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

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

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