Sightings Archives: December 2016

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:

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.