Stephen Hedley and Paul Bamford, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Weather: Wind SW force 4-5, sea state 3, visibility poor
Summary of sightings
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 18
Gannet Morus bassanus 40
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 13
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 6
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 1
Auk sp. 1
Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba 1
We travelled overnight from Portsmouth and, after enjoying a filling breakfast, were up on the bridge for our departure from St. Helier. Visibility was poor from the outset with the far shore beyond the Elizabeth Castle shrouded in mist. We did spot around 12 Oystercatcher flying nearby, plus a pair of Great Black-Backed Gull on the adjacent pier from the bridge before departure. A Cormorant was also diving nearby in the harbour with a lone Gannet flying in the bay.
Harbour Porpoise (Library photo: Peter Howlett)
Our first sightings of the survey were a Cormorant, Guillemot and Gannet close to rocks off Le Portelet. There were no further sightings for the next 30 minutes, until we had rounded La Corbière, when we spotted two Lesser Black-backed Gull migrating northwards. These sightings were followed by a Kittiwake, Black-headed Gull and then Gannet. The Gannet sightings then became a regular feature until mid-afternoon. Occasional Herring Gull were seen and the only cetacean of the survey was a very brief appearance of a Harbour Porpoise after lunch, when we were off the tip of the Cherbourg peninsula. Regrettably the poor visibility meant that we missed actually seeing France and the other Channel Islands en route.
We had a brief visit from a Pied Wagtail in the early afternoon as it flew over the bridge. The only other subsequent sightings were Guillemot, mostly in pairs on the water and the odd Gannet. We did however get a glimpse of the Isle of Wight later on, just prior to ending survey as the light faded.
Our grateful thanks go to Captain Wojciech Pielich and crew of the Commodore Goodwill who made this an enjoyable crossing.