Bideford-Lundy survey report 25 September
Kevin Waterfall and Sue Walsh, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Outward: wind S 2, mainly overcast with good visibility, 1m swell mid-channel.
Return: wind S 1, overcast with occ. mist and light showers reducing visibility.
We boarded the Oldenburg at Bideford and were welcomed by Jason, the ship’s captain, and his crew who helped us find the necessary information for our survey. We established ourselves on the starboard arm of the bridge and the ship set off at 0830 with almost a full compliment of passengers. As we sailed out of the harbour we noticed, in particular, a large flock of Black-headed Gull and a few Cormorant, Curlew, Grey Heron and Little Egret. On the north shore were a large flock of geese, possibly Brent but we couldn't be sure.
On the crossing the most common sighting was of Great Black-backed and Herring Gull. The latter were all around a fishing trawler along with a single Guillemot nearby. A couple more Guillemot and a single adult Gannet were seen as we neared Lundy. As we came into Landing Bay there were 3 adult Grey Seal hauled out and a group of 13 Shag sitting on the rocks of Rat Island.
Going ashore we walked up the road to the village. As we took a short rest at the old pond below Millcombe Gardens we noticed a brightly coloured caterpillar, later identified as Brown-tail Moth which is prevalent in Devon and other parts of Southern England.
We passed furled mist nets which are part of the bird-ringing operation on the island and a Robin pictured below was sporting one such ring. More Grey Seal were swimming and spy-hopping as we walked around the east coast. The most common bird was Swallow, seen in large numbers on our walk around the southern part of the island. A variety of other small birds were seen including: Wren, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Spotted Flycatcher, Linnet and Stonechat. Overhead were several Ravens and at least one Kestrel. A few Soay sheep were seen on Ackland’s Moor.
As we returned to the ship there were 2 Grey Seal pups on Landing Beach the first with the silky, creamy-white coat of a new born pup. This is replaced over 2-4 weeks by a pale grey coat shown by the second. In the bay around Landing Jetty were 4 calves and 2 adults either hauled out or swimming around.
The return journey was almost flat calm so we had views of 3 small pods of Harbour Porpoise which caused some excited calls from children on board. We spotted a large raft of 16 Guillemot as well as several ones and twos of the same species – and a single Razorbill. It was unusual to see a Feral Pigeon which circled the ship several times mid-channel and then landed on the ship! It was dark by the time we pulled into the harbour. The flock of geese seen on the way out must still have been there as they were heard calling as we disembarked.
Many thanks to the staff and crew of the Oldenburg who were extremely helpful and made this a very enjoyable experience.
Summary of Species Recorded
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 6
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 11
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 212
Gannet Morus bassanus 3
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 13
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9
Guillemot Urai aalge 31
Herring Gull Larus argenteus 81
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 3
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 1
Goose Sp. 250
Gull sp. 1