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