Bideford-Lundy survey 16 September
It was an early start from Bideford with leaving time expected at 7:30. Despite torrential rain and storms through the night, the rain was clearing by the time the Oldenburg finally pulled away from the quay closer to 8am. Protected by the headland, the sea was a very flat sea state 1 at the coast but gradually increased as we pulled out to sea remaining mostly at 4, though reached 5 for a short period at the beginning of the return journey.
We had steady sightings of Gannets throughout the trip, with quite a few immatures. Gulls were mostly dominated by the Great Blacked Back Gull, though coming back into the estuary we saw larger numbers of Black-headed Gulls. We also managed to catch a few Kittiwakes, a few sightings of Razorbills, and Great Skua on both legs of the trip. Coming back into the estuary was very busy with waders including Curlew, Dunlin, Redshank and Oystercatchers. There were also large numbers of Little Egret, many of them resting on trees on the edge of the estuary. Surprise of the trip was getting a very good view of a Wheatear catching a lift on the Oldenburg.
On Lundy, Grey Seal pupping season was in full swing with some pups having chosen a spot on the beach right next to the path from the pier. There were signs not to linger and to keep quiet so that they were not disturbed, but none the less you could see several dotted along the beach, as well as adults in the sea and resting on the beaches. Coming back into the coastal waters off Bideford we also caught a glimpse of two separate groups of Harbour Porpoise.
Thanks again to the crew, and Captain Paul Gyurgyak.
Fiona McNie and Lewis Hawkins, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Eastbound: wind NNE, sea state 1-4
Westbound: wind NE, sea state 1-4
Summary of sightings:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 4
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 3
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 103
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 6
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 6
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Razorbill Alca torda 10
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 4
House Martin Delichon urbicum 25
Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe 1
Redshank Tringa totanus 2
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 30
Curlew Numenius arquata 2
Dunlin Calidris alpina 3
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 11
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 17