MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries (Commodore Goodwill) Portsmouth – Jersey (24th November 2014)

Adrian Shephard and Kevin Bainbridge, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Summary of Weather and Species Recorded


Overcast and mostly raining, occasionally clearing to improve visibility from poor to moderate.  East to East North Easterly wind force 2-6 and sea state 2-4.


Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3

Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 7
Gannet  Morus bassanus 19
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 84
Guillemot Urea aalge 14
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Puffin Fratercula artica 2
Auk sp. 9
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Artic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 26
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 13
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 6
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 37
Greylag Goose Anser anser 21
Goose Sp. 4
Dunlin Calidris alpina 150+

Terrestrial Birds
Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 2
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 1
Blackbird Turdus merula 1
Woodpigeon Columba palumbus 1
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 7

We were welcomed onto the ship and, since it was too dark to survey on the way to Jersey, we were shown to the staff lounge and canteen where we had a delicious 3 course meal and met the friendly crew.

The following morning we were shown to the bridge by Captain Roger Thomson who then kindly familiarised us with the ship's set up.  We departed at 8.30am and started bird watching. Our first bird was a kingfisher sitting on one of the harbour walls. In and around the harbour were 37 Brent Geese, 100+ Dunlin and 2 Lapwing.

Brent Geese Adrian Shephard 01a

Brent geese (Photo: Adrian Shephard)

Despite the overcast and rainy conditions, visibility was reasonable with some good views to the horizon; as a result of this, a good number of species were seen.  As the ship left the harbour we picked up a Harbour Porpoise around 700m out from the ship moving to the right. We saw it, briefly, twice.  Moving out into the bay, we saw lots of Kittiwake followed by a Dark Phase Artic Skua chasing the gulls.  Two more Dark Phase Artic Skua were seen later in the day.

A couple of hours out to sea, a Blackbird was seen heading for the ship.  It tried to land but then decided to head out to sea.

Mediterranean Gull Adrian Shephard 03a

Mediterranean Gull (Photo: Adrian Shephard)

The next few hours were spent mainly counting Kittiwake, Gannet and the odd auk species with 2 Puffin, in winter plumage, spotted sitting on the water.  Later into the journey just off the St Catherine's on the Isle of Wight, 2 more Harbour Porpoise were seen.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 15

Harbour porpoise (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

As we were approaching Portsmouth and it was starting to get dark, good numbers of Kittiwake were seen on the open sea.  Lastly, we docked in Portsmouth and bid farewell to the Captain and crew.


Adrian Shephard and Kevin Bainbridge, Research Surveyors for MARINElife