and: Peter Howlett)

 

Peter Howlett and Steve Boswell Research Surveyors for MARINElife

 

Portsmouth to Jersey, April 2016

Posted 30 May 2016

No survey planned this month for logistical reasons.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries (Commodore Goodwill) Portsmouth-Jersey (23rd March 2016)

Posted 30 March 2016

Peter Howlett and Keith Morgan, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Summary of Weather and Species Recorded

Weather: Wind mainly NW force 2 or less, sea state 2 or less, hazy sunshine, clouding over late afternoon.

Marine mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 6

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 202
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 10
Guillemot Uria aalge 38
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 3
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 1
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 2
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 10
Shearwater sp. 2
Auk sp. 61

Terrestrial birds
Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba 2
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 32

Off-survey sightings in St Helier
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 114
Curlew Numenius arquata 29
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 1
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola 1
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 1
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 230
Turnstone Arenaria interpres 34

Weather forecasts were suggesting we would have light winds and sunshine for the day of the survey so hopes were high that this would be a good one.  Things got off to a good start with lovely clear, moonlit skies on the evening departure from Portsmouth, showing the Spinnaker Tower and Portsmouth skyline off to good effect. The light winds and calm seas also made for a very smooth crossing to Jersey.

Portsmouth night Peter Howlett

Portsmouth skyline by night (Peter Howlett)

Dawn saw us just outside St Helier and conditions were still excellent with hazy sunshine and very light winds. The turnaround in St Helier gave time to look out for wildlife from the top deck of the ship, with the nearby Elizabeth Castle always worth scrutinizing. On this occasion the highlight was a winter-plumaged Great Northern Diver and 114 Brent Geese with a fly by Grey Plover adding to the wader diversity.

We made our way to the bridge just as we departed and were welcomed by Captain Zelazny and the deck officers. Conditions were excellent with barely a breath of wind and flat calm seas - surely we would be able to see Harbour Porpoise in these conditions? Things got off to a good start with a nice adult Mediterranean Gull doing a flypast in front of the bridge and we did not have to wait too long for the first cetacean sighting - a Harbour Porpoise off to port.

The Commodore Goodwill makes a great survey platform for many reasons, she is quite small so you are closer to the sea than on bigger vessels and she is not too fast, normally about 17 knots. However, when you have a sunny day with light winds the thing that really sets the Goodwill apart are the open bridge wings. You cannot beat being able to stand outside and feel the warmth from the sun while surveying. It also allows you to use a sense denied you when inside: sound. With spring migration underway there was a steady trickle of Meadow Pipit and the occasional Pied Wagtail going past on their way across the Channel to the UK and it was great to be able to hear their calls as they flitted past.

Pipit and Wagtail Peter Howlett 01

Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit on migration across the Channel (Peter Howlett)

Halfway between Jersey and Cap de la Hague two shearwaters were picked up in the distance to starboard. Unfortunately they were too far off and silhouetted by the morning sun for us to be sure of their identity but the way they were flying suggested Balearic Shearwater. Just south of Cap del Hague we had our best, although very brief, cetacean sighting with three Harbour Porpoise surfacing just ahead of the ship. A first-winter Mediterranean Gull, marking the spot where they were, added to the occasion.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 19

Harbour Porpoise surfacing just ahead of the ship (Peter Howlett)

The deck officers had been telling us about the many Gannet and a sighting of dolphins they had near Cap de la Hague a few days previously but today there were very few Gannet to the east of Alderney and no dolphins either. It was quite clear from the long lines of Gannet flying across from the east that they were all feeding well away from the island.

Once to the north of Cap de la Hague the seabird sightings dropped with only the odd group of auks sitting on the sea to keep us occupied. It was quite frustrating to be travelling across a calm sea and not be able to see any porpoises.

As we moved north the bird sightings dwindled still further and we called a halt to the survey as we entered the navigation channel southeast of the Isle of Wight. This is always an enjoyable route to survey and it will be good to be back again in May - hopefully in similar conditions!

Our thanks to Captain Zelazny and his crew for the warm welcome on board and to Condor for their continued support for MARINElife.

Med Gull Peter Howlett 01

First-winter Mediterranean Gull (Peter Howlett)

 

Peter Howlett and Keith Morgan, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries (Commodore Goodwill) Portsmouth-Jersey (10 February 2016)

Posted 25 February 2016

Maggie Gamble and Jess Grimbley, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: North-westerly wind force 4-7. Significant swell but good visibility.

Species Recorded

Seabirds

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 9
Gannet Morus bassanus 16
Guillemot Uria aalge 21
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 3
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 20
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Auk sp. 7

 

We departed Jersey at 10am, surveying on the way to Guernsey and then, again, on the return to Portsmouth. Due to some stormy weather prior to this survey, which seemed to blow all the birds away, this was a quiet journey with a few Gannet, Kittiwake and auks to entertain us.

Guillemot Peter Howlett 07

Guillemot (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

We would like to thank the Condor staff and the Captain of the Commodore Goodwill for their help and warm welcome.

