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