Herring Gull Graham Ekins 05

Herring Gull (Archive photo: Graham Ekins)

 

Maggie Gamble and Jess Grimbley, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries (Commodore Goodwill) Portsmouth-Jersey (January 2016)

Posted 11 January 2016

This survey had to be cancelled because of the prediction of bad weather conditions at sea.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey 17 - 18 December 2015

Posted 02 January 2016

Peter Jones and Mark Beeston, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: South-westerly wind force 4-5. Significant swell, but good visibility.

Summary of sightings
Marine mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds
Gannet Morus bassanus 18
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 18
Common Gull Larus canus 17
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 10
Little Gull Larus minutus 2
Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 16
Guillemot Uria aalge 36
Razorbill Alca torda 7
Gull sp. 50

We were rapidly escorted aboard by the friendly Condor Ferries staff and on leaving Portsmouth were treated to a fine meal before heading to our cabins for the outward crossing overnight.

The ship was docked in Jersey as we awoke, and we were invited to the bridge for the survey which commenced on departure from Jersey in fairly overcast conditions.

Gannet Adrian Shephard 09

Gannet (Adrian Shephard)

A winter plumage Mediterranean Gull was seen close to the harbour along with several Shag and Guillemot.

As we headed further out to sea, more Guillemot were seen with a few Kittiwake, Gannet, and Razorbill. An hour into the survey, the only cetacean of the trip was spotted: A Harbour Porpoise seen briefly.

Two winter plumage Little Gull were a nice sight, and as we headed towards the Isle of Wight, with gulls dominating the sightings including Mediterranean Gull and Common Gull amongst the larger number of Herring Gull.

Herring Gull Winter Adrian Shephard 04

Herring Gull (Adrian Shephard)

We concluded our survey on arrival back in Portsmouth and thanked the Captain and his staff for their hospitality before heading ashore.

 


Peter Jones and Mark Beeston, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey November 2015

Posted 30 November 2015

The survey for this month was cancelled for operational reasons.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey October 2015

Posted 30 October 2015

The survey for this month was cancelled for operational reasons.

MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries (Commodore Goodwill) Portsmouth-Jersey (15th September 2015)

Posted 23 September 2015

Peter Howlett and Mike Mackay, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Summary of Weather and Species Recorded

Weather: Wind SW 5, sunny spells but cloud increasing with occasional light showers later.

Marine mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2

Seabirds
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 3
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 41
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 110
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 20
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 23
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 2

Mike and I met up at Portsmouth shortly after 5pm and were taken promptly to the Commodore Goodwill by the Condor Ferries staff. The food was up to the usual high standard on the Goodwill with an excellent variety of main course and desserts to choose from in the three-course supper.

Balearic SW Peter Howlett 01

Balearic Shearwater, one of the 41 recorded (Peter Howlett)

At this time of year the ship docks in St Helier, Jersey just after sunrise so surveying is only undertaken on the return leg from Jersey to Portsmouth. This makes for a leisurely start and yet more food, in the form of a cooked breakfast. It was a lovely, sunny, if somewhat breezy, morning. Hopes were high that the winds might have pushed some interesting seabirds into the Channel.

As soon as we had cleared St Helier breakwater we were allowed on to the bridge where we were welcomed by Captain Rad Zelazny and we quickly set up the paperwork to get the survey underway. The great thing about the Commodore Goodwill is that she has open bridge wings and with a following wind (meaning the force 5 wind was reduced to a gentle breeze on the wing) and some warm sunshine it was a pleasure to be able to stand outside to survey for the first few hours.

Things got off to a slow start, with just a handful of Shag passing, but soon picked up once we were north of Jersey and continued until we passed Cap de la Hague. A steady stream of Balearic Shearwater sightings was the highlight, with 41 recorded in all. The seas along the northwest coast of France are a major feeding and moulting area in late summer for this critically endangered species - the world population is a mere 3,000 breeding pairs - so it is always good to record this species on a survey.

Sandwich Tern Peter Howlett 03

Sandwich Tern (Peter Howlett)

It was also great to pick up three Storm Petrel among the Shearwater. Gannet numbers picked up as we neared Alderney and its associated colonies. Sandwich Tern were also a feature of the morning with a steady trickle passing us heading south. Our only cetacean sighting, two Harbour Porpoise, were seen just south of Cap de la Hague.

There was a very noticeable change once we were north of Cap de la Hague when the seabird sightings dried up almost completely. Unfortunately it seems the strong winds overnight had cleared everything out and only a handful of birds were seen across the central area of the Channel. Still all data is useful, even when it is negative. It was not until we neared the Isle of Wight that we picked up a few more Sandwich Tern, with small numbers fishing in the tide race off Sandown Bay. The survey finished just as we turned north at the east end of the Isle of Wight.

Our thanks to Captain Zelazny and his crew for the warm welcome on board and to Condor for their continued support for MARINElife.

 

Peter Howlett and Mike Mackay, Research Surveyors for MARINElife


MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey 17-18 August 2015

Posted 19 August 2015

This survey was cancelled for logistical reasons.

MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey July 2015

Posted 30 July 2015

The survey for this month was cancelled for operational reasons